The post break schedule is about to commence so we asked the Touts:
Which players, currently on the IL, will make the biggest fantasy difference when they return after the break?
Ian Kahn (The Athletic, @IanKahn4): I think it is Eloy Jimenez. The injury seemed so devastating at the time, that he was dropped in many formats. He was easily available as recently as this past weekend in many leagues. Others who are coming back like Trout, and in an odd way Chris Sale will bring huge value down the stretch. The issue with Trout, is that most teams were counting on him this season for a full year. Sale, is unique, because he cost so little, that it might be a huge boon to teams in many leagues. But Eloy might still be out there, so he’s the call.
Alex Fast (Pitcher List, @AlexFast8): Maybe it’s a cop out, but feel like it has to be either Noah Syndergaard or Carlos Carrasco. I imagine it will take them a bit before they’re going a consistent 5 IP but, once they are, I don’t imagine there will be much of an innings restriction for either of them. It’s a contract year for Thor, so I think he especially would like to showcase what he has. Mets certainly need the pitching depth at the moment, too.
Doug Dennis (BaseballHQ, @dougdennis41): Putting aside Mike Trout (how can it *not* be Mike Trout?) I think Cookie Carrasco could be a difference maker. I see Sale getting going, and just read that Eloy is coming back this month, but to me, Carrasco is in the best situation to make some hay.
D.J. Short (NBC Sports Edge, @djshort): Mike Trout is the easy call here, but Eloy Jiménez is available in a surprising amount of leagues, mostly because a lot of people wrote him off for the season after his pectoral injury. But he has a chance to be a huge difference-maker in leagues.
Patrick Davitt (BaseballHQ, @patrickdavitt): I can see the argument for Mondesi, but he has to be healthy to be an SB difference maker and I wouldn’t bet on that, so it has to be Trout for me. Pitcher: I’d gladly take Sale or Bieber, whoever arrives first. (I think it’ll be Bieber.)
Jock Thompson (Baseball HQ, @JOCKatHQ): Mike Trout
Tim McLeod (Prospect361.com, @RunTMcP361 ): Adalberto Mondesi. It’s still possible to see 20-to-30 thefts in the second half and that could prove to be a difference maker and shake up the standings very quickly down the stretch.
Jim Bowden (Fantasy Alarm, @JimBowdenGM): I’m also going Eloy Jimenez I think he has a monster Fantasy August and Sept in terms of AVG, HR and RBI.
Lenny Melnick (LennyMelnickFantasySports, @LennyMelnick): Carrasco and Sale will have as much Impact as any trade any team makes Trout and Jimenez are no Brainers
Ariel Cohen (CBS Sports, @ATCNY): Mike Trout … because he’s … Mike Trout. There are no other correct answers here. Although Tim McLeod is correct in that Mondesi is a big difference maker. Particularly in leagues with a cluster of teams & stolen bases, Mondesi could most rapidly affect standings.
Ray Murphy (BaseballHQ, @RayHQ): Maybe my Red Sox homerism showing, but I’ll take Chris Sale over the field. Caveating that TJS rehab is on track until it isn’t… but Sale hasn’t had any setbacks to date, has hit 95 mph from the mound at Fenway, and is on track to be back by mid-late August. If that leaves ~7-8 starts of “vintage” Sale, that could well be a deciding factor in a bunch of leagues.
Steve Gardner (USAToday Fantasy Sports, @SteveAGardner): The biggest individual difference-makers over the second half will be in the scarcest categories, saves and steals. With no impact closers waiting to return, a guy who can swipe 20+ bases is going to make a huge difference in Roto leagues. Mondesi hasn’t had a chance to make an impact yet this season, but we all saw what he did last September when he was running wild AND hitting for power.
Andrea LaMont (LennyMelnickFantasySports, @RotoLady): If Shane Bieber can’t get back on the mound in the next couple weeks, the Indians stand zero chance of making the playoffs. For Fantasy, he is probably just as important but I might get out of last place in LABR if any one of Gallen, Carrasco, Kershaw or Strasburg became healthy
Eric Cross (Fantrax, @EricCross04): Mike Trout and Adalberto Mondesi will be popular choices here, but I’m going to go with Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert. Jimenez just started a rehab assignment and has said he feels “200%”. A rested and rejuvenated Eloy could be a major offensive beast for the last two months of the season in three or four categories.
Michael Rathburn (Rotowire, @FantasyRath): Chris Sale on the pitching side. Will allow Sox to go with a 6 man rotation and keep everyone fresh during the stretch run. Also Eloy Jimenez/Luis Robert coming back will make the White Sox the World Series favorites.
