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10 Burning Questions: Reynaldo Lopez, Josh Lowe, Carlos Correa (Fantasy Baseball)

10 Burning Questions: Reynaldo Lopez, Josh Lowe, Carlos Correa (Fantasy Baseball)

It’s never a bad time for baseball, but that was a tough week on the injury front. We saw multiple top-tier talents lost to injury for extended periods. Nevertheless, not everything was doom and gloom. There are also questions about players who are playing at unexpectedly beneficial levels. Read on to see who those unexpected performers have been and whether or not it can continue in this week’s edition of ’10 Burning Questions for Fantasy Baseball’.

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10 Burning Fantasy Baseball Questions

To whom do the Phillies turn at catcher without J.T. Realmuto?

Last week, we learned J.T. Realmuto had been playing through knee soreness. You wouldn’t have known it from the way he was playing. He still had accumulated seven home runs, 20 RBI and a .261 average. To remedy his soreness, he is undergoing knee surgery to remove cartilage from his right knee.

The surgery will keep him out until after the All-Star game next month. The Phillies will turn to Garrett Stubbs as their catcher in his absence. While there are likely better catcher options on the waiver wire, Stubbs could be cheap exposure to a top-five offense in baseball. He also will provide out-of-position stolen bases as he already has five, which ties him for the most among catchers.

Will Reynaldo Lopez have an innings limit?

Among qualified starting pitchers, Reynaldo Lopez leads every pitcher in ERA (1.69). He has allowed a mere 13 earned runs all season with his worst performance being three earned runs allowed back in April. However, he has also exceeded his most innings pitched in a season going back to 2019.

That’s because this is the first time he has been used as a traditional starter since 2019. While the Braves will assuredly like to slow the pace of Lopez’s innings, they don’t have a choice right now. The team has been using a six-man rotation, including two rookies Hurston Waldrep and Spencer Schwellenbach. Waldrep was going to be sent back to the minor leagues, but he was dealing with elbow soreness, so he was moved to the injured list (IL). Regardless, the team is back to a five-man rotation. Lopez’s ERA and WHIP will rise but continue playing him, just as the Braves have to.

What is happening with Heliot Ramos?

We had seen Heliot Ramos with the Giants in both 2022 and 2023. Neither major league attempt was particularly memorable. Over the two seasons combined, he had 76 at-bats, one home run and batted .158. This season though, he looks like a post-hype sleeper who has become a fantasy asset.

Ramos already has eight home runs, 30 RBI and is batting .326. He was not playing regularly to start the season, so he doesn’t qualify to be among the league leaders. If he did, his .965 OPS would be fifth. His average will drop as his .427 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) comes down, which is second amongst all batters with 150 plate appearances. Even so, his quality of contact metrics are sublime with a 17% barrel rate and a 56% hard-hit rate. He will be someone who helps your fantasy team the rest of the way.

What is wrong with Josh Lowe?

Josh Lowe was one of eight batters in 2023 who had at least 20 home runs and 30 stolen bases. Amongst those fantasy superstars, he had far and away the fewest at-bats with 466. That’s because the Rays rarely play Lowe against left-handed pitchers. If you play against only one-handed pitchers, you have to be phenomenal when in the lineup. Lowe was that phenomenal last year, but he hasn’t been this season.

Last year against right-handed pitching, Lowe hit 18 home runs, stole 30 bases and hit for a .300 batting average. His home runs and only stolen base have come against right-handed pitching this season, but he is batting a dismal .194 against them. His struggles could still be related to the two oblique injuries that caused him to miss time this season. If he doesn’t turn it around, he is a part-time player providing nothing for your fantasy team when on the field.

What is the latest update on Kyle Bradish?

We knew Kyle Bradish had been dealing with a UCL injury since spring training. It delayed the start of his season until May. When he has pitched, he has pitched like an ace, but he may not be pitching again for a while.

