Fantasy baseball Weekly Planner: Options as injuries mount
We can finally say that baseball is officially in full swing, because the DL is hot and players are dropping like April showers.
Jose Reyes (ankle) is out for three months, while Zack Greinke (broken clavicle) -- curse you Carlos Quentin! -- is down for at least two. Yoenis Cespedes (hand) needs at least a two-week rest, and Erick Aybar (heel) (yes, even his loss can be damaging right now) also hit the DL on Saturday. And most recently, Johnny Cueto (triceps) left his start early on Saturday, which doesn't sound promising, unless you're a wistful Tony Cingrani owner.
Keep in mind, that was just the last few days. We had already lost Jered Weaver (broken non-throwing elbow), Freddie Freeman (oblique) and Aramis Ramirez (knee) to the DL earlier last week week, and Jason Motte (elbow) might require season-ending surgery.
Boy, are the athletic trainers are working overtime. We'll try to help you field a full, healthy lineup with our plethora of useful nuggets in SI.com's fantasy baseball Weekly Planner.
Rooting for injury is classless, but if you're not a Cueto owner, that devil on your shoulder whispered Cingrani's name in your ear last night. Cueto left with a "sharp" pain in his right (throwing) triceps and headed to Cincinnati to be evaluated, which may lead to a potential DL stint.
The Reds have already come out earlier this week and declared Cingrani, a 23-year-old left-handed pitching prospect, their alternative for the rotation if one of their starters went down. It proved an omen -- good for Cingrani owners, bad for Cueto owners.
Cingrani would be the option to take Cueto's turn Thursday; he started Sunday against Toledo, but was restricted to just two innings so he can come back to start Thursday on short rest since the Reds don't have a day off to rework their rotation. He struck out five of the seven batters he faced in those two scoreless innings.
Our advice to you: pick up Cingrani in all leagues immediately. He might not yet be slated to stick around long term -- much less arrive in the near term -- but he has been outstanding in his two Triple-A starts (21 strikeouts in 12 1/3 shutout innings). Cingrani could even pitch his way into the Reds rotation -- and fantasy lineups -- indefinitely if Mike Leake (6.75) continues to struggle.
If you lost Reyes or Aybar, here are some of the top mixed-format options:
1. Zack Cozart, Reds -- There is pop in his bat, evidenced by his three homers in the first two weeks. He can be a streaky, but he's good enough to start in all leagues when hitting well. He also happens to be at the age of breakthrough at 27.
2. Pete Kozma, Cardinals -- His solid start really isn't a fluke. This is a viable big-leaguer who just now is getting his big opportunity after the season-ending injury to Rafael Furcal (elbow).
3. Jhonny Peralta, Tigers -- He's owned in just 44 percent of CBS leagues. If you don't like one of those first two upside plays, this is the under-owned veteran to go with.
4. Stephen Drew, Red Sox -- Off the DL from concussion issues, he can prove useful in all formats, despite his slow start.
5. Yunel Escobar, Rays -- Off to a bad start, but the veteran should eventually prove reliable.
1B Chris Davis, Orioles -- Have you heard this story before: A good player starts hot and becomes great ... at age 27. This is legit. Well, not quite legit to the .405, 88-homer, 279-RBI pace he is on, but this is one of the game's emerging sluggers. A full-season total of .280-40-120 is possible now, seriously.
OF Aaron Hicks, Twins -- Even the best-laid plans can go awry. Hicks looked like a Rookie of the Year candidate in spring training. Now, he looks like he belongs in Triple-A, hitting .047 (2-for-43) with a remarkable 20 strikeouts (which lead all of baseball). As overmatched as Hicks looks, the rebuilding Twins have given him a vote of confidence -- not only as a big-leaguer but their leadoff man as well. Hicks cannot be started in fantasy right now, but he still could find it before he finds himself sent down.
SP Jose Fernandez, Marlins -- This has been a brutal start in South Florida, but the emergence of this 20-year-old Cuban phenomenon creates a silver lining. If anyone actually went to Marlins games, he has the potential to become a Fernando Valenzuela/Dontrelle Willis cult icon. Make this 3-for-3 for Fernandez in this weekly spot. Through two starts he has a 0.82 ERA and 13 strikeouts, allowing just five hits and three walks. His next start, get this, is Thursday at Cincinnati -- perhaps against Cingrani. That should be a test.
RPs Shawn Camp, James Russell, Cubs -- They are the Cubs' matchup setup men that will serve as the team's co-closers for now. Russell is the better of the two for fantasy owners, but he is also the left-hander. If the Cubs face lefty matchups in the eighth, they will use Russell there and go with Camp to close the game out. Still, add the 27-year-old Russell before Camp in leagues.
RP Andrew Bailey, Red Sox -- He's this week's closer-in-waiting. Joel Hanrahan has a vote of confidence from manager John Farrell, but Bailey is a former closer who is pitching better right now. It wouldn't take much for the Red Sox to look to Bailey as the stopper, and if they do, Bailey is good enough to take the role and run. Take that flier now on Bailey, just in case Hanrahan's implosion continues.
