Depth Chart Review: Corey Seager, Jarred Kelenic, & Diamondbacks Injuries
What a great time for baseball with the debut of Jarred Kelenic and Logan Gilbert on Thursday. Kelenic wasted no time and showed why he’s one of the top-hitting prospects in baseball with a big night on Friday. Outside of that, we had a few notable players land on the injured list with a few relievers to consider in deeper leagues for saves.
The injuries came in hot and heavy over the weekend with Corey Seager, Paul DeJong, Michael Conforto, Danny Duffy, and more. It also seems like half the Diamondbacks lineup is on the injured list, which is quite unfortunate though we find a few players that should benefit from their absences. In some leagues with no injured list spots, we have to make tough lineup decisions each week.
Depth Chart Review for Standard (10-12 Team Leagues)
Corey Seager (SS – LAD) Out at Least Four Weeks
After taking a hit by a pitch on Saturday, Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager landed on the 10-day injured list. He fractured his hand and will miss at least four weeks. This opens up playing time for Gavin Lux, who expects to slide over to shortstop. Chris Taylor could factor in as well, given his multi-positional eligibility. However, on Sunday, Taylor missed the game with write soreness, so hopefully, the Dodgers don’t take another hit to their hitting depth.
In May, Lux is hitting .292 with one home run, six runs, and seven RBI. It looks like he’s heating up with playing time opening up as well. He’s a must-start player with the added opportunities. Don’t forget about Zach McKinstry as well, who should return relatively soon with an oblique injury. McKinstry had a .296 batting average with three home runs, seven runs, and 14 RBI in 58 plate appearances.
Paul DeJong (SS – STL) Lands on Injured List
The injury Paul DeJong suffered (non-displaced rib fracture) sounds similar to the injury to Starling Marte, who may not return until early June. Injury timelines are different for each player, but this hurts the Cardinals and fantasy managers in most league sizes. DeJong struggled to start the year with a .177 batting average, but he provided seven home runs, 18 runs, 17 RBI, and two steals.
Although we noticed a slight improvement in plate discipline with a higher walk rate and lower strikeout rate, DeJong’s .176 BABIP reflects in the poor batting average, but his career .288 BABIP and flyball profile lend itself to a lower batting average in the .230-.240 range. In 10-12 team leagues with no middle infield spots, fantasy managers could cut DeJong for another shortstop eligible player.
Players Rehabbing From Injuries
Could Adalberto Mondesi return soon? As a switch hitter, Mondesi reportedly feels good about swinging from the right side. However, Mondesi needs to take more swings from the left side given his oblique injury. With Mondesi’s injury history, let’s hope he’s fully healthy before returning though it looks like he’s close to making his 2021 debut.
Starling Marte is in the early stages of his hitting progression, meaning he’s slowly moving in the right direction. Marte hasn’t played since April 18th, and fantasy managers took a hit since he was playing well with a .315 batting average, two home runs, and three steals in 69 plate appearances. It still sounds like he’s in the early stages of rehab, so we may not see him for a few more weeks at this rate.
Jazz Chisholm returned with a bang over the weekend. He stole his eighth base of the season on Sunday with two hits as well. Good news for fantasy managers that snagged the late-round sleeper with his power and speed skills. Given his upside, plug Chisholm back into lineups immediately.
Jazz Chisholm is now tied for 2nd in the Majors in steals with 8.
He remains the only one that has yet to be caught stealing. pic.twitter.com/KNEeOKkLYY
— Tyler Wilson (@KingOfBuffalo) May 16, 2021
Framber Valdez made a rehab start over the weekend after dealing with a finger injury. With initially mixed reports for Valdez after suffering a fractured ring finger, it sounds like he’s progressing nicely to returning potentially towards June. Although I wasn’t super into Valdez, he showed a bit of his upside in 2020 with a 3.57 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 26.4% strikeout rate, and 5.6% walk rate in 70.2 innings. Valdez is a groundball-heavy pitcher that used his filthy curveball to miss bats with a 17.9% swinging-strike rate and 41.9% whiff rate. Stash him if you can, especially if you need starting pitching depth.
