Rest of Season Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Covid Cases and Callups
The week of Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game is not always the busiest. There is not a lot of on-field action. From last week’s column until now, most teams have only played three games each. Because of that, I had not planned to make a ton of changes to the rest of season rankings this week. But it feels like there has been quite a bit of news over the past week or so. That has resulted in a bit more volatility than I had originally anticipated this week. Let’s get right to it with some of the recent news that has the biggest impact on this week’s rankings.
Last week brought a couple of Covid cases throughout Major League Baseball. The most notable among them from a fantasy perspective came about in Philadelphia and Houston. The Phillies removed Alec Bohm from last Saturday’s lineup due to health and safety protocols. Bohm indeed tested positive and is currently on the Injured List. The Phillies’ third basemen had finally started to heat up at the plate over the past month or so before the diagnosis. Bohm’s mandatory 10-day IL stint will conclude early next week. However, we cannot say what kind of impact this will have on him going forward. We have seen players return from Covid and hit the ground running, and we have also seen a few of them hit the proverbial wall. I do not know which category Bohm will fall into, but I lowered him a bit compared to where he was last week.
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Several of Bohm’s teammates were considered close contacts and placed in the contact-tracing protocols. The most fantasy-relevant among them is ace pitcher Aaron Nola. Nola was unable to start last weekend or this weekend, which was an unexpected hit for his fantasy managers. The good news is that he has been cleared to return and will start on Tuesday. In Houston, Carlos Correa missed last weekend’s games as well as the All-Star Game due to a Covid illness. The star shortstop returned to action following the break, so he should be ok going forward. Correa has a good chance to set a new career-high in home runs if he can remain healthy.
Unfortunately, the All-Star break did not bring an end to the outbreaks. New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge was one of several Yankees who tested positive on Thursday. Judge has been the Yankees’ best hitter all season, so the timing could not be worse for an offense that is already struggling mightily. Third baseman Gio Urshela was also among those who tested positive for the virus. I dropped both quite a bit in my rest of season rankings this week. The Yankee fan in me hopes that is an overreaction. But I think it is better to err on the side of caution with these issues. Because Judge was an All-Star, there was some concern that this would send a ripple effect throughout the sport. But so far, it appears MLB has avoided that nightmare.
It is not all doom and gloom around Major League Baseball. There was some positive news for fantasy managers to enjoy over the past week or so. Right before the All-Star break, the Tampa Bay Rays called up prized prospect Vidal Brujan. The dynamic speedster put up huge numbers in Triple-A this season. Brujan put up nine home runs and 15 stolen bases in just 49 games. He also continued to maintain his usual solid plate discipline. Since he arrived in the big leagues, however, the results have been less than ideal. Brujan has started just 1-for-12 with five strikeouts in six games. He has also started just one of Tampa’s last five contests. With Manuel Margot slated to return in the next week or two, Brujan will have to flash his immense upside soon before he finds himself back in Durham.
The Boston Red Sox also called up one of their prized prospects this week. Jarren Duran made his much anticipated MLB debut on Saturday night against the Yankees. Duran batted .270 with 15 homers and 12 steals in just 46 ball games in Triple-A. He had not exhibited a ton of power throughout his Minor League career, but he did make some adjustments to his swing and caused a lot of buzz at Boston’s alternate site in the offseason. I tend to be less bullish on prospects making an immediate impact than most, and Duran will have competition for at-bats in Boston. That is why I have him at the bottom of my rest of season rankings. But he is very talented and can put up some solid numbers hitting in one of the best lineups in baseball.
The Seattle Mariners re-called top outfield prospect Jarred Kelenic following the All-Star break. Kelenic is my current poster child for why I’m relatively low on incoming prospects. He rightfully earned a promotion to the Majors in May, but could not keep up his production at the big league level. Kelenic hit .096 in 23 games for the Mariners before the team was forced to send him back down. The now 22-year old continued to rake in Tacoma, forcing Seattle’s hand and once again earning a promotion. He has started both games since his callup, batting seventh against southpaw Andrew Heaney and sixth against right-handed pitcher Alex Cobb. The former first-round pick should be rostered in all leagues, but time will tell if he can put it together quickly enough to help his managers in 2021.
Rest of Season Fantasy Baseball Rankings
For more help on the pitching front, check out Mike Carter’s look at the top Two-Start Pitchers for the coming week.
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