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Depth Chart Review: Veteran Injuries, Minor League Hitters, Jarred Kelenic (2021 Fantasy Baseball)

by Corbin Young | @corbin_young21 | Featured Writer
May 11, 2021

Jarred Kelenic is showing us why many fantasy managers keep stashing him.

One of the headliners from last week involved the Angels designating Albert Pujols for assignment. As one of the most consistent and elite hitters, we shouldn’t remember him for his recent years. Throughout his career, Pujols has 667 home runs, 1,852 runs, 2,112 RBI, and 115 steals with a career 142 wRC+. In St. Louis, Pujols averaged over 40 home runs, 117 runs, and 120 RBI for 11 years. Wow! We’ll discuss this situation a bit more later.

We still observed several key players landing on the injured list or leaving with injuries, but it seems like fewer than the past week. Unfortunately, star players like Byron Buxton, George Springer, and Christian Yelich landed on the injured list, with several other fantasy-relevant players doing the same. News broke on Monday evening that Jarred Kelenic will reportedly be called up on Thursday. I’m salivating. As always, feel free to hit me up on Twitter @Corbin_Young21.

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Albert Pujols Designated for Assignment

With this move, the Angels clear playing time for Jared Walsh to play at first base instead of the aging Albert Pujols. Through 92 plate appearances, Pujols had a .198 batting average with five home runs, nine runs, 12 RBI, and one steal in 2021. We gradually observed the decline in counting stats even though the hard-hit metrics looked sneakily decent with a 9.6% barrel rate, 112.9 mph maximum exit velocity, and 41.1% hard-hit rate. 

Who benefits from Pujols gone? It’s Jared Walsh, as he played at first base in back-to-back games after mostly playing in the outfield previously. In the middle of April, I noted Walsh’s changes in a previous Depth Chart Review and that he’s legit. Although Walsh hasn’t had the same level of zone contact, he’s still making contact similar to the league average. In 132 plate appearances, Walsh has six home runs, 15 runs, 27 RBI, and one steal with a triple slash of .330/.409/.548. Although it’s sad to see that Pujols isn’t on an MLB roster, the Angels seemingly made the right move if they’re constructing a win-now roster. 

Jacob deGrom Exits

On Sunday, Jacob deGrom exited with a side injury. He underwent an MRI on his right lower back area. deGrom left after 68 pitches through five innings where he allowed one hit, one earned run, and three walks with six strikeouts. On Monday afternoon, the Mets announced they would place him on the 10-day injured list on Tuesday with a side injury.

Luke Voit Returning

Horray, Yankees’ first baseman Luke Voit is returning on Tuesday for the Yankees series against the Rays. Voit hit well in his rehab games at Triple-A, and we expect him to receive everyday at-bats in the heart of the Yankees lineup. Through Sunday, Voit has three home runs, five runs scored, and six RBI with a .389 batting average in 18 at-bats. 

Adalberto Mondesi (SS – KC)
In a recent report, Adalberto Mondesi is making progress with his oblique injury. However, the team doesn’t want to rush him back onto the field. Given the draft capital for Mondesi, fantasy managers need to hang on, especially with his massive upside. Hopefully, Mondesi still gives us a few months of fantasy goodness when he returns. 

Byron Buxton (OF – MIN)
To begin the 2021 season, Byron Buxton looks dominant with a .370 batting average, nine home runs, 19 runs, 17 RBI, and five steals. We knew the elite power existed, and we have evidence of that with a 21.7% barrel rate, 115.6 mph maximum exit velocity, and 60.9% hard-hit rate, all of which rank as career bests. 

Unfortunately, Byron Buxton landed on the 10-day injured list last week with a Grade 2 hip strain. Early indications note that Buxton will miss several weeks, which stings quite a bit since the breakout was happening. Hang onto Buxton in all formats. Unfortunately, there isn’t a clear replacement for him other than Jake Cave in centerfield. However, the Twins called up outfielder Trevor Larnach particularly after Alex Kirilloff headed to the injured list with a wrist injury. We’ll note Larnach a bit later in the minor league section since he’s an intriguing talent.

Christian Yelich (OF – MIL)
On May 3rd, the Brewers activated Christian Yelich from the 10-day injured list with a lower back strain. Then the following day, Yelich fell back onto the injured list with a lower back strain. That’s concerning. He came out hitting well with a .353 batting average, zero home runs, eight runs, one RBI, and two steals in 41 plate appearances.

Yelich is another player like Adalberto Mondesi, where it’s frustrating to spend a high draft pick on a player injured early. It’s difficult to find any smooth replacements for Yelich because the Brewers team hitters have a .296 wOBA that ranks 26th in the league. Outside of Jackie Bradley Jr., Lorenzo Cain, and Avísail García, the Brewers’ outfielders aren’t worth rostering unless it’s a desperation option in 15-team leagues. 

