The Major League Baseball season is nearly two weeks old and already fantasy players are dealing with the ups and downs that come with it. Unexpected injuries, early-season slumps, and waiver wire battles have fantasy owners scrambling to stay ahead in the early going.
Injuries are the bane of the fantasy player’s existence, particularly when they happen to a star player. Several key players such as Elvis Andrus, Christian Yelich, and Wil Myers have already been bit by the injury bug early on this season. There are also some players, such as Madison Bumgarner and Carlos Rodon, who were drafted by fantasy owners with the full knowledge that they would start the season on the disabled list.
For many of these players, especially Bumgarner and Rodon, patience is key for fantasy owners. Yes, it will be frustrating to be without a pitcher of Bumgarner’s stature until June, but stashing him away in a DL spot could yield long-term rewards. The fantasy baseball season is no different than the real season: it is a marathon, not a sprint. Be sure to stash away key players like these so that they can help your team later on in the season. Even half of a season of Bumgarner is better than nothing at all, and less significant injuries like those sustained by Yelich and Andrus do not merit dropping players of such high caliber.
However, not all injured players are worth using a roster spot to hold on to. Rodon may fit into this category. Rodon is recovering from arthroscopic surgery he had done on his left shoulder in the offseason. Even when he does return, which may not be until July at this point, Rodon is not a strong fantasy option. He may come back less effective than he was last season, and he did not exactly have a stellar 2017 season to begin with. Only half of his starts in 2017 were quality starts, plus he gave up a home run per game, on average, last year. Should your roster be somewhat full then do not hesitate to drop Rodon in favor of a player who can help your team right now.
Another thorn in the side of fantasy players early on is the dreaded April slumps that many players go through. Many fantasy owners are asking themselves what is wrong with some of their more prominent players. Why isn’t Jason Kipnis hitting? Why does Miguel Cabrera only have one home run? Why is Chris Archer getting lit up so far? Early struggles like this can make a fantasy player want to pull his or her hair out, but there is only one answer to all of these questions.
To quote Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, “R-E-L-A-X. Relax.” Remember, it’s only the second week of April, and many players around the league just haven’t woken up yet. Cabrera will hit a lot of home runs, Archer will deliver a lot of quality starts, and Giancarlo Stanton is not going to strike out five times in every game this year. Players who have a track record of consistency and good production will often find a way to return to that form. The important thing is to not panic and hope that the rest of your fantasy roster can mask those early struggles. Though it may seem extreme sometimes, the best thing to do is sit these struggling players on your bench for a bit until they return to form. This is why those late-round, roster-filler picks are just as important as your early-round picks. They can provide some stability for your lineup until the April slumps are over.
Here are some early-season sleepers who you should be able to pick up on the waiver wire if you are in need of a boost to your roster:
Colin Moran, 3B – Moran is currently red-hot, hitting .343 with one home run and eight runs driven in. He may only provide 10-15 home runs this season, but Moran has shown he can hit for a high average with consistency.
Patrick Corbin, SP – Corbin was avoided by many fantasy players during drafts because of his underwhelming 2017 and 2016 campaigns. However, Corbin is currently sporting a 29/4 strikeout-to-walk ratio, which is the best in baseball at the moment. He may still regress back to the mean, but presently Corbin is worth taking a flyer on if he’s available in your league.
Jose Martinez, 1B/OF – Martinez is currently slashing an astonishing .364/.442/.614 with three home runs and fourteen runs driven in so far this season. He is quickly becoming one of the most dangerous hitters in the Cardinals lineup. Martinez hit well last year, too, so there is no reason to think he will hit a wall at any point. His offense along with his position flexibility make him a “must-add” candidate.
Chris Iannetta, C – The 35-year-old catcher is back with the Rockies, the team that originally drafted him back in 2004, and it seems to have rejuvenated Iannetta. He is currently hitting .333 with one home run through his first eleven games. Productive catchers can be hard to come by in fantasy baseball, so give Iannetta a look if you’re looking for depth at that position.