Fantasy Baseball 2021: Hidden Gems to Stream for Injured MLB Players for Week 18
Normally, the fact that the hits keep on coming would be a good thing for fantasy managers.
But when the "hits" are injuries, the seemingly perpetual nature of this cycle is nothing short of maddening.
Cincinnati Reds power-hitting outfielder Nick Castellanos has a microfracture in his wrist. Arizona Diamondbacks infielder and outfielder Josh Rojas dislocated his left pinkie. Minnesota Twins outfielder and first baseman Alex Kirilloff had his rookie season cut short by wrist surgery.
The cycle never stops, so it's back to the waiver wire to identify some sleepers—available in 50-plus percent of Yahoo leagues, per FantasyPros—who can help in Week 18.
Akil Baddoo, OF, Detroit Tigers (43 Percent Rostered)
Few players have burned hotter this season than Akil Baddoo did during his first taste of the big leagues. In his first eight games, he hit .391 with four home runs, 10 RBI and a stolen base.
But the sizzling stretch didn't last long. By the end of April, he was shouldering a .222 average with 29 strikeouts in 63 at-bats.
Most fantasy managers had understandably jumped ship by that point, but it's time to get back on board with the 22-year-old. His batting average might come and go—after hitting .348 in June, he's down to .238 in July—but he can be a standout in category leagues.
He has 13 stolen bases since the start of May, and after managing just a single home run between then and June, he has jacked three round-trippers over his past seven contests.
Jon Gray, SP, Colorado Rockies (40 Percent Rostered)
Volatility has followed Jon Gray for his entire MLB career, so the risk-averse members of the audience might want to look away.
But those willing to gamble might be rewarded by the 29-year-old either turning a corner or at least piecing together quite the hot streak.
Since returning from the IL on June 25, he has made five starts and allowed three runs or fewer in all of them. Over his past two trips to the mound, he surrendered just nine hits and three earned runs while racking up 14 strikeouts across 13 innings. Those are good numbers on their own, but they are great when considering the competition: first the San Diego Padres and then the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Gray is grooving to the point he looks like a set-it-and-forget-it, matchup-proof starter.
If the hot streak alone isn't enough to lure you in, there's also the chance the impending free agent has a new team by July 30's trade deadline. He hasn't done a bad job of navigating the minefield that is Coors Field—he has actually fared better at home than on the road—but getting away from there could easily mean better days are ahead for his stat sheet.
Joc Pederson, 1B/OF, Atlanta Braves (39 Percent Rostered)
It's hard to overstate the importance of volume for a weekly streamer. A pickup can only help if he's playing every day and getting regular at-bats, right?
That's the genesis of this recommendation. We can't promise a good week for Joc Pederson, who has hit below .230 in three of four months this season. But we can say with a decent amount of confidence that he will have chances to put a good stretch of games together.
For starters, the Braves are one of two teams slated for an eight-game week, so Pederson already gets a leg up on most of his waiver-wire peers. Plus, Atlanta seems locked in to using him as the lead-off hitter, meaning the likes of Ozzie Albies, Freddie Freeman and Austin Riley will provide protection and production right behind him.
Lastly, Pederson can be great when he catches a heat wave. His first two starts with the Braves featured four hits, two extra-base hits (a double and a homer) and four RBI. He batted .314 in the month of May and followed up with seven homers and 16 RBI in June. If you can stomach what might not be a great average, Pederson could provide power production and runs scored in a busy week.