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Depth Chart Review: Ronald Acuña Jr. Replacements, Padres Injuries, & Vidal Bruján’s Call Up

by Corbin Young | @corbin_young21 | Featured Writer
Jul 13, 2021
Dinelson Lamet

Dinelson Lamet hopes to return after the All-Star break.

With the Home Run Derby ongoing on Monday, we have a look at several of the best power hitters in baseball. If anything, it’s fun to highlight some of the best players in real-life and fantasy baseball. Since we have the All-Star break, it’s time to evaluate our fantasy teams.

Unfortunately, we lost one of the best players in baseball Ronald Acuña Jr. to a season-ending injury. We’ll discuss who might be able to fill in on the Braves, but it may be best to look elsewhere. However, no player on the waiver wire will provide Acuña-type production moving forward. We had a ton of transactions and moves, but sometimes we’re skeptical with the All-Star break.

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Angels

No fantasy-relevant news and notes.

Astros

José Urquidy (SP – HOU) Will Not Throw for 2 Weeks
José Urquidy landed on the IL and won’t throw for two weeks. Maybe it’s good timing with the All-Star break coming up. However, given that timeline, Urquidy may not return until early August. The Astros have starting pitcher depth with Cristian Javier in the bullpen. It seems logical for Javier to swoop into the fifth rotation spot. 

Athletics

No fantasy-relevant news and notes.

Blue Jays

No fantasy-relevant news and notes.

Braves

Ronald Acuña Jr. (OF – ATL) Out For the Season
Such terrible injury news to see Ronald Acuña Jr. suffer a torn ACL and will miss the rest of the season. On Saturday, Acuña got carted off the field after attempting to field a fly ball. It’s a tough blow for the Braves, Acuña, and fantasy managers to lose one of the best players in baseball. 

There is no replacing an elite hitter like Acuña, who improved his strikeout rate in 2021. That is partly due to Acuña showing better plate discipline and crushing baseballs with a career-high 20% barrel rate (98th-percentile).

So who replaces Acuña? On the Braves, their current options include Abraham Almonte or Ender Inciarte. Both Almonte and Inciarte have struggled from a hitting perspective. For defensive purposes, the Braves could call up Cristian Pache again. Through 116 plate appearances at Triple-A, Pache is hitting .243 with three home runs and two stolen bases. 

Although Drew Waters isn’t on the 40-man roster, the Braves could purchase his contract and call him up. At Triple-A, Waters is hitting .257 with five home runs and 15 stolen bases in 21 attempts through 205 plate appearances. Waters would likely be the most fantasy-relevant hitter with the stolen base potential. However, one concern is the higher strikeout rates at Triple-A at 36.1% in 2019 and then 31.2% in 2021. 

William Contreras (C – ATL) Optioned
We saw an odd transaction when the Braves optioned William Contreras with a couple of veterans holding down the catcher position in Kevan Smith and Jonathan Lucroy. With Travis d’Arnaud injured, Contreras performed relatively well for a 23-year-old catcher. 

In May, Contreras hit five home runs with a .841 OPS, yet it came with a .239 batting average. He provided value as a waiver wire pickup, particularly in 15-team leagues with two catcher spots. Then in June, Contreras had a .200 batting average, two home runs, and a .580 OPS. 

In deeper leagues with two catchers, it’s hard to stash a catcher, so fantasy managers (including myself) may need to churn this spot for an active catcher. I wouldn’t suggest going after any catchers on the Braves right now but maybe pivot to Elias Diaz or Zack Collins.

Ian Anderson (SP – ATL)
The Braves can’t afford to lose another key player, but it sounds like Ian Anderson will head to the injured list. 

Anderson struggled against the Marlins since he allowed six hits, four earned runs, and five walks with four strikeouts in 2 1/3 innings. His four-seamer velocity wasn’t down that much, but hopefully, Anderson doesn’t miss much time. With several other Braves starting pitchers injured, they might need to make a move at the trade deadline. 

Brewers

Rowdy Tellez (1B – TOR)
The Brewers acquired lefty slugger Rowdy Tellez from the Blue Jays in a trade to likely help boost their depth since losing Daniel Vogelbach. With Keston Hiura holding down first base, we’ll see about Tellez’s playing time. Although Tellez hasn’t lived up to expectations this season, maybe the change of scenery helps.  

We know Tellez hits the ball hard with a 12.6% barrel rate, 114.8 mph maximum exit velocity, and 48.6% hard-hit rate. However, it comes with a .204 batting average compared to a .283 batting average in 2020. Throughout Tellez’s career, he has a .240 batting average with a lower BABIP (.275), so that’s not surprising. Given the struggles from Tellez, he is just a name to monitor in deeper leagues. 

