A dream season took a nightmarish turn on Wednesday when Freddie Freeman took a fastball off the left wrist from Blue Jays hurler Aaron Loup. The first baseman suffered a fracture that will sideline him for 10-12 weeks, wiping out a huge portion of what was shaping up to be an improvement over his career year in 2016.
At the time he went down, Freeman was pacing the National League in home runs with 14 and slashing a ridiculous .341/.461/.748. Now, the Braves will have to make do without their best player, as will heartbroken fantasy players.
The good news is that he'll be back. Freeman won't require surgery and should return to the fold in early-to-mid August. At that point, he could provide a major late-season boost, but for the foreseeable future, owners are going to need to find a plug. You'll want to stay away from Brace Peterson and newly signed James Loney, who figure to share first base duties during Freeman's absence.
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* I can't remember a season with so much closer volatility in the first two months. With ninth-inning stoppers dropping like flies, due to either injury or ineffectiveness, few have escaped the carnage.
Chapman hit the DL with a sore shoulder and is expected to miss about a month. Diaz was demoted by the Mariners following an extreme bout with wildness (four walks on Monday night). Obviously Dellin Betances will do just fine in Chapman's stead, and his owners are dancing with delight. The situation in Seattle is far murkier. James Pazos looks to be the top guy but this has the makings of a committee.
* J.D. Martinez has mashed 22 or more home runs in each of the last three seasons. He's got an uphill climb to make it four straight, after missing the first five weeks of 2017, but he seems determined to make up for lost time.
In his second game back last Saturday, Martinez went deep twice. Then, two days after that, he did it again, adding four walks and five RBI to the ledger. On Thursday he added another bomb to push his season total to five through seven games. He's also batting .476 with nine walks and four strikeouts. The slugging outfielder could not be more locked in.
* A hamstring strain suffered on Sunday will put Carlos Gomez on the shelf for four to six weeks, an unfortunate development as his bat just appeared to be heating up. To fill his spot on the roster, the Rangers called up 28-year-old Jared Hoying, who has started all four games in center field since arriving. Hoying is off to a fast start for Texas with five hits including a homer through 15 plate appearances, but he owns a .769 OPS in the minors and doesn't carry much appeal outside of very deep leagues.
* After tossing 6 1/3 scoreless frames on Monday, Aaron Nola was cleared to make his return to the Phillies rotation, and will do so on Sunday against the Pirates. Though he'll be on the road, it's a favorable matchup against a Pittsburgh club ranked third-to-last in the NL in runs, and Nola was very sharp in his final tuneup, so owners shouldn't hesitate to get him back in there.
* Dallas Keuchel's red-hot start to the season will need to take a hiatus, albeit a likely short one. The 7-0 southpaw went on the disabled list this week with a pinched nerve in his neck, but the expectation is he'll only miss one start. Barring setbacks or complications, expect him to return right around the start of June.
* A biceps injury to Indians outfielder Abraham Almonte opened the door for top prospect Bradley Zimmer, who was called up to make his major-league debut on Tuesday and has started every game in center for Cleveland since arriving.
Zimmer possesses an enticing power/speed combo, with 42 homers and 103 steals over 338 games since joining the Indians system as a first-round pick in 2014, but he's raw and a lack of plate discipline may hold him back initially. Through three games he already has six strikeouts, though his two hits have been a double and a homer. He's available in almost 80 percent of Yahoo leagues.
* Last year, Twins top prospect Jose Berrios arrived in the majors with a thud, failing to translate his Triple-A brilliance to the big leagues in multiple attempts and finishing with an 8.02 ERA for the Twins. As such, there was some reluctance to buy into this year's phenomenal start at Rochester (3-0, 1.13 ERA in six starts), but since returning to Minnesota he's been utterly untouchable.
Berrios has won both of his first starts, against good teams (Cleveland and Colorado). He has risen above the inefficiency that previously plagued him, completing 7 2/3 innings in both turns. And in those innings, he has allowed only one run on four hits with 15 strikeouts and two walks. Finally commanding his hard darting fastball, Berrios is now maximizing the efficacy of his sweeping breaking pitches.
Said Ian Desmond after Berrios shut down his Rockies on Thursday: "It looked a lot like Jose Fernandez, to be honest with you." High praise indeed. The righty, who turns 23 in a week, is certainly looking like a worthwhile add across all formats.
* With Tyler Skaggs and Garrett Richards both out, the Angels signed free agent starter Doug Fister, who will report to the minors and build up before joining the Halos rotation. The 33-year-old hasn't really been an effective pitcher since 2014 so it's best to keep expectations low, but if he looks good while tuning up, Fister could pop up on deep-league radars.
* The Blue Jays suspended outfielder Kevin Pillar for Thursday and Friday's games after he directed a homophobic slur at Braves pitcher Jason Motte on Wednesday night. Pillar apologized and is expected back in the lineup Saturday night.
* Robinson Cano went on the DL with a quad strain on Tuesday, retroactive to May 13th, but he's expected to be activated this coming Tuesday.
* Bullet dodged: Miguel Cabrera suffered an oblique strain Wednesday but it's considered very minor. He was available as a pinch-hitter on Friday and should be in the starting lineup Saturday night.