For the most part, 2017 has been a cruise for the Washington Nationals. They’re 9.5 games up on the field in the NL East, with no obvious challenger. They have two of the best starting pitchers in the world, a deep lineup, an intriguing roster. Most of their big-picture decisions already have an October tint to them, as it would take a monster collapse for this lead to disintegrate.
Turner broke his right wrist in Thursday’s matinee loss to the Cubs, the latest casualty in Attrition 2017. To add insult to the injury, the Nats wound up blowing the game, courtesy of another ninth-inning meltdown. There’s no immediate timetable for Turner’s return, but you expect a broken wrist to require multiple months of healing time.
It took Turner a while to find his stride, but he’s been a fantasy monster over the last month. He’s the No. 3 hitter in the Yahoo game for June, through his dominance in two categories (runs, steals) and a .311 average. Turner has 23 runs and 20 steals on the month, an exclusive club. That’s only been done 23 times in the post-Expansion era, and we’ve seen just three instances in the 2000s. Talk about getting hurt at the absolute worst time.
The Nats don’t have a magical fill-in on the roster; Stephen Drew and Wilmer Difo won’t move anyone’s needle. But Turner owners are probably examining the waiver wire and the trade market Friday, so let’s see if we can help.
— If steals are your primary concern: Delino DeShields (eight percent) has 10 bags this month, along with a .293 average . . . Glove-man Andrelton Simmons (57 percent) is a Top 60 bat over the last month, with decent run production, three homers and eight steals . . . Mallex Smith (26 percent) has slowed down since his snappy debut, but he’s still a run-first guy who normally bats first in Tampa . . . Tommy Pham (eight percent) plays most of the time and brings category juice (nine homers, nine steals) to the top of the Cardinals lineup.
— If you’re more focused on a middle infielder (the outfield, where Turner also slots, seems to have more options): Scooter Gennett (54 percent) grabs three positions, slots in front of Joey Votto, and can help you in four categories . . . Ian Happ (40 percent) has settled into an everyday gig and shows impressive power (eight homers over last month) . . . Joe Panik (12 percent) is hitting .341 over the past 30 days, with an even ratio of walks to strikeouts. He’s usually the No. 2 man in the Giants lineup . . . Contact is sometimes a problem for Jose Pirela (seven percent), but a .296/.352/.506 line will play anywhere, and he also has some pop and speed . . . The resume for Eduardo Escobar (nine percent) is hard to trust, but he’s on a .365/.413/.581 bender in June, with four homers . . . Highly-touted Dansby Swanson (35 percent) has started to settle in. Here’s his OPS by month: .433, .677, .755. He’s batting .301 in June.
Hang in there, Turner owners. No one is immune from the injury barrage. Stay the course, focus on the process.
• Cargo hasn’t worked out for you this year. Maybe Margot can take a sad song and make it better.
Manuel Margot made it back to the Padres lineup this week, returning from a calf injury. He hasn’t shown any lingering affects of the ailment; he swiped two bases in Wednesday’s win, and he rocked a 4-1-3-2 line in Thursday’s victory. San Diego would like to set it and forget it with the 22-year-old outfielder, let him slot first or second the rest of the year.
And while fun isn’t a fantasy category, Margot checks that box, too.
I want to love something as much as Manuel Margot appears to love baseball.
— The Padres Optimist (@PadresOptimism) June 30, 2017
Margot was one of the key pieces in the Craig Kimbrel trade, and the primary prospect hounds had him as a Top 25 prospect into 2017. At peak, we could be looking at someone who hits about 12-15 homers a year, with 30 or more stolen bases. Margot is owned in just 13 percent of Yahoo leagues; plenty of time to get in on the ground floor.
• I can’t promise you the Brewers are a good team, even if their 42-39 record is currently atop the NL Central. But this is a fun team. And it’s a fantasy-friendly team, too.
Milwaukee clubbed six homers in Thursday’s laugher at Cincinnati. Recent returnees Jon Villar (two) and Ryan Braun got in on the fun, welcome sights as we look for healthy signs. Manny Pina also dialed eight; his .291/.337/.479 slash puts him into the mix, for those who need catching help in medium and deep pools.
Jimmy Nelson looks more legit with each passing start. He struck out 11 Reds on Thursday, working seven strong innings (3 H, 2 R). Look at all those beautiful swinging strikes. The ERA is down to 3.43, the WHIP 1.25, and he’s on pace to whiff over 200 batters.