Vidal Could Be Vital

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I stashed Eloy Jiménez on my injured list in one league a couple of weeks ago when it seemed like he was trending ahead of schedule, but it still came as quite the surprise to see late Wednesday night that the White Sox are sending him to High-A Winston-Salem on Friday to begin an official minor league rehab assignment. He’s rostered in just 49 percent of Yahoo leagues right now and honestly it’s hard to think of an IL stash who could provide more upside in the second half.

Of course, you will have to be patient here. The rehab clock for position players is 20 days and Jiménez figures to need most of it. In addition to shaking the rust at the plate, the White Sox surely want to ease him into things as he makes his way back from March surgery for a ruptured left pectoral tendon. Still, if all goes well, we’re looking at a return around the start of August. What a nice surprise he could be the rest of the way.

Jiménez sounds ready to mash some baseballs, thank goodness.

Eloy Jimenez: "I feel like 110 percent. Let's say 200 percent."

— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) July 8, 2021

One quick programming note here: The excellent Jorge Montanez (@Roto_Nino) will be filling in for me on Waiver Wired next week. You will be in good hands. Enjoy the All-Star break!

Have specific questions about your roster? Ask @djshort on Twitter.

MIXED LEAGUES

(Players rostered in under 50 percent of Yahoo leagues)

Note: Percentages are from the morning of Thursday, July 8th

Vidal Bruján 2B, Rays (Yahoo: 40 percent rostered)

Called up for Wednesday’s doubleheader against the Indians, Bruján wasted no time making an impact. The 23-year-old speedster made a diving stop at second base in the top of the first inning before collecting an RBI single in his first MLB plate appearance. But he wasn’t done there, as he showed off his speed by stealing second base before coming home to score on a double from Kevin Kiermaier. While Bruján is not quite on the level of Wander Franco — and who is, really — he’s an intriguing name to watch in all formats, mostly because of his speed. He was 15-for-19 in stolen base attempts over 49 games in Triple-A this year and racked up 166 steals over 448 games in the minors. Bruján makes plenty of contact and has added more power to his game, though he’s noticeably better from the left side as opposed to the right. The Rays are great at mixing and matching, so they should be able to put him in position to succeed.

Brendan Rodgers 2B/SS, Rockies (Yahoo: 17 percent rostered)

What’s not to like here? It’s been a long wait for Rodgers to force his way onto to the fantasy scene, mostly because of injury, but he’s finally starting to back up the hype. After getting a late start on the season due to a hamstring injury, the 24-year-old is batting .266/.340/.445 with five homers and 20 RBI through 39 games while finding a home in the middle of the Rockies’ lineup. The approach looks good and he’s making plenty of solid contact. He’s also been producing on the road, though obviously playing his home games in Coors Field is a very good thing indeed. Hopefully he can stay on the field to begin to realize his potential.

Joe Ross SP, Nationals (Yahoo: 40 percent rostered)

It’s safe to say that nobody saw this coming. Well, maybe the Nationals, who have showed a remarkable amount of faith in Ross. After opting out of the 2020 season due to concerns over COVID-19, the 28-year-old has pitched his way back onto the fantasy radar of late. Including an 11-strikeout performance against the Dodgers on Sunday, he’s now sporting a 2.31 ERA and 44/6 K/BB ratio in 39 innings over six starts. He’s gone at least six innings while allowing three earned runs or fewer in five of them. In addition to the outstanding control, Ross has shown new life on his fastball, topping out at 97.2 mph during his most recent start. It’s been a long and winding road for him, but he’s been interesting in mixed leagues before and it’s very possible he’s back on track.

UPDATE: Ross was placed on the injured list Thursday due to elbow inflammation.

Brandon Nimmo OF, Mets (Yahoo: 32 percent rostered)

It hasn’t taken long for Nimmo to remind Mets fans why he’s so important at the top of their lineup. The 28-year-old is 8-for-22 (.364) with two doubles and three RBI since coming off the injured list. He’s only drawn one walk in that time, which is a bit strange, but he has a long history of grinding out at-bats. Nimmo was off to a great start before going down with a nagging finger injury, but all is well now. He doesn’t stand out in regard to pop or speed, but he’s an on-base machine (.392 career OBP) and should get plenty of volume as the Mets’ primary leadoff man. He’s well worth a look in most competitive leagues.

