Depth Chart Review: Franmil Reyes, Willy Adames Trade, Spencer Howard (2021 Fantasy Baseball)
More and more injuries to key players like Mike Trout, the entire Mets roster, and Franmil Reyes, most or all of which fantasy managers should hang onto. However, no injured list spots make it difficult to do so, depending on the roster size and format. On the flip side, we have some players rehabbing and working their way back from injuries. Oh, and we can’t forget the back-to-back no-hitters. Let’s dive right in with a busy week of injuries, call-ups, and more.
Depth Chart Review for 10-12 Team Leagues
Mike Trout (OF – LAA)
No, no, no! We don’t like this, especially when one of the best players in the game lands on the injured list for an extended period. Mike Trout suffered a calf injury that will keep him out for 6-8 weeks, which means he won’t be able to return until early July, assuming no setbacks in rehab. Nothing else to do other than stash and hold Trout, who had eight home runs, 23 runs, 18 RBI, and two steals with a .333 batting average and 1.090 OPS.
J.T. Realmuto (C – PHI) Hits the Injured List
Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto hit the 10-day injured list with a hand injury. As the No. 1 catcher based on ADP and rankings, Realmuto has four home runs, 16 runs, 17 RBI, and three steals with a .294 batting average. In 15-team two catcher leagues, look for Andrew Knapp to stream for one week until Realmuto returns.
Cody Bellinger (1B/OF – LAD)
Cody Bellinger made a rehab assignment on Friday. Then on Saturday, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts noted Bellinger could return in the next week. That’s good news for the Dodgers and fantasy managers. Hopefully, he’s fully healthy and makes the necessary fantasy impact we’re waiting for as one of the rare power/speed hitters at first base.
Dave Roberts said it’s “fair” to expect Cody Bellinger and Zach McKinstry back with the big league club next weekend.
— Fabian Ardaya (@FabianArdaya) May 23, 2021
Mike Moustakas (1B/2B/3B – CIN) Hits the 10-day Injured List
Unfortunately, Mike Moustakas landed on the 10-day injured list with a heel injury, but it sounds like he will only stay for a minimum of ten days. Interestingly, Moustakas hasn’t barreled up the ball much in 2021 with a 4.2% barrel rate and 29.2% hard-hit rate. Both those numbers rank as career lows, which isn’t great, but maybe he’s off to a slow start or experiencing a nagging injury. Just something to note when he returns.
Stephen Strasburg (SP – WSH) Returned From the Injured List
On Friday, Stephen Strasburg made his third start of the season. Strasburg threw 72 pitches across 5.1 innings with one hit, four walks, and four strikeouts. He finished with a 33% whiff rate and 29% CSW% overall, with the four-seamer and changeup performing relatively well in his first start back.
Jorge Polanco (2B/SS – MIN)
On Thursday, the Twins played a doubleheader against Cleveland, and Jorge Polanco left the second game with ankle soreness. In October 2020, Polano underwent ankle surgery, and he dealt with ankle injuries in the past. The Twins kept him out of the lineup on Friday. In May, Polanco is hitting better in 2021 with a .266 batting average and .825 OPS compared to a .207 batting average and .555 OPS in April. Hopefully, it’s just precautionary given Polanco’s history of ankle injuries.
Update: The Twins kept Polanco out of the lineup for three straight days over the weekend, then also kept him out on Monday, which makes us a bit concerned.
Michael Conforto and Jeff McNeill have hamstring strains that will likely keep them out until late June. That’s unfortunate news for both hitters. Do your best to hold onto both hitters, although it makes it more difficult with no injured list spots.
Rojas compared the Conforto and McNeil hamstring strains to Robinson Cano's strain in August 2019, in that there is no timeline on either injury because they could return sooner/later than a projected outlook. (Cano returned in a month, his timeline was 6-8 weeks.)
— Deesha (@DeeshaThosar) May 23, 2021
Speaking of hamstring injuries, Carlos Carrasco also may be out until early July. In leagues with no injured list spots, I could see fantasy managers cutting Carrasco for a starting player, given the likelihood of having a bench full of injured players. We may or may not be speaking from personal experience here.
Carlos Carrasco (torn right hamstring) won't return to the Mets until "late June, maybe early July," according to Mets general manager Zack Scott's best estimate.