George Springer (OF – TOR)
Unfortunately, George Springer re-landed on the injured list with a quad injury that solidifies playing time for their most productive outfielder so far in Randal Grichuk. Fortunately or unfortunately, we observed a similar situation to Christian Yelich. I say fortunately because Springer at least provided a two-home run game against the Braves. It looked like the Blue Jays eased his way back since they played him as the designated hitter for four games.

The Blue Jays recalled Jonathan Davis, but he’s not fantasy-relevant outside of AL-only leagues. Keep stashing Springer, of course, in all formats. In standard 10-12 team leagues, make sure Randal Grichuk isn’t hanging around on waivers because he’s hitting well in 2021. Grichuk holds a .295 batting average with six home runs, 16 runs, and 28 RBI in 131 plate appearances. 

Ian Happ (2B/OF – CHC)
After colliding with teammate Nico Hoerner last Tuesday, Ian Happ landed on the 10-day injured list with a rib injury on Friday. In 10-12 team leagues, fantasy managers can consider cutting Happ if they ran out of injured list spots. He looks dreadful to start the season with a .167 batting average with two home runs, nine runs, four RBI, and one steal. Happ consistently bats leadoff for the Cubs, but he’s off to a slow start.

However, Happ is hitting the ball relatively hard with a 9.6% barrel rate and 53.8% hard-hit rate. In deep leagues, one could consider Matt Duffy or David Bote, but you’re likely better off looking elsewhere. However, we’ll note that Duffy has hit well in 2021 with a .288 batting average and three steals in 71 plate appearances. 

Ke’Bryan Hayes Shifts to 60-day Injured List

In recent weeks, we thought Ke’Bryan Hayes might return soon. However, the Pirates shifted Hayes to the 60-day injured list that means he likely won’t return until early June. Fortunately, Pirates manager Derek Shelton noted he didn’t suffer any setbacks, but it seems like they’re easing him along. Keep stashing in all formats if you can with his power and speed skills. 

Carlos Carrasco Shifts to 60-day Injured List

Last week, the Padres shifted Carlos Carrasco to the 60-day injured list. Before we freak out, it sounds like Carrasco hasn’t experienced any setbacks, but they’re taking their time with his rehab. That said, it looks like he won’t return until sometime in June. Carrasco expected to make a rehab start soon, but the Mets can now take their time with his recovery.

Alex Kirilloff Hits the Injured List

I feel like the GIF of Michael Scott from The Office, where he says, “Nope. Don’t like that.” That’s how many fantasy managers feel about Kirilloff’s wrist injury that landed him on the 10-day injured list. Kirilloff hit all four of his home runs over the past four games with a seven-game hit streak before his injury. It’s a small sample, but he’s rocking a 26.7% barrel rate and 63.3% hard-hit rate in 30 batted ball events. Keep stashing him in all formats with his upside. 

Depth Chart Review for Deep Leagues

Enrique Hernández (2B/OF – BOS)
After leaving the game on Thursday with a hamstring injury, Enrique Hernández landed on the 10-day injured list. Hernández led off in every game this season that he started, which tells us he’s the everyday Red Sox leadoff hitter. In 124 plate appearances, he has four home runs, 19 runs, and ten RBI with a .239 batting average. Hopefully, this hamstring injury doesn’t keep him out too long, but he’s worth holding onto in 15-team leagues since Hernández is accumulating runs and plate appearances. 

Joey Votto (1B – CIN)
The Reds placed Joey Votto on the 10-day injured list with a thumb injury that will reportedly keep him for a month or so. So far in 2021, Votto is using a more aggressive approach, evidenced by his 47.2% Swing% compared to a career 42% Swing%. Meanwhile, Votto’s 26.2% O-Swing% rates as the highest chase rate since 2010. Interestingly, Votto also holds a career-worst 75.9% Z-Contact% compared to 85.4% in his career. However, with his aggressive approach, Votto boasts the best hard-hit metrics of his career across the board. 

Recent reports indicate that Votto could miss about a month, which makes it difficult to hang onto him in 15-team leagues with no injured list spots. Stash him if you have an injured list spot, especially in OBP leagues, but fantasy managers could cut Votto if there’s a better option. Early indications with lineups look like Mike Moustakas moves over to first base with Eugenio Suárez shifts over to third with Kyle Farmer at shortstop. 

