The injuries in fantasy baseball continue, as Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich was placed on the injured list with a back injury. Fantasy owners received a boost with San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. returning from a shoulder injury a little earlier than expected.

However, as one stud returns another could be sidelined. Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. left the game April 18 due to an abdominal strain. As of this writing, there is no update so fantasy owners should hope for the best but prepare for the superstar to miss a few games.

As always, this is the grind of fantasy baseball, and we have to continue to adjust to give our team a chance to compete.

Three Up:

1. San Diego Padres Third Baseman Manny Machado — The third baseman has had a strong career already, but I have always felt he could be considered an MVP candidate on an annual basis. That hasn’t happened to this point, but he’s off to a good start in 2021. Machado is batting .290 with three home runs, eight RBIs and 12 runs scored. However, it’s the stolen bases that are really making him an attractive fantasy target through the first few weeks of the season. Machado has four stolen bases already, which clearly puts him on target to finish with double digits. The infielder hasn’t reached double-digit steals since 2018. We know the power will be there and the average will be strong, but if Machado continues to run, he is going to carry fantasy owners this season.

2. Tampa Bay Rays Starting Pitcher Tyler Glasnow — The talented right-hander has only pitched 100 innings once in his career, but if he’s able to stay healthy, there’s no doubt he will end up in the Cy Young conversation. Through four starts, Glasnow has a 0.73 ERA and has struck out 36 hitters. There’s no doubt his right arm is one of the best in baseball, it’s just a matter of whether he can pitch every fifth day. Glasnow was the 16th starting pitcher drafted in March, and he’s on his way to crush his average draft position by the end of the season.

3. Chicago Cubs Catcher Willson Contreras — If fantasy owners have a catcher who is providing offense, it’s such a huge relief. Contreras fits that category, as he hit four home runs during the past week to give him five for the season. The catcher isn’t just providing power, either, as he has a .273 batting average. Contreras has always been a strong offensive catcher and it appears 2021 will be more of the same.

Three Down:

1. Chicago Cubs Shortstop Javier Baez — The slick fielder was one of my bounce-back candidates, but it’s been a slow start. Baez finished 2020 with a .203 batting average, and through the first few weeks this year, the shortstop has a .214 batting average. The slugging percentage is at least improved from last year, but it’s disappointing to not see a better start. Baez is a pending free agent with a proven track record, so I’m not giving up yet. However, after playing so poorly last year, it’s hard not to think this will continue.

2. New York Yankees Outfielder Aaron Judge — The Yankees are off to their worst start since 1997 and a lot of the blame is on the offense. Judge’s slow start can be blamed as well. He has dealt with a side issue, and this past week, he only collected four hits and struck out eight times. Judge’s slugging percentage is .510, below his career mark of .556, but he has plenty of time to improve that. I refuse to count out the Yankees, so I think they turn it around. We know Judge has a ton of power, but injuries are an issue with the slugger. It should be mentioned Judge only has one season with more than 30 home runs. I still believe he will provide the power needed for fantasy owners, but this is a big season for Judge, who turns 29 later this month.

3. Houston Astros Starting Pitcher Jake Odorizzi — The veteran allowed nine earned runs in his first two starts of the season, both of which took place this week. The right-hander signed late in spring training, so he has been trying to play catch up and it’s taking longer than he would like. This seems to happen a lot with pitchers who don’t report to spring training on time. Odorizzi is a proven pitcher but only started four games in 2020. At this point, fantasy owners should avoid using the 31-year-old until he proves he can be effective.

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox

Phil Backert

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