Big Ryan Zimmerman is headed to the DL with an abdominal strain,the same strain he suffered in Spring Training. This comes as a huge blow to an already struggling Nationals team, who are hitting a dismal .217/.321/.328 with a .649 OPS over the first nine games of the season.
This also comes as a huge blow to many fantasy owners hoping for another big year from Zimmerman, but don't worry, there's quite a number of stop gap gloves worth taking a look at for the next week.
Let's weed out who could be the best options.
Jhonny Peralt, 3B, SS, Tigers:
Peralta started the season hot, hitting .379/.375/.586 with four RBI and four runs scored. A lifetime .264 hitter, he has been a wonderful source of power in the early goings, and you can expect that trend to continue for the interim.
After Texas today, Peralta and company travel to face the Oakland Athletics which should favor Peralta just a bit. His multi-qualifier status is also very enticing.
Jack Hannahan, 3B, Indians.
Mentioning an Indians' player off of the waiver wire sounds a bit odd, but Hannahan is now the NEW thrid baseman in Cleveland—in case you didn't know, of course.
The move was really due to his defensive prowess, but it's his bat that has caught some fantasy owners' eyes as he's hitting .286 with 6 RBI.
Hannahan has a 5% ownership in Yahoo leagues and a 3.7% ownership in ESPN leagues; both with an average 1.7% increase which means most people haven't heard about him yet.
Hannahan has a nice matchup coming up against a Baltimore Orioles team that ranks 10th in home runs allowed.
Jerry Hairston Jr., 2B, SS, OF:
Don't like leaving your own backyard for replacements? Then take a chance on Jerry Hairston Jr.
The idea is—at the moment—Hairston will split time with the aging Alex Cora, but let's be honest, that won't last. GM Jim Riggleman already said in March he wanted to try and get Hairston 300 to 400 AB, and this is a perfect chance for him to get Hairston into the mix.
The Nationals will face Philadelphia and Milwalkee at home over the next six days, but that doesn't necessarily mean double trouble for the Nationals, as we'll see in a moment.
Hairston Jr. has a very low 2% average ownership, and should wind up being a nice fill-in player for the interim.
National Shakeup In Washington!
Here's the deal kiddies.
As I mentioned before the team that was supposed to be the surprise of the National League—with all of those pretty off-season moves, that is—is floundering as a .217/.321/.328 hitting team, with a .649 OPS.
The Nationals rank 27th in BA, 18th in home runs, 21st in runs scored...just horrible.
But a team on the decline often experiences a huge upswing when major player changes occur, and for Washington, that upswing could be fast approaching.
Outfielder Cory Hart's injury has paved the way for Nyjer Morgan (17% owned) who is now hitting .500 ( 9/19 with 2 runs scored 9 hits, a single RBI and a stolen base) and is known for his natural base-stealing threat. Having a speedy runner who is hitting that good provides more runs-scored chances, and Morgan isn't about to let up and go back on the bench.
But what's really interesting is how the Zimmerman injury could actually have a positive affect on the Nationals and possibly provide them the confidence boost they so desperatly need.
With Hairston inevitably being moved over to third, Riggleman has yet another reason to keep Morgan—yes Morgan—in the mix, which adds two new bats to the lineup that was supposed to be power heavy at the 3, 4 and 5 spot.
In addition to that, Jayson Werth could wind up exploding over the next 15 days with the injruy to Zimm.
Any Philadelphia Phillie fan will tell you, when Werth has to shoulder an additional load because of a teammate injury he usually excells at it; being the only true power bat on stage doesn't hurt either.
The moral of the story here is this: The Nationals could hit that needed upswing this week despite the injuries sustained to Zimmerman, LaRoche and Hart, and fantasy owners could be in for a nice boost themselves.