Early Disappointments and Available Replacements for Fantasy Baseball

Even if your team is off to a slow start, there are plenty of opportunities to turn things around over a long season.

Maikel Garcia #11 of the Kansas City Royals celebrates a single in the first inning against the Seattle Mariners at Kauffman Stadium.
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - AUGUST 14: Maikel Garcia #11 of the Kansas City Royals celebrates a single in the first inning against the Seattle Mariners at Kauffman Stadium on August 14, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

If you take away one lesson from reading this, let it be this simple message: The major league baseball season is long. Right now, there is a lot of overreaction going on within the fantasy baseball landscape. Overreaction April is a proven thing. 

I’m here to remind you no matter how bad your fantasy team is doing, we are only two weeks into a six-month season. In other words, only 6% of the way home.

As a long-time fantasy player and advocate of trash talking in the group chat, I understand you want to get off to a hot start. That doesn’t always happen. However, just as the sun always rises in the morning, nothing is as bad as it seems. 

The worst record you could have right now is 0-2. And to that, I say so what?

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It’s a minuscule hole to climb out of. It’s a long season, and those who survive the war of attrition and disappointment in April will be the ones standing proudly come October.

Today, we’ll talk about some guys who haven’t lived up to expectations so far. More importantly, we’ll discuss how to overcome this and who to target. There are plenty of options available to help turn your season in the correct direction. Remember, it’s a process. 

Some guys only fall under the disappointment category simply because they fell victim to injury. Players like Spencer Strider, Eury Pérez, Shane Bieber, and Nick Pivetta had good outlooks coming into this season only for their elbows to decide otherwise.

The starting pitcher injury epidemic is indeed getting out of control, so it’s important to add all the quality hurlers still available on the waiver wire. 

Most of the players I’m suggesting you add are more likely than not available in your leagues.

Let’s dive in!

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Disappointment: Cal Raleigh 

It seems as if Seattle’s hitting performance thus far is the same story in a different year. Raleigh is expected to provide good power in the middle of the lineup and at the catcher position itself. So far his .182 average with two RBI’s is less than ideal.

I had the same initial concerns for him as I did with Julio Rodriguezwhich is simple lineup context. The Seattle front office refuses to spend big for offensive help which provides no protection for the better bats in the order.

Replacement: Shea Langeliers 

I predicted before the season that this Oakland lineup would be scrappy and so far that’s looking to be true. Nobody is arguing they are the most talented, but the effort is there and the results have been surprisingly present. Langeliers has put up four homers with seven RBIs and a .250 average. Don’t forget that he slammed 22 dingers in just 135 games last season. At only 3% rostered, you can’t get a better discount price for production at the catcher position.

Leadoff Hitter

Disappointment: Edouard Julien

Going 3 for your first 28 is ugly for anyone, but the fact that Julien isn’t getting regular playing time in a platoon against lefties makes it even worse. I do believe this offense will get it going at one point, but the loss of hitting in front of Royce Lewis is showing in a big way at the beginning of this season. The platoon not only takes Julien out of the lineup, but it also breaks up any rhythm he finds while up at the plate if he is on the lineup card one day but on the bench the next.

Replacement: Maikel Garcia 

Somebody who will be getting everyday at-bats in the leadoff position for a shocking Royals team thus far comes in the form of Maikel Garcia. You can be sure Garcia will see his fair share of hittable pitches batting directly ahead of Bobby Witt Jr.

With a much-improved launch angle compared to last season, Maikel has already hit three homers in six games, crushing his 2023 mark of just four total homers in 123 games.

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And when it comes to stealing? Let’s not forget Garcia thieved 23 last season along with taking 39 bags in his 2022 minor league stint. 

First Base

Disappointment: Vinnie Pasquantino 

Pasquantino was featured in my preseason busts with a lot of my reasoning being his coming off shoulder surgery and doubtful of how much power he could actually provide. It’s always a bad sign when his team is performing strong offensively yet the numbers are poor.

Pasquantino doesn’t have one home run or RBI thus far and is 4-for-37. For someone who is rostered only because of his hitting with no speed whatsoever, it’s getting late early for his owners. 

Replacement: Alex Kirilloff

One of the only bright spots in the Twins lineup has gone 11-for-31 with five runs scored and a home run. One of the best things about Kirilloff is that he not only has first base eligibility, but you can also stick him in your outfield if that’s a point of weakness on your team.

A once highly-regarded prospect, he is starting to show what he can do when not injured. And at 11% owned, he’s a steal off the waiver wire.


Disappointment: Francisco Lindor 

There’s arguably no bigger disappointment in major league baseball so far than Francisco Lindor. Sure the lights seem to shine brighter in New York and fans are typically harder on players in general, but at some point, the bat has to produce. He started the year 4-for-45, which comes out to a .089 average along with no steals.

