This week, we’ll be focusing on a majority of players returning from the IL. In fantasy sports, managers tend to forget about the guys coming off of lengthy injuries. In leagues that don’t have IL slots, managers are faced with a tough decision. They must decide to either take up a valuable bench spot with their injured player or drop him for more immediate use. These players (outside the top stars) can then be scooped up a few days to weeks before activation, creating great value for your team.
While other managers start to get lazy and look towards football, you, the savvy fantasy manager that you are, are looking to add these players to your team. While not all of them will be available in your league, the majority of them should be, as they are all rostered in less than 50% of Yahoo Leagues.
Here are 13 players broken down into categories where they are most likely to benefit you:
Are you guys excited about the return of Wil Myers? I know I am. Ok, I’m half joking, but with the Padres’ outfield producing like the guys on my Sunday league team (it hasn’t been a great season for us), you know Myers won’t be pressed for playing time. If he performs as he did earlier in the season, then I have no problem with you sending him off to greener pastures. But if he plays like he did in the summer of last year (.855 OPS in July and August) or two years ago (.959 OPS in the 2020 season), you’ve got yourself quite the steal.
If you’re desperate for power in deeper leagues, you can go ahead and give Bleday a shot, but I wouldn’t expect much of a return. While he did hit 20 home runs in Triple-A this season, his average was .229 as he struck out nearly a third of the time against pitchers not deemed ready for the Major Leagues. Bleday will run into a few and the Marlins are decimated with injuries, so he will play, but his average may not be high enough to be worth the gamble.
How on earth did Tapia knock in 10 runs in two games? That was… pretty incredible. While he won’t do that again, he will help boost your batting average. The rangy outfielder is up to .287 on the year after hitting .400 in July and .296 in June. The 28-year-old has a .281 career average and even hit .321 in the shortened 2020 season.
Tapia will sit against most lefties, but being a part of the Jays’ high-powered offense almost offsets the days he’ll miss. Of course, in daily leagues, it matters even less as you can just leave him on your bench for those matchups.
Tapia’s been a five-category contributor in the Jays’ lineup this season and has been on fire of late. Add the speedy center fielder now in deeper leagues.
Urias (not to be confused with Ramon Urias — the popular waiver add out of Baltimore) has finally come to life just as he did late last season. Over the final two months of 2021, Urias slugged over .500 and produced an .OPS of .880. This summer, he’s off to a similar start slugging .473 for July with a .829 OPS. Since the All-Star break (I know it’s only been about a week), Urias has been extremely hot at the dish, driving in seven runs while collecting eight hits and four walks.
Now that he’s back on track, the Mexican-born Urias is on pace to match his 2021 totals. Mid-70s for counting stats (runs and RBIs) with nearly 25 home runs will play nicely at corner or middle infield. Target the Brewers infielder in all leagues.
Segura started a rehab assignment on Tuesday after missing nearly two months with a broken finger. He’ll need a few games to get his timing back, but the exuberant veteran likely won’t take long to get his feet back under him. Segura has already swiped eight bags this season in just 44 games. And with the Phillies desperate for wins, you know he’ll have the green light once again.
The Phillies’ second baseman can contribute across the board with his talents. He won’t be available for long once activated, so add him ASAP.
Nolan Jones, like the rest of the Cleveland roster, loves to hit with men on base. While a .288 overall average is very good, the .333 average he’s put together with RISP is excellent. He’s been a clutch machine for the Guardians, already driving in 13 runners in just 52 at-bats. Jones is hitting .500 with RISP and two outs, and his SLG is up to .500 overall. He has even walked eight times.
The other shoe may eventually drop, but right now Jones is hitting and helping fantasy managers. Add him if you’ve got the room and need a boost in RBI.
Junis returned to action on the 17th and while that appearance didn’t go well, his next one did. Still ramping up after a lengthy absence, the 29-year-old righty surrendered just one run over 4.1 innings. He scattered three hits and one walk without issuing a home run.
Although management pulled him early, his performance was on par with his cumulative season output. For the year, Junis is sporting a 2.98 ERA with a 1.01 WHIP. His strikeouts have been decent and he has earned a win in four of his eight starts. Pitching for San Francisco has done wonders for Junis’ game and he should produce a handful of quality starts in the second half. He belongs on most fantasy rosters.
