Maybe nothing should come as a surprise after Dee Gordon’s suspension last year, but it was still quite the shocker to see Pirates outfielder Starling Marte receive an 80-game ban this week after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. There are all the obvious questions about why he’d take a drug like that or what his motivation might have been given his contractual status, but this is a fantasy baseball column and I’ll leave that for others to discuss. You are probably mostly trying to figure out how to get by until Marte is eligible to return during the second half. I’ve got you covered this week.
Hopefully you already had a backup plan in place or moved quickly on a replacement, but if not, below you’ll find a handful of outfielders who should be available in a wide range of formats. Good luck out there.
Have specific questions about your roster? Ask @djshort on Twitter.
Editor’s Note: Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Baseball: Get in the game and create or join a league today.
Francisco Liriano SP, Blue Jays (Yahoo: 41 percent owned)
Liriano was dropped in many leagues after lasting just one-third of an inning in his season debut against the Rays back on April 7, but he has bounced back with a pair of solid outings while putting up a 16/3 K/BB ratio in 12 innings. He notched his first victory of the season Wednesday night after holding the Red Sox scoreless over 5 1/3 innings. It’s worth noting that Jarrod Saltalamacchia was behind the plate for his first start while his old buddy Russell Martin has been back there for his last two outings. The way things are going for the Blue Jays, who knows where Liriano will be by the trade deadline, but he needs to be owned in most formats after his strong finish last season.
Steven Souza Jr. OF, Rays (Yahoo: 29 percent owned)
The first of five potential Marte replacements here, Souza is off to a surprisingly strong start this season, batting .328/.426/.500 with two homers and 12 RBI through 16 games. Souza has been a person of interest in mixed leagues before, but I say “surprisingly” because the strikeout rate is down and the walks are up so far as he splits his time between the leadoff spot and the fifth spot in the Rays’ order. We’re only talking about 68 plate appearances, so who knows if it will stick, but it’s something to watch with a guy who struck out 34 percent of the time over his first two full seasons in the majors. At the very least, he can provide some pop and modest speed.
Brett Gardner OF, Yankees (Yahoo: 41 percent owned)
When you drafted Starling Marte, you were likely banking on him carrying your team from a speed perspective. He has amassed at least 30 steals in each of the last four season and swiped a career-high 47 bags last year. It’s a challenge to lose a player like that, but speed alternatives are out there. I mentioned names like Jarrod Dyson, Kevin Kiermaier, and Cesar Hernandez in previous weeks, but Gardner makes sense as a stopgap option in shallow formats. The veteran outfielder is hitting just .202 with zero RBI on the young season, but he’s getting on base as New York’s leadoff man and has already scored nine runs while going 5-for-5 in stolen base attempts.
Domingo Santana OF, Brewers (Yahoo: 27 percent owned)
I was all-in on Santana as a late-round sleeper type last year, but he ended up appearing in just 77 games due to shoulder and elbow injuries. Still, the 24-year-old showed some interesting pop and patience when healthy by amassing 11 homers with a .345 on-base percentage. You are going to want him more for his power, but he’s already stolen a couple of bags and we know the Brewers like to be aggressive on the basepaths. Santana has received the majority of his starts out of the No. 5 spot in Craig Counsell’s lineup, so there should be plenty of opportunities for him to knock in runs. Teammate Keon Broxton (Yahoo: 47 percent owned) and Twins outfielder Byron Buxton (Yahoo: 37 percent owned) are both off to miserable starts, but they are both worth considering in shallow formats. It can't get much worse, can it?
Editor’s Note: Get our MLB Draft Guide + Season Pass ($39.99 value) for FREE with your first deposit on FanDuel! Click here to claim now.
Josh Reddick OF, Astros (Yahoo: 10 percent owned)
Reddick was under 10 percent ownership for a couple of weeks, but he finally made it over the hump after going 3-for-4 with his first homer and three runs scored Wednesday night against the Angels. While the 30-year-old doesn’t have elite upside in any one category, there’s double-digit potential here in homers and steals. And while this doesn’t matter in fantasy leagues, his pro wrestling knowledge is disturbingly excellent. While Alex Bregman will ideally run away with the No. 2 spot in time, Reddick has received a few starts there in recent days. That’s obviously a nice gig, so take advantage of it for now. Better options can be found in shallow formats, but Reddick should certainly be owned in more leagues.
Kevin Pillar OF, Blue Jays (Yahoo: 12 percent owned)
After proving to be a useful fantasy option in 2016, Pillar regressed last season while batting just .266/.303/.376 with seven homers in 146 games. His speed is his most interesting skill (at least for fantasy owners, we know the defense is his calling card), so the most disappointing part is that he went just 14-for-20 in stolen base attempts. I still think the ceiling is a bit limited here, but Pillar’s great start has pushed him into the leadoff spot in recent days. Devon Travis was supposed to be that guy, but he’s hitting .091 (4-for-44) to begin the year. Perhaps things will change once Travis shows some signs of life, but Pillar is a relevant option in deeper formats for now.
