Fantasy Focus: Injury Replacements

Can fantasy imitate real life? We explore how useful the Nationals' injury fill-ins can be to fantasy owners.

Injuries are a fact of life in baseball, be it fantasy or real life. If you’re in a league that drafted early you can find yourself stuck with a number of players starting on your DL and slim pickings on the waiver wire. The Nationals are in a similar situation with four major injuries to Denard Span, Jayson Werth, Anthony Rendon and Casey Janssen to start the season. So if you need injury replacements, what better place to find them than real life injury replacements? To that end, let’s breakdown the six players who will take on bigger responsibilities for the Nationals, at least for the time being.

Michael Taylor, OF: Taylor is far and away the best of the injury replacements, as he’s not your typical bench fill-in. Taylor is a top 100 MLB prospect and has one of the most enticing blends of speed and power in the game. He’s still a bit raw, as evidenced by his 39.5 percent strikeout rate in 43 Major League plate appearances last season. However, with Nationals installing him in the leadoff spot for the time being, he will have plenty of plate appearances to rack up some counting stats, especially runs with Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman behind him. Span’s initial timeline put him out until late April and he looks to be on track for a return then, but Taylor’s prospect status might make him stashing if you have space on the bench.

Tyler Moore, 1B/OF: In the offseason of right-handed power in turned out the team that would consider Tyler Moore as a potential starter was the Nationals. The 28-year old has some serious pop, with a career .179 ISO in 449 Major League plate appearances and his overall 94 wRC+ shows a decent hitter who can put up some nice numbers at times. Moore is one of those guys who might be better in fantasy than in real life, since the main reason he hasn’t stuck with the Nats is his defense. Moore won’t be getting plate appearances for long though, as Jayson Werth is expected back by this weekend. There’s a small chance that the Nats could find another team that would want him to be a starter, but don’t count on it.

Dan Uggla/Danny Espinosa, 2B: This is one of the most intriguing situations, as Anthony Rendon’s injury wasn’t supposed to keep him out this long. Not to mention that the Nationals haven’t been forthcoming with a defined timeline for when he can be expected back. Uggla and Espinosa will most likely split time here and they both bring something to the table. Uggla was awful the last two seasons, but also supposedly suffered from severe vision issues and was at one time the best power hitting second baseman. The best sign that he could be back to normal is that the Nats put him on the roster, they wouldn’t have done that unless their scouts saw something good in spring. Espinosa crushes left handers to the tune of a career 121 wRC+, so he’s a value play versus lefties. With middle infield being so shallow both could be useful in deeper or NL-only leagues, at least until we get a better idea of when Rendon will return.

Aaron Barrett/Blake Treinen, RP: These two relievers ended up in a similar situation as Taylor Jordan and Tanner Roark did entering 2014. They were both in competition for one spot, before an injury gave both an extended try out to start the season. Janssen’s tendinitis hasn’t been deemed serious, so one will likely be on their way back to Syracuse too. And neither is useful expect for in leagues that count holds, as Storen is firmly entrenched as the closer now. Keep an eye on both though as the season progresses, because if Storen struggles, both have the stuff (Barrett’s slider, Treinen’s sinker) to win a competition for saves.

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