Jason Collette (Rotowire, @jasoncollette): Can I go with the homer theme and say Nick Anderson? Rays bullpen has been shaky most of the season late in games, so the job could be his as soon as he shows his arm is healthy. I don’t expect that until August, but saves are saves late in the year in single league formats.
Perry Van Hook (Mastersball, @): Assuming he is fully healthy and can make four or five stats for the Metropolitans, I say Noah Syndergaard. The Mets should still be in position to win the NL EAst and it will get him ready for the playoffs.
Ron Shandler (RonShandler.com, @RonShandler): Assuming health, Chris Sale but not for the obvious reason. He will obviously provide needed pitching help for many fantasy teams, but in new keeper leagues, he could be an incredibly attractive protection for 2022. In most leagues, he was probably drafted at a huge discount.
Greg Jewett (Fantasy Alarm, @gjewett9): Noting Mike Trout and Adalberto Mondesi probably do not reside on waivers in most leagues, looking at Eloy Jiménez reporting to Triple-A for a rehab assignment. He’s way ahead of schedule and his ability to produce runs along with a clear path to the middle of the lineup on a very good White Sox leads to him being a fantasy difference maker.
Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): Trout, Sale — blah blah blah woof woof woof. What about Adalberto Mondesi? He’s shown he can HIT the ground RUNNING the day he comes off the IL and if you’re at the bottom of a tightly bunched group of teams in steals, Mondesi can capture multiple points while chipping in elsewhere. It’s definitely worth checking out where the team with Mondesi is in steals as there is a good chance they may be so far down in the category you can propose a symbiotic exchange.
Phil Hertz (BaseballHQ, @prhz50): Leaving aside Trout, surprised no one has mentioned Strasburg. When he’s healthy, he’s been very, very good.
Michael Beller (The Athletic, @MBeller): I’ll join the Eloy Jiménez chorus, largely because he’s out there in plenty of leagues and is way ahead of schedule. One thing that gives me mild concern that I haven’t seen mentioned yet is the White Sox comfortable lead in the division that may only grow larger by time Jiménez is back. Assuming the White Sox run away with the Central, they’ll need him healthy in October more than they will in August. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them take it easy on him when he first returns, and that precious volume is what we care about in fantasy leagues.
Grey Albright (RazzBall, @razzball): Mike Trout
Howard Bender (Fantasy Alarm, @RotobuzzGuy): Looks like most are rolling with Mike Trout here, but I’ll go with Eloy Jimenez who appears to be way ahead of schedule in his recovery time following surgery for a ruptured pectoral muscle. It went from out for the season to maybe back in late August to now late-July/early August. He’ll likely dominate in the power categories upon his return because I drafted him originally, cut him for a FAAB rebate and now won’t have enough bid money to get him back now that he’s returning earlier than expected. Yeah, the fantasy gods have it in for me. I know.
Joe Pisapia (Fantasy Black Book, @JoePisapia17): With pitchers dropping like flies, a healthy Carlos Carrasco would be a boon for any fantasy rotation. Carrasco regained his form in last year’s shortened season and his high K/9 rate and win equity on a strong Mets club give him #2 starter potential in fantasy down the stretch.
Jeff Zimmerman (Fangraphs, The Process, @jeffwzimmerman): If Raul Mondesi Jr. comes back stealing bases, he could move a manager up from near the bottom to the top. The impact would be felt the most in contests with an overall component. A whole group of teams would be moving up with everyone else heading down.
Vlad Sedler (Fantasy Guru, @rotogut): It’s Eloy Jimenez for me. The big factor here is the jolt he can provide fantasy lineups struggling offensively. Not to mention, he is widely available in FAAB – at least in the NFBC OC (currently 34% rostered) and will see some massive bids this weekend. The guy I can’t get behind is Mondesi. Oblique injuries are no joke and this may well be a lost season for him. Discount next year? And are you in?
Jen Piacenti (Fantasy Alarm, @jenpiacenti): I pray that it’s Eloy as I spent $23 in my salary cap draft on him the very night he got injured and I’ve been holding…. Trout is an obvious choice here, too, but let’s not forget Alex Bregman who will likely return to batting in the heart of the order with the most Runs and RBI in the league (** not a homer. ** facts only)
Matt Williams (NBC Sports Edge, @MattWi77iams): If healthy, the player who can make the biggest impact is Adalberto Mondesi in my opinion. He has the ability to win the stolen base category for a team not even competitive in it currently. Mondesi looked terrific in Spring Training and while healthy so far this season, and we all know what he can do in only a month.
