Well, we’re down to just over three weeks of regular season baseball left; here’s to hoping you have at least one team in the running for a fantasy title or at least a money finish. While I have a few teams that have been left in the fantasy dust, I also have several that are still right in the thick of things, and it’s easy to forget just how intense the last month of the season can be. This is never more true than in Razzball’s own RCL leagues, where owners are still managing up a storm and churning those rosters to squeeze out as many points as possible before we hit the finish line. It’s both exhausting and exhilarating, and one of the great but dastardly things about RCLs is the tough decisions. Do you take a chance on the highly-owned veteran who’s been scuffling for weeks now and hence dropped by his owner, or should you grab an under-the-radar Quad-A type who has been over-performing in the hopes that you can squeeze a few more days or weeks of counting stats out of him? In deeper leagues, it’s a different story, of course: those under-the-radar types are likely all we have to choose from. So, let’s move on to this week’s lesser-owned players who’ve been playing well, or had ownership gains, and may be of interest to those of us swimming in the fantasy deep end.
Liover Peguero. Peguero has been bouncing back and forth off the waiver wire in a few of my deeper leagues, and I have him on at least one roster as we see how the Pirates lineup shakes out over the next few weeks. We’ll see which young players can take advantage of the opportunity to prove they belong on the future major league roster, and who can deliver some fantasy help in the meantime. Peguero’s gotten a decent look as Oneil Cruz continues to ail, and he’s already had some flashy hot streaks and disappointing strikeout-fueled cold streaks. Overall so far he’s held his own, though, with a .266 average and a hint at a nice power/speed combo in his 128 at bats that would be impressive if extrapolated over the course of a full season (18 runs, 6 homers, 21 RBI, and 4 steals so far). I’m intrigued enough to monitor whether or not he takes a step forward in terms of plate discipline, and whether he can start translating his excellent speed into more stolen bases.
Dane Myers. Tough times in Miami when it comes to injuries, but an opportunity for Myers as he rejoins the big league club in a corresponding move to Jorge Soler hitting the IL. He didn’t show much in his last cup of coffee but was having a great year in the minors featuring both power and speed, so those recently displayed skills plus his current MLB opportunity put him on the very deep league radar.
Nick Martini. Martini is the week’s only player with deep-league ownership numbers who falls in the top 60 in terms of roto value over the last few weeks (he’s just 1% owned in CBS leagues). He’s a 33 year old who didn’t have a single major league at bat in 2022 and has a grand total of 127 games played for five different teams in the last five years, and he managed to crack that top 60 group with only 41 at bats in 15 games played as major league outfield depth for the Reds of late. His 4 homers and 10 RBI in those handful of ABs are a reminder that even a guy who’s basically serving as a pinch hitter might be an improvement in the deepest leagues where you’re scrapping for any counting stats you can get in your final push to move up in the standings.
Darius Vines. Vines is back up with the Braves; it looked like he might get a spot start this weekend but ended up pitching Wednesday in relief of a surprisingly ineffective Spencer Strider. He was fine but not great in that appearance, giving up a run in two innings. He may get sent right back down to the minors, he may stick around in middle relief, or he still may wind up getting a start or two. Overall the Braves pitching staff is beat up enough, especially with the recent crash and burn of Mike Soroka, that Vines may be worth looking at in deeper leagues as the season winds down. Hard to say, but we’re definitely at the ‘throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks’ part of the season when it comes to pitching, as I learned Wednesday when my random and probably ill-advised stream of Touki Toussaint was a resounding success, but not enough to make up for the disastrous Max Scherzer start in the same league. Sigh. Anyhow, Vines is 25 and has kind of gotten lost in the Braves’ deep pitching system, but may also be worth a slightly longer-term glance as well. He’s had a spectacular year in the minors fueled in large part by his excellent change-up. We’ll see if he can successfully carve out a spot for himself at the big league level, since when it comes to starting pitching it certainly isn’t unheard of for Atlanta to pull a talented rabbit or two out of its magical pitching hat.
Gabriel Arias. Arias has a horrific .218 AVG/.293 OBP on the season, but he’s been playing enough and hitting just well enough lately that I’ve grabbed him in one of my deeper mixed leagues. The fact that he’s played five positions this year and qualifies at first, third, short, and outfield in my league doesn’t hurt, and that .218 average almost looks good when you consider that it was as low as .202 less than two weeks ago. So, maybe he’ll continue to trend in the right direction if he continues to play pretty much every day for the Guardians, and he could even be a useful fill-in who can throw a counting stat or two your way in an RCL/daily change type league.
Nelson Velazquez. When looking for some power at the end of my roster in a 15-team league for next week, I was surprised to see Velasquez at the top of the waiver wire when it came to RBI over the last month. He’s found playing time in the Kansas City outfield recently, and while one can hardly expect his recent surge to continue (he has 9 RBI in the last week alone), I may jump on board for the short term just in case it does.
Ryan Noda. Noda hasn’t exactly been great, but he’s been better than nothing for me in a deep-ish league or two lately. He qualifies at 1B and OF in most leagues and had a little 5-game hitting streak earlier this week that included a couple of homers. That brings him to 14 HRs on the year, and he’ll even steal a bag every once in a while. No reason to think he won’t keep playing regularly as the A’s play out what has obviously been a depressing season for all involved, so add him to that “better than nothing” category if you’re trying to fill out a roster.
Rene Pinto. We’ll close with our 0% owned player for the week; for those not aware Pinto has been sharing the Rays’ catching gig with Christian Bethancourt since Francisco Mejia was DFA’d and ultimately sent to the minors. To put it succinctly, Pinto has been absolutely great in his 49 at bats, with 3 homers and 9 RBI to go along with a rather surprising .306 average. That won’t continue forever of course, and it may not continue at all, but if you need a deep-league second catcher Pinto may be worth considering in case he can keep the magic going a bit longer.