The fantasy baseball season is only a week old, but there have already been impactful injuries, the biggest involving 22-year-old superstar Fernando Tatis Jr. The San Diego Padres shortstop dislocated his shoulder swinging and is currently on the 10-day injured list. The team is hopeful he will not need surgery and will be only sidelined for a couple of weeks.

Tatis injured this shoulder in spring training and returned quickly, but this is the most significant to date. The Padres haven’t told the entire truth about Tatis, so it’s hard to know what to expect. I would say this is something that could linger all season long and fantasy owners should prepare for the worst.

The other injury to monitor is Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees. The outfielder is dealing with soreness on his left side. The hope is the team caught it before it became more significant, but oblique injuries are not great. Fantasy owners must monitor this, and hopefully we get more clarity before the Sunday night waiver wire.

Waiver-Wire Targets:

Baltimore Orioles Outfielder Cedric Mullins — The Orioles leadoff hitter continues to get on base, as he has an on-base percentage of .484. Mullins has already collected 13 hits and is proving to be a player who can stay atop the order even when a left-hander is on the mound. Mullins is a stolen base threat, but we haven’t seen that on display yet this season. At only 28 percent owned in Yahoo! Sports leagues, Mullins makes a ton of sense as outfield depth.

Cincinnati Reds Outfielder Tyler Naquin — The Reds’ offense is crushing to start the season, as Cincinnati leads baseball in batting average at .316 and has the second-most home runs with 14. Naquin has been a big reason for this, as the outfielder has four home runs and 13 RBIs through the first week. Naquin is also batting leadoff. We get a hot hitter who is hitting home runs and going to rack up the at-bats. That is what we want to target in fantasy baseball. I’m not convinced this is going to last, but we can ride the hot wave for as long as it does.

Texas Rangers Reliever Ian Kennedy — Targeting closers on the waiver wire is always a strong strategy, and it’s starting in the first week of the season. Kennedy has racked up two saves this past week and looks to be trusted in the ninth inning by the Rangers. Through three appearances, Kennedy also has six strikeouts, which is a plus. We’ll be implementing this strategy all season, so Kennedy is a strong option for fantasy owners who need saves.

Baltimore Orioles Reliever César Valdez — The reliever is right around the 50 percent ownership threshold we use, but I wanted to spotlight him as well in case he is available. The Orioles may not win many games this season, but it’s clear Valdez will be used in high-leverage situations. Valdez has picked up a win and two saves in three appearances while striking out five. The flexibility of pitching multiple innings while also earning saves makes him a nice option if available.

Chicago White Sox Starting Pitcher Carlos Rodon — The left-hander was nothing short of amazing in his first start of the season, as he struck out nine and did not allow an earned run in five innings. Rodon has been inconsistent in his career, so I’m a little hesitant going all-in on the pitcher. However, he does have a start before the traditional Sunday night waivers. If he pitches well again, he’s a target if you need strikeouts.

Toronto Blue Jays Starting Pitcher Steven Matz — Another left-hander who made a strong debut was Matz. The starter also struck out nine while allowing one earned run. Matz was once a prized pitching prospect, but he has dealt with injuries throughout his career. I’m once again taking a cautious approach, but Matz could be another option if you need help in your rotation already.

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Phil Backert

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