The Stash: Which DL Players Can Help Your Team?

We have arrived at an interesting point in the fantasy baseball season. Some teams are trending upward, others downward. Some owners find themselves at the top of the standings, while others have already started their countdown to fantasy football season. Many standard leagues are also coming up on their trade deadline, a time where owners can scrap pieces of their team that are unneeded in order to put together a better-rounded squad. While reviewing other rosters and waiver options, don’t forget to pay some mind to players who currently find themselves on the disabled list.

Whether the league has unlimited DL spots or a hard number, we all have these guys on our rosters. Stashing certain players can greatly reward patient owners as they can bounce right back into being the player who you were waiting for. Some injured players just simply aren’t worth rostering because of both the individual’s injury and their expected production when they return, making owners wonder why they wasted weeks or months waiting.

Personally, I am always looking for a DL stash. With a lot of patience and a little luck, it is the easiest way to improve your team. This article will look at a handful of players currently on the DL and assess whether they are worth holding on to or not. For the most part I will look at players through a redraft perspective, although there will be a small dynasty/keeper section at the end of the article. Feel free to comment if your player is not mentioned, or if you have any questions regarding a player’s status.

Clayton Kershaw – The injury that shook fantasy baseball. Owners have been up in arms about how to deal with Kershaw in redraft leagues. His lower back injury seemed minor when Kershaw was first placed on the DL, possibly not even requiring a rehab start upon his return. Well, now its been over a month and Kershaw still finds himself on the disabled list after being transferred to the 60-day DL earlier this week. The other day he began throwing from flat ground, but this can be seen as a baby step in his long road back. If all goes well Kershaw is in line to make a few meaningful starts in September.

The answer here is easy for me, if there is any chance of Kershaw pitching this season he is worth a DL stash no matter what league you play in. He fulfills every pitching category at an elite level. Kershaw still finds himself first among all starting pitchers on ESPN’s player rater. For those owners who are considering dropping the best pitcher in fantasy just remember one thing – he’s Clayton Kershaw.

Aledmys Diaz – Diaz was placed on the DL with a hairline fracture in his thumb. Initially, he was expected to just need the 15 day minimum to return to action, but after finding that the injury was more severe than the Cardinals had originally thought, they were hesitant to release a timetable for the all-star’s return. This weekend it was announced that Diaz will begin working out at the Cardinal’s spring training facility. While this is certainly a positive, he is still very early in the recovery process and can need up to “several more weeks” in order for his thumb to heal and be game ready.

Right now, Diaz is worth a DL stash in all leagues. He should slide right back in as St. Louis’ starting shortstop upon his return and his numbers up to this point have been legit. Diaz has been a four-category contributor this season with his STEAMER projection still giving him end of season totals to the tune of 81 runs, 17 HR and 72 RBIs while hitting .302 – despite the missed time from injury. All signs sound good for his recovery so far, but be sure to keep an eye out for updates. If he faces any setbacks during his recovery he could quickly find himself in droppable territory simply due to how close we are to the end of the regular season.




Yoenis Cespedes – Cespedes was placed on the 15-day DL Wednesday night after aggravating his quad, an injury he has been battling for weeks. Was the injury re-aggravated from baseball activities? That’s a whole other conversation. Bottom line is that Cespedes has been playing with a less than 100% quad for quite some time now, which in itself is encouraging, but it remains to be seen just how long he will be out. An MRI on Thursday showed that Cespedes’ quad had no structural damage – definitely an encouraging sign for his owners. Assuming the remainder of his rehab goes well, Cespedes appears to be back on track to return when he is first eligible on August 18.

The fact that Yo has been able to play through this injury sheds some light on its severity. With that being said, he is most certainly worth a DL spot and is even a trade target. If an owner went ahead and dropped him (unlikely) you better be quick scooping him back up. Cespedes is a top-25 outfielder and should be rostered in all leagues, especially when his injury status is looking up.

Nick Castellanos – The Detroit Tigers’ young third basemen, in the midst of a breakout season, was hit by a pitch on Saturday, fracturing the fifth metacarpal in his left hand. While a timetable has not officially been announced by the team, Castellanos’ chances of returning this season are not looking great. Manager Brad Ausmus predicted the third basemen would need at least a month of recovery time, but the average metacarpal injury takes about two months to heal and can even take as much as six months to fully heal. Due to the length of time hand injuries take to come back from, Castellanos can be dropped in all leagues – currently owned in 76% of ESPN and 70% of Yahoo leagues.

Julio Teheran – The Atlanta Braves ace was placed on the 15-day DL earlier this week with a right lat strain. According to RotoWire, he has already began throwing from flat ground as he was scheduled to yesterday. The next likely steps, depending on how Teheran feels, would be throwing from a mound followed by a bullpen session. Given where the Braves find themselves this season, expect them to be extremely cautious with Teheran. While it appears he is on track to return at some point this year, be sure to check all updates on his recovery. Any kind of setback could lead to a rest of season shutdown for the young pitcher. Use your judgement when dropping Teheran in 10 team leagues; there is probably a player on waivers that can help your team out. In 12, 14, and 16 team leagues I believe he is most certainly worth a stash on your DL. Teheran was in the middle of a fantastic season, rebounding from his rough 2015.

A.J. Pollock – Pollock’s huge 2015 had owners chomping at the bit to snag him in drafts coming into this year. Seen as a consensus second-round pick in all formats, Pollock hurt many owner’s chances of a winning season before it even began after breaking his right elbow while sliding home in Arizona’s final spring training game. Just about five months later however, Pollock goes 1-4 in his first rehab start with the Diamondback’s Arizona League team. While the D-backs have been very cautious with Pollock up to this point, they appear to be comfortable enough with him to begin a rehab assignment. This means Pollock now has 20 days to rehab before a roster decision has to be made, putting him on track to return before the end of August.

