3 Burning Questions (Fantasy Baseball)

by Alex Altmix | @Altmix_23 | Featured Writer
Jun 11, 2019

How concerned should managers be about Aaron Judge when he returns from an oblique injury?

Believe it or not, the 2019 MLB All-Star Game is only four weeks from today, June 11. To say we’ve seen some wackiness might be an understatement; MLB is on pace for more strikeouts than hits for the first time in history. Nevertheless, we’ve been privileged to some historic performances thus far, and the stage is already set for what should be a great stretch run both for baseball and, hopefully, your fantasy team. If you need a little push, this week’s edition of Burning Questions is here to help!

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What can we expect from Didi Gregorius?
I’ve previously talked about how fantasy baseball managers, including myself, can be too farsighted. In the case of Didi Gregorius, I couldn’t disagree with myself any more. Just two weeks ago, the shortstop was somehow only owned in roughly 30% of leagues. That number has already jumped into the 60s and is still rapidly climbing. Frankly, it should be at 100%. The Yankees and fantasy managers alike are happy to see Gregorius back after a quick recovery from Tommy John surgery. Let’s not forget, even with missing games down the stretch of 2018, he was a fantasy stud. Sure, there was some streakiness involved, but if nothing else, he was a solid force for a majority of last season. And that’s exactly what everyone should expect of him in 2019.

While he will inevitably hit a rough patch or two in his midseason comeback from Tommy John surgery, owners should hold firm through the good times and bad. As far as numbers go, there’s no reason to expect much worse from Gregorius than what he has grown to offer. He could easily tally 15 home runs, anywhere from five-10 steals, a respectable average, and a whole bunch of runs and RBIs hitting in the middle of that Yankees lineup. If you were smart enough to grab him a few weeks ago, kudos. If you’re lucky enough to still grab him now, get on it.

Who are some low-owned, high-upside stashes?

Zac Gallen (SP – MIA)
Let me just inform you of Zac Gallen’s Triple-A numbers: 1.57 ERA, 0.70 WHIP, 104 strikeouts, and 16 walks. While those stats clearly speak for themselves, some of the Marlins’ starting pitchers have taken it upon themselves to remind us that pitching in Miami can be fun. Anyone take a flier on Trevor Richards lately? If Gallen gets the call sometime soon, which he eventually should, there’s a lot of upside in his arm.

Trevor Richards (SP – MIA)
Speaking of Richards, here he is. Before you hate on the fact that he’s on the list, hear me out. His FIP and xFIP show regression is coming from his current 3.31 ERA. With that said, anyone who has followed him knows he has a terrific changeup. Last year, he struggled throwing anything other than that pitch. So what has he done to improve? Not only has his fastball become drastically more effective, but he’s thrown his changeup significantly more as well. Richards may not pitch to the 1.74 ERA he’s had over the last month, but he is a developing player with a high ceiling.

Kyle Tucker (OF – HOU)
If the Astros were willing to call up Yordan Alvarez, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be willing to call up Kyle Tucker. While his .267 average in Triple-A isn’t fantastic, his 21 home runs and 14 stolen bases sure are. There’s obviously a logjam of talent in Houston. While the Astros love all of their young players, it wouldn’t be out of the question for someone to get dealt at the deadline. That could be Tucker, or it could open up a spot for the highly touted outfielder.

Alex Wood (SP – CIN)
Slowly but surely, Wood seems to finally be making some progress from his back injury. He just recently threw a successful bullpen session and hopes to soon throw live batting practice. While he clearly will need a long rehab process, a post-All-Star break return isn’t out of the question. He will, of course, pitch in the cozy surroundings of Great American Ballpark upon his return, but don’t forget that Wood has been nothing short of superb when on the mound. In fact, most people probably don’t realize that his career ERA is 3.29. Even if that number rises a bit when he comes back this season, he could still be an effective member of a fantasy rotation.

Which injured slugger’s imminent return is the most worrisome?
Jose Altuve, Giancarlo Stanton, George Springer, Justin Upton, and a few others were all finalists for this title. Really, just looking at all the injuries suffered by star players this season is a bit disheartening. While all of these names could take the cake, none are as worrisome as Aaron Judge. (Sorry, Joey Gallo owners, this will be you eventually.) Oblique injuries are unarguably rough for baseball players. Just think of trying to swing a baseball bat as hard as possible with a sore side; it doesn’t sound fun. Carlos Beltran, who has helped Judge through his rehab process, even went as far as to say that he won’t be 100% the entire rest of the season. For a player like Judge who has made a living crushing home runs, that’s a bleak outlook. Unfortunately, Judge also seems to be becoming injury prone as well. And if there’s anything we know about oblique injuries, it’s that they can be pesky and pop up again. Factor all of that in together, and owners need to temper expectations when the outfielder soon comes back. While he surely will find ways to still produce, his patented mammoth home run shots will probably be fewer and further between until next season.

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Alex Altmix is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Alex, check out his archive or follow him @Altmix_23.

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