Injuries hit hard over the weekend
Luis Robert landed on the IL with what we originally thought was a hip strain. Since we went to press on Monday morning, it's been reported that Robert will miss 3-4 months with a hip flexor tear. He's batting .316 but was otherwise off to a relatively slow start. Still, a lengthy loss of Robert is crushing to fantasy managers. Outfield replacements could include Tyler O’Neill (29% rostered) in shallow leagues and Mike Tauchman (3%) in deeper formats.
Another update after we went to press revealed more bad news. Dustin May needs Tommy John Surgery, ending his season. He left Saturday’s start with a “shooting sensation” through his right arm. This is brutal, as May was looking like an ace while finally turning his terrific stuff into strikeouts. May ranked top-15 in CSW and is a major loss to fantasy managers. David Price and Tony Gonsolin are both also currently injured, although the latter is worth stashing in deeper formats after throwing a recent bullpen session. The Dodgers don’t need a fifth starter over the next two weeks.
Edwin Diaz allowed three runs before being pulled with back tightness Sunday night. Trevor May is a must-add in all fantasy formats should Diaz require a trip to the IL, as he’d become the heavy favorite to close in New York and remains available in nearly 90% of Yahoo leagues.
Jesus Luzardo suffered a fractured finger on his pitching hand while playing a video game Saturday. He was placed on the IL after struggling to pitch through it, leaving him with a 5.79 ERA and 1.61 WHIP over six starts to open the year. His expected ERA is 3.76, so Luzardo had been unlucky, but it’s now unclear how long he’ll be sidelined before we see any correction. It’s too bad both A.J. Puk and Daulton Jefferies are also on the IL with arm injuries.
Jordan Hicks left Saturday’s game with forearm tightness, which is especially discouraging coming off Tommy John surgery. Meanwhile, Alex Reyes has recorded a 6:0 K:BB ratio while allowing just one base runner over his last four innings. He’s racked up four saves and a win over the last 10 days and now has one fewer arm in St. Louis’ pen to compete with to close.
Travis d’Arnaud hit the 60-day IL with a torn thumb ligament. He had been one of the most disappointing fantasy catchers over the first month and can now be dropped after suffering the unfortunate injury. A possible replacement in Alejandro Kirk also joined him on the IL over the weekend just as he was heating up, leaving options like Daulton Varsho, Kyle Higashioka and Max Stassi the viable catchers who may be available on waiver wires.
Shane McClanahan is the big free agent add
After a strong first career start that featured a 101-mph fastball with movement and an equally nasty 92 mph slider, McClanahan was the most popular add during FAB periods over the weekend. Manager Bob Melvin called him “Tyler Glasnow all over again” after his A’s struggled against the lefty, who recorded a CSW (40.7%) that would lead all starters this season.
McClanahan shouldn’t be expected to pitch more than 5-6 innings moving forward, but he’s reportedly up to stay and will be given a real chance to start. He clearly has electric stuff and will benefit from throwing in a pitcher’s park.
He remains available in 85% of Yahoo leagues, but that number figures to start shrinking soon. McClanahan gets a tough test during his next start on the road facing an Angels offense that sports MLB’s second-best wRC+, but he has big long-term upside.
Victor Robles continues to struggle
Robles showed up to camp in “the best shape of his life” after disappointing during last year’s truncated season, and he backed it up by posting a .945 OPS with five steals over 19 spring training games. THE BAT X projected 18 homers and 25 SBs. Slated to bat leadoff and in a terrific hitter’s park, I aggressively drafted Robles, especially in leagues with an overall component given the scarcity of steals.
Robles has responded with a .635 OPS, at times moving down to the bottom of Washington’s order. He somehow hasn’t stolen a base since the second day of the season but has been caught three times since (including Sunday).
All hope isn’t lost, as Robles’ Statcast numbers are unimpressive but have improved this season compared to last, and he’s currently more than doubling his career walk rate. Still just 23 years old with power/speed potential, Robles’ fantasy upside remains, but he’s struggled mightily at the plate dating back to 2019 now.