Fantasy Baseball: 2018 DL Stashes

Orioles Zach Britton

Finding good players late in drafts who can be DL stashes is a strategy I am very fond of and is one I feel is under rated in fantasy baseball. I am not talking about the guys who tweak muscles entering the season and will be on the DL a week or two but guys who are going to be on the DL for anywhere from a month to mid-season. These players often offer significant upside over the players that can be taken around them in drafts and, in the case of the later rounds, the players being taken instead are often not significantly better than replacement level.

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Last season DL stashes became tough to keep because the change to the 10-day DL and how teams utilised was more aggressive than many of us ever imagined. This meant that in leagues which as a standard had one or two DL spots people needed both of those spots for short-term DL moves in order to pick guys up off waivers and field a full line-up. This year the general consensus seems to be that leagues have expanded the number of DL spots with some leagues I play in having four or even five spots and that brings the potential for starting the season with mid-term DL stashes is worth exploring again. The issue this year is that I feel there are a very limited of number of guys who will qualify. There doesn’t seem to be the same number of long term injuries or the injuries seem to be to players who can be moved to the minors to recover. However, there are four names I think are DL stashes worth investing in in drafts this weekend

Zach Britton | P | Baltimore Orioles

There is no sure-fire guarantee that when he returns they will make him the closer but honestly I am not sure that matters too much. Yes saves are always a bonus but Britton is such a good pitcher that the mid-season boost he give your ERA, WHIP and strikeout rate is valuable. This is especially the case in leagues where you have an innings limit or a starts cap as Britton’s per innings rates will be superior to many closers and he is essentially free stats in those starts cap leagues. A potential return date is the all-star break but if the Orioles manage to stay in contention and their bull pen is not doing the business he may see a slightly earlier return.

Jimmy Nelson | P | Milwaukee Brewers

Nelson made a huge leap in 2017 going from 7ish k/9 to over 10 and getting his ERA below 4 for the first time as a full-time major league starter. He has not started throwing off a mound yet so mid-June is probably a reasonable estimate for his return and there is always some suspicion for a pitcher coming off shoulder injuries. Even if he is not as good as last year I still think a 9 k/9 combined with a 4ish ERA will be extremely valuable and makes him a worthwhile DL stash if you missed out on the guys above.

Dodgers Justin Turner

Richard Mackson – USA TODAY Sports

Justin Turner | 3B | Los Angeles Dodgers

Name value will mean he might go higher than you perhaps hope but if you are willing to take that gamble in the middle rounds he offers significant batting average upside and very few downsides when he returns. The news since the break is that he will not require surgery and therefore the timetable has moved up from two plus months to 6ish weeks. That means we could see him as early as the beginning of May but even with a minor setback late May does not feel aggressive. He is the ideal person to fill this spot because I value the depth of third base this season, I wrote about some guys who could be place holders for him here, but when he returns he should still be a decent upgrade over a many of the later round third basemen.

Michael Conforto | OF | New York Mets

Every day Conforto seems to be closer to falling off this list because his return date gets pulled forward. He is making his debut in spring training action on Friday but will only DH, which is not a possibility in season. The fact the Mets are willing to have him out there facing live hitting is promising but it is a big step from hitting in a major league game to playing the outfield regularly. With Jay Bruce already in that outfield the Mets are not going to want two semi-immobile guys in their outfield so I cannot see them activating Conforto until he is comfortable playing the field. For me this makes his return date closer to the start of May than the start of April. When he does he has 30 home runs upside, he hit 27 in 107 games last season, with a batting average that should sit in the 0.260-0.270 region. The potential for that return are a cost of virtually nothing make him a great DL stash to start the season.

 

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