If he is available in your league (44% owned in ESPN leagues and 69% in Yahoo leagues) he is a must add. Pollock is a five-category contributor who can give your roster a boost no matter what format the league is. A player of Pollock’s caliber is certainly worth three weeks of waiting. Stash him now before it’s too late.




Michael Brantley – Talk about a headache of a season. In Spring Training, Brantley was reportedly progressing very well from his offseason shoulder surgery. Now, we’re in August and the Cleveland Indians’ outfielder is still taking limited swings. Rotowire reported the Indians still have hope that Brantley returns this season, but they do not want to rush him back to the lineup. Wednesday, Brantley was taking swings in a batting cage which is normally encouraging. However, it was also noted that the Indians are concerned about his ability to head out for a rehab assignment with minor league seasons ending in the next couple of weeks. We’ll keep it simple here, Brantley owners can put themselves out of their misery by dropping the right fielder regardless of the format.

Danny Salazar – Unlike Brantley, his fellow teammate has had a stellar season to date. Salazar was placed on the 15-day DL on Tuesday with right elbow soreness. Normally, any kind of elbow soreness rings alarm bells through both the real and fantasy baseball worlds. Salazar’s MRI however, revealed no structural damage to his throwing elbow, but the injury still requires at least a 5-7 day shutdown from throwing.

While it isn’t official, Salazar could return in the next 2-3 weeks, making him extremely worthy of a DL spot (and potential trade target from a nervous owner). He is ranked 32nd on the ESPN player rater and should be owned across the board with the season he has put together. Salazar should be back just in time to help your team through the final week or two of the regular season, and for some of us, into the playoffs.

C.J. Cron – Cron broke his hand in early July after being hit by a pitch. Wednesday, the Los Angeles Angels’ first basemen began hitting which many see as slightly ahead of his 6-8 week timetable. Cron is a player I’m willing to take a flyer on because he seemed to just be hitting his stride before his injury. Cron is also much more available than most players on this list – 8% owned in ESPN and 11% owned in Yahoo leagues. A report from Rotoworld notes Cron is “obliterating” his original timetable and could return as early as mid-August.

While 10 team league owners can pass, deeper league owners should certainly have him on their radar. Depending on how many DL spots are available in your league or how those slots are being used, Cron is worth an add. He can contribute in HR, RBI, and runs when healthy. He is a slugger with a little bit of pedigree behind him so why not take a chance?

Matt Duffy – The newest member of the Tampa Bay Rays is working his way back from an Achilles injury. He played in a rehab game for the Rays on Friday, going 1-3 while starting at shortstop. Duffy is worth an add in deeper leagues despite an overall disappointing season to date. The second year third basemen should gain eligibility at middle infield in his first games with the Rays, making him more versatile in lineups. Overall, Duffy brings solid contact ability to the middle of the Rays order which should garner him plenty of RBI opportunities. Like Cron, I’m willing to take a flyer on Duffy for some end-of-season help as he has a chance to provide a little boost to your offensive statistics.



The “Why Are These Guys Still Owned?” List

Trevor Story – Tore the UCL in his thumb on Tuesday, ending his story of a season. I’ll cut owners a little slack because he was recently injured, but Story is still owned in 67% of ESPN and 58% of Yahoo leagues. Time to close the book on this story, just in case we haven’t heard enough Trevor Story puns this season.

Prince Fielder – Two surgeries on herniated discs within three seasons makes you wonder if Fielder’s playing days are behind him. 20% of ESPN and 43% of Yahoo leagues seem to be a little more optimistic than I am.

Garrett Richards – Despite choosing not to undergo Tommy John Surgery, Richards has no chance of returning this season. UCL injuries aren’t good people, no matter which UCL we’re talking about here. He is owned in 12% of ESPN and 32% of Yahoo leagues. While some of these may be keeper or dynasty leagues, I have a feeling quite a few of those owners have already started mocking for football season.

Aaron Nola – The kid from LSU was putting together a fantastic season up until he completely fell off the wagon. The Phillies are prepared for him to miss the rest of the season, but apparently 29% of leagues on ESPN and 32% on Yahoo are not.

Dynasty and Keeper Stashes

Kyle Schwarber – Should be ready for the start of 2017 after tearing his ACL just four at-bats into his 2016 campaign. I don’t think there should be any concern dealing with this ailment seeing as it is now one of the most common knee injuries. Expect Schwarber to be right back at it next season.

Matt Harvey – Thoracic outlet syndrome isn’t an injury to take lightly. Harvey has his sights on pitching next season, which remains to be seen. While some pitchers have returned from the shoulder issue, it has also derailed careers. I’ll take the upside here, however; a pitcher of Harvey’s caliber isn’t always readily available.

Sonny Gray – Disappointing doesn’t even begin to describe the young ace’s season. I’m willing to chalk some of it up to injury and take a chance on him for next season.

*****

No one likes to deal with injuries. Managing your DL spots wisely can separate you from the rest of the owners in your league. If you have players you can cut bait with, do it. Try and trade for injured production at pennies on the dollar from other owners or just scoop a higher-upside player from the waiver wire.

 

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Neil Kenworthy
Maryland born and raised. Currently studying at Towson University - Journalism & New Media. Thankful for all of those who are a part of my life and excited to meet others who are not yet. Lover of both fantasy baseball & football, but that goes without saying. Feel free to catch me on Twitter @neil_kenwo; you'll see a lot of Ravens and Nationals stuff in 140 characters or less.
Neil Kenworthy

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