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Depth Chart Review: Injured Studs, Trades, and Minor-League Call-ups

by Corbin Young | @corbin_young21 | Featured Writer
Jul 27, 2021

Over the weekend, we had a few young pitchers have decent games in Daniel Lynch, Touki Toussaint, and Matt Manning. Last week, the Rays made a couple of trades that involved Nelson Cruz and Rich Hill – two valuable veterans in real life and fantasy baseball. It feels like a slightly lighter week of news, especially on the injury front outside of Alex Kirilloff, Mookie Betts, and Nick Castellanos. Hopefully, that doesn’t mean they pop up a ton in the coming week or two. We’ll do our best to keep you informed on recent injuries, minor-league call-ups, and more.

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Justin Upton (OF – LAA) Comes Off IL
Justin Upton came off the injured list, and the Angels optioned Taylor Ward. Upton missed about a month with a back injury and went hitless in his first game back, then doubled on Friday. Before the injury, Upton led off quite a bit but batted third and fourth in the lineup. In June, Upton had four home runs, 21 runs, 11 RBI, and one stolen base with a .338 batting average. Let’s see if Upton can pick up where he left off as he boasted a 14.7% barrel rate in June. 

Since Upton came off the injured list, the Angels optioned Taylor Ward to Triple-A. After a .258 batting average and .820 OPS in June, Ward had a .250 batting average yet less power with a .678 OPS. With Brandon Marsh up as well, the Angels don’t need Ward at this time. 


No fantasy-relevant news and notes.


No fantasy-relevant news and notes.

Blue Jays

Danny Jansen (C – TOR) Hits the IL
With Danny Jansen heading to the injured list, the Blue Jays recalled Alejandro Kirk from the minors. Jansen has performed awful once again with a .176 batting average and five home runs after a .183 batting average in 2020. Jansen is cuttable in most formats, given his terrible offensive production.

However, everyone’s favorite sleeper at catcher in Kirk is a fantasy-viable player in 16-team leagues with two catcher spots. However, Kirk will share playing time with Reese McGuire. In July, Kirk hit two home runs with a .341 batting average and .893 OPS in 44 at-bats at Triple-A. Scoop up Kirk in 15-team leagues.

Alek Manoah (SP – TOR) Expects to Start on Sunday
All indications sound like Alek Manoah will make his start on Sunday after hitting the injured list due to slipping on the dugout stairs. Manoah would line up to face the Royals, which is a friendly matchup coming off the IL.


No fantasy-relevant news and notes.


No fantasy-relevant news and notes.


No fantasy-relevant news and notes.


No fantasy-relevant news and notes.


Josh Rojas (2B/SS/OF – ARI) Hits the IL
Diamondbacks utility player Josh Rojas plays all over the diamond and hits the injured list with a finger injury. Rojas produced 10 home runs, 50 runs, 28 RBI, and seven stolen bases with a .268 batting average. He is fantasy-relevant in 15-team leagues, so hang onto him where you can. Veteran Asdrúbal Cabrera returns with Rojas hitting the IL, but Cabrera lacks upside with five home runs and a .247 batting average at shortstop.


Josiah Gray (P – LAD) Makes His MLB Debut
Last week, Josiah Gray made his major league debut with seven strikeouts and one walk in four innings of work. However, Gray allowed four hits and four earned runs. He followed Darien Nunez, who opened for the Dodgers and tossed a couple of innings. 

Gray primarily used a four-seamer, curve, and slider with a solid 39% whiff rate and 39% CSW% overall on 77 pitches. Both of Gray’s breaking pitches looked solid, and he should provide some strikeouts with decent ratios assuming the Dodgers keep letting him follow or start for multiple innings. On a positive note, seeing Gray throw 77 pitches in his MLB debut provides reasons for optimism that he could build up his pitch count a bit to five innings at least. 