Michael Conforto (OF – NYM) & Jeff McNeil (2B/3B/OF – NYM)
The Mets placed Michael Conforto on the 10-day injured list with a hamstring injury. Although the Mets recalled Khalil Lee, it seems like Kevin Pillar or Lee could benefit from Conforto and Brandon Nimmo hitting the IL. Meanwhile, the Mets also put Jeff McNeil on the IL with a hamstring injury. This appears to free up a bit of playing time for Jonathan Villar and José Peraza in the infield.
Both Villar and Peraza haven’t been that productive outside of short spurts here and there. Villar has a .190 batting average over the past week with a .225 batting average on the season. Peraza played in five games last week and hit .313 with one home run, home run, and five RBI. Neither looks too exciting outside of 15-team leagues where plate appearances matter a bit more with the lack of upside on the waiver wire.
Dinelson Lamet (P – SD) May Shift to the Bullpen
On Sunday, Dinelson Lamet relieved Ryan Weathers after Weathers went four innings with four hits, two earned runs, zero walks, and zero strikeouts. Lamet came in and threw 37 pitches in two innings of work with two hits, one earned run, two walks, and two strikeouts.
Tingler on Lamet: "Maybe he comes out of the bullpen, maybe he starts again." Will see how he responds. Said they'll do whatever is best for him and what keeps him pitching long-term. #Padres
— Annie Heilbrunn (@annieheilbrunn) May 17, 2021
Padres manager Jayce Tingler noted that they plan to do whatever it takes to keep Lamet healthy, even if that means coming out of the bullpen. Given Lamet’s electric stuff and injury history, it raises the question of whether he could thrive in a bullpen role. In four starts, Lamet has only thrown two innings each. Meanwhile, Lamet’s four-seamer velocity is down to 94.8 mph from 97 mph in 2020. That’s quite a drastic dip in velocity, which sometimes could indicate injury concerns, which we already had heading into the season. Lamet was a player to fade for me in the offseason, and he continues to trend that way, assuming he doesn’t land into a follower role that eats up wins or the closer role.
Depth Chart Review for Deep Leagues (15+ Teams)
José Urquidy (SP – HOU)
Astros pitcher José Urquidy left Wednesday’s game with a shoulder injury. Unfortunate news as he pitched well before leaving with 3.2 scoreless innings with four strikeouts against the Angels. Through 44.2 innings in 2021, Urquidy has a 3.22 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 18.6% strikeout rate, and 5.1% walk rate. He’s a pitcher that focuses on control and command that should provide quality ratios, so this stings a bit if he misses a chunk of time. On Sunday, the Astros placed Urquidy on the 10-day injured list with shoulder inflammation. Hang onto Urquidy where you can, but stock up for Luis Garcia in the short term.
Jake Odorizzi (SP – HOU)
In live batting practice, Jake Odorizzi worked up to 35 pitches. Having a forearm injury is a bit worrisome, and he likely won’t return until late May at the earliest. In the meantime, Luis Garcia has held it down fairly well in Odorizzi’s place.
Although Garcia hasn’t pitched more than 5.2 innings in any start, he boasts a solid 28.5% strikeout rate with an 8.9% walk rate. Interestingly Garcia has three pitches with swinging-strike rates above 16% in his cutter, slider, and changeup, which makes sense in observing his strikeout ability. If Odorizzi returns and Uquidy lands on the injured list, Garcia could continue to keep his starting rotation spot given the Astros’ lack of starting pitching depth.
My goodness, the Diamondbacks already missed Ketel Marte and Kole Calhoun. Then over the past week, catcher Carson Kelly, first baseman Christian Walker, and infielder Asdrúbal Cabrera all landed on the injured list. Their ace Zac Gallen also hit the injured list with an elbow injury, which stinks since he pitched well since missing the first week or two of the season.
Gallen has a 3.04 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 27.8% strikeout rate, and 12.2% walk rate in 26.2 innings. Taylor Widener could return in a week or so, or maybe Caleb Smith slides into the rotation once again. However, I’m not sure either player would be considered must-add options even in 15-team leagues. Rather, use the wait and see approach with who fills in for Gallen.
