The MLB All-Star break gave fantasy owners a welcome relief from the threat of injury.
Given the liberal usage of the injured list around the break, baseball's return to action should see a small army of players returning. But some players are dealing with more serious ailments and still need more time to get right.
Hopefully, you've spent some of the past few days studying the waiver wire and have a good idea of who's available. If not, consider this look at potential waiver-wire replacements for injured players a valuable cheat sheet.
Tommy La Stella, 2B/3B, Los Angeles Angels
Perhaps the most surprising breakout of the first half, Tommy La Stella's body betrayed him before he could make his first-ever All-Star appearance. He fouled a ball off his right shin last week and further testing revealed a fractured tibia that could cost him eight to 10 weeks.
While most of his fantasy owners probably plucked him from the waiver wire, they aren't likely to find another La Stella now. The 30-year-old slashed .300/.353/.495 over 78 games in the first half, and he launched 16 home runs—six more than he'd hit over his first five MLB seasons combined.
The simplest replacement option might come from the same locker room. David Fletcher boasts the same positional eligibility and a similar .295/.359/.409 slash line. While not a great source of power (five homers) or speed (five steals), he can be a minor help in both categories.
Looking beyond L.A., Philadelphia's Maikel Franco could be worth the gamble. He won't always hit or play every day, but lately, he's been doing both. He started 12 of the Phillies' final 13 games before the break, homering four times and slashing .341/.408/.636 over that stretch. He's only owned in 38 percent of ESPN leagues and just 17 percent of Yahoo leagues.
David Peralta, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
A right shoulder injury landed David Peralta on the injured list for the second time this season. The first cost him 11 games, while this could last longer.
"I think what we've learned with Davis is he's such a team guy and wants to be out there that we're maybe going to slow-play it until this is all done," Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo told reporters. "We're going to be a little bit more cautious."
That's not exactly what Peralta owners want to hear. The big-hitting outfielder seemed en route to another big season with the bat, tallying 35 extra-base hits (including nine homers) and 44 RBI in 73 first-half games.
Fortunately, outfield is such a deep position, finding a temporary replacement shouldn't be too difficult.
Colorado's Ian Desmond, available in 31 percent of ESPN leagues and 41 percent of Yahoo leagues, rode a hot streak into the break. Over his last 25 games (19 starts), he's hitting .352 and slugging .614 with five homers and 23 RBI. Seattle's Mallex Smith continues to be underowned (70 percent on ESPN, 57 on Yahoo). Since May 27, he's hitting .292 with 15 stolen bases and 26 runs in 39 games.
Jose Alvarado, RP, Tampa Bay Rays
After emerging as one of the game's most electric relievers last season, Jose Alvarado has struggled to recapture the magic. Despite continuing to fan batters at an elite rate (11.5 K/9), his ERA has more than doubled (5.06, up from 2.39) and his WHIP has similarly skyrocketed (1.69, from 1.11).
He won't be turning things around anytime soon. An oblique strain could cost him six to eight weeks, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
If owners hadn't cut bait by now, this is probably the time.
The easiest pivots would be to Alvarado's bullpen mates Diego Castillo (27 percent owned on Yahoo, 9 percent on ESPN) and Emilio Pagan (38, 10). The two combined for 12 saves in the first half while each striking out double-digit batters per nine innings. Pagan also dazzled with a 1.75 ERA and 0.83 WHIP, so he could be a ratio-booster even if he's not getting saves.
Colorado's Scott Oberg (30 percent owned on Yahoo, 10 on ESPN) could be a sneaky-good add, especially if you aren't desperate for saves. While Wade Davis still has the closer's job for now, Oberg has been the far superior pitcher this season.
Oberg has the edge in ERA (1.85 to 5.54), WHIP (0.96 to 1.69) and K/9 (9.89 to 9.35), so it might be only a matter of time before the Rockies make the switch.