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Injured Stars To Stash For The Second Half

Incredibly, we have already reached the 2021 All-Star break. At this point in the season, most fantasy managers, whether in redraft or dynasty formats, have a pretty good sense of whether their teams will be in the hunt for a fantasy title come September.

For those managers looking for an extra push at the end of the season, the injured list provides a great place to find talent that may have been dropped and subsequently overlooked during FAB runs in May and June.

Below are a number of players currently on the IL that should certainly be picked up (if dropped) or bought low and stashed until their return. All of these players should give fantasy managers some production during the course of the final two-and-a-half months of the season. Any one of these sidelined studs could be the difference-maker in winning a fantasy championship.

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Carlos Carrasco (SP), New York Mets

New York Mets starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco (hamstring) has yet to throw a pitch this season. Acquired in the off-season in the same trade that sent shortstop Francisco Lindor from Cleveland to New York, many believed Carrasco would step into the Mets rotation right behind Jacob deGrom. Instead, Carrasco suffered a hamstring strain during the latter part of spring training sending him to the injured list just prior to Opening Day. Numerous setbacks later, we find ourselves at the All-Star break with Carrasco just now preparing for a rehab assignment.

Following a battle with Leukemia that limited him to 80 innings pitched in 2019, Carrasco bounced back strong in 2020 with the Indians. He posted a 2.91 ERA, a 1.21 WHIP, and struck out 82 batters in 62 IP over 12 starts with a 29.3% strikeout rate (in the top-23% of MLB).

Expectations were high for Carrasco entering 2021, evidenced by a pre-season ADP of 69. With Carrasco finally on the verge of beginning a rehab assignment, he could return to the Mets rotation sometime in late July or early August, provided he has no further setbacks. If healthy, he should be a fantasy SP2 who can provide elite strikeout totals in the second half, backed by a slider, changeup, and curveball that generated whiff rates greater than 34% in 2020.

Unlike the pre-season, managers now willing to bear his injury risk won’t have to expend a fourth or fifth-round draft pick on him. Instead, Carrasco could be a waiver claim in shallow formats or a buy-low option. Carrasco should provide managers with elite ratios, strikeouts, and if the Mets can start hitting, a decent number of wins in the final eight weeks of the 2021 season.


Eloy Jimenez (OF), Chicago White Sox

Much like Carlos Carrasco, Chicago White Sox outfielder Eloy Jimenez (pectoral) has yet to play a single game in 2021. He suffered a fluke, brutal ruptured left pectoral tendon injury on March 24 during spring training and has been on the injured list since. In 2020, Jimenez hit 296/.332/.559 with 14 home runs and 41 RBI in 226 plate appearances following a breakout 2019 rookie campaign.

Originally slated to miss five-to-six months, Jimenez has greatly exceeded his initial recovery timeline. He began a rehab assignment on July 10. In two games for High-A Winston-Salem, he showed no signs of rust going a combined 3-for-6 with a two-run home runs. On July 13, Jimenez was transferred to Triple-A Charlotte signifying positive advancement in his recovery.

Assuming Jimenez suffers no setbacks, he should be back with the White Sox by the end of July. If he was dropped in any format, the 24-year-old, who had a pre-season ADP of 50, needs to be added as soon as possible. Jimenez should be a huge factor for the White Sox in August and September and could tip the scales in many fantasy leagues in the final weeks of the season.


Luis Robert (OF), Chicago White Sox

Eloy Jimenez’s teammate, Chicago White Sox outfielder Luis Robert (hip) is not too far behind Jimenez in terms of a return to the team. Robert went down back on May 4 with a Grade 3 right hip flexor strain. Despite not needing surgery, he was given a three-to-four month recovery timeline. Robert was medically cleared to increase his level of baseball activities back in early July. Absent a setback, he should be ready for a rehab assignment by the end of July and a possible return by mid-August. This would place his return right in the middle of his initial recovery timeline.