Mike Podhorzer (Fangraphs, @MikePodhorzer): It’s unfortunate that you could create a true all-star team of currently IL’d players. There are too many potential massive impact players expected to return at some point, between Mike Trout, Adalberto Mondesi, a plethora of pitchers like Carlos Carrasco, Shane Bieber, and now Clayton Kershaw.
Jon Hegglund (Baseball Prospectus, @JonHegglund): Mike Trout is the easy answer, and I see a lot of Eloy mentions as well. Personally, I’m most invested in the return–actually, the season debut–of Carlos Carrasco, as he was a pretty big target of mine before he went down in spring training. If he can come back for the final two months, he could be an difference-maker for the Mets in real baseball and plenty of fantasy teams in the fake sport that we play.
Frank Stampfl (Fantasy Pros, @Roto_Frank): I think the easy answers are Mike Trout and Shane Bieber as preseason first round picks. It just seems weird that we have next to no updates on Bieber. Not sure why but I’m feeling quite optimistic about Chris Sale. Maybe I’m just buying too much into all of the positive reports but if his velocity is truly mid-90’s again, we could have a near ace on our hands for the final two months of the season.
CJ Kaltenbach (Fantasy Guru, @TheSeigeDFS): Chris Sale, we’ve seen the lack of a 2020 minor league season really affect the MLB readiness of pitching prospects. Getting a pitcher the quality of Sale the last 2 months will be bigger difference maker than one of the many stud hitters returning.
Justin Mason (Friends with Fantasy Benefits, Fangraphs, Fantasy Alarm, @JustinMasonFWFB): If we are talking about biggest impact, I think it’s has to be Mondesi. No one could affect a category like he could in stolen bases.
Dr. Roto (FullTime Fantasy, @DrRoto): Chris Sale seems like a no brainer. I also like Carlos Carrasco too. If they are out there in your NFBC leagues grab them ASAP.
Peter Kreutzer (Ask Rotoman, Fantasy Baseball Guide, @kroyte): For me the only answer here is Mike Trout. A lot of the other names (Mondesi, Carrasco, Thor, Eloy) might all have a big impact, but each is either on a bad luck streak of injuries, coming back sooner than expected, or a pitcher. I’d be glad to have any of them, but each is in his own way a lottery ticket. Trout has a habit of missing time, too, but when he gets back on the field the best player in the game will be ready to go.
Chris Liss (Rotowire, @Chris_Liss): Trout is the obvious guy, but Chris Sale, Eloy Jimenez, Shane Bieber and hopefully Clayton Kershaw if the Dodgers are just exaggerating his injury to buy him some extra off time with the ASB coming up.
Anthony Aniano (Rotoballer, @AAnianoFantasy): Trout is the player everyone will turn to but don’t underestimate Eloy Jimenez returning in August. He has to power to add a quick 10-15 home runs in that short span
Charlie Wiegert (CDM Sports, @GFFantasySports): I get the Trout pick, but even if he is Mike Trout, it won’t get the Angels to the playoffs! My homer Pick is Jack Flaherty, because his 8 wins after he returns might be enough for the Cardinals to top the Brewers for the NL Central crown!
Peter Kreutzer (Ask Rotoman, Fantasy Baseball Guide, @kroyte): Charlie’s fantasy is the Birds edge the Brew Crew for the title. I like it!
Nick Pollack (Pitcher List, @PitcherList): It’s hard to ignore Chris Sale as we’re all excited to see what he can do with a healthy arm – we haven’t seen Sale in his prime since the 2018 season when he was a one of the best starters in the league. The Red Sox are electing to stretch him out to at least five frames before he returns and he’ll like make a huge impact on the ever-thinning SP landscape.
Shelly Verougstraete (Dynasty Guru, @ShellyV_643): The two hitters that should have the biggest impact once they return is Corey Seager and Alex Bregman. Their teams are stacked with talent so they should rack up plenty of runs and RBI when they return. Bryon Buxton was lights out at the beginning of the season but I just wish he could stay on the field.
Andy Behrens (Yahoo! Fantasy Sports, @andybehrens): The Eloy Jimenez rehab news is life-affirming. I’m weeping tears of the purest joy as I type this blurb.
Scott Wilderman (OnRoto, @): As much as I love Charlie… as an attendee of the very first Milwaukee Brewer game ever (my Dad pulled me and my brother out of elementary school to see them get crushed), I have to make a counter prediction that Flaherty’s 5 wins after the break are not going to be enough for the Cards. Kershaw will have the most impact in the NL, Schwarber if you discount Kershaw’s current status as gamesmanship. In the AL, it’s Trout/Sale/Bieber.