Didi Gregorius SS, Phillies (Yahoo: 48 percent rostered)

Speaking of lingering injuries, Gregorius just returned last weekend after missing nearly two months with an elbow injury which turned out to be pseudogout, a form of arthritis which comes in the form of “sudden and painful swelling in one or more of your joints.” Thanks to the Mayo Clinic for that description, by the way. Fortunately, Gregorius is finally over it. And while he’s just 3-for-19 (.158) since coming off the injured list, two of those hits have been home runs. Gregorius is coming off a strong rebound season and his swing is well-suited for Citizens Bank Park (seven home runs and an .885 OPS at home in 2020), so he should be helpful for the remainder of the summer.

Ty France 1B/2B/3B, Mariners (Yahoo: 43 percent rostered)

France required a stint on the injured list earlier this season due to wrist inflammation, but he’s been locked in since returning, batting .302/.369/.477 with five home runs, 21 RBI, and 17 runs scored over his last 40 games. He’s hit safely in eight straight games and has been the Mariners’ primary cleanup hitter dating back to the end of May. France is unlikely to provide big-time power numbers, but he makes contact and qualifies at three different positions. He’s a perfect plug-and-play depending on the composition of your roster.

Jed Lowrie 2B, Athletics (Yahoo: 17 percent rostered)

Lowrie trailed off considerably after a monster start to the season, but he’s turned things around of late. Over his last 14 games, the 37-year-old is slashing .327/.365/.551 with three homers, two doubles, and seven RBI. He still finds himself in a prominent spot in the A’s lineup (fourth, fifth, and sixth in 10 out of his last 11 games), so there’s plenty of chances for him to knock in runs. Most importantly, he’s managed to remain healthy after a couple of years on the sidelines. He’s a reasonable alternative if you lost an infielder like Anthony Rendon or Kolten Wong to the injured list in recent days.

Anthony Bender RP, Marlins (Yahoo: 10 percent rostered)

One of the fastest risers of the past week has been Bender, who notched his first career save Monday against the Dodgers. It’s worth noting that he was charged with a blown save after allowing a game-tying solo homer to Zach McKinstry on Wednesday, so that might not help his case, but Marlins manager Don Mattingly recently indicated that he’s earned the high-leverage spots. Yimi Garcia has been anything but steady recently, so Bender is still in strong position for more chances. After pitching in independent ball the last two years, the 26-year-old rookie holds a 0.99 ERA and 37/7 K/BB ratio through his first 27 1/3 innings in the majors. He throws a fastball/slider mix which has generated weak contact and a good amount of grounders, too. Time to get him rostered in more leagues. The same goes for Ranger Suarez (Yahoo: 24 percent rostered) in that mess of a bullpen with the Phillies.

Max Stassi C, Angels (Yahoo: 24 percent rostered)

Yasmani Grandal underwent surgery Wednesday to repair a torn tendon in his left knee and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks, a tough blow for the White Sox and fantasy managers. For those scrambling for a replacement, Stassi is one of the better widely-available options out there. He’s quietly slashing .296/.373/.528 with 13 homers and 36 RBI over 67 games dating back to the start of last season. Strikeouts have been an issue for the 30-year-old in his career, but he’s made all sorts of hard contact in this 67-game sample, largely backing up the production he’s shown. He’s sharing at-bats with Kurt Suzuki, but as long as you can live with that, he’s a strong option.

Kole Calhoun OF, Diamondbacks (Yahoo: 10 percent rostered)

Calhoun nearly found his way into this column last week before a bit of a scare with his hamstring injury. However, he’s slated to get back in action Thursday with the D’Backs’ Arizona Complex League affiliate. Calhoun has been sidelined since late April due to surgery to remove a split hamstring tendon in his left leg, but when he’s healthy, he’s a proven power bat. After slugging a career-best 33 homers in 2019, he slugged 16 homers in just 54 games last year. Calhoun is a .249 career hitter, so don’t expect much help there, but hopefully he can make his way back soon and maybe find his way to a contender later this month.

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Deeper Dandies

(Players rostered in under 10 percent of Yahoo leagues)

Elias Diaz C, Rockies (Yahoo: 7 percent rostered)

If Stassi is already scooped up in your league, consider giving Diaz a look. While the overall numbers don’t stand out, he’s actually hitting .296/.375/.606 with six homers and 13 RBI in 22 games (80 plate appearances) dating back to the start of May. Yes, the sample is small, but Diaz has been making contact at an elite rate and hitting the ball hard. At the catcher position, sometimes you just need to ride the hot hand and that’s certainly the case with Diaz right now. The Rockies play four road games going into the All-Star break (understandable under the circumstances), but they’ll play five at home to begin the second half.