Mookie Betts (OF – LAD) Hits the Injured List
After dealing with a hip issue, Mookie Betts finally lands on the injured list with hip inflammation. It’s unfortunate news for the Dodgers and fantasy managers since Betts hit well in July with four home runs, 15 runs, and 11 RBI with a .370 batting average and 1.102 OPS in 60 plate appearances. It looks like Billy McKinney will earn some playing time in a strong side platoon in the outfield.

However, the most notable lineup note involves Chris Taylor batting leadoff with the absence of Betts. Betts hasn’t started a game since July 17 but pinch-hit on July 19. Over the past week with Chris Taylor at leadoff, Taylor is hitting .414 with five home runs, nine runs, six RBI, and one stolen base with a 1.433 OPS. Although Taylor isn’t available in leagues, it’s a boost in his fantasy value while Betts remains out.


No fantasy-relevant news and notes.


No fantasy-relevant news and notes.


No fantasy-relevant news and notes.


Trevor Rogers (SP – MIA) Dealing With Low Back Spasms
Last week, the Marlins placed Trevor Rogers on the injured list with low back spasms, but my gut says this is an IL stint to manage his workload.

Rogers has already thrown 106 1/3 innings, four innings away from his career-high back in High-A in 2019. On a per inning basis, Rogers still provides value and should the rest of the season. However, don’t chase anyone in the Marlins rotation like Braxton Garrett even though he struck out 10 batters against the Padres.


Rich Hill (SP – NYM) Traded to the Mets
The Rays made several moves last week, with one trade involving Rich Hill. He pitched well so far in 2021 with a 3.87 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 23.4% strikeout rate, and 9.3% walk rate in 95 1/3 innings. After a dominant May with a 0.78 ERA and 0.84 WHIP, Hill scuffled in June and July with a 4.56 ERA and 4.97 ERA. The Mets need starting pitcher depth, so Hill should help boost their rotation even if he still holds some injury risk. 

Carlos Carrasco (SP – NYM) Could Make His 2021 Debut This Weekend
According to Mets manager Luis Rojas, Carlos Carrasco could make his 2021 debut this weekend against the Reds. He currently projects to start, but the Mets may limit his pitch count. If Carrasco can stay healthy, that would be a massive boost to the Mets rotation and fantasy managers.

Noah Syndergaard (SP – NYM) Could Have a Reliever Role
Noah Syndergaard could return in a reliever role after dealing with inflammation on his elbow post-Tommy John surgery. However, returning as a reliever in September or October doesn’t give us much optimism for fantasy purposes.


Carter Kieboom (3B – WSH) Recalled
In two short stints for Carter Kieboom, it’s safe to say he disappointed the Nationals and fantasy managers. In 169 career plate appearances, Kieboom has a .179 batting average with two home runs. Kieboom grades as having above-average raw power, and let’s see if he can hit enough to stick around. Keep an eye on how Kieboom performs, but don’t actively add him quite yet. 


John Means (SP – BAL) Comes Off the IL
In John Means’ first start off the injured list, his velocity looked similar to his season-long numbers. However, like with many other pitchers, the spin rate on his pitches dropped. He gave up seven hits and five earned runs against the Rays with a below-average 13% whiff rate and 23% CSW% overall. We’ll give him a pass in his first start back, but it’s something to monitor in the coming weeks. 


Adam Frazier (2B/OF – SD) Acquired By the Padres
The trend continues with the Padres in that they added depth in Adam Frazier even though they have Jurickson Profar, Jake Cronenworth, and Ha-Seong Kim to play various roles. As the Pirates leadoff hitter, Frazier scored a ton of runs with 58 on the season while chipping in four home runs and five stolen bases. Of course, Frazier provides a high .327 batting average with his contact-oriented approach, evidenced by his 93.2% Z-Contact%. 

It looks like Kevin Newman moves up to the leadoff spot, but he doesn’t provide much fantasy value with a .216 batting average, three home runs, and two stolen bases on the season. Since Frazier can play in the outfield, it may take away playing time from Wil Myers and Profar. Frazier should continue scoring runs given the improved offensive environment. 