Over the weekend, the Orioles again placed Bradish on the injured list with another UCL sprain. At this time, there has not been an announcement on the decision between rehab and surgery. Surgery would mean we wouldn’t see him until next season. Rehab would be a sooner return, but as we’ve already seen, his elbow is likely just a ticking time bomb. If he returns and pitches like we’ve seen, trade him for what you can get when he is healthy.

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How do the Braves replace Michael Harris in the outfield?

It has been a tough season to be a Braves outfielder. First, Ronald Acuna had his ACL injury, which cost him the rest of the season. We recently learned Michael Harris suffered a Grade 2 hamstring strain. Even the biggest optimist knows it’s unlikely we’ll see him before the All-Star break.

In his absence, the team will turn to Ramon Laureano. Last season, in only 361 at-bats, he provided nine home runs and 12 stolen bases. It will not come with a beneficial batting average as he hasn’t had a batting average above .225 since 2019. In five-outfielder leagues, fantasy owners who lost Harris can turn to Laureano as a power-speed replacement.

What do the Dodgers do in their rotation without Yoshinobu Yamamoto?

In his rookie season, Yoshinobu Yamamoto has lived up to the immense hype he generated when playing in Asia. He has a 2.92 ERA over 74 innings with the Dodgers with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 84-to-17. But the Dodgers will be without his services for a while.

On Saturday, Yamamoto was removed after only two innings and 28 pitches. After the game, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told us that a triceps injury would likely land him on the injured list. When he was placed on the injured list it was announced as a strained rotator cuff. Regardless of what the injury is, the good news is they have a clear reinforcement with Bobby Miller on the way back. His last rehab start wasn’t the results we’re looking for with five runs in fewer than five innings, but he did throw 93 pitches. That means he is stretched out enough to be recalled this week and assume a spot in the rotation.

What do the Dodgers do to the lineup without Mookie Betts?

As the Dodgers were dealing with the fallout of the Yamamoto injury, they were dealt another tough blow. On Sunday, Mookie Betts was hit on the left hand with a fastball while batting. It fractured his hand, but no surgery will be required.

Not needing surgery is a silver lining, but Betts will be missed from his usual spot atop the lineup. In his leadoff role, manager Dave Roberts said we may see Shohei Ohtani. As for who will play shortstop, the team has options in Chris Taylor, Miguel Rojas and Enrique Hernandez, who could all fill the spot. My guess would be Rojas, as the team prefers Taylor and Hernandez in their utility roles. Even in the Dodgers’ lineup, none of the three are roster-worthy for fantasy.

Is anything DJ Herz did repeatable?

Over the weekend, DJ Herz had one of the most dominant starts we’ve seen all season from anyone. In only his third big-league start, he pitched six innings with only one hit allowed while striking out 13 batters. That’s the type of performance that turns heads for fantasy managers.

Herz only threw 84 pitches but still generated 21 whiffs. Throw in 11 called strikes and that is a 38% CSW — an elite mark, especially for a two-pitch pitcher such as Herz. Of the 84 pitches he threw, 73 were either fastballs or changeups. Yet, he has always generated strikeouts at a high level throughout his minor league career. He should be added in fantasy leagues, just in case the upside comes to fruition, but don’t start him this week on the road in Colorado.

Are we seeing the revitalization of Carlos Correa?

Considering that he has already been in baseball for a decade, it feels as if Carlos Correa is already past his prime. Yet, he will play most of this season as a 29-year-old. He is playing at a level we haven’t seen from him since he came to Minnesota.

After yesterday’s two home run performance, Correa is now at eight on the season. He has a corresponding 34 runs scored and 35 RBI. Right now, he has a .508 slugging percentage and a .308 batting average. Those are marks we’ve seen from him before, but it has been five years since he provided that slugging percentage and even longer since we saw him offer that level of batting average. Last season, his average bottomed out to a career-worst .230 mark. What’s even more impressive is how hot he has been in June to get his numbers where they are. Midway through this month he already has four home runs, 16 RBI and is batting a robust .431. After being a fantasy afterthought for a few seasons, he has delivered an early-round fantasy performance this year.

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