Survival of the fittest

Managing a fantasy baseball team(s) in 2021 has been like managing a military battlefield as casualty reports keep coming in. Consider yesterday (Monday). First came the announcements that outfielders Gincarlo Stanton and Michael Conforto were being put on the injured list (IL) by their respective teams. This was a blow to two different teams I managed. Later in the evening, the same fantasy team with Conforto lost the services of two starting pitchers, Max Fried and Madison Bumgarner. Both left games they stared early with injuries. On a third team, starting pitcher Taijuan Walker was removed with an injury after only three innings.

I know I’m not alone in dealing with a rash of injuries. I don’t have proof of this, but I believe this is the most injuries (IL and day-to-day status) in the first six weeks history. I don’t own Mike Trout on any team, but I would have shuddered when news came that he had been removed in the first inning of last night’s game.  After walking in his first plate appearance of the night and advancing to second base on a wild pitch, Trout appeared to injure his lower leg while running out an inning-ending popup off the bat of Jared Walsh. At this time, the Angels are viewing Trout as day-to-day, but it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see him land on the 10-day IL.

Kevin Pillar is no Trout, but you also had to shudder if you saw the outfielder struck in the face by a pitch last night. I watched the play on Youtube and it was brutal. Pillar understandably went down in a heap and was bleeding from his nose, but he was fortunately able to walk off the field under his own power. Pillar was taken to the hospital after sustaining multiple nasal fractures. It’s not just fantasy managers affected by all of this mayhem. The Mets, the team who lost Pillar, were just hours removed from losing Conforto. They were already shorthanded in the outfield with Brandon Nimmo (finger) and Albert Almora (shoulder) on the IL.

Here is a summary of players hitting the IL or sustaining injuries in the past 24 hours:

LUKE WEAVER, SP, ARIZONA

The Diamondbacks placed starting pitcher Luke Weaver (shoulder) on the 10-day injured list Tuesday. After exiting his start Sunday against the Nationals with right shoulder discomfort, Weaver was optimistic that he would avoid a stint on the IL, but the Diamondbacks apparently didn’t agree with the 27-year-old’s assessment of his health.

MAX FRIED, SP, ATLANTA

Fried was pulled from Monday’s game against the Mets due to cramping in his left hand. Fried, who came off the IL earlier this month, has had three good starts, including last night’s game. He went six innings, allowing five hits, one earned run, striking out eight and walking two. I had picked up Fried off waivers last April and hope he’s okay.

MADISON BUMGARNER, SP, ARIZONA

Bumgarner was on his way to his sixth straight quality start when he left last night’s game with the Dodgers after suffering a spasm in his left adductor – a muscle in the groin/thigh area. That sounds painful. The Diamondbacks are saying the issue is minor, and I hope they’re right. After a terrible start to the season, MadBum had turned things around.

TAIJUAN WALKER, SP, NY METS

Walker was removed from Monday’s start against Atlanta after three innings due to left side tightness. Walker was experiencing some kind of pain or discomfort. The severity of the injury is not known at this point. Walker has apparently has been dealing with the side issue for the last few weeks, and he was scheduled to get an MRI today.

MITCH GARVER, C, MINNESOTA

Garver, the starting catcher on one of my fantasy teams, left Monday’s game against the White Sox due to a right knee contusion. Garver took a foul ball off his right knee early in the contest, and he was ultimately pulled after three innings. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him hit the IL in the next day, or two. He is being considered day-to-day.

Keep in mind that this happened in one day. If you’re managing a fantasy team in 2021, you are going to be tested. Having depth on your roster is crucial. You will need to be an astute judge of talent as you work the waiver wire each day. Also, pulling off a few good trades will help your fortunes. How you respond to these challenges will determine your fate.  

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