Another interesting note about the Adam Frazier trade involves the Padres moving Cronenworth over the first base, which then causes Eric Hosmer to lose playing time. That’s interesting because Hosmer has hit better in July with a .339 batting average and .926 OPS compared to his season-long .266 batting average and .710 OPS. Regardless, this transaction is a better real-life trade with some fantasy implications.


No fantasy-relevant news and notes.


No fantasy-relevant news and notes.


Nick Solak (2B/OF – TEX) Optioned to Minors
After a brutal 2021 season, the Rangers optioned Nick Solak to the minors. Solak hit nine home runs and four stolen bases with a .225 batting average. He doesn’t have an elite tool, but part of the struggles involve a career-worst 82.1% Z-Contact% and 35.8% O-Swing%. In 15-team leagues, it might be hard to drop Solak, but he isn’t a player that we need to roster.


Vidal Bruján (2B/SS – TB) Optioned
Whenever we deal with a weekly free agent acquisition budget (FAAB) for a hot player like Vidal Bruján, it’s easy to have a high level of excitement. In May, Bruján hit seven home runs and nine stolen bases with a .315 batting average. Then in June, he only hit two home runs with five stolen bases yet a weak .182 batting average. 

It’s a small sample with Bruján’s MLB debut, but he had a 30.8% strikeout rate, 0% walk rate, zero home runs, and one steal in 26 plate appearances. I note the FAAB earlier because the potential and upside almost sucked me into throwing in a high FAAB bid where available. However, a wise and sharp fantasy analyst and player in Dave Swan reminded me that the Rays might not play him every day, and there is the risk of the Rays sending down Bruján. In 15-team leagues, fantasy managers should stash Bruján, but a reminder that prospect growth isn’t linear. 

Luis Patiño (P – TB) Recalled
With the Rays trading away Rich Hill, it opens the door for Luis Patiño to return to the majors. Patiño worked his way up to 5 1/3 innings in two starts during July, which seems like the Rays may rely on him to go about five or so innings. He is someone to scoop up in 15-team leagues as a speculative pick-up even though the 5.26 ERA and 1.25 WHIP don’t look great. We should expect Patiño’s ratios to regress, given his 56.3% LOB%.

Nelson Cruz (UT – TB) Acquired Via Trade
Before acquiring Nelson Cruz, the Rays had Austin Meadows playing at designated hitter quite a bit. However, with Cruz on the Rays, Meadows shifts over to the outfield since Cruz isn’t much of a fielder these days. 

Oh, it’s just another year where Nelson Cruz is destroying baseballs, evidenced by a 14% barrel rate, 116.6 mph maximum exit velocity, and .381 wOBA. Overall, it’s a slight downgrade in terms of park factors in wOBA and home runs, according to EV Analytics

The Rays home ballpark holds a wOBA park factor of 0.96 compared to a league-average 1.00 for the Twins. The same goes for home run park factors, the Twins have a 0.94, and the Rays have a 0.91. We’re just noting that if Cruz experiences any initial struggles, yet he is one of the most consistent hitters over the past decade. 

Red Sox

Chris Sale (SP – BOS) Will Need At Least Two More Rehab Appearances
According to Red Sox manager Alex Cora, Chris Sale will need at least two more rehab appearances. Red Sox beat writer Ian Browne notes that Sale could return on August 10 against the Rays. We imagine the team will monitor Sale’s workload coming off of Tommy John surgery.


Nick Castellanos (OF – CIN) Lands On Injured List
The injury to Nick Castellanos stings on multiple levels since he was on pace for a career-best season with 18 home runs, 59 runs, 59 RBI, and two stolen bases with a .329 batting average in 368 plate appearances. There is nothing to do other than stash Castellanos, but it looks like Aristides Aquino should earn some playing time.