Rafael Dolis (RP – TOR)
On Friday night, Blue Jays reliever Rafael Dolis left the game with an apparent injury that was later reported as a calf injury. Dolis threw ten pitches but didn’t record an out yet allowed one hit, two earned runs, and one walk. He earned three saves in three opportunities, with them all coming in recent games. With Dolis landing on the 10-day injured list, Jordan Romano could slide into save chances in the short term, but Tyler Chatwood or other relievers could mix in as well. Romano has pitched well through 8.2 innings with a 3.12 ERA and 1.27 WHIP but hasn’t recorded a save in 2021. 

Depth Chart Review for Minor Leaguers

Trevor Larnach (OF – MIN)
Twins outfielder Trevor Larnach grades as having an average hit tool with plus raw power and average game power. At Double-A in 2019, Larnach hit seven home runs, 26 runs, and 22 RBI with a slash line of .295/.387/.455 in 181 plate appearances. Through 15 plate appearances in 2021 at Triple-A, Larnach hit two home runs with four runs and four RBI. In 15-team leagues, fantasy managers should add Larnach even though there’s some risk of him going back down if Byron Buxton and Alex Kirilloff return. However, the timelines for Buxton and Kirilloff sound longer than the minimum 10-day injured list, which extends the opportunities for Larnach.

Nate Pearson (SP – TOR)
The Blue Jays called up Nate Pearson for Sunday’s start against the Astros. He threw 64 pitches in 2.1 innings and looked ineffective given that he allowed four hits, three earned runs, and five walks with zero strikeouts. We should probably give Pearson a pass for this start since he only recorded one whiff total across all pitches. 

Keep stashing Pearson in 15-team leagues, and let’s see what he looks like in his next appearance. 

Daniel Lynch (SP – KC)
Last weekend, the Royals called up Daniel Lynch to make two starts against Cleveland and the Chicago White Sox. Against Cleveland, Lynch threw 74 pitches in 4.2 innings while he allowed four hits, three earned runs, and four walks with three strikeouts. In this start, the slider elicited a 43% whiff rate, and he primarily relied on his four-seam and slider for 85% of his pitches. We figured it was likely nerves in his first start, but his next start against the White Sox ended poorly.

I’m not sure how much we can take away from Daniel Lynch’s most recent start against the White Sox. Lynch threw 34 pitches in 0.2 innings and allowed seven hits, eight earned runs, and one walk with zero strikeouts. It’s safe to say this was a forgettable start for him. However, it looks like an unfair matchup even with a depleted White Sox lineup. In 2021, the White Sox have the highest wRC+ (141) and wOBA (.367) against left-handed pitchers. It’s something to monitor for pitchers facing the White Sox and Lynch if he faces them again.

Luis Patiño & Shane McClanahn (P – TB)
In two previous starts, Luis Patiño followed Shane McClanahan with short 2-3 inning stints. However, on Tuesday, Patiño will start against the Yankees. Given his limited pitch count, Patiño likely won’t go more than 3-4 innings unless he’s efficient with his pitches. Patiño primarily uses a four-seam and slider combination with the slider resulting in a 45.5% whiff rate. If his usage and role change, then he’s someone to target in 15-team leagues.

Meanwhile, Shane McClanahan worked four innings in all three appearances. In his last start on May 9th, McClanahan built up to 80 pitches, which is a good sign for an increased workload down the line. On Sunday, his slider looked filthy with a 44% whiff rate and 32% CSW%, and he used it 48% of the time.

Other Minor League Notes

Diamondbacks outfielder Corbin Carroll has one home run, two triples, and three steals with a .333 batting average and 1.177 OPS in 18 at-bats in High-A. All reports indicate he’s one of the more advanced hitters and someone to keep an eye on potentially in 2022, but more likely in 2023.

Rays infielder Vidal Bruján has also put on a display with four home runs and one steal with a .455 batting average and 1.571 OPS. We knew he had the speed with 48 steals total in 2019 across two levels. However, the power intrigues us a bit since he’s graded as having below-average game power. Their infield is so crowded, but another name to monitor in 15-team leagues. Meanwhile, their top prospect Wander Franco has two home runs and one steal with a .304 batting average and 1.080 OPS in 23 at-bats.

Mariners’ top prospect Jarred Kelenic is also showing us why many fantasy managers keep stashing him with two home runs and two steals with a .444 batting average and 1.278 OPS in 18 at-bats. On Monday evening, Jeff Passan reported that Kelenic would reportedly be called up on Thursday. This is (hopefully) the moment we’ve all been waiting for.

The toolsy Marlins outfielder Jesús Sánchez is crushing at Triple-A with three home runs and 12 RBI with a .556 batting average and 1.646 OPS in 27 at-bats. A name to monitor in deep redraft leagues, especially for power and home runs. However, the Marlins seem to have several hitters of a similar mold in Lewis Brinson and Monte Harrison.

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Corbin Young is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Corbin, check out his archive and follow him @corbin_young21.

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