Happy almost September! Most MLB teams are past the halfway point of this insane little 60 game season, but if your leagues are anything like mine, there’s still all kinds of standings volatility happening. A couple of bad starts can be devastating, while one day of big offensive production can help by leaps and bounds. I’m not sure how many of my leagues will go down to the wire, but I’m trying to grab every extra counting stat when I can, while I can. And speaking of trying to improve one’s team, time for our weekly look at some names that may be of interest to those of us in AL-only, NL-only, and other deep leagues, keeping our list to players who are around 20% owned or less in CBS leagues.
Brandon Belt. 18% owned feels a smidge light for a guy with a starting job who is hitting .316 with 5 homers on the year, but it’s understandable that Belt’s production feels like a mirage given how disappointing his last few seasons have been. Health has always been a key issue for him though, so a short season following an extra-long offseason may be just what the doctor ordered. If Belt’s finally at full strength for the first time in ages, perhaps we’ll see another month of decent production from him.
Tyler Mahle. Mahle has been annoyingly inconsistent this year (and in his MLB career, for that matter), but when he’s on, he tends to pile up the strikeouts. He had 11 of them against the Cubs, picking up a win in his last start, and should remain in the Reds’ rotation for the foreseeable future. His WHIP is down to 1.13 on the year now, and he has an impressive 32 strikeouts in 23 innings, so it’ll be interesting to see what the next month brings for him.
Chad Kuhl. Kuhl’s 2020 numbers starting for the Pirates (2.52 ERA, 1.08 WHIP) are ridiculously good compared to his quite-ugly career numbers (4.23 ERA, 1.40 WHIP), so regression will likely be happening sooner rather than later. I’m in such need of starters in a couple of leagues, though, that anyone is fair game right now, and I’ve grabbed Kuhl with the hope that he can keep his 2020 magic rolling for just a bit longer.
Daniel Bard. Those of us in deeper leagues don’t always get to do things that others take for granted, like avoiding Rockies pitchers. Bard is still just 10% owned in CBS leagues, even after converting 2 saves in 2 days, as well as picking up a win over the weekend after pitching a scoreless inning in a tie game. His ERA/WHIP aren’t impressive (4.50/1.29), but he does have just 3 walks compared to 17 strikeouts in 14 innings, and perhaps more importantly appears to be the closest thing the Rockies currently have to a closer.
Manny Margot. Margot’s been playing well of late, and I wish I’d picked him up a week or two ago a couple of leagues. He may not be in the lineup every single day for the Rays, but he’s hitting .316 (.381 OBP) on the year with a homer and 4 steals. He’s still just 25, and feels like a guy who has the skils to make a bigger impact on the fantasy world than he has thus far… I’ll be keeping an eye on him both for the remainder of the season and with an eye on the future.
Cedric Mullins. Mullins may not be a fantasy monster, but he’s provided at least a smattering of production now that he’s starting (semi?) regularly for the Orioles, which is all one can really expect from a 3% owned player. Of most interest are his 3 steals, for anyone who is particularly speed-hungry at the moment.
Michael Pineda. It’s been just about a year since Pineda pitched in a major league baseball game, so it’s anyone guess how he’ll look when he returns to the Minnesota rotation. But he’s scheduled to return from suspension this week, so there are probably worse gambles to take if you’re desperate for an AL arm. Pineda does have a very good career WHIP of 1.18 (who knew?), for what it’s worth.
Peter Fairbanks. Fairbanks is a Rays pitcher who isn’t starting, he isn’t closing, and he isn’t bulk relieving… and yet I have an AL-only league where he’s been one of my more valuable pitchers over the last couple of weeks. That probably says more about how bad everyone else has been than how amazing Fairbanks is, but welcome to 2020. Anyway, Fairbanks, has 24 strikeouts in 14.2 innings, and a mildly eye-popping 4 wins – he is regularly getting in games where he’s in the right place at the right time, so I’m hoping that trend continues.