Hello, deep-league friends and acquaintances! Welcome back to the area of Razzball where each week we dig in every little crevice we can find in hopes of discovering buried fantasy baseball treasure. In our world we are used to having to be beggars, not choosers, when it comes to looking for free agent and waiver wire help for our fantasy baseball teams… but that just makes it all the more satisfying when we do manage to stumble upon a hidden gem. For the most part, though, we’re just looking for everyday rocks which which we can plug the holes of our lineups — once again, here are this week’s handful of names who could, in the right circumstance, be useful to those in NL-only, AL-only, and other deep leagues.
Peter Lambert. Sure, we may have already seen Lambert’s best outing of the year, if not his career (7 innings, 4 hits, 1 walk, 1 ER, and 9 Ks against the Cubs in Wrigley on Thursday), but some of us are looking for deep-league starting pitching wherever we can find it. One would think he’ll get a continued chance to prove himself for the Rockies since I can’t imagine anyone is holding his or her breath for Kyle Freeland to return to either the major leagues or the starting rotation. Let’s not dwell on the fact that Lambert had a 5.07 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, and average less than a strikeout per inning in the minors this year… though now that I’m thinking about it, you may want to exercise a bit of caution. We are, after all, talking about a 22-year-old with unimpressive numbers, who if he does pitch for the majors will be doing so in the most hitter-friendly ballpark on the planet. Welcome to the deep league world!
Garrett Cooper. When I jotted down (okay, typed) Cooper’s name 3 or 4 days ago, he was 6% owned in CBS leagues. As I write this, he’s 18% owned, so clearly I was not the only one who thought he might make a nice deep-league addition. At this point I’d consider him even in slightly shallower leagues: his numbers on the year are solid (.278 average, with 5 homers and 16 RBI in 90 at bats), he qualifies at 1B and OF in most leagues, and should get every day playing time with the Marlins. If he is finally truly healthy for the first time, there’s no reason to think he can’t have a season’s worth of solid production at the plate.
Tim Locastro. It always feels kind of like giving up when you add a player to your team that you are really only looking to help out in one category, but I already regret not grabbing Locastro a couple weeks ago in an NL-only league where a few steals could make a huge difference right about now. He’s not even assured a spot on the Diamondbacks’ roster long-term depending on the health of the rest of the team, but when he plays, he often runs, as he only has 51 at bats on the year but already has 5 steals.
Matt Wieters. Wieters has been pretty well under the radar this season, but lately has been playing regularly for the Cardinals with Yadier Molina out with a thumb injury. Wieters has been hitting a bit over his head average-wise (.302 with 3 homers in 43 at bats, and even has a steal), but we all know how bad the fantasy catching landscape is these days. Depending on how bad Yadi’s injury is (or if he does come back and gets rested more often), Wieters could be of value in the right league.
Framber Valdez. I feel like Valdez should be mentioned as he’s had a huge increase in ownership in the last week (up from 2 to 13% in CBS leagues), but I’m not ready to buy in yet. The good news is that after getting comfortable in the Astros bullpen this year, he may finally be getting a shot in the rotation, including a start this weekend against the often-but-not-always-offensively-challenged Orioles. The bad news, as far as I’m concerned, is his scary walk/strikout rates: 13 walks and 21 Ks in 26 innings this season is enough to have me holding until further notice, but I don’t blame you if you want to give him a whirl.
Derek Fisher. The disappointment in Houston was probably palpable after the injury to George Springer and subsequent non-callups of either Yordan Alvarez or Kyle Tucker, but Derek Fisher hasn’t let it affect him. His numbers are nowhere near flashy — a homer and 5 RBIS, plus 2 steals in 11 games (26 at bats), but a few of those hits have been big ones, and he hasn’t looked completely overmatched. Fisher had some pretty serious prospect shine of his own not too long ago, and if nothing else he’s proved himself capable of holding his own against major league pitching as a fill-in, which doesn’t hurt either his current stock or his future prospects.
Adrian Sampson. Sampson’s numbers on the year are not pretty to look at: 4.14 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, and 46 Ks in 58 2/3 innings. If we’re just grading on recent improvement, though, he deserves a mention, given that his ERA was around 6 in the middle of April and he’s now struck out 22 batters over his last 17 1/3 innings. He’s also won his last four games for the Rangers, if you’re into starting pitchers who are into that kind of thing.
Chelsor Cuthbert. Cuthbert is a 1% owned player who has already probably earned those 1% of owners more than they hoped for since his call up: in 6 games for the Royals, he’s 9 for 24 with 3 homers. Even though we all know that he won’t keep up anything in the realm of that pace, he should at least continue to get regular at bats for the time being, and could be a useful fill-in if you need one in the deepest of leagues.