In 71 plate appearances, Aquino has six home runs with one stolen base and a .246 batting average. Aquino’s high 36.6% strikeout remains a concern, but it comes with a solid 14.1% walk rate. It’s a small sample, but Aquino boasts a 25.7% barrel rate, .397 wOBA, and 40% hard-hit rate. Aquino lowered his chase rate to 28.3% and showed more patience, evidenced by a 43.7% Swing%. All positive traits to monitor if they stick, particularly the plate discipline. 


No fantasy-relevant news and notes.


Danny Duffy (SP – KC) & Brady Singer (SP – KC) Hits the IL
Both Danny Duffy and Brady Singer hit the injured list last week. Duffy has a forearm issue, and Singer is dealing should fatigue. After a dominant start to the season, Duffy dealt with a forearm injury and took a line drive off his leg. 

In Duffy’s last couple of starts, his four-seamer velocity sat right around 92 mph compared to the four-seamer sitting around 94 mph in previous appearances. Part of Duffy’s early-season success looked legitimate due to the improved four-seamer velocity and results, with a 14.5% swinging-strike rate up from a career rate at 8.7%. His slider remains as another lethal pitch with a 17.4% swinging-strike rate and .221 wOBA allowed. 

Meanwhile, the Royals have relied upon one of their younger arms in Brady Singer, who had a 5.13 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, 22.7% strikeout rate, and 9.1% walk rate. However, Singer’s .351 BABIP allowed and 65.8% LOB% indicates he ran into some misfortune. Singer relies on his sinker and slider, which have both performed decently. However, Singer needs a much more effective changeup to throw against lefties with a 0% swinging-strike rate .418 wOBA allowed in 2021. 

Daniel Lynch will fill one of the Royals’ starting pitcher spots. However, Lynch’s 9.72 ERA in July at Triple-A makes us hesitant to pick him up in redraft leagues. Let’s see how Lynch fares because I still have hope with his four-seamer and slider combination. 

Update: Lynch tossed eight scoreless innings against the Tigers with five hits, zero walks, and four strikeouts. Although Lynch’s overall 22% whiff rate and 27% CSW% look below average, his changeup and slider performed well in terms of whiff rate. 


Matt Manning (SP – DET) Recalled
Last Wednesday, the Tigers recalled Matt Manning to start against the Rangers. Manning tossed a quality start after allowing four hits, two runs (one earned), and two walks with four strikeouts in six innings pitched. In that start, Manning’s slider and four-seamer performed well in terms of whiff rate and CSW%. Let’s see if Manning builds upon this start as we head into the second half of the season.


Alex Kirilloff (OF – MIN) Underwent Season-Ending Surgery
Twins outfielder Alex Kirilloff underwent season-ending surgery on his wrist last Friday, which is unfortunate news because he dealt with a wrist issue earlier in the season. Kirilloff hit eight home runs with a .251 batting average backed up by solid batted ball data evidenced by a 12.8% barrel rate (84th-percentile) and .366 xwOBA (88th-percentile). Kirilloff is a player to monitor heading into 2022 redraft leagues. 

Joe Ryan (P – MIN) Acquired By the Twins
A dynasty sleeper for many in Joe Ryan moved teams, and the Twins assigned him to Triple-A. At Triple-A in 2021, Ryan had a 3.63 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 34.9% strikeout rate, and 4.7% walk rate. Ryan boasts a plus-graded fastball with other 50-grade breaking pitches. Keep Ryan’s name in mind to see how his role shakes out with the Twins late in 2021. 

White Sox

Eloy Jiménez (OF – CHW) Returned From the Injured List
On Monday, Eloy Jiménez was activated, which is positive news that he will make his 2021 season debut. Activate Jiménez into fantasy lineups right away. 


Gio Urshela (3B – NYY) Returns From COVID-19 IL
After missing a couple of weeks, Gio Urshela returned from the COVID-19 injured list. Urhsela hit well with a .275 batting average, .756 OPS, and 11 home runs. He boasts a career-best 9.2% barrel rate and 43.1% hard-hit rate. Plug Urshela back into fantasy lineups.

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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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