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Fantasy Baseball: Finding replacements for Noah Syndergaard and Adam Eaton

Two highly regarded Fantasy options suffered long-term injuries this weekend, leaving their owners with gaping holes. Scott White suggests some trade and free agent targets to fill them.

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Editor's Note: This article first appeared on CBS Fantasy and was written by Scott White.

It's been fun, guys. See you next year.

What's that? We're only a month in? Nah, forget it. I drafted Adam Eaton and/or Noah Syndergaard. My season is over.

It's only natural to feel that way the moment you lose a player of that caliber. But then you remind yourself of the owners who've already lost Starling Marte and Madison Bumgarner, of the many early-round picks who don't pan out every year, and recognize there's more than enough season left to right this wrong.

You owe it to your leaguemates to try, not to mention yourself with the time you've already invested in this thing. So let's wipe away our sorrows, roll up our sleeves and get to work.

The good news, if I may call it that, is that Syndergaard only has a partial tear of his right lat. The structural integrity of his elbow and actual shoulder joint are fine, which is a win when a guy who throws 100 mph suffers "biceps tendinitis," refuses to have an MRI and is still allowed to pitch four days later. How the Mets could be so careless with their most valuable asset -- and less than a week after giving Matt Harvey three hours' notice for a start, ensuring he wasn't "physically prepared" -- just blows my mind.

But let's not even get started down that path.

Back to the good news: Several Mets beat writers said Steven Matz had a similar injury two years ago and wound up missing just two months, which would put Syndergaard on about the same timetable as Bumgarner. Maybe even a more optimistic one.

Has the Bumgarner owner in your league traded him yet? No? Well, it's probably because he has gotten only low-ball offers. Has he dropped him yet? Only if the league has no DL spots and like a two-man bench. Take a page from his book, then, Syndergaard owners. There's no reason to try anything desperate. Two months means your ace will be back for the better half of the season, and if you're wondering about his effectiveness when he returns, consider this: Clayton Kershaw strained his lat in March of 2014 (remember the long flight back from Australia?) He returned in about six weeks and went on to win NL Cy Young and MVP that year.

So your best bet, as with Bumgarner, is probably to hold Syndergaard, to try and keep it together while he's out so that you can mop the floor when he returns. And knowing it's just a couple months should make it easier since you don't have to concern yourself with longevity and durability (two of the defining characteristics of the most expensive pitchers in Fantasy).

Of course, buying low on an ace would still be the ideal solution, but that would have been true even before Syndergaard went down. To make it work, you need to have assets to trade and a willing partner, which are both more attainable in theory than in fact.

Jake Arrieta's owner may be getting a little nervous after three straight non-quality starts, but only a little. Your Marcus Stroman isn't going to be enough to get the job done. You have a better chance of landing Justin Verlander, given where his value was at this time a year ago. Now is the perfect time to buy low on Harvey since we have a pretty good idea why his velocity and control disappeared on him last time out (thanks again, Mets), and Johnny Cueto and Masahiro Tanaka simply have too much track record to believe their struggles so far.

Geoff Burke, USA Today


Jake Arrieta CHC SP doesn't look right
Justin Verlander DET SP checkered history
Johnny Cueto SF SP slow start
Masahiro Tanaka NYY SP slow start
Matt Harvey NYM SP too much risk
Luis Severino NYY SP chance to "sell high"
David Price BOS SP still waiting ...

Failing those possibilities, a stealthier move would be to target someone like Luis Severino, who surely wouldn't cost as much as those big-name pitchers but has a top prospect pedigree and Syndergaard-like strikeout-to-walk ratio so far. His Johnny-come-lately status might inspire his owner to go ahead and cash in, but since you're approaching this acquisition as just a two-month fill-in, you can afford to gamble a little more.

Shoot, you could still get David Price for nickels on the dollar right now. It may feel like doubling down on the second half since his absence will partially coincide with Syndergaard's, but an investment in the future is often more affordable than one in the present. And with him, you can be extra sure you'll mop the floor when everyone is right again.

