Bryce Harper just returned from a lengthy IL stint. Clayton Kershaw is slated to do so later this week. To whatever extent they may have been forgotten in Fantasy, they aren't anymore.
Likewise, recent injury cases facing short-term absences -- such as Zack Wheeler, Tony Gonsolin, Nestor Cortes and Byron Buxton -- aren't slipping anybody's mind. You'll stash them for a couple weeks and likely get them back as good as new.
But you may be sleeping on the potential of some long-absent injury cases reshaping your league's standings down the stretch. I'm not sure Tim Anderson, Jazz Chisholm or Shane Baz will have enough time to make a real impact, but for these six, there's hope.
Ozzie Albies 2B
ATL Atlanta • #1 • Age: 26
Albies hasn't played since June 13, wasn't having a standout season at that point, and has recently seen rookie Vaughn Grissom claim his old second base job, quickly emerging as a fixture in the Braves lineup. But we all know the impact Albies is capable of making. He's been an early-round fixture the past three years, even while still shy of his 26th birthday. The hitting environment has also improved from those first couple months when he struggled, with offense rebounding league-wide. With him set to begin a rehab assignment this week, you can trust he'll be back manning second base within the next two. Grissom will have to find somewhere else to play.
NYY N.Y. Yankees • #40 • Age: 29
Don't lose sight of just how effective Severino was before landing on the IL with a strained lat just before the All-Star break. He had a swinging-strike rate (12.7 percent) that would rank among the top 12 qualifiers, an xFIP (3.46) on par with Logan Webb and more Head-to-Head points per game (13.59) than Kevin Gausman (13.35). It would be easy to dismiss him as a lost cause given that injuries are almost all he's known since 2018, but he was genuinely on the path to redemption. He's set to begin a rehab assignment Friday, and the Yankees are aiming to have him make five big-league starts before season's end.
STL St. Louis • #22 • Age: 27
The prospect of Flaherty's return next week doesn't inspire confidence after he already once tried coming back too soon from his strained shoulder, making three ineffective starts in June before spending another two months on the IL. But president of baseball operations John Mozeliak was present for one of Flaherty's three rehab starts and came away impressed. "You sort of think back to 2019, and what would we look like if we could get that again," he said. "Getting that would change the dynamic of our club overall." That 2019 season was when Flaherty went 11-8 with a 2.75 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 10.6 K/9. In fact, for his career, the 26-year-old has a 3.38 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 10.4 K/9. It's just easy to forget because he's pitched so little the past three years.
MIA Miami • #28 • Age: 25
I've been pretty dismissive of Rogers' chances of rebounding this year, pointing out that his stuff began to slip late in 2021, actually, and that he wasn't some highly regarded prospect coming up through the minors. But I have to admit that his fourth and final rehab start Thursday gives me reason to reconsider. He threw six no-hit innings for Triple-A Jacksonville, striking out 12 on a whopping 24 swinging-strikes, and said afterward it's the best he's felt all year. He's been utterly useless to this point with a 5.85 ERA through 19 starts, but seeing how abruptly other young hurlers like Reid Detmers and Matt Manning have turned things around, I'd say Rogers is worth stashing ahead of his return Wednesday.
Mike Soroka SP
ATL Atlanta • #40 • Age: 25
Soroka's rehabilitation from a twice-ruptured Achilles tendon is as much a human interest story as anything. Simply making it back would be a historic accomplishment for the 25-year-old. He looked like an immediate pickup after his first rehab start, when he struck out eight over four one-hit innings, but that was at A-ball. It's been a bumpier ride in two turns at Double-A. But the stuff has rated well. He's put the ball on the ground a bunch, which is the key to his success. I wouldn't put too much stock in the numbers, honestly. The Braves are fighting for the NL East title and have some depth at starting pitcher. They wouldn't add Soroka back to the rotation mix if they didn't think he could help. And if it doesn't happen, he'll just continue to occupy one of your IL spots -- no harm, no foul.
NYY N.Y. Yankees • #22 • Age: 28
A bout with plantar fasciitis has prevented Bader from making his Yankees debut after coming over in the Jordan Montgomery trade, but he's been taking part in baseball activities and will soon begin a rehab assignment, with an eye on returning in early-to-mid September. Presumably, the Yankees will want his defense in center field every day, and he's a good fit for their home venue. His biggest contribution would be in the ever-coveted stolen base category, though, making him most stashable in five-outfielder Rotisserie leagues.