Cabrera’s coming off of five scoreless innings in his latest rehab start for Triple-A Jacksonville. Before that, he compiled two hitless, three-inning outings for Double-A. The consensus thought is that he’ll rejoin the Marlins sometime this week.
With a few openings in the rotation, Cabrera will likely step in as the club’s No. 4 or 5 starter. The young righty has demonstrated electric stuff in the past and could be a massive contributor in the strikeout department down the stretch. He’ll no doubt be put on an innings limit, but seeing as he’s only pitched 45 innings this year, he shouldn’t have much of a problem lasting the final two months of the season.
Cabrera struck out nine batters in his first appearance against the Rockies on the road and has registered an excellent 12.24 K/9 in Triple-A this year. If he dominates in his first start again, his rostership will undoubtedly double what it is now. Take the leap and add Cabrera before he’s activated.
With Lodolo’s latest performance (9 Ks over six shutout innings) and Luis Castillo packing for Seattle, the talented lefty should be a regular in the starting rotation for weeks to come. The seventh overall pick in 2019 has had an up-and-down season so far due to injuries and a lot of bad luck. Besides dealing with a back injury, over the seven games Lodolo has pitched, he has allowed a comical .432 BABIP. While the rookie southpaw has always dealt with a high BABIP throughout his Minor League career, it has been a small sample size, totaling barely 80 innings.
With a few “at-em” balls, Lodolo should be able to improve upon his below-average ERA and WHIP. The good news is that he strikes out over 30% of the batters he faces and his xFIP is a much more respectable 3.40.
The metrics say his fate should change, and he looked fantastic his last time out. If he does it again soon, it may be too late to get him. Add Lodolo now in most leagues.
Luzardo’s another Marlins pitcher approaching activation. Before suffering a forearm injury, the former top prospect was making batters look silly. Racking up an excellent 33.8 CSW rate (called + swinging strike %), Luzardo was averaging 12.72 Ks/9. He’s also shown to be a bit wild at times and can give up a few gopher balls, but if strikeouts are what you’re after then Luzardo, like Cabrera, should be your target.
I also like Kutter Crawford and not just because of his name. I’ve watched his last two outings and while nothing really stands out other than his confidence, he doesn’t exhibit any glaring weakness. He rarely gives up home runs or walks, he doesn’t surrender a lot of hard contact, and he strikes out hitters with a five-pitch repertoire. His curveball is probably his best offering (.179 BA, 16% usage), but his slider and changeup also render an opponent BA under .180.
If I had to nitpick, I’d like to see him record a few more ground balls (0.48 GB/FB). With the Green Monster just 310 feet away, the number of balls in the air could come back to haunt him, but his WHIP should remain low.
With starting pitching at such a premium, and Kutter already showing he’s up to the challenge (2.92 ERA/1.01 WHIP over seven starts — 37 innings), it makes sense to target the 26-year-old rookie in deeper leagues.
Dustin May could be an ace on many teams, but on the Dodgers, he’s just another weapon in a vast arsenal. With a filthy two-seamer that reaches 100, May can pile up the zeros with the best of them. If his health holds up (he’s rehabbing from Tommy John), he should be a major difference-maker over the final two months of the season. He won’t pitch deep into games (if he’s even given a starting role), but the upside is vast and he is probably the first player you should target from this list.
I’m sure the Dodgers will ease his workload and he still has one more rehab start scheduled, but once activated, the sky is the limit for him. He won’t still be available in the coming weeks. Add May now and stash him in all league types.
This one may be a bit off the beaten path, but if you’re desperate for saves, you could take a flier on Effross. With David Robertson almost certainly heading out of town and Mychal Givens to likely follow suit, it could be Effross the Cubs turn to as their closer down the stretch.
On Tuesday, with Robertson receiving the night off, Effross and his standout delivery earned his first career save. The 28-year-old has already produced a fine 2.66 ERA with an even better 2.19 FIP, a 1.07 WHIP, and 50 strikeouts over 44 innings. He also earned 16 saves in the Minor Leagues. Effross is arguably the best arm out of the pen after Robertson and could be the next in line for saves in Chicago.
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Austin Lowell is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Austin, check out his archive.