After more than four agonizing months of coronavirus concerns, nightmarish negotiations between players and owners, and threats of a lost season, MLB finally presented its 2020 Opening Day.
With no fans in attendance to go with its minimal pomp and circumstance, the first day of the season went about as smooth as a gravel road. Nationals star outfielder Juan Soto tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the day, Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw was a late scratch due to back stiffness, and heavy rains cut the first game of the season to just six innings. Welcome to the Time of COVID.
Now we can sit here and lament over lost players and what a crazy time we live in, but whining and crying isn’t bringing you home a fantasy baseball championship. Injuries happen all the time, and you just have to dig deeper through the free-agent pool and find an able body to help you weather the storm. Just think of positive COVID tests as just another injury. Find yourself the next man up.
You cannot replace the production you were expecting from Soto. He was a first-round pick in most leagues. Andrew Stevenson, the team’s fourth outfielder, just isn’t going to cut it, especially because he will platoon with Michael A. Taylor. You need to find yourself someone who is playing every day, as at-bats are the key to success this year. Trent Grisham of the Padres, Mark Canha of the A’s and Baltimore’s Austin Hays all make for solid options — they not only play regularly, but they all have the strong hit-tool you need.
The need to replace Kershaw comes with less urgency. He is expected to be fine, so a temporary replacement like Dustin May should suffice. If you do need someone beyond this week, take a look at Tyler Mahle of the Reds. His schedule is soft and the offense behind him is fierce. If not someone like him, then try high-leverage middle relievers.
Get ready for one crazy season, everyone. This ride is going to be beyond bumpy.
Howard Bender is the VP of operations and head of content at Fantasy-Alarm.com. Follow him on Twitter @rotobuzzguy and catch him on the award-winning “Fantasy Alarm Radio Show” on the SiriusXM fantasy sports channel weekdays from 6-8 p.m. Go to FantasyAlarm.com for all your fantasy baseball advice.