1. C John Buck, Mets -- He has always been a streaky hitter, but this hot bat just doesn't look ready to cool off. Ride him until he drops an 0-for-10 stretch.
2. SP Barry Zito, Giants -- He's won his past 11 decisions dating to last season. If you're wondering where this is coming from, Zito is playing for the final-year option on his original seven-year, $126 million contract. He is making $20 million this year, and the club has a $7 million buyout on his $18 million for 2014. Zito can also void it if he pitches 200 innings this year. There is no way Zito will give up that $18 million. He is pitching his best baseball as a Giant at the back end of what has been an awful deal.
3. C/OF Evan Gattis, Braves -- In his age-27 season, Gattis has emerged from being a relative unknown to a must-start at catcher. There's pop here, and he's getting regular starts, at least through April.
4. RP Jim Henderson, Brewers -- Last week's bargain bin pick took all of one day to elevate to the closer's role in lieu of struggling John Axford. However Henderson has appeared in just one save opportunity going into Sunday. He warrants being owned in all leagues as long as he remains the closer, but Axford is a decent bet to regain the role at some point.
5. SP Justin Masterson, Indians -- The lack of love for this right-hander has been curious, but it is almost non-existent now. He has opened ablaze with three outstanding starts, so trust him in all formats.
1. RP John Axford, Brewers -- The Brewers are a better team if Axford is himself again. Pick him up if he was dropped and you need saves. He's going to get that job back.
2. SP Brandon Maurer, Mariners -- The 22-year-old has given up 12 earned runs in two starts, but he has a vote of confidence. "He has great stuff," manager Eric Wedge told the Seattle Times. "He's going to be a good major-league pitcher. He'll just have to go through some things early on, like most of them do."
3. SP Mike Fiers, Brewers -- He had a bad first start and worked once out of the bullpen as the Brewers skipped the fifth starter's spot. He will be back starting but is not trustworthy in mixed formats.
4. RP Jason Motte, Cardinals -- An MRI revealed a torn elbow ligament, which is never a good thing. If it's manageable come May 1, he will first try to pitch through it; but after that point, it's Tommy John surgery and out for a calendar year. You can cut him in leagues without DL spots now.
5. RP Carlos Marmol, Cubs -- It says a whole lot about Marmol (or not much at all) when the Cubs lose Kyuji Fujikawa (strained forearm) to the 15-day DL and don't consider Marmol one of the Cubs' closer-by-committee options. He can be cut in all leagues, even if the Cubs still intend to make him a closer again someday.
Most viewed (Rotoworld):
1. C Brian McCann, Braves -- He was slated to start catching games in extended spring training come mid-April. That time is now. He had better hurry because the Braves are getting great offensive production out of his fill-in.
2. C/OF Evan Gattis, Braves -- He is a converted first baseman/corner outfield, so McCann's everyday status isn't in any real danger. Gattis looks like a legit option in the meantime, though.
3. SP Nick Tepesch, Rangers -- He was quality in his major-league debut. He is not quite a top pitching prospect, but he is worth using while he is getting starts for the contending Rangers.
4. OF Carlos Quentin, Padres -- He finally stays healthy for a brief period, but then he goes and charges the mound, breaks Zack Greinke's clavicle and draws an eight-game suspension. He contemplated an appeal, but dropped it Sunday night. Owners, find a backup for him now.
5. RP Jason Motte, Cardinals -- You can cut him in leagues without DL spots now. You have better odds of hitting the Powerball than a pitcher dodging Tommy John surgery when they have a torn ulnar collateral ligament.
Most traded (CBSSports.com):
1. OF Matt Kemp, Dodgers -- The best advice of the week might be to make a deal for the struggling Kemp. He is healthy and represents the perfect buy-low situation. BUY
2. SP Tim Lincecum, Giants -- His command is out of whack again, and he is a dangerous start in mixed leagues. Now is not the time to sell -- or buy for that matter. HOLD
3. SP Zack Greinke, Dodgers -- You figured his balk elbow from spring training would trip him up, but instead it was a fight with Quentin. His potential for the second half makes him a must-stash up until the All-Star break, but if you can get someone else to burn that roster spot on him, do it. SELL
4. OF Mark Trumbo, Angels -- He has a nice little hitting streak going even if the homers aren't there yet. The 27-year-old is headed for a huge season, so you might be running out of time to get him at a reasonable price. BUY
5. SP Roy Halladay, Phillies -- His bad spring and has translated into an even-worse start. Pray for a quality start in here sometime soon and get what you can for him. SELL
Picking up a pitcher -- having lost Fujikawa to the DL and not being overly excited about starting seventh-inning man Drew Storen on my rotisserie staff, it was time to put in a claim on one of the best available pitchers:
1. SP Tony Cingrani, Reds
2. RP James Russell, Cubs
3. SP Nick Tepesch, Rangers
4. SP Wade Davis, Royals