The closer carousel continues to spin round and round. In the season’s first week, Joaquin Benoit’s ride ended abruptly in the fallout of the Craig Kimbrel trade and Jason Grilli climbed aboard to take his place. This week, thanks to the early season struggles of 42 year old former closer LaTroy Hawkins, Adam Ottavino (+83.9%) became the new 9th inning reliever for the Rockies and was the most added player in fantasy baseball. A Rockies reliever? Awesome! Why don’t I just pick up Kelly Gregg and put my ratios out of their misery? That’s your Coors Field park factor voice playing devil’s advocate. When you consider Ottavino’s abilities to keep the ball on the ground (62.5% GB% this season in 6.1 IP – small sample size alert!; 45.6% career), rack up the strikeouts (54.6% K% this season; 25.7% in 2014), and limit his walks allowed (4.6% BB% this year; 5.9% in 2014), the Coors concern is somewhat alleviated. He also appears to have ditched his ineffective change-up in favor of a cutter to keep left-handed hitters honest and improve his split issues against that side. Factor it all in and he looks like a potential top 10 closer this year and an early treasure for fantasy owners. “In Ottavino, there is truth…” Here are a couple of this week’s other big adds and drops in fantasy baseball:
Ender Inciarte – 59.7% owned (+58.9%)
Inciarte has been quite a hot commodity in recent days. I guess a .327/.364/.442 triple slash line with 11 runs, 6 RBIs, and 2 steals in 13 games will do that for a player. Offensively, Inciarte has displayed above average skills in two key areas: speed and the ability to make consistent contact. His 5.5% K% is tied for the 5th lowest among all qualified MLB players this season, and his 93.6% Contact% is the 4th highest mark. As for speed, he stole 19 bases in 22 attempts with the Diamondbacks last season and logged 43 SBs at the AA level in 2013. Unfortunately, his lack of power (.085 career ISO) and inability to take a walk (1.8% BB% this season; 5.2% career) limit his fantasy potential. Arizona’s crowded outfield (Trumbo, Pollock, Peralta, and Tomas) suggests that playing time could be an issue in the near future as well. If you’re looking for a Nori Aoki clone or a poor man’s Denard Span, then Inciarte is your guy. In shallow mixed leagues, I’d be inclined to look elsewhere though. TRASH.
Rusney Castillo – 40.4% owned (-49%)
Speaking of crowded outfields, Boston is another team that has more starting caliber outfielders than positions to accommodate them. As a result of this numbers squeeze for the Red Sox, Castillo is on the outside looking in at the moment. However, in a very limited sample size last season, Castillo performed at a high level, producing a .333/.400/.528 triple slash line, including 2 home runs and 3 steals across 40 plate appearances. He showed that his plate discipline skills weren’t too shabby either by posting a 7.5% BB% and a 15.0% K%. Steamer sees him as a .280/15/20 type of player across a full season, which is essentially Charlie Blackmon kind of production. As you may recall, Blackmon was the 23rd most valuable hitter in fantasy baseball last season according to the Razzball Player Rater. Might want to rethink that decision to cut him loose in order to stream Danny Duffy. Patience my friends. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Rusney’s time will come, and you’ll be glad that he’s on your team when it does. TREASURE.