Waiver Worthy: Replacing Your Injured Players

by Will Overton

There are always going to be injuries in fantasy baseball, but it feels a lot like fantasy players are really getting slammed with early season injuries right now on an almost nightly basis. I am a big advocate of not overeating early in the season with too many waiver wire moves. However when injuries strike you don’t really have a choice.

There are a lot of guys who started the season on the DL and you planned for that when you did your draft. Now though as the in season injuries pile up you may be looking for the right replacement players for new injuries.

Here are some of the more prominent injuries that have taken place and a couple of guys at each position who could fill the void.

Replacing Freddie Freeman – 1B

Chris Carter – Houston Astros: With the ability to DH him now Carter is playing nearly every day for the Astros and he is red hot right now. Carter is 12 – 28 in his last seven games and has 4 HR’s and 7 RBI in that stretch. He does also have nine strikeouts, and he has struck out at least once in every game this season so you do have to absorb that.

He won’t hit for the same average as Freeman, despite what he has been doing, but you’ll get a little extra power boost which isn’t always easy to find on the wire. Injury replacement pickups are the best time to utilize someone on a hot streak like this as it can be just temporary if they cool off.

Todd Helton – Colorado Rockies: Here’s one for the deeper leagues out there, Todd Helton who is owned in less than 1% of ESPN leagues. Yes Helton is getting up there in age and has certainly lost more than just a step at the plate. He’s still got something left to offer in deep leagues though. After starting the season 2 – 21 from the dish he was 6 – 9 in his last series against San Diego with a HR. Helton may not be a .330 hitter anymore, but he should be able to manage .270 – .280 while losing a few balls in the Colorado air.

Replacing Jose Reyes – SS

Jhonny Peralta – Detroit Tigers: I for one thought Jhonny Peralta’s better days may have been behind him and wasn’t advocating for his being drafted in standard leagues this season. I may still be right about that, but he is still just 30 years old and he is off to a nice start this season so far. Peralta is 10 – 22 in his last five games and is hitting .319 overall this season. He also has 6 RBI right now and could rack up some more there considering who hits in front of him. He won’t replace Reyes speed, but if you can find speed elsewhere Peralta can get you a few other things that are going to be helpful in the long run.

Cliff Pennington – Arizona Diamondbacks: The shortstop position is one that lacks depth and so if you lost Reyes or even Erick Aybar in a deep league, Pennington may be someone you need to consider. Pennington won’t blow you away in any one category in fantasy baseball, but he has a little bit of pop and underrated speed. He could steal 20 – 25 bases in a full season if given the chance to run. Pennington is also better than the career low .215 average he posted last season and closer to the .250 career average he has. In a deep league .250 won’t kill you and you at least get back a few of the steals you lost in Reyes.

Replacing Yoenis Cespedes – OF

Lorenzo Cain – Kansas City Royals: Fantasy players were a bit too quick to throw in the towel on Cain this season I think after his rough 3 – 17 start. He quickly dropped to being owned in less than 10% of ESPN leagues. While we have yet to see a HR or SB from Cain I still believe he has 15 – 15 upside if not higher.

The bat is starting to get going as well as he is 8 – 22 in his last six games bringing his season average up to .282. If Cain keeps hitting the ball well the power and speed are going to come. Take advantage of others rash decision making and scoop him up now.

Nate Schierholtz – Chicago Cubs: This is another one where you play the hot hand, especially in deep leagues. I personally play in a 16 team dynasty league in which Schierholtz was a free agent until just a day ago. He is 10 – 25 in his last eight games and is both scoring runs and driving them in with six scored and eight driven in. He has a couple of early HR’s and he does have double digit power potential, especially in a stadium like Wrigley Field. He might not be a long term solution, but as he’s hot you have to ride him out.

Replacing Johnny Cueto – SP

Ervin Santana – Kansas City Royals: It has only been three starts, but I’m gaining confidence in Santana more and more with each start. His first time out was a little shaky as he allowed the three HR’s to Chicago which was a downfall last season. In the last two games though he has gone eight innings a piece and allowed only 1 HR combined.

Also significant is the fact that he has walked only five batters in his 22 IP this season while striking out 19. If Santana is keeping the ball in the park he’s a completely different pitcher thanks to his nice strikeout potential.

Tony Cingrani – Cincinnati Reds: If you lost Johnny Cueto you might want to just look down the line at his replacement on the Reds, Tony Cingrani. The young Reds pitcher only has made three starts at Triple-A all of which were this season and one was an abbreviated two inning start on Sunday. In those three starts he has gone 14.1 scoreless innings allowing only three hits and two walks. He has struck out an incredible 26 batters in those innings, nearly two per inning.

Last season between single-A and double-A he struck out 172 in 146 innings. Because of his inexperience you could be a little leery, but it helps a lot that he’s in line to face the Marlins on Thursday and then the Cubs in his second start. This is a little bit of an unknown to it, but it’s a really potential high reward risk to take.

What injury has crippled your fantasy team this season? Who are you looking to grab as a replacement? Who on this list in particular intrigues you?


  1. Scott says:

    I’ve lost Greinke and Harrison to the DL and backfilled with Ciprangi but he hasn’t even been “official called up.” When he is called up, how long do you anticipate him staying up, just for the 3-4 weeks that Cueto is out, or do you invision him replacing Leake? I’ve also picked up Hultzen anticipating he’d be in the Mariners rotation replacing Maurer but I haven’t seen this happen either. Any other SP suggestions because in an active league, there’s no way Santana is on any waiver wire.

    • Will Overton says:

      In a 10 or 12 team league Santana could very well still be available, but your right, not in anything deeper.

      I do think if Cingrani has a good showing in his few starts while replacing Cingrani it will be REALLY hard for the Reds to send him back down to Triple-A. Maurer had a nice outing last time which probably bought him a little more time. Still going to be hard for Seattle to keep Hultzen Triple-A for too much longer.

      Carlos Villanueva is another guy I like if he’s available in your league. Ricky Nolasco is still available in a decent amount of standard leagues. Eric Stults in San Diego isn’t great, but pitching half his games in San Diego makes him useful in deep leagues.

      • Scott says:

        What about Detweiler?

        • Will Overton says:

          As long as you go in knowing you won’t get many K’s. You weren’t getting a ton from Harrison anyway, so Detweiler makes sense. He’s going to put up solid ratios and get some wins on that team.

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