Baseball is mostly a non-contact sport than can be played with a beer belly and a dip in the lip. That doesn’t stop guys from getting hurt at a rapid rate.
Big names such as Anthony Rendon (knee) and Jose Fernandez (elbow) are obvious must-holds on fantasy benches until they return. But there are some lesser-known players currently sidelined that will eventually make an impact. The stash candidates:
Jake the snake
Brad Boxberger has been fine as the Rays’ closer this year, but he’s just keeping the seat warm. Jake McGee, he of the career 2.83 ERA and 10.9 K/9 rate is finally nearing a return from December elbow surgery. Expect McGee to finish up his rehab assignment sometime in the next couple weeks and quickly seize control of ninth-inning duties from there. With Joe Maddon gone, the closer’s role should be handled more conventionally.
Southpaw in red
Jaime Garcia’s return from a shoulder issue likely won’t come for at least another month. But with Adam Wainwright (Achilles’ tendon) now done for the year, there should be a rotation spot waiting for him. Garcia has proven to be a mixed-league asset when healthy – something that hasn’t truly been the case since 2012. He’s still just 28 years old though and showed an improved strikeout-to-walk ratio during his 43 2/3 innings last year. Deep-league owners should be monitoring Garcia’s rehab closely.
Park it in the back
We haven’t seen Jarrod Parker since the 2013 playoffs as his strained forearm ended turned into Tommy John surgery. These days, that’s certainly not a negative. Expect Parker to come back strong and although his meager strikeout rate caps upside, we should go out of our way to target pitchers who play in cavernous Oakland. He’s begun his rehab assignment and should be making starts in the bigs by the end of May.
NFL Draft Prospects
Landing spots will be critical for these talents:
1. Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska – The best raw athlete in a loaded running back class. All Abdullah needs is 10-12 touches per game to be a fantasy asset.
2. Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Missouri – If not for off-field issues, this 6’5/237 monster with 4.49 speed would be a top-10 pick.
3. T.J. Yeldon, RB, Alabama – As a freshman, Yeldon was arguably better than Eddie Lacy. If the Cowboys get him, he’ll easily beat out Joseph Randle and Ryan Williams.
The Redskins have picked up Robert Griffin III’s 2016 option, worth $16.1 million. Fantasy owners should note that makes him more likely to get benched or cut during the season. The option becomes guaranteed only if RG3 is hurt when the 2016 league year opens, so if he’s struggling the Redskins will have to quickly get him to the sidelines. The worst possible outcome for them would be paying all that cash to a hurt quarterback they don’t even want. And given Jay Gruden’s obvious lack of faith in Griffin, he’ll be a late-round flier at best come August.