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) May 24, 2021
Players Rehabbing From Injuries
Paul DeJong likely won’t return until sometime in June with a non-displaced rib fracture. As of now, he doesn’t have a timeline to return. DeJong provided some counting stats with 18 runs, seven home runs, 17 RBI, and two steals, yet struggled with a .177 batting average. In 15-team leagues, keep hanging onto DeJong if you can, but he’s cuttable in 10-12 team leagues assuming better options on waivers.
It’s typically a bit concerning when a player comes off the injured list with an injury then re-lands on the injured list with a similar oblique injury. Well, that’s the case for Christian Walker, who started hitting on Friday, which is a good sign in his progression. All of Walker’s hard-hit metrics dropped to career lows, which raises concerns, especially with a power hitter like Walker.
George Springer is dealing with a quad injury and similarly reaggravated an injury like Christian Walker. Not great, but it sounds like the Blue Jays plan to take it slow with Springer to avoid future setbacks or reinjury. Keep hanging onto Springer, of course, in all formats. In 15-team leagues, some outfield options include Yonathan Daza, Taylor Ward, or Leury García.
On Friday, Starling Marte took swings at batting practice. Marte worked up from hitting against a pitching machine then now to batting practice. He hasn’t played since April 20th, and many fantasy managers are itching for Marte’s return. Hopefully, he doesn’t suffer any setbacks in the next steps of his rehab.
Elieser Hernandez with another impressive rehab start
4.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K (55 pitches)
Not all about the slider! Overpowered a bunch of hitters with his heater too.
— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) May 23, 2021
Marlins pitcher Elieser Hernandez pitched well in a Triple-A game over the weekend. Hernandez struck out eight hitters with zero earned runs in four innings. He worked up to 55 pitches, which is a good sign as he rehabs from a biceps injury.
On Thursday, Jesús Luzardo will make a rehab start. Luzardo landed on the injured list in early May with a finger injury after some struggles with consistency in six starts. Although Luzardo’s 5.79 ERA isn’t great, it should inch back down with his .350 BABIP allowed and 63.2% LOB% in 28 innings.
Franmil Reyes (UT – CLE) Hits the IL with Abdominal Strain
Unfortunately, Franmil Reyes expects to miss about 5-7 weeks with abdominal/oblique strain. That puts his timeline for return out until mid-July. Reyes was off to a productive start with 11 home runs, 21 runs, 29 RBI, and one steal with a .257 batting average and .893 OPS. Unsurprisingly, Reyes is destroying baseballs with a 20.6% barrel rate and 53.6% hard-hit rate. Hang onto Reyes in all formats if you can with the impact power and production, but that’s a long time to hold on.
Cleveland called up infielder Owen Miller, who hit well in Triple-A with two home runs, 11 runs, and nine RBI with a .406 batting average and 1.066 OPS. Although none of Miller’s tools grade higher than average or 50-grade, he showed solid plate discipline with a low strikeout rate in the minors and an 8.2% walk rate in Double-A in 2019. Just keep Miller’s name in mind if he pops while receiving some playing time.
Depth Chart Review for 15-Team Leagues
Logan Webb (SP – SF) Placed On the 10-day Injured List
Before Logan Webb’s last start, Webb dominated against the Rangers. I joked that Webb deserved a new nickname – Logan “Whiffs” Webb after his filthy performance.
New nickname – Logan “Whiffs” Webb. This is sexy. 😎🔥 pic.twitter.com/ht33qD8iFs
— Corbin (@corbin_young21) May 12, 2021
Webb’s changeup elicited a 69% whiff rate and 44% CSW%. Meanwhile, Webb’s slider also finished with a high 80% whiff rate and 35% CSW% compared to a 41% whiff rate and 36% CSW% overall.
Webb faced the Reds in a two-start week and pitched well with six hits, one walk, and four strikeouts in six scoreless innings. Webb left Monday’s game against the Reds and then landed on the injured list with a strained shoulder on Thursday. In that start, Webb didn’t use his changeup as much but used the slider the most at 34%. His slider finished with a 43% whiff rate and 38% CSW%. If you somehow have little to no injuries, I could understand holding onto Webb. However, he’s cuttable in 15-team leagues with no injured list spots.