With the rest of the hitter injuries to Kelly, Walker, and Cabrera, it looks like Pavin Smith, Josh Rojas, and Daulton Varsho should all benefit from more secure playing time. Both Smith and Rojas have played well so far this season. While primarily batting leadoff, Smith has a .270 batting average with three home runs, 21 runs, 13 RBI, and one steal. Meanwhile, Josh Rojas is on fire in May with a .380 batting average, two home runs, 13 runs, three RBI, and one steal.
The wildcard involves Daulton Varsho, who received some sleeper buzz heading into the season. However, with Carson Kelly hitting well, the Diamondbacks didn’t need to call him up right away. Although Varsho has catcher eligibility, he’s more of a bat-first catcher. Before Kelly hit the injured list, Varsho played in center field. In two games since Kelly went to the IL, Varsho played catcher in both games.
Ty France (2B – SEA)
The Mariners placed Ty France on the 10-day injured list with inflammation in his left wrist. After his massive Triple-A season in 2019 where he hit 27 home runs with a .399 batting average and a 1.247 OPS, France’s stock went down and up as he made brief MLB appearances. France earned a spot for the Mariners batting towards the top of the lineup.
From April 1st to April 26th, France was hitting .325 with three home runs, 17 runs, and 13 RBI. Then he hit a cold streak with a .063 batting average, zero home runs, four runs, and one RBI. Hang onto France if you can in 15-team leagues with his improved plate discipline in 2021, evidenced by his 27.8% O-Swing% and 91.4% Z-Contact%.
Hunter Dozier (1B/3B/OF – KC) on Concussion Injured List
Have you ever liked a player so much that you can’t quit them? That’s Hunter Dozier for me. He’s struggling quite a bit with a .139 batting average with five home runs, ten runs, 14 RBI, and one steal. Dozier currently has a .153 BABIP, which is drastically lower than his career .302 BABIP, so I expect the batting average to return to the .250-ish range.
On Friday, he collided with José Abreu, and both players left the game. Dozier ended up heading to the 7-day concussion injured list. One concern revolves around his higher chase rate with a 35.4% O-Swing% compared to his career 31.9% O-Swing%. However, Dozier is still making a high level of zone contact with an 87.9% Z-Contact%. Outside of that, Dozier has a career-best 13% barrel rate and 46.8% hard-hit rate. Before Friday’s game, I listed Dozier as a player to buy low on, and I still stand firm on that assuming no other serious injuries.
Danny Duffy (SP – KC) Lands on IL with Left Forearm Flexor Strain
Quite unfortunate news for Danny Duffy since he pitched well to start 2021. Duffy had a 1.94 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 28.2% strikeout rate, and 7.1% walk rate. That’s the best strikeout rate of his career, boosted by a career-high 14.2% swinging-strike rate.
As we dig a little deeper, Duffy’s swinging-strike rate on the slider and four-seamer improved plus improved velocity on both pitches. Stash Duffy in 15-team leagues until we hear more, but forearm strains tend to worry us with pitchers, especially with the increased velocity.
Nate Pearson (P – TOR)
The Blue Jays sent pitcher Nate Pearson to Triple-A, but news broke that he’ll miss his start with right shoulder impingement. Not great news after Pearson dealt with a groin injury and other injuries in the past, which delays his progress as a starting pitcher even more.
I Love (Hate) Saves, Saves
Michael Fulmer (P – DET)
In deeper leagues, consider speculatively picking up Michael Fulmer of the Tigers. He appeared in 13 games with four starts on the season. This is the first season in his MLB career where he came in as a reliever. However, sometimes we see pitchers thrive when they move into a relief role, and it looks like it so far for Fulmer. He’s rocking a 3.45 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 22.3% strikeout rate, and 6.6% walk rate in 28.2 innings. As a reliever, Fulmer has three holds and two saves, which makes him relevant in deep leagues, especially since Fulmer can help with ratios as well.
So what changed for Fulmer? Similar to other starters turned relievers, Fulmer’s velocity increased, particularly all of his pitches so far in 2021. His sinker and four-seamer velocity jumped 2 mph above 95 mph on both pitches. Meanwhile, his slider velocity also increased almost 2 mph. Unsurprisingly, the whiff rate on both fastballs went up over 20% compared to 8.5% or lower in 2020. The skills plus the potential for some saves down the line make him valuable in deeper formats.
