The last time I did a "look at the injured guys" piece, I started with the American League and had a lot of guys to talk about. Then a couple days later I moved to the National league and realized there really weren't a lot of fantasy-interesting hurt guys. It made the second piece shorter and perhaps less interesting. Shrug. It's a thing that happens.
This time around, it's the exact opposite. I listed 17 guys for the AL, and I could glaze over some of them. And then I started listing NL hurt players, and my list just kept growing. There's a lot of hurt National League guys, and my list below isn't even going to include done-for-the-year (or likely) guys like Troy Tulowitzki, Paul Goldschmidt, and Carlos Gonzalez.
So, you know, without further ado and all that:
Hurt guys I'd definitely hold on to
These are pretty clear. McCutchen was an MVP candidate when he got hurt. Ramirez was performing below his potential, but he's not even 12 months removed from playing at a super-duperstar level. And Votto, sure, was fantasy disappointing when he hit the shelf, but he has top-1B ceiling. If you have them, and you need roster space, too bad. You can't let them go.
Hurt guys I'd try to hold on to
Alvarez has pitched to a 2.48 ERA in 137.2 innings. His strikeouts are low (only 83), but he's been a nice surprise. Still, he makes this part of the list almost entirely because he's due back as soon as Saturday; if there was a longer wait on him, I'd be fine with selling, but he'll start as soon as any guy you'll grab off the waiver.
Cashner is due back a little after Alvarez, but he's also a little better, balancing it out. His ERA is 2.36, which, sure, is artificially impressive by pitching in San Diego, but he'll still be there when he gets back. Cashner is due back in the last week of August; from there to the end of the season, the Padres play only one series against a non-NL West team; their division currently contains the Giants (can't hit, good pitchers park), Rockies (without Tulo and CarGo, they really can't hit), Diamondbacks (Goldschmidt's absence means no offense), and Dodgers (pitcher's park), plus the obvious advantage of playing in San Diego. You really want NL West pitchers the rest of the way.
Molina might not get back until very late in the season, which is the reason he wasn't in that top group. By the time he returns, your fantasy season might be over. Still, he's got the potential to be one of the top three catchers in the game, and it's not like that's a deep position to be picking from anyway.
I labored over Owings' placement on this list. As I write this sentence, I'm still doing so. I guess the tiebreaker is that I own him in a 12-team NL-only, and I'll be damned if I'm dropping him, so okay. Still, he's building toward a return, and Didi Gregorius hasn't done anything to steal his job. Owings wasn't blowing the world away in his rookie season, but five triples, six homers, seven steals against zero caught, and a .277 average all play, especially at shortstop. If you have to cut him, you have to, but I'm holding out if I can.
Hurt guys I'd be fine dropping
I'll break them down into more groups.
The first basemen/outfielders: Brandon Belt, Michael Cuddyer, A.J. Pollock
I'm like everyone else and love Belt, but a .237 average and a .296 OBP just isn't worth it at a deep position. Cuddyer and Pollock, as middle infielders or whatever, would be fine, but you can replace them with any of a number of other guys at their positions.
The overrated infielders: Everth Cabrera, Brandon Phillips, Ryan Zimmerman
Everything about Cabrera's season has been a disaster - his average, OBP, and slugging have all dropped at least 50 points from a year ago, and he's not even stealing bases. Phillips, meanwhile, has seen his rate stats drop for four years running; he's very replaceable. Zimmerman almost got bumped up to the next tier - his rate stats have been steadily fine for four years running. Still, we're not even sure when he'll return, and with Asdrubal Cabrera in Washington, Zimmerman's playing time might not always be there. He'll play, but I'm not sure he'll always play.
The young pitchers: Gerrit Cole, Jacob deGrom, Michael Wacha
The sophomore years of Cole and Wacha have been disappointing, in different ways. Cole's numbers have dipped almost across the board, with a worse ERA, worse FIP, worse K:BB ratio. He's on a rehab assignment now, but his level of production can be found lots of places. Wacha has actually pitched almost identically to how he did last year, but he also hasn't pitched since June and is recovering from a very uncommon injury; he comes with high risk. Meanwhile, deGrom has pitched great, but it's really easy to envision a scenario in which the Mets don't even bring him back this season.
The Garza: Matt Garza
Garza's been decent, but "decent" is the best possible word you can say about him. And he doesn't even have a return date yet. Feel free to cut him loose.
Hurt guys I'd be looking to add
And here's where the National League dries up. Which makes sense - I'm in a 12-team NL-Only league with an absolutely abysmal offense (current totals: 15 points offense, 52 pitching), so of course there aren't any under-the-radar NL players to go after late in the season. And I already have Scutaro. I only include him here because the Giants have remained in contention all year despite a variety of human-shaped burlap sacks playing second base - which is impressive, frankly - and Scutaro should theoretically at least supply a playable batting average if he gets healthy.