Kolten Wong (2B – MIL) Expects to Return After All-Star break
All indications point to Kolten Wong returning after the All-Star break, which is a positive sign. 

Although it’s frustrating to roster Wong with the injuries, he provides batting average, OBP, a little power, and speed when healthy. Through 214 plate appearances, Wong has seven home runs, 30 runs, 20 RBI, and six steals with a .291 batting average. Wong is five home runs away from tying a career-high in homers set back in 2014. He should immediately move back into the leadoff spot for the Brewers upon returning. 

Cardinals

No fantasy-relevant news and notes.

Cubs

No fantasy-relevant news and notes.

Diamondbacks

Kole Calhoun (OF – ARI) Returns From 60-Day IL
After over two months missed, Kole Calhoun finally returns from the 60-day injured list. If you’re looking for a source of OBP and power, Calhoun is a hitter to target. 

Dodgers

Clayton Kershaw (SP – LAD) Hits the IL
Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw hits the injured list with a forearm injury and will undergo an MRI. 

We typically don’t like to hear the term “forearm injury” with a pitcher, especially a pitcher with an injury history like Kershaw though it’s partly been back issues for him. Hopefully, we receive a timetable for return after the MRI, but the All-Star break should benefit him. 

Kershaw underwent an MRI, and it showed some inflammation. On a positive note, Kershaw played catch on Saturday.

Corey Seager (SS – LAD) Will Take Live At-Bats Next Weekend
This upcoming weekend, Corey Seager will take live at-bats during simulated games when they’re in Colorado. At this time, Seager doesn’t have a rehab assignment scheduled, but the team will re-evaluate Seager’s progress after the live at-bats. He hasn’t played since May 15 and could be eligible to return sometime after the All-Star break, assuming he doesn’t experience any setbacks.

Giants

Logan Webb (SP – SF) Returns From IL
On Friday, Logan Webb returned from the IL after dealing with a shoulder issue. Webb started against the Nationals on Friday. Not surprisingly, Webb threw 45 pitches in his first start back. Webb allowed one hit, zero earned runs, and zero walks with four strikeouts in three innings of work. 

Overall, we have a solid first start back for Webb, as we expect him to build his pitch count up after the All-Star break. Then on Saturday, the Giants optioned Webb to the minors with a corresponding move to call up Joey Bart with Buster Posey’s injury. In 15-team leagues, keep hanging onto Webb since he should return post-All-Star break. 

Buster Posey (C – SF) Lands On IL
On Thursday, Buster Posey landed on the injured list with a thumb issue. Hopefully, Posey just needs a minimum stay with the All-Star break since he was hitting well. Through 233 plate appearances, Posey hit .328 with 12 home runs, 35 runs, and 28 RBI. Heading into the weekend, Posey ranked 6th in home runs, 5th in runs scored, and 15th in RBI amongst the catcher position. Don’t cut Posey since he has hit like a top-5 catcher in fantasy baseball. We don’t have fantasy-relevant options on the Giants right now. 

Indians

Eddie Rosario (OF – CLE)
On Wednesday, Cleveland outfielder Eddie Rosario lands on the 10-day injured list with an abdominal strain. Rosario produced well in 2021 with seven home runs and nine stolen bases with a .254 batting average. He gradually improved month over month with a .648 OPS in May then a .719 OPS in June. In the small sample of four games in July, Rosario hit .400 with a 1.300 OPS.

Keep stashing Rosario, but Harold Ramirez and Bradley Zimmer look to have locked in playing time. Both Ramirez and Zimmer have fantasy relevance in 15-team leagues. Although some may want Oscar Mercado to bounce back, it seems less likely. Hopefully, the time off during the All-Star break helps Rosario not miss too much time.

Triston McKenzie (SP – CLE)
Thankfully, Triston McKenzie came up on Friday to start against the Royals. I keep holding out hope that he can turn his 2021 season around with a 6.38 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, 31.2% strikeout rate, and 20.6% walk rate before Friday’s start. Against the Royals on Friday, McKenzie threw seven scoreless innings with one hit and one walk with nine strikeouts. 

We have a couple of reasons for optimism for McKenzie, even though it was a friendly matchup. McKenzie’s four-seam velocity went up almost two mph (1.9 mph) to 93.2 mph. For reference, McKenzie’s season-long four-seamer velocity sat at 91.3 mph. Even though he only used the slider 19% of the time, it elicited a 50% whiff rate and 44% CSW%. Hopefully, McKenzie doesn’t keep receiving the burpees treatment like Edward Olivares.

Mariners

Justus Sheffield (SP – SEA) Lands on the IL
On Thursday, Justus Sheffield landed on the injured list with a forearm strain. Recent reports indicate that the injury will keep him out past the All-Star break.