Derek Carty (RotoGrinders, @DerekCarty): Aside from Trout, it’s easily Chris Sale and Luis Severino. Both still project is top 10 MLB pitchers, and while projections don’t account for injuries well and may be a bit aggressive here, nobody on the IL has more high-end upside than these two.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (ESPN, @SultanofStat): Mike Trout, Shane Bieber and Clayton Kershaw seem like obvious choices to me, but I’ll choose to take a head-to-head approach to this: I think Eloy Jimenez and Chris Sale, respectively, will be quite impactful playoff (think final six weeks) contributors, at least relative to what people might be expecting from them.
Brian Entrekin (Benched with Bubba, @bdentrek): Mike Trout is an easy one, but I will go Eloy Jimenez to be slightly different. Eloy gives you massive 4 category production you won’t find on the wire. If you are looking for steals he isn’t your guy. I think getting 2 months or so of Eloy will give the biggest fantasy push.
Adam Ronis (Fantasy Alarm, @AdamRonis): While Mike Trout, Eloy Jimenez and Shane Bieber seem obvious, Carlos Carrasco is my pick. Innings concerns for some pitchers are about to occur and Carrasco will be fresh. He pitched well last season and has one of the better home parks.
Derek VanRiper (The Athletic, @DerekVanRiper): I’ll add another vote to the Chris Sale tally. There are a lot of great players coming off the IL soon after the break, but my first thought was a player who hasn’t been able to contribute yet this season due to injury, and the lack of impact pitching available on the waiver, paired with the difficulty of trading for pitching, makes Sale uniquely valuable. Even if we’re only expecting him to be 75-80 percent of his usual self in his first two months back from Tommy John surgery, he’s still a potential Top 15-20 SP the rest of the way on a contending team, providing ample run support and a better than expected bullpen to protect his leads.
Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Football Empire, @JeffBoggis): Chris Sale. I drafted him during the final rounds of my drafts and used him on the IL slot with hopes of getting either Sale or Noah Syndergaard returning from the IL after the all star break. Syndergaard won’t be returning this season, but Sale’s rehab had been going nicely to date. Sale may start a rehab assignment this week and be in the Red Sox starting rotation soon. He may be a difference maker in fantasy leagues this season.
Scott Swanay (FantasyBaseballSherpa, @fantasy_sherpa): I’ll hedge and break my response into 2 parts. If we’re talking about players who have played already this season, I’ll go the Captain Obvious route with Trout on the hitting side (Mondesi and Robert are distant runner-ups; Ketel Marte also a consideration if he’s healthy and gets traded to a contender) and Shane Bieber on the pitching side (Flaherty and Strasburg are distant runner-ups). If we’re talking about players who haven’t yet played in a regular season game, Eloy Jimenez is the clear pick on the hitting side, while I think you can throw a bunch of names in a hat and pick one on the pitching side (Sale, Carrasco, Syndergaard, Severino).
Zach Steinhorn (CreativeSports2, @zachsteinhorn): Trout, Eloy and Mondesi (from a single category standpoint) are all great picks, but for the sake of variety, I’ll throw out a new name. Anthony Rendon is often overlooked in fantasy circles so I’m not too surprised that he has yet to be mentioned here. Rendon hasn’t had much luck in the health department this season, having already made multiple IL trips, and his current stat line is rather underwhelming. But let’s not forget that he was a consensus top-40 pick in drafts this spring and boasts an extensive track record of elite-level production. AVG tends to be the most underrated 5×5 category and Rendon is a career .287 hitter who has batted over .300 in three of the last four seasons, so he could be especially valuable in that area. He’s expected back right after the break, so let’s just hope for an injury-free second half.
Rob Leibowitz (Rotoheaven, @rob_leibowitz): While for tout-team personal reasons, I hoping Bregman has a strong late-July return, I have to focus on players projected to come back sooner, than later. Carlos Carrasco has battled a hamstring injury all season long, but clearly showed last year there is nothing wrong with his ability to pitch after coming back from far more serious ailment and he could be back within two, two and a half weeks. In terms of pure value, if Mondesi has the green light, he’ll be more of a difference maker in the late-season standings. If Sale does indeed start a rehab assignment this week, then I’d be inclined to get on the bandwagon there too. Of all of them, though, Trout is the safest best, even if he doesn’t run anymore. Jimenez’s aggressive/swing and miss style will continue to make him a volatile, streak player.