Coming into the season, Robert had an ADP of 35 given his potential to put up a 30-home run, 20-stolen base campaign. Prior to his injury, Robert hit .316/,359/.463 with four stolen bases over 25 games. Notably though, he only had one home run in 103 plate appearances prior to his injury. When compared to the 11 home runs he hit in 2020 over 225 PA, this was quite disappointing. It was likely the result of an overall barrel rate of 10.3% (down almost 3% from 2020), an exit velocity on FB/LD of 93.6 mph (down from 94.9 mph in 2020), and an overall launch angle of 12.5 degrees (well below his 2020 launch angle of 16.7 degrees).

If Robert can return by mid-August, he has the potential to be another fantasy league difference maker over the final six weeks of the season. He should be able to contribute in the HR, RBI, and runs categories if he can get his barrel rate and launch angle in line with his 2020 metrics. However, managers should keep expectations for steals tempered considering Robert is coming off a rough hip injury. Nonetheless, if he has been dropped in any redraft formats, he needs to be claimed and stashed immediately.


Nick Anderson (RP), Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Nick Anderson (elbow) has been sidelined all season due to a partially torn UCL in his right elbow. In the shortened 2020 season, Anderson posted a 0.55 ERA, a 0.49 WHIP, and 26 strikeouts in just 16 1/3 innings pitched, with six saves. Heading into 2021, it was anticipated that while Anderson would potentially share closing duties with Diego Castillo and Pete Fairbanks, he would still see the majority of the Rays save opportunities.

Anderson has been throwing side bullpen sessions, but the Rays have yet to announce a firm recovery timeline. The Rays are still optimistic that he will return sometime in the second half of the 2021 season. If he does return, he should enter the closer committee in Tampa which includes Castillo, Fairbanks, and J.P. Feyereisen. With saves a hard commodity to come by, fantasy managers should claim and stash Anderson for the last push in 2021. If healthy, Anderson should be able to rack up a few saves to go with strikeouts while helping ratios in the final few weeks of the season.


Byron Buxton (OF), Minnesota Twins

Minnesota Twins outfielder Byron Buxton (hand) cannot catch a break (no pun intended). In the midst of another incredible season, he suffered a Grade 2 strain in his right hip in early May which cost him six weeks. Only three days after his return from the injured list, he was hit on the left hand with a pitch on June 21 resulting in a fracture. Fortunately, Buxton will not require surgery on his hand. Unfortunately, Buxton will still miss at least a month due to the injury. This places his return sometime in mid-August after a rehab assignment, assuming he has no setbacks.

Prior to the hand fracture, Buxton was hitting .369/.409/.767 with 10 home runs, 19 RBI, 21 runs scored, and five stolen bases in just 27 games and 103 at-bats. Sadly, 2021 is a mirror image of his 2020 season. In 2020, he was limited to 39 games due to a shoulder injury and a concussion. In those 39 games in 2020, he still posted a .254/.267/.577 line to go with 13 home runs, 27 RBI, and 19 runs scored.

There is no question that Buxton is a legitimate five-category threat. His main issue has always been his health. He has played fewer than 92 games in all but one of his seasons in the majors, with 2021 likely to continue this trend. Of course, we have seen what he is able to do in limited playing time. If Buxton can come back healthy in mid-to-late August, he can provide managers with tremendous upside in all categories for the final push of the season. Even if he is only active for the final four weeks of the season, Buxton should be stashed and rostered in all formats.


Chris Sale (SP), Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale (elbow), coming off of a March 2020 Tommy John surgery, last pitched in August of 2019. He is finally close to beginning a rehab assignment, having recently thrown simulated games at the Red Sox spring training facility in Fort Myers, FL.

In 2019, Sale posted a 4.40 ERA, a 1.09 WHIP, and an incredible 218 strikeouts in just 147 1/3 innings pitched over 25 games. Despite a 4.40 ERA, his 2019 metrics largely suggested he was somewhat unlucky. Specifically, Sale registered an elite 36.6% strikeout rate, a 3.56 xERA, a 2.93 xFIP, and a 6% walk rate (which was in the top-20% of MLB). It was Sale’s overall barrel rate and overall hard-hit rate of 36% (almost 10% higher than in 2018) which led to 24 homers allowed, inflating his ERA. Nonetheless, he was still an elite arm in 2019.