Sheffield has struggled a bit this season with a 6.48 ERA, 1.78 WHIP, 16.9% strikeout rate, and 10% walk rate. He has run into a bit of misfortune with a .347 BABIP and 65.3% LOB%. That all makes sense, given the brutal ratios. Sheffield is a streamer with quite a bit of risk since he has three quality starts in 15 games. However, most appearances lasted five innings, so he is cuttable in 15-team leagues.

Yusei Kikuchi (SP – SEA) Hits the COVID-19 IL
Thankfully, we have beat writers like Ryan Divish to help us weed through the news on a valuable fantasy player like Yusei Kikuchi.

It sounds like Kikuchi had some symptoms, but he had his vaccine. Seeing that Kikuchi passed a negative test helps provide a reason for optimism.  

Cal Raleigh (C – SEA)
When I covered for the great Brendan Tuma in the 20 Things to Watch For, I noted Cal Raleigh was crushing it at Triple-A. On Sunday, the Mariners called up Raleigh, and he should be on our radar in 15-team leagues with two catcher spots. He started and batted sixth and went hitless in four at-bats with two strikeouts against the Angels on Sunday. 

Marlins

No fantasy-relevant news and notes.

Mets

Carlos Carrasco (SP – NYM)
Carlos Carrasco will throw one inning during a rehab game this upcoming Thursday with a plan for Carrasco to return in early August. We also had comments from manager Luis Rojas regarding Carrasco’s potential usage being less than a typical starter’s role of 5-6 innings. In Cleveland, Carrasco moved back and forth from the starting rotation to the bullpen, so this wouldn’t be unusual.

Nationals

Joe Ross (SP – WSH) Lands on the IL
Unfortunately, Joe Ross hit the injured list with elbow inflammation. This transaction came after Ross dominated for three starts with a 2.25 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, a 32.5% strikeout rate, and a 5% walk rate. The recent 11 strikeout performance against the Dodgers caught our eye as well. 

It’s easy to speculate about whether this is a transaction to give him rest into the All-Star break. However, keep stashing Ross in all formats, given the recent performances since he showed some upside. 

Yan Gomes (C – WSH) Hits the IL
Nationals starting catcher Yan Gomes is dealing with an oblique strain and hit the injured list. Gomes has hit decently in 2021 with eight home runs, 29 runs, and 33 RBI with a .266 batting average. In deeper leagues with two catchers, keep hanging onto Gomes. However, in shallower formats with only one catcher, Gomes is cuttable for a catcher streamer. 

Orioles

No fantasy-relevant news and notes.

Padres 

Dinelson Lamet (SP – SD) Hopes to Return After All-Star Break
With Dinelson Lamet, I’ve regularly noted some skepticism even though the 3.67 ERA and 1.40 WHIP look reasonable in 34 1/3 innings. The previous injury plus the reduced four-seamer velocity at 95.6 mph down from 97 mph in 2020. 

The Padres called up Ryan Weathers in early July, and he is a top candidate to fill in for Lamet. Weathers pitched as a starter and reliever, but the underlying metrics don’t look too exciting with an 18.1% K% and 7.5% BB%. His slider looks effective with an 11.9% swinging-strike rate and .205 wOBA allowed. Weathers is someone to monitor in 15-team leagues. I wrote this about Weathers before the injury news, which we’ll discuss a bit later. 

Blake Snell (SP – SD) Hits the IL
Blake Snell is dealing with gastroenteritis, which is a digestive illness. Although it’s good that it’s not an arm or shoulder injury, it’s a bummer to see him hit the injured list heading into the All-Star break. Like the Lamet news above, target Ryan Weathers, but we expect Snell to return shortly after the All-Star break. 

Update: Snell will start the weekend after the All-Star break, and Ryan Weathers left with an Achilles issue that will require further testing.

Ryan Weathers (SP – SD)
It sounds like Ryan Weathers could remain out until early August, which removes him from the conversation to fill in for Lamet or Darvish if he misses more than the minimum amount of time. We don’t have an official diagnosis for Weathers, who initially left with a knee issue. Don’t add Weathers right now, and he may not be a fantasy-viable option once healthy.

Yu Darvish (SP – SD)
When it rains, it pours, and that’s the case with the Padres. Yu Darvish hits the injured list with hip inflammation. 

With the All-Star break coming up, it’s difficult to project whether these injuries and transactions are legitimate. Overall, there isn’t much to do other than hang onto Darvish and hope he doesn’t miss much time. 

Phillies

Aaron Nola (SP – PHI) & Alec Bohm (3B – PHI)
Both Aaron Nola and Alec Bohm hit the COVID-19 injured list, and Bohm tested. Nola doesn’t have an update, so maybe he was considered a close contact. 