Koda Glover RP, Nationals (Yahoo: 16 percent owned)
Blake Treinen’s stint as the Nationals’ closer didn’t last long, as manager Dusty Baker made it official on Wednesday that he’ll move back to the set-up role he thrived in last year. This leaves Shawn Kelley and Glover as the primary options for the ninth inning. If we’re going by skills and experience, Kelley should be the first priority in fantasy leagues. And given that he’s already owned in 55 percent of leagues, it appears most owners agree. However, he’s had a pair of Tommy John surgeries in his career and the Nationals want to be careful with him. Glover, who appeared to be the favorite for the closer job late in the spring, will also get some chances. The 24-year-old has allowed two runs in 5 2/3 innings with a 4/1 K/BB ratio over seven outings so far this season.
Yoan Moncada 3B, White Sox (Yahoo: 47 percent owned)
I don’t know when Moncada is going to be called up by the White Sox, but don’t expect to see him available on the waiver wire in most leagues. People are already stashing this dude all over the place. And probably for good reason. While Moncada has been a little quiet over the past week, he’s hitting .292/.382/.500 with three homers and two steals through his first 12 games in Triple-A this season. The one negative is that the 21-year-old has struck out 18 times in 55 plate appearances, which is right in line with what he was doing in Double-A with the Red Sox last year. Strikeouts are going to be part of the deal with him, but there’s across-the-board ability here and Tyler Saladino isn’t going to stand in his way. The White Sox have some service time issues to think about, but my guess is we’ll see Moncada in the next month or so. If you have the roster flexibility, go crazy. Speed (nudge-nudge, Marte owners) might be his best quality out of the gate.
Trevor Rosenthal RP, Cardinals (Yahoo: 27 percent owned)
Well, look who is suddenly back on the radar in fantasy leagues. Rosenthal went completely off the rails last year while posting a 4.46 ERA with 29 walks in just 40 1/3 innings, but he’s looking like a different pitcher so far this year. After serving a brief stint on the DL with a lat strain, the 26-year-old has allowed one run over 3 1/3 innings while striking out seven batters. He’s also bringing triple-digit heat, but the most encouraging part is that he has yet to issue his first walk. Rosenthal filled in for a save chance on Wednesday against the Pirates with Seung-Hwan Oh unavailable and should be first in line if a change is made down the line. Oh was great last year and probably deserves a bit of a leash, but he’s allowed six runs on 12 hits (including two home runs) and one walk over 6 2/3 innings so far this season as opposing batters have feasted on his slider. The Cardinals have won three straight, but I could see some sense of urgency for a change if his struggles continue.
Shelby Miller SP, Diamondbacks (Yahoo: 11 percent owned)
Shelby Miller is….back? Okay, I understand if you are reluctant to believe in him after his nightmare 2016 campaign. However, Miller gave up just one run over 7 1/3 innings Tuesday against the Padres, his longest outing since his final start of 2015. Yes, it was the Padres, but there’s plenty to be encouraged about right now. Miller’s velocity is higher than anything we’ve seen from him in the past and the swinging strikes are climbing as well. It’s hard to find a pitcher with more upside who is available in more leagues right now.
Adam Conley SP, Marlins (Yahoo: 10 percent owned)
If Conley pitched exclusively against the Mets, he would probably be owned in all formats by now. That’s not going to happen, but his upcoming schedule is still quite favorable, starting with an outing against the Padres on Friday. While Conley didn’t get much attention in fantasy drafts this spring, he was a useful piece in fantasy leagues last season before hurting his left middle finger while celebrating a Jeff Mathis home run in early August. Yes, that really happened. Walks can get him into trouble sometimes, but he’s another widely-available starting pitcher worth a look in the short-term.
Shopping at the five-and-dime:
(Players owned in under 10 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Adam Frazier 2B/OF, Pirates (Yahoo: 6 percent owned)
I understand the impulse many fantasy owners had to stash top prospect Austin Meadows when word of Starling Marte’s suspension came down, but he’s just not ready yet. The 21-year-old hit just .214/.297/.460 over 37 games during his first stint in Triple-A last year and he’s struggling to the tune of a .156/.235/.244 batting line through his first 12 games this year. We’ll see where things stand in a month or so, but it wouldn’t be smart to rush him. With that in mind, Frazier appears to be assured of an everyday role in the short-term. There’s not a ton of fantasy upside here, but the 25-year-old owns a .300/.356/.421 batting line through his first 79 games in the majors and figures to bat leadoff on most nights. He’s a fine option in deeper leagues.
Darren O’Day RP, Orioles (Yahoo: 7 percent owned)
Brad Brach (Yahoo: 57 percent owned) notched the save Wednesday night against the Reds and probably deserves to be considered the favorite for chances while Zach Britton is on the shelf with a left forearm strain, but manager Buck Showalter could also play the matchups with O’Day. The 34-year-old was really shaky out of the gate — perhaps a side effect of his prolonged battle with the flu — but he has bounced back with a couple of scoreless appearances. He’s been a trusted arm in Showalter’s bullpen for a long time, so don’t rule him out if you are playing the speculation game with saves. Forearm issues make me nervous, so who knows how this might turn out.