This was a funny year for fantasy baseball, as the two opening games in Japan either inflated or deflated some players’ fantasy value. Take Oakland Athletics first baseman Matt Olson, for example, as discussed last week: He became an afterthought in late drafts, due to a hand injury suffered in Japan, and he may have gone undrafted in a lot of leagues since he is out until at least June.
Then there is the strange case of Seattle Mariners relief pitcher Hunter Strickland. With plenty of turnover in the Seattle bullpen, Strickland managed to register two saves in Japan, leading him to be extremely overvalued in fantasy drafts that took place between March 21 and March 28. Now, Strickland is out, on the 60-day disabled list, with a groin injury.
The best laid plans in fantasy baseball often go to pot once the season starts, thanks to injuries. The key here is to identify them as soon as they happen to players on your roster, and make those roster changes as soon as you can. Otherwise, you may lose valuable statistics with an injured player in your active lineup.
Players to Get on Your Team Now
1. Shane Greene, RP, Detroit Tigers: Need cheap saves? Greene probably went undrafted in your league, because the Tigers were expected to stink, and Greene has poor peripheral statistics, in general. Ignore his career 4.80 ERA, and ride the hot bullpen arms when you can. Greene has seven saves already this season, and until that river runs dry, you want to drink up as many of those cheap saves as you need.
2. Greg Holland, RP, Arizona Diamondbacks: We have seen this act before, in 2017, where Holland starts off a season white hot before scuffling horribly in the second half of the season. Let that be someone else’s concern. Right now, he’s dealing again and getting some saves. If he’s available, might as well grab him for now and get those saves.
3. Domingo Santana, OF, Seattle Mariners: He got drafted early by a lot of people, because of the home runs he hit in the Japan games. Kudos to them, but if your league had doubters, don’t be one of them any more. Remember, Santana hit 30 HRs and drove in 85 runs for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2017 before struggling last season and being shipped out to the Best Coast. He has 14 RBI already this year, to go with four HRs now.
4. Maikel Franco, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies: If you’re in need of a corner guy thanks to an injury, you could do worse than Franco. Remember, he is just 26 years old, and he’s been in the majors since he was 22. This might be the year Franco makes the leap to stardom, especially in a stacked Philly lineup where he doesn’t have to be the guy every time up. It looks like his plate discipline is making big strides right now, so buy low.
Players to Drop to Waivers Now
1. Yu Darvish, SP, Chicago Cubs: This is not the same pitcher who was an All-Star selection for three straight years (2012-2014) to start his MLB career. Darvish missed all of 2015 with arm trouble, and he’s just a shell of his former self now at age 32. He has posted 11 walks in less than seven innings this season. Let someone else take the chance.
2. José Martínez, 1B/OF, St. Louis Cardinals: Right now, he’s just not getting the starts, the at-bats, or the hits to be in your lineup. Maybe that changes down the line, but he’s not worth stashing on your bench right now, either, with just one hit in 15 ABs so far. His career .839 OPS should be getting more playing time, yet the Cards don’t play him.
3. Jesse Winker, OF, Cincinnati Reds: He was hyped a bit preseason, thanks to some solid numbers in part-time play over the last two years. But Winker is struggling, and he doesn’t have enough of a past track record to suggest he’s not going to continue struggling right now. Maybe you bench him; maybe you release him. You choose.
4. Brandon Nimmo, OF, New York Mets: Despite striking out 140 times last year in just 433 ABs, Nimmo was another trendy pick this year to click. It’s not happening. This year, he’s whiffed 17 times already in his first 26 ABs. Do the math. There has to be someone better out there for your lineup than this wind machine. Yikes!
A four-year archive (2014-2017) of these MLB fantasy columns previously published on CBS Local Sports can be found here.