So what do you trade? Well, swapping two players at the same position is the most straightforward way to go about it, but most likely starting pitching is exactly what you need and exactly what a willing partner doesn't need. So what kind of excess do you have? Second and third base are both especially deep this year. Have a backup you've been dying to get in your lineup? Maybe you move your starter to a team with a hole there. Or maybe you just got Ian Desmond back and can afford to move your fill-in outfielder.

Or -- and stick with me here -- maybe Desmond's owner (someone other than you, I mean) did well enough without him that he no longer feels like he needs him.

This is where we transition to the Eaton owners -- those poor, down-on-their-luck Eaton owners. No hope of him coming back from an ACL tear this year, I'm afraid, but the bright side is that he had far exceeded what you paid for him to this point. The Nationals have gotten a best-case scenario up and down their lineup, which is why they're lapping the field in runs scored, and Eaton, as primarily the leadoff man, was one of the most obvious beneficiaries.

On the one hand, it makes his loss sting all the more, but on the other hand, if the rest of your team is performing like it should, you shouldn't need to replace his actual production but only what you drafted him to provide.

Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports


Ian Desmond COL 1B no room for him
Dexter Fowler STL CF slow start
Michael Conforto NYM CF recent pickup
Jason Heyward CHC RF more of the same?

He and Dexter Fowler were almost interchangeable to me about a month ago, and since Fowler is off to a slow start, it's a buy-low opportunity for you. Jason Heyward is showing signs that the offseason work he did on his swing is actually paying off, and again, the Desmond owner may view his once prized asset as just a spare part right now. Michael Conforto was probably just added in your league, which gives him the appearance of expendability despite the all-too-obvious upside, and Mitch Haniger is only going to miss about three of the weeks Eaton is expected to. We were all liking him even more than Eaton about a week ago, so now would be a good time to buy in.

Because Eaton stood out mostly for his on-base ability and run-scoring potential, you don't need to concern yourself as much with replenishing specific categories. You don't need to direct your search toward home runs or stolen bases when seeking a replacement; you just need good production. And these players' ownership levels understate the production they've already provided or are in a position to provide:


Corey Dickerson TB LF 79
Jason Heyward CHC RF 77
David Peralta ARI RF 63
Josh Bell PIT 1B 55
Matt Holliday NYY LF 53
Scott Schebler CIN RF 52
Max Kepler MIN RF 46
Delino DeShields TEX CF 18

Clearly, this is a position with depth to offer, so to bring things full circle, if you lost Syndergaard, you could pick up David Peralta and his resurgent across-the-board skill set, trust in him as one of your starting outfielders and then trade one of your better outfielders, perhaps to the Eaton owner, for an ace.

Otherwise, you're left to pick through the scraps at starting pitcher.

Rick Osentoski / USA TODAY Sports


Robert Gsellman NYM SP 70
Patrick Corbin ARI SP 69
Alex Cobb TB SP 67
Eduardo Rodriguez BOS SP 64
Charlie Morton HOU SP 42
Mike Foltynewicz ATL SP 40

My personal favorite there is Eduardo Rodriguez. His swinging strike rate is fourth in all of baseball, ahead of even Syndergaard, and he clearly has supporting cast going for him. But then there's a reason he's only 63 percent owned. Ain't no one surviving a walk rate of 5.4 per nine.

Robert Gsellman's strikeout-to-walk ratio suggests he has pitched better than his results so far, and the Mets have done a fine job undermining him, like everyone else. Alex Cobb's split-change could come around, catapulting him to top-30 status again. Patrick Corbin's latest start against the Rockies suggest his 2.29 ERA isn't just a case of him beating up on the Padres so far.

But as many starting pitcher spots as you have to fill, you're most likely still hoping those pitchers can settle in as No. 4 or 5 types for you. Filling your No.1 spot on top of it is asking a lot of a waiver claim. You owe it to yourself to pursue a trade, and dangling your outfield excess in front of the Eaton owner may be the best way to go about it.

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