We’ll need to monitor this news throughout the All-Star break. With Nola, it’s an easy decision to hold. For Bohm, he may be cuttable in shallower formats (10-12 teams). 

Pirates

No fantasy-relevant news and notes.

Rangers

No fantasy-relevant news and notes.

Rays

Vidal Bruján (2B/SS – TB)
What a joy, we observed Wander Franco and Vidal Bruján. He came up as the 27th man for the doubleheader on Wednesday. On Thursday, Bruján was ent back down to Triple-A, but we figured this would be a short stay. However, on Friday, the Rays called up Bruján, and he should have an “everyday” role. We’re using every day in quotes since hardly any Rays play every day. Bruján is a top waiver-wire target in all formats with improved power and existing speed. However, once Manuel Margot gets healthy, we’ll see if Bruján sticks around.

Red Sox

Matt Barnes (RP – BOS) Agrees to Two-Year Extension
We don’t typically highlight these types of transactions, but it’s positive to learn that Matt Barnes agreed to a two-year extension.

Barnes saved 19 games in 23 opportunities with a 2.68 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 44.6% strikeout rate, and 7.2% walk rate, and he deserves it. It’s no surprise to see Barnes attack hitters with a career-best 69.8% F-Strike% and 16.1% swinging-strike rate. After Barnes often boasted double-digit walk rates, Barnes is dominating with a 37.4% K-BB%.

Reds

Sonny Gray (SP – CIN) Goes Back Onto the IL
Sonny Gray returned in July for a couple of starts with a 2.25 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, a 30.6% strikeout rate, and a 6.1% walk rate. Gray’s recent IL stint was a groin issue, and the current IL situation involves a rib cage strain. 

Given that the injury is unrelated, it’s worrisome. However, we’ll keep stashing Gray regardless. Outside of Vladimir Gutierrez, the rest of the Reds’ starting pitchers have solidified roles. If fantasy managers want to trust an organization or two for pitching, both the Reds and Cleveland come to mind. However, Gutierrez holds a risky profile with an 18.5% strikeout rate and 10.8% walk rate. When we add in the four-seamer that hitters are crushing with a .630 SLG and .422 wOBA allowed, that makes his profile even scarier. 

Rockies

No fantasy-relevant news and notes.

Royals

No fantasy-relevant news and notes.

Tigers

Matt Manning (SP – DET) Optioned
On Saturday, the Tigers optioned Matt Manning to Triple-A. We expected this to happen since Manning held a 6.95 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 8.9% strikeout rate, and 7.9% walk rate. All of those numbers look like outliers compared to Manning’s minor league career. 

However, Manning ran into some misfortune with a 59.7% LOB%. Manning had one of his better starts on July 9 against the Twins with two hits, two earned runs, and three walks with three strikeouts in five innings. He finished with a 27% whiff rate and 28% CSW% overall.

There is probably a chance that Manning comes back up after the All-Star break. It seems that the Tigers pitchers have something positive brewing, with examples like Tarik Skubal and Casey Mize building upon their MLB debuts. That said, I trust Manning to improve. Don’t write off Manning if he returns or in 2022. 

Twins

No fantasy-relevant news and notes.

White Sox

Yasmani Grandal (C – CHW) Out 4-6 Weeks
Unfortunately, White Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal suffered a knee injury that required surgery that will keep him out 4-6 weeks.

That will boost playing time for Zack Collins, who is hitting .230 with three home runs on the season. Collins boasts an 11.3% barrel rate with a 43.8% hard-hit rate. A catcher on a good offense with mostly everyday playing time is valuable in 15-team leagues. 

Eloy Jiménez (OF – CHW) Makes Rehab Start
On Friday, Eloy Jiménez expected to make a rehab start at High-A, but rain postponed the game. After initial thoughts that Jiménez could miss the entire 2021 season, we have reasons for optimism. At this point, savvy fantasy managers likely stashed Jiménez, but make sure he isn’t hanging around on waivers. Heading into Monday, Jiménez has three hits in seven at-bats with one home run. From a real-life and fantasy perspective, it’s nice to see Jiménez play once again. 

Yankees

Miguel Andújar (OF – NYY) Hits the IL
In limited playing time, Andújar hit six home runs with a .253 batting average in 162 plate appearances. However, Andújar is cuttable in 15-team leagues for a hot bat since he bats towards the bottom of the lineup and likely won’t play enough to make a significant impact. His plate discipline profile is interesting, with a 93.4% Z-Contact% and a 42.8% O-Swing%. Not often do we see hitters with a high zone contact rate and a high chase rate. 

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