While there is tremendous uncertainty as to how Sale will perform in his first months coming off Tommy John surgery, he should still be rostered. Sale could be activated at some point in mid-to-late August once he is stretched out. The small risk of claiming Sale (if available on waiver wires) and stashing is worth the potential reward if he can replicate even a fraction of his prior success in the final few weeks of the season. He could help fantasy managers with a final push in strikeouts and wins if he is able to go deep enough in games while helping with ratios.


Adalberto Mondesi (SS), Kansas City Royals

Kansas City Royals shortstop Adalberto Mondesi (oblique) was taking ground balls and doing light fielding drills back on July 7, signifying progress in his recovery from a strained left oblique that has kept him sidelined since June 21. Mondesi, who has already been on the injured list three times this season, has been limited to just 38 plate appearances in 2021. In this very limited time, Mondesi has posted an impressive .361/.378/.833 slash line with four home runs, six runs, nine RBI, and a stolen base.

While there is no clear timeframe for his return, and the Royals likely to be very careful with their 25-year-old star, Mondesi should be back with the Royals at some point in the second half. Mondesi, a clear five-category threat who had a pre-season ADP of 26, should remain rostered and stashed in all formats.


Noah Syndergaard (SP), New York Mets

Similar to Chris Sale, New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard (elbow) missed the entirety of the 2020 season due to a torn UCL and subsequent Tommy John surgery in March of 2020. Syndergaard was expected to return to the Mets rotation in mid-June of 2021 and was well on his way to do so until he suffered a setback in May. Syndergaard exited a May 25 rehab assignment start due to elbow inflammation. As a result, Syndergaard was shut down from throwing for six weeks.

On the positive side, Syndergaard finally began throwing again just prior to the All-Star break. As a result, the Mets are targeting a September 1 return for Syndergaard, assuming a pending rehab assignment goes well and he suffers no further setbacks (two huge ifs). When Syndergaard last pitched in 2019, he went 10-8 with a 4.28 ERA, a 1.23 WHIP, and 202 strikeouts in 197 2/3 innings pitched over 32 starts. If healthy, he could help fantasy managers in a final push to a fantasy title with five-to-six starts in September. Of course, expectations should be tempered since his recovery timeline is tenuous. Much like Sale, there is also tremendous uncertainty as to how Syndergaard will perform in his first month coming off of a very long Tommy John surgery recovery.


Mike Trout (OF), Los Angeles Angels

Well…yeah. If Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout (calf) was dropped in your fantasy league, then the manager who dropped him should either be thrown out of your league (or invited back if your league has a large buy-in, depending on how you look at it). Trout, obviously, should be rostered and stashed in all formats.

While he does not yet have a set date for a return from the injured list, he was taking swings off a pitching machine just prior to the All-Star break. Currently recovering from a Grade 2 right calf strain suffered back in May, Trout should return sometime in late July or early August. Before his injury, Trout slashed .333/.466/.624 with eight home runs, 23 runs scored, and 18 RBI in 117 at-bats. When he does return, Trout will post elite numbers in an Angels lineup that also features likely A.L. MVP Shohei Ohtani and rookie Jared Walsh.


Other Notable Stashes to Consider

Luis Severino (SP, NYY) (elbow, groin) – potential return from Tommy John surgery and groin injury in mid-to-late August.

Corey Kluber (SP, NYY) (shoulder) – potential return in September.

John Means (SP, BAL) (shoulder) – currently throwing rehab assignments and potential return just after the All-Star break.

Huascar Ynoa (SP, ATL) (hand) – potential return in mid-August.

Yasmani Grandal (C, CWS) (knee) – potential return in late August or early September.

Stephen Strasburg (SP, WAS) (neck) - potential return in late July or early August.

Aaron Civale (SP, CLE) (finger) – potential return in late July or early August.

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