Rowdy Tellez 1B, Brewers (Yahoo: 2 percent rostered)

Daniel Vogelbach is on the shelf with a hamstring injury, but fortunately the Brewers managed to fill the void in the Big Buff Boy department with the addition of Tellez from the Blue Jays this week. And call it a hunch, but I think Tellez might end up playing a lot. Keston Hiura started out hot after returning from the minors, but he’s 4-for-26 (.154) with 13 strikeouts over his last eight games. The Brewers are in it to win it this year, so patience could be thin. In fact, it wouldn’t be shocking to see if the club dangles him as trade bait in order to upgrade in other areas. In the meantime, Tellez is in prime position to benefit. While he hasn’t done much of note this year, Tellez has deserved better in terms of quality of contact metrics. He hits the ball really hard and American Family Field could be a great backdrop for him. Keep him in mind if you need a corner infielder in deeper formats.

Weekend Warriors

Tylor Megill SP, Mets (Yahoo: 7 percent rostered)

Megill’s rapid rise to the majors was mostly out of necessity due to the injuries in the Mets’ rotation, but he’s impressed to date, posting a 3.77 ERA and 19/6 K/BB ratio in 14 1/3 innings through his first three starts. He’s picked up 15 strikeouts in 10 innings over his last two outings. His changeup has been knocked around a bit, but he’s seen good results with his mid-90s fastball while getting the bulk of his whiffs on his slider. Ideally he’ll get some more time in the minors, but the Mets will keep rolling with him for now, including a juicy matchup against the Pirates on Saturday.

Cole Irvin SP, Athletics (Yahoo: 37 percent rostered)

Irvin got off to a great start in April before hitting a rough patch in May, but he’s turned things around of late with a 2.63 ERA and 28/8 K/BB ratio in 37 2/3 innings over his last six starts. He’s won each of his last last three decisions and has completed seven innings in each of his last two starts. Irvin isn’t a hard-thrower, so missing bats isn’t really his thing, but his control is elite and he’s done a great job keeping the ball in the ballpark. Make sure he’s rostered for his start against the Rangers on Friday.

Bailey Ober SP, Twins (Yahoo: 2 percent rostered)

Ober earned his first major league win Monday against the White Sox after allowing just two hits over five scoreless frames. The 6-foot-8 right-hander struck out seven and walked three, giving him a 4.85 ERA and 33/9 K/BB ratio in 29 2/3 innings through his first seven starts in the majors. His numbers in the minors have always been good, with his elite control standing out, but it was easy to be skeptical when he was sitting the high-80s with his fastball. However, he’s more interesting now due to an uptick in velocity. Give him a try with the Tigers coming up on Saturday.

AL ONLY

Adam Engel OF, White Sox (Yahoo: 1 percent rostered)

The White Sox activated Engel from the injured list on Wednesday while designating veteran outfielder Adam Eaton for assignment. Engel has been limited to just 11 games this season due to hamstring issues, but he’s been useful when healthy, popping three homers in 36 plate appearances. While he’s a .224 career hitter, he offers elite speed and the occasional pop. He should play quite a bit for now.

John Hicks C/1B, Rangers (Yahoo: 2 percent rostered)

Hicks has been on a roll since his call-up at the end of June going 7-for-16 (.438) with four home runs. He actually homered in four straight games after his promotion, with one of them coming against the Tigers, his former team. The 31-year-old Hicks was off to a good start in Triple-A this year and put up some useful power numbers (28 homers in 236 games between 2017-2019) with Detroit, so maybe he plays way into more chances. The Rangers will have a difficult decision to make when Jose Trevino is ready to return.

NL ONLY

Orlando Arcia SS, Braves (Yahoo: 1 percent rostered)

You probably know Arcia from his days as the Brewers regular shortstop, but he’s an outfielder now. Or at least that’s how the Braves are using him after his recent call-up. While things never really panned out for the former top prospect with the Brewers, he was slashing .303/.380/.552 with 13 homers and five steals over 51 games this year in Triple-A. He’s hit safely in three of four games since coming up from the minors and makes for a decent enough option as long as he holds off Abraham Almonte for playing time.

Rodolfo Castro 2B/SS, Pirates (Yahoo: 0 percent rostered)

With Gregory Polanco and Phillip Evans hitting the injured list this week, the Pirates brought up both Castro and Cole Tucker to fill the void. Tucker flat-out hasn’t hit enough in the majors to show off his good speed, but Castro could be interesting. The 22-year-old has done a good job cutting down on his strikeouts in Double-A this year while slashing .306/.349/.549 with 11 homers and five steals over 49 games. This might be a short-term call-up for him, but he could get a long look if the Pirates end up trading Adam Frazier.