Alex Kirilloff (OF – MIN) Returns
Hey, we have good news – Alex Kirilloff rejoined the Twins on Friday against Cleveland. After four home runs in four games before hitting the injured list, Kirilloff went 3-for-13 in three games over the weekend. It’s a small sample, but Kirilloff’s hitting the ball hard with a 22.5% barrel rate and 60% hard-hit rate. If he was dropped, pick him up immediately.
Trevor Larnach (OF – MIN)
It’s nice to see the Twins playing Trevor Larnach consistently since his call-up on May 7th. Larnach hasn’t lit the world on fire, but the 116 mph maximum exit velocity gives us an indication of his raw power. However, I’m a bit worried that he loses playing time with Kirilloff back and healthy, give they both bat from the left side and fit that corner outfielder/first base profile.
Cavan Biggio (2B/OF – TOR) Hits the IL
After a brutal start to 2021 and on many fade lists, including mine, Cavan Biggio landed on the injured list with a cervical spine ligament sprain. After initially noted as a neck injury, we now have clarity on this injury, but not good news for Biggio.
On the season, Biggio has a .205 batting average and .630 OPS with three home runs, 14 runs, 11 RBI, and two steals. I thought he could’ve benefitted from a more aggressive approach. So far, it appears he’s swinging more and chasing more, evidenced by a 41.2% Swing% and 23.5% O-Swing% compared to career rates of 17.2% O-Swing% and 36.8% Swing%.
Even in OBP leagues, Biggio isn’t helping much with a .315 OBP and 13.2% walk rate that dropped from a career .359 OBP and 15.6% walk rate. In 15-team leagues, I would consider cutting him if you find a better option on waivers though it’s likely slim pickings.
Willy Adames (SS – MIL) Traded to the Brewers
On Friday afternoon, the Rays dealt shortstop Willy Adames and pitcher Trevor Richards to the Brewers for a couple of relievers. The Rays acquired J.P. Feyereisen and Drew Rasmussen. Feyereisen pitched well to begin the 2021 season and flew under the radar a bit until I stumbled across his name mentioned by Greg Jewett of The Athletic. We’ll touch on Adames to the Brewers and what that means. Then we’ll discuss how that shakes up the Rays bullpen.
At 25-years old, Adames is still in the prime of his career, with his best season coming in 2019 with 20 home runs and four steals with a .254 batting average. In 2020, he produced decently with eight home runs and two steals with a .259 batting average in 205 plate appearances, but the strikeout and walk rate increased a bit. So far this season, Adames is hitting .203 with five home runs and one steal.
Concerning trend for Willy Adames with a tiny bit of hope.
🤙2019: 27.5% O-Swing%, 84.5% Z-Contact%, 8.4% Barrel%
🧐2020: 29.2% O-Swing%, 73.2% Z-Contact%, 9.9% Barrel%
😬2021: 34.9% O-Swing%, 70.1% Z-Contact%🥴, 14.8% Barrel%🔥
Career-high Barrel% yet chasing#FantasyBaseball pic.twitter.com/b9u3QwsFuH
— Corbin (@corbin_young21) May 22, 2021
When we look at plate discipline, we see positive signs with a career-worst chase rate at 34% while the contact rates keep dropping. Adames went from 84.5% Z-Contact% in 2019 to 73.2% in 2020, then 70.7% in 2021. Meanwhile, he went from about a league-average 75.7% Contact% to 63.9% and 62.9% in 2021. Yikes.
I worry any time the Rays trade away a player, but the Brewers desperately need shortstop help. Overall, it’s an upgrade in terms of Park Factors per EV Analytics from the Rays home ballpark to the Brewers home ballpark. Interestingly, Adames boasts a career-high 14% barrel rate, so maybe the production will come, although the higher chase rate and decreased contact rates worry me.
J.P. Feyereisen (RP – TB)
With Feyereisen on the Rays, it looks like an attempt to boost their bullpen depth. In 21.1 innings, he has a 2.95 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 27.4% strikeout rate, and 14.3% walk rate. Feyereisen recorded nine holds with two blown save chances. Then on Sunday, he earned a save with two strikeouts and one hit in one inning of work. So far, he’s limiting hard contact, and his three-pitch mix is missing bats. The slider elicits a 14.4% swinging-strike rate, and the changeup results in a 36% swinging-strike rate. Just a name to monitor in saves plus holds league for now.