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When a guy is drafted as high as Lindor was this year in drafts, it’s hard to give up so soon. By no means am I telling you to do that, but it’s crucial to keep an eye on him and give him at least another month and reevaluate. A healthy strategy would be stashing him on your bench while giving another shortstop an opportunity. 

Replacement: Tim Anderson

Anderson has so far been the quietest player on this list. Not sure if it’s Miami’s horrible record or the fact that the Marlins don’t get a lot of attention in general, but Tim seems to be forming back into his old self. The former batting champ has gone 13-for-46 while adding a couple steals in the formula. Just two years ago he was as consistent a hitter as anyone in baseball and I was always a fan of this change of scenery from Chicago to Miami. I also believe he can get back to that 15-20 home run mark on top of elite average and stolen base numbers.


Disappointment: Nick Castellanos

We all know Castellanos is a frequent subject of various peaks and valleys, so it’s hard to give up this early. Again, I wouldn’t advise completely dropping any of these guys. However, putting them on your bench and waiting for a breakout is much healthier.

Castellanos deserves that treatment because .154 with no home runs and one run in an exceptional Phillies lineup is slightly concerning. His exit velocities are down from last year and hasn’t barreled up the ball in any type of way so far. There’s no speed with Castellanos so it might be time to give somebody else a shot.

Replacement: Mitch Haniger

Like Castellanos, there’s no speed here which makes for a healthy replacement. Remember when everyone forgot about Haniger because he was exiled to Oracle Park in 2023?

Let’s not forget his 2021 line: 110 runs, 39 homers, and 100 RBIs while punching a .253 average. Back with his rightful team in Seattle, he just looks natural in a Mariner uniform. So far, his two home runs and six RBIs with an .823 OPS give me plenty of optimism. It took three games to move him into the cleanup spot, and at 8% owned we as fantasy managers should do the same. 

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Starting Pitcher

Disappointment: George Kirby 

The knuckleballer has been off to a slow start this season, giving up at least five runs in his last two starts while only striking out five total batters between those two times on the bump.

We knew Kirby was not going to be a huge source of strikeouts, but the ERA and WHIP have been costly for all fantasy managers. Against Toronto, Kirby only generated four swinging strikes and no hitter in the box was fooled. I like that Kirby never walks anybody but the risk of always putting it in the zone will sometimes lead to blow-up starts.

Replacement: Kutter Crawford

There is something to be said about this Red Sox starting staff. Almost all of their pitchers seem to have flown under the radar in draft season whether it be Kutter Crawford, Tanner Houck, Brayan Bello, or even Garrett Whitlock. I want to talk about Crawford who owns a 0.84 ERA and WHIP while striking out more batters than innings pitched so far.

The Red Sox also have an underrated offensive lineup which will lead to more wins for Kutter. He is just over 50% rostered and I believe he should be owned in every league out there. 

Disappointment: A.J. Puk 

Remember when everybody was telling you to add AJ Puk before the season started? They claimed he had tremendous upside and would keep your ratios balanced?

I was never a fan of this opinion because you never know how a guy will react when he makes the initial shift from bullpen arm to starting staff. It hasn’t been a smooth transition for Puk, putting up a 2.44 WHIP and 5.91 ERA without qualifying for a win in any of his three starts. I don’t have a ton of faith in him turning it around because he might find himself right back in a relief role.

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Replacement: Ryan Pepiot

It was a rough first start for Pepiot, though it came against one of the league’s best offenses in the Texas Rangers. He turned things around this past week within the intimidating Coors Field, going six strong innings with 11 strikeouts in a winning effort. Pepiot put up a great 2023 season and now inside the Tampa Bay Rays pitching lab, we can have confidence that Pepiot will show the same or even better output as last season. 

Relief Pitcher

Disappointment: David Bednar 

It’s been a rough go for Bednar, maybe one of the only negatives coming out of Pittsburgh so far this season. After giving up four runs last Tuesday, Bednar admitted to having few spring reps which contributed to the slow start. Bednar’s job is safe for now but if we see the struggle continue, it’s important to know who is next in line for the closer job on every major league team.

Replacement: Jason Foley 

AJ Hinch has used his bullpen in a very strange way so far this season but enough time has passed by to get a handle on it. Unless the heart of the lineup is due up in the 8th inning, it seems Foley will be saved for the ninth.

If not, it seems Alex Lange will get a save opportunity here and there. Overall though, Foley seems to be the guy. He’s done well so far, collecting three saves and seven strikeouts. He is only 38% owned and should be rostered in all leagues because saves are limited and opportunities are rare!