With this being the eve of the second half of the baseball season, today I will be profiling six players returning from injury either immediately or shortly after the All Star break. Some of these players may be on your own team’s disabled list. Others may be good trade targets and some of them may even be available for pick up via your league’s waiver wire. All of these players can help and impact any fantasy team for the remainder of the fantasy season.
The first three players profiled below could quite possibly be available on your league’s waiver wire for pick up with the next three either returning from your DL or could be a strong potential trade target with their owners possibly becoming frustrated with the players injury woes this season.
Lorenzo Cain- OF Kansas City Royals, percent owned: 2% ESPN, 7% Yahoo & 27% CBS
Cain was highly touted coming into the season having had a great AAA season last year, hitting .312, 16 SBs,16 HRs and 81 RBIs and following this up with a strong spring. Expectations were high in Kansas City for him entering the year as the starting CF but unfortunately things have not gone as hoped. Five games into the season he was injured running into the center field fence in Oakland and has been on the DL ever since. His initial injury was a left groin strain, then tearing his hip flexor in the same left leg while on his initial rehab assignment in April, causing him to be placed on the 60 day DL. He seems to finally be healthy and after a recent rehab assignment where things seemed to have gone well, he was activated from the 60 day DL and is scheduled to make a full return and start Friday, Kanas City Royals first game after the All Star break. He is under 10% on Yahoo, ESPN & CBS and it is highly likely he is available on your league’s wavier wire and could be a valuable waiver wire pick up for those needing immediate outfield. Projected return July 13th.
Neftali Feliz- SP/RP Texas Rangers, percent owned: 37.8% ESPN, 40% Yahoo & 76% CBS
Feliz was converted from the team’s closer to a starting pitcher this season. While things started off fairly well, on May 21st he was placed on the disabled list with right elbow inflammation and has been on the DL ever since. Feliz was lights out as a closer and had 40 Saves and 32 SVs in 2010 and 2011 respectively. He was 3-1 with a 3.16 ERA, 37 Ks and 23 Walks starting this season. He recently threw a bullpen session July 7th and seems to be on track for a late July return. At this time it is unclear if he will return as a starter or a reliever. With him being under 41% owned in both Yahoo & ESPN, there is a possibility he will be available on your league’s waiver wire. While his ownership is higher on CBS he could be a strong trade target if the owner is worried about his uncertain role upon return. One thing to keep an eye on is what role he will return to. If he returns as a starter as all indications are recently pointing to, he is a good fantasy play. Even if he returns strictly in a relief role in leagues that count holds, he will still be a valuable asset. He is scheduled to throw to live batting today and if there are no setbacks he is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment and pitch two innings this Sunday the 15th of July with anther three innings Sunday the 18th of July. Projected return late July.
Lance Berkman- 1B/OF St. Louis Cardinals, percent owned: 58.7% ESPN, 64% Yahoo & 82% CBS
Berkman had a great bounce back season last year hitting .301, 31 HRS and 94 RBIs. After bouncing back from his 2010 struggles many thought he was back to his old form with many websites even having him ranked in their preseason top 100. However 13 games into the season he went down with a torn meniscus in his right knee. After surgery and an extensive rehab of the knee he is projected to begin a rehab assignment after the break with a return shortly after. Berkman has recently stated he would not need a rehab assignment but the team has announced he will be going on one before returning to the club. Although he is 58% owned or higher there is a chance he may be available via your league’s waiver wire or could make for a good seond half trade target. Projected return late July early August.
Carl Crawford- OF Boston Red Sox, percent owned: 71% Yahoo, 80.8% ESPN & 88% CBS
By now most of you know the problems Crawford has had in the last year and a half since he signed his 7 year $142 million contract before last season. He has only played in a total of 130 games in 2011 & 2012, missing 32 games last year while hitting only .255 and has missed all of this year so far. However in 2010 he hit .307, 47 SBs, 19HRs & 90 RBIs. It is also important to mention he was very durable prior to last year. He had wrist surgery in the off season that caused him to miss the start of the season with his elbow also feeling discomfort at this same time. He was recently diagnosed with a sprained UCL, an injury that will most likely require minor to possibly major surgery this off season, with most even predicting Tommy John surgery. He recently embarked on a rehab assignment but did have a minor setback unrelated to his UCL sprain: a tweaked groin. He is expected to be back rehabbing in Pawtucket today. With him being over 70 % owned he is probably not available on your league’s waiver wire but there is a small chance he may be, also being a high risk high-reward trade target especially in dynasty/keeper leagues. His owner could be becoming frustrated with his poor play last year and injury woes this season. Projected return July 16th.
Emilio Bonifacio- 3B/SS/OF Miami Marlins, percent owned: 76% Yahoo, 88% CBS & 90.8% ESPN
Bonifacio is coming off his best season in the big leagues hitting .296, 5Hr, 36 RBis and 40 SBs last year. In 39 games this season he hit .268, 6 RBIs and 20 SBs with the 20 SBs leading the league at the time of his injury. He has been out of action since May 19th with strained ligament damage in his left thumb which required surgery. While Bonifacio is over 75% owned and won’t be available on most league’s waiver wire, he would make a strong trade target as he is eligible at 3B, SS and OF and is a strong source of steals for teams needing help in the steals category. He is projected to return Friday, July 13th.
Jacoby Ellsbury- OF Boston Red Sox, percent owned: 94% Yahoo, 98% CBS & 99.7% ESPN
Ellsbury is coming off a career year. Last year he hit .321, 39 SBs, 32 HR and 105 RBIs and finished 2nd in the American League MVP voting. This year, however, has not been the same, he struggled out of the gate hitting only .192, 3RBIS with zero HRs and SBs. He then sustained a dislocated shoulder only 7 games into the season and has not played since. While Ellsbury could now be considered injury prone with this being his second major injury in three years, he should come back 100% healthy and contribute to the Red Sox immediately. His 20 day rehab assignment is set to expire July 19th but it was announced Tuesday that he would be activated Friday, July 13th. Being 94% owned or higher he will not be available via your waiver wire but would be a solid buy low trade target, as well as big boost to any team that is currently stashing them on their DL. Projected return July 13th, July 19th at the latest.
Whether the players listed above are available on your leagues waiver wire, coming off your own DL or are a trade target for your roster, they all should be back very shortly after the break and can strongly impact any and all fantasy teams. Feel free to comment in the comments section and as always feel free to follow me on twitter @FantasyzrTJ to continue this discussion as well as getting updates on fantasy baseball and baseball in general.