Kenta Maeda (SP – MIN) Lands on the IL
After dealing with groin tightness, Kenta Maeda left Saturday’s start due to aggravating his groin injury. Then on Sunday, Maeda landed on the injured list with a right adductor strain, which essentially is a groin strain. Maeda mostly struggled with a 5.27 ERA and 1.48 WHIP with a 20.5% strikeout rate and a 5.8% walk rate. After an outlier 2020 season where Maeda had a 2.70 ERA, the .336 BABIP allowed and 67.4% LOB% give us reasons for optimism in 2021. Even Maeda’s slider and splitter look less effective, with an 18.7% swinging-strike rate on the slider in 2020 down to 14.1% in 2021. Meanwhile, Maeda’s splitter elicited a 26% swinging-strike rate in 2020 that lowered to 13.3% in 2021.
Victor Robles (OF – WSH) Hits the IL
When doing the Nationals game recaps for the site, I’ve closely monitored Victor Robles. Unfortunately, we have little reason for optimism about his walk rate, OBP, and decent production in May. Robles landed on the 10-day injured list with an ankle injury, and he’s cuttable in 10-12 team leagues with the lack of production. However, in 15-team leagues, try holding on if you can with a .271 batting average and .748 OPS in May with three steals in four attempts.
Keston Hiura (2B – MIL) Returns to the Majors
After a putrid start to 2021, Keston Hiura had one home run and one steal with a .152 batting average. Then at Triple-A, Hiura hit three home runs with two steals and a .438 batting average. Scoop Hiura back up in all leagues with his upside, hoping he made the necessary adjustments in Triple-A.
James Karinchak vs. Emmanuel Clase
Emmanuel Clase hit cruise control for a bit up until their series against the Mariners. Although it’s only a handful of games, Clase looks to have lost the primary closer job for the moment. Up until May 11th, Clase had a 1.17 ERA, a 1.32 WHIP, a 23.9% strikeout rate, and a 4.5% walk rate. Although Clase doesn’t miss many bats, he elicits a high 72.6% ground ball rate. Since then, Clase hasn’t allowed an earned run yet has six walks and three strikeouts in four appearances.
Update: Clase pitched a scoreless 9th inning to earn his 8th save with one hit, two walks, and one strikeout on Monday.
Meanwhile, the GIF-worthy and electric James Karinchak recorded saves on back-to-back days on Tuesday and Wednesday. Karinchak has a ridiculous 51.4% strikeout rate and 10% walk rate paired with a 0.47 ERA and 0.52 WHIP. Expect those ratios to regress a bit given Karinchak’s .080 BABIP allowed and 100% strand rate. With Karinchak already rostered in leagues, don’t drop Clase quite yet as he could factor into the saves conversation once again. Regardless, it’s a good problem to have for Cleveland with two filthy relievers with slightly different skill sets.
Overall, the Giants have a pretty interesting lefty-righty combo in their bullpen, factoring into saves. On the one hand, we have Jake McGee with an 88.3% four-seam usage, down from 96.4% in 2020. McGee recorded three straight saves from May 7th – May 11th, then gave up two earned runs and took the loss on May 15th. However, McGee also recorded a save on May 18th against the Reds. Meanwhile, from May 13th to May 17th, Tyler Rogers earned three saves of his own, which indicates they’ll mix it up a bit. Keep holding onto both relievers, although I prefer Rogers at this point.
Other Reliever Notes
Make sure Michael Fulmer and Hansel Robles aren’t hanging around on waivers. Both relievers earned save chances recently though they might share save opportunities. Priority goes to Fulmer over Robles even though Fulmer struggled on Sunday and took the loss after a blown save when he allowed two earned runs and two hits without recording an out. Other relievers to speculate on include Daniel Hudson with Brad Hand struggling, although the Nationals keep going back to Hand with a couple of saves over the weekend. Also, keep an eye on J.P. Feyereisen, who we noted earlier as he received a save on Sunday.