Tyler Rogers (P – SF)
In saves plus holds leagues, Tyler Rogers is extremely valuable so far with his ratios plus four saves and ten holds so far. Unfortunately, as a sidearm/submarine pitcher, Rogers doesn’t strike out a bunch of hitters, evidenced by his 13.2% strikeout rate and 4.4% walk rate. However, his minuscule 0.76 ERA and 0.76 WHIP in 23.2 innings help tremendously in rotisserie formats. In 15-team leagues, fantasy managers may have already scooped up Rogers with his hot start, but make sure he isn’t hanging around on waivers for saves and holds.
Update: Tyler Rogers earned his fifth save of the season on Monday night.
Daniel Hudson (P – WSH)
After Brad Hand went nine straight appearances without allowing a run, Hand struggled a bit in recent outings. Meanwhile, Daniel Hudson has pitched well in the setup role with a 1.46 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, 32.6% strikeout rate, and 8.7% walk rate. Hudson hasn’t received any saves opportunities, but he has six holds so far. If Hand keeps struggling, keep an eye on Hudson in 15-team leagues for future saves.
Depth Chart Review for Minor Leaguers
Jarred Kelenic (OF – SEA)
Oh baby, Jarred Kelenic only waited until his second MLB game to make his presence known with a home run and a double on Friday night against Cleveland. As a Mariners’ fan and a baseball fan, I love seeing Kelenic receive a chance in the big leagues with his talent. Grab some popcorn and enjoy.
Congratulations to Jarred Kelenic on his first big league base hit and FIRST BIG LEAGUE HOMER pic.twitter.com/i6LPQM2x7E
— Joe Doyle (@JoeDoyleMiLB) May 15, 2021
Logan Gilbert (P – SEA)
It seems rare for two top prospects on the same team to make their MLB debut in the same game. Well, that ended up happening for Logan Gilbert and Kelenic on Friday. Gilbert went four innings and allowed five hits, four earned runs, and zero walks with five strikeouts. Although the breaking pitches didn’t flash too much on Thursday, it’s his first MLB start, so take it with a grain of salt.
Other Minor League Notes
The Royals optioned Daniel Lynch to Triple-A after brutal starts to the season. After allowing three earned runs in his debut of 4.2 innings pitched, Lynch allowed 11 earned runs in 3.1 innings. Hopefully, fantasy managers didn’t blow too much FAAB on Lynch, but we can cut him in redraft leagues for now. I still believe in the upside, but we may have to wait a bit for it to come to fruition.
Red Sox outfielder Jarren Duran has four home runs and three steals in five attempts with a .283 batting average and .998 OPS in 46 at-bats. Keep an eye on Duran in 15-team leagues, especially with his ability to steal bases. In 2019 at Double-A, Duran stole 28 bases in 36 attempts, so he could provide a much-needed boost for fantasy managers in need of steals if he receives the callup.
After suffering a shoulder injury, Brandon Marsh slowly made his way back with a brief appearance in Triple-A. In 13 at-bats, Marsh already has one home run and one steal and could receive a call before his teammate Jo Adell. However, Adell already smacked four home runs with two steals yet a .214 batting average in 42 at-bats and a 40.4% strikeout rate. Yikes.
Vidal Bruján keeps making his name known with five home runs and three steals with a .319 batting average and 1.088 OPS in 47 at-bats. No need to mention Wander Franco much, but he has three home runs and one steal with a .348 batting average.
On the pitching side, Blue Jays pitcher Alek Manoah is showing off his electric stuff with a 0.00 ERA, 0.42 WHIP, a 12.75 K/9, and 1.50 BB/9. He could receive the call sometime this year if he keeps pitching well in Triple-A.
Have a debut, Alek Manoah!
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) May 7, 2021
If the Diamondbacks keep suffering pitching injuries, Corbin Martin is a name to monitor in 15-team leagues. Martin looks to return from Tommy John surgery that caused him to miss the entire 2020 season. He has a 1.86 ERA in 9.2 innings with a 34.1% strikeout rate and 14.6% walk rate in Triple-A so far this season.
If you want to dive deeper into fantasy baseball, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Baseball Tools as you navigate your season. From our Lineup Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant – that allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team and by how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy baseball season.