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Fantasy baseball update: Injury replacements

Just a week into the (fantasy) baseball season, there are already some major storylines that have developed. One concerns a man/myth named Story, who has, in his first seven major league games, managed to blast seven home runs to lead the league. But what else is very likely is that your team is already experiencing some kind of injury problem. Those unfortunate early-season injuries (hello, Kyle Schwarber) can be especially problematic for early-round picks. Need a replacement? We’re here to help.

Injured: Kyle Schwarber. Schwarber’s collision with Dexter Fowler in the outfield promptly put an end to an extremely promising season just a handful of games in, and was a major downer to Cubs fans (don’t worry though – they’re still 6-1). What’s more, Schwarber qualified as a catcher this year, so for those that had him starting in that position, this is especially devastating.

Schwarber Replacements: Francisco Cervelli, Miguel Montero, J.T. Realmuto. Schwarber’s spot in the outfield is relatively easily to fill, but teams can get creative when replacing him in the catcher spot. Cervelli is third in fantasy points in standard ESPN scoring leagues right now, leads catchers in hits with 10, and is only owned in 65.9% of all leagues. Montero, the actual Cubs starting catcher, may lose a few games here and there to the perennially-aging David Ross, but can hit for relative power and is only owned in 19.6% of leagues. Realmuto, one of two catchers (Posey) with a stolen base as of right now (and also batting over .300), is owned in only 51.5% of leagues.

Injured: A.J. Pollock. This was pretty devastating for fantasy owners, as Pollock was an early-round pick with major upside coming off of a great season. Last year, he hit for a .315 average, with 20 home runs, 76 RBIs, 39 stolen bases and 111 runs. With a fractured right elbow, he’s not likely to return this year. (Also injured: Ender Inciarte, Shin-Soo Choo.)

Pollock Replacements: Jeremy Hazelbaker, Carlos Beltran, Eduardo Escobar. Two extremely young options, and one option that turns 38 pretty soon, but all three are definitely interesting replacement picks that could have major upside. Overshadowed by Trevor Story is Jeremy Hazelbaker, the guy who doesn’t even have his picture in ESPN yet – and is sixth overall in OF scoring. He’s batting a ridiculous .526 through seven games, including a 4-for-4 effort on Monday night; he’s only owned in 38.2% of all leagues. Beltran, who is likely in one of his last seasons, can still hit for power and is in the midst of a pretty good Yankees lineup, is only owned in 33.8% of all leagues. And Escobar, who has showed his reliability in Minnesota, is not only batting .370 right now, he also qualifies at the shortstop position, something that’s always nice for leagues with few bench positions. Escobar, much like the other two, is only owned is 37.3% of all leagues.

Injured: Andrew Heaney, Tyson Ross. Both young intriguing options at pitcher will be serving some time on the DL after various strains, and while neither represented an elite option, both were likely mid-round picks in your league who had some standing on your team.

Pitcher Replacements: Aaron Nola, Kenta Maeda, Chris Tillman, Carlos Rodon. Nola, the sophomore phenom out of Philadelphia, has already provided two starts in which he went at least seven innings deep and struck out at least eight. Don’t expect a lot of wins out of him as he plays for the Phillies, but he’s owned in 58.6% of leagues and is generally very reliable. Maeda, who has gone 12 innings without allowing a run in the majors so far, obviously provides an interesting shakeup to your team – he’s unpredictable as of right now and has yet to face a good team (his starts came against the Diamondbacks and Padres), but clearly has the stuff to make it in the majors. He’s owned in just 85.5% of leagues right now. Tillman, a back-of-the-rotation starter out of Baltimore, plays for a team that is so-far undefeated, but will definitely have run support throughout the season. Rodon, the third starter for the so-far pitching heavy White Sox, impressed in his rookie season last year, and started 2016 by going seven deep against the Athletics, allowing just two runs and striking out six. Rodon’s ability to go deep into games is something that he’s been working on in the offseason, and he’s likely to provide some quality innings with relative run support this year; he’s owned in just 57.5% of all leagues.

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Photo courtesy of the Washington Times.

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