Depth Chart Review for Minor Leaguers
Brandon Marsh (OF – LAA) & Jo Adell (OF – LAA)
Recent reports indicate that both Angels outfielders in Brandon Marsh and Jo Adell won’t receive a callup soon, even with Mike Trout hitting the injured list. Similar to the next situation, many thought that Marsh or Adell would receive the call-up. They’re both on the 40-man roster, so what’s the holdup? Adell’s likely need for improved plate discipline with his 34.2% strikeout rate and 7.9% walk rate in Triple-A. Sure Adell has nine home runs and two steals, but the high strikeout rate worries us. With Marsh, he isn’t off to a great start with a .194 batting average, one home run, and one steal. Furthermore, the Angels probably want to ease Marsh back into game action after dealing with a shoulder injury.
Taylor Walls (SS – TB)
On Friday, the Rays traded away Willy Adames and then called up shortstop prospect Taylor Walls. Although some hoped Wander Franco would receive the call, Walls and Vidal Bruján seemed like the most likely candidates since they’re both on the 40-man roster. In 2021, Walls hit two home runs with two steals and a .327 batting average in 62 plate appearances at Triple-A. Walls graded as having an average hit tool with below-average power and average speed. Although no tools look exciting fantasy-wise, Walls could be a better real-life player. He’s a name to monitor in deeper leagues if he hits and provides a decent batting average.
Update: In three games, Walls has three hits in 14 plate appearances with two doubles, four runs scored, and one RBI. Walls played three days in a row, which is a good sign that he could earn some playing time early.
Spencer Howard (P – PHI)
On Saturday, the Phillies called up Spencer Howard in their series against the Red Sox. Unfortunately, Howard struggled in his brief start on Saturday with one hit, two earned runs, and four walks allowed with five strikeouts in three innings. Howard used a heavy four-seam approach at 72% usage, and it elicited a 39% whiff rate and 37% CSW%.
We also notice Howard struggled a bit with the four-seamer command based on the Baseball Savant Pitch Illustrator, so that likely contributed to the four walks on Saturday.
In his first MLB season, Howard finished with a 5.92 ERA, 1.64 WHIP, 20.4% strikeout rate, and 8.8% walk rate. Then Howard dealt with a back injury that held him back to start the season. He came up for one inning of relief in mid-April, then the Phillies optioned him back down. In nine innings at Triple-A, Howard had a 1.00 ERA and 0.89 WHIP. The Phillies have one open spot in the rotation, so let’s see if Howard seizes the opportunity and builds upon Saturday’s start.
Other Minor League Notes
Alek Manoah keeps cruising with a 0.50 ERA, 0.56 WHIP, a 40.9% strikeout rate, and a 4.5% walk rate in 18 innings. Given the Blue Jays pitching needs, it seems like Manoah is pushing for a call towards the majors. However, Manoah isn’t on the 40-man roster, so we’ll see what the Blue Jays do with him.
Update: Manoah expects to debut on Wednesday against the Yankees. He’s a must-add in all formats with the strikeout upside. However, keep in mind Manoah only has 35 innings pitched in the minor leagues.
Admittedly, I hadn’t heard of Chris Gittens outside of the RotoWire Prospect Podcast with James Anderson. Gittens is raking with four home runs, a .323 batting average, and 1.297 OPS. He grades out as having 80-grade power yet a below-average hit tool. At Double-A in 2019, Gittens hit 23 home runs and a .281 batting average. So far, at Triple-A in 2021, he already hit four home runs with a .323 batting average. He finished with a 323.8-foot fly ball distance that would’ve ranked highly amongst Double-A hitters. Overall, Gittens is just a name to monitor in deep leagues.
Chris Gittens got Friday's action started with an early bang. 💥 pic.twitter.com/gsjCCc9Zmj
— SWB RailRiders (@swbrailriders) May 7, 2021
Keep stashing Vidal Bruján even with Taylor Walls being called up. Bruján has six home runs, and seven steals with a .333 batting average. Again, the power for Bruján is something worth monitoring if that translates to the majors.
Although MacKenzie Gore is struggling in Triple-A with a 7.24 ERA, 1.76 WHIP, 18.2% strikeout rate, and 7.6% walk rate, I’m still holding out hope. It’s not a good start to the minor league season for him, and let’s hope he fixes the issues going on.
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