Dealing with injuries throughout the fantasy baseball season is part of the process, but when injuries occur early in the season for our high draft picks, it definitely becomes more stressful. Fernando Tatis Jr., Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich are each dealing with an ailment that greatly impacts rosters for fantasy owners. We have to rely on the depth we drafted and hope we can stay steady until our top guys come back.

Three Up:

1. Minnesota Twins Outfielder Byron Buxton — The baseball world has waited for years for the former No. 1 prospect to finally live up to the hype. Between injuries and struggles, it looked like we would never see Buxton perform consistently at a high level in the big leagues. That appears to finally be changing for the 27-year-old in 2021. Through the first full week, Buxton is batting .481 with five home runs, nine RBIs and seven runs scored. The outfielder has one stolen base as well. Health has always been the No. 1 issue for Buxton, as he has never played more than 140 games. Even in last year’s shortened season, Buxton only played 39 games. I’m happy to see Buxton thriving, but we need to be a little cautious, as an injury could be right around the corner.

2. Boston Red Sox Designated Hitter J.D. Martinez — The slugger was spotlighted as an undervalued hitter in March, and he’s making us look good through the first week. Martinez is fresh off a three-homer game April 11 and now has five homers this season. Martinez is also batting .472. Martinez was atrocious in 2020, which meant everyone thought the 33-year-old was done as a prolific hitter. If fantasy owners didn’t buy into a shortened-season slump, that’s paying dividends early this year.

3. San Diego Padres Starting Pitcher Joe Musgrove — When you pitch a no-hitter, you better crack this list and that’s exactly what happened with Musgrove. The veteran threw the first no-hitter in Padres team history April 9, striking out 10 Texas Rangers in the process. Musgrove has yet to allow a run in two starts and has struck out 18. The right-hander had an average draft position of 130 in March and was the exact kind of pitcher we should have been targeting with the strategy of waiting on starters during the draft season.

Three Down:

1. Baltimore Orioles Outfielder Ryan Mountcastle — It has been a slow start for the rookie, as he leads the majors in strikeouts and has struggled defensively in the outfield. The Orioles as a team are striking out too much, but they have faced decent pitching through the first week. There’s only so much credit you can give to the other team, but it has led to Mountcastle hitting .184 with 17 strikeouts. This is a big week, as the Orioles face two terrible pitching staffs in the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers. Mountcastle has the ability to get hot quick and I believe this could be the week we see him snap out of his early-season slump.

2. Atlanta Braves Second Baseman Ozzie Albies — Teammate Ronald Acuña Jr. is playing on another level, but Albies is off to a slow start. The infielder has collected only five hits this season with one home run. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. All five of Albies’ hits have come in the last five games and he hit his first home run April 11. I have a feeling Albies is about to go on a tear for fantasy owners.

3. Arizona Diamondbacks Starting Pitcher Madison Bumgarner — It’s been a sluggish start to the once great pitcher. The veteran has allowed 11 earned runs in two starts and has failed to pitch six innings. If there’s good news it’s the 10 strikeouts, but the earned runs are a killer. It’s hard to trust Bumgarner at this point, and he’s easily a pitcher to avoid.

Phil Backert

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