Another week, another round of tweaked hammies (hope you’re as not-really-hurt as you claim, Jean Segura!), nightmare pitching (thanks for nothing, Corbin Burnes!), and various trials and tribulations that cause headaches for any fantasy owner, but are particularly excruciating for those of us in the deepest of leagues, where suitable waiver-wire replacements range from nearly-impossible-to-come-by to completely non-existent.  Once again, here’s hoping you’re avoiding as many of those headaches as possible while we take a look at players who may be of some interest to those in NL-only, AL-only, and other deep leagues.

NL

Howie Kendrick.  In case you missed it, he’s still in baseball, playing for the Nationals after recovering from a hamstring strain.  He’s off to a hot start, to say the least, hitting .500 with 3 homers and 6 RBI over his first 20 at bats (and he also has 5 walks). This is obviously an unsustainable pace, but Kendrick could keep getting more at bats than one would have expected if Brian Dozier’s struggles continue, making him someone to consider in NL-only or other deep leagues.

Jerad Eickhoff.  I’m not holding my breath that moving Eickhoff into the Philadelphia rotation will work out brilliantly either for the Phillies or for fantasy purposes, but he’s already had 4 great-looking innings (no runs on 3 hits, no walks, and 6 Ks, picking up a save).  Granted, it was the last 4 innings against a shell-shocked Mets team in a 14-3 game, but a few innings of stellar pitching is more than a lot of NL starters have been providing lately, which you know well if you’ve been counting on Stephen Strasburg, Miles Mikolas, Jack Flaherty, Freddy Peralta, etc., etc., etc. to lead your NL-only rotation.  Of course, special honors go to Nick Pivetta, who in mid-April has already pitched himself out of the majors for now, opening the door for Eickhoff to step into the rotation.

Miguel Rojas.  He’s not going to stuff the box score with counting stats, but Rojas is off to a solid start for the Marlins, hitting .286 with 6 RBI in his first 17 games (plus 4 walks and only 2 strikeouts), and should be playing pretty much every day after J.T. Riddle’s demotion.  He’s 4% owned in CBS leagues and qualifies at 1B, 3B, and SS in most leagues, so he’s probably better than nothing if you need to plug a hole somewhere.

Victor Arano.  Even though Gabe Kapler doesn’t seem to have anything remotely resembling an actual depth chart when it comes to the Phillies bullpen, Arano has been pitching well and one would think he’ll get some looks in highish-leverage situations now that David Robertson is hurt.  I am mildly torturing myself by having both Seranthony Dominguez and Hector Neris in several leagues and hoping for the best in terms of getting decent pitching and perhaps a handful of saves, but I’m going to at least keep an eye on Arano for now as well.  He was demoted after a horrible spring, but now that he’s back in the bigs he’s looking good out of the gate at least – 7 Ks and 1 BB in 4 innings without allowing a run.

AL

Danny Santana. Santana has been quietly filling in for Rougned Odor, and in his first 4 starts at 2B for the Rangers is hitting .286 with 3 runs, 3 RBI, and perhaps most-interestingly from a deep-league fantasy perspective, 2 steals.  He came into the season qualifying at OF, and evidently has been taking reps at 1B as well – in very deep leagues, he could be serviceable even if he just sticks as a utility guy for the Rangers once Odor returns.

Renato Nuñez.  I’m finding corner infielders even harder to come by than usual in my deeper leagues… Nuñez is long gone in my deepest AL-only league, but still just 10% owned in CBS leagues so he may be floating around in slightly shallower formats.  He’s not exactly ripping the cover off the ball, but he is off to a nice, under-the-radar start in Baltimore, hitting .300 with 5 runs, a homer, and 6 RBI.  He hasn’t drawn a walk vs. 9 Ks, which is certainly a red flag as far as I’m concerned, but he should continue to see a decent number of at bats, at least.

Trevor Hildenberger. Hildenberger is my latest go-to pick-up in my deep leagues where I could use a strong middle reliever.  Blake Parker may be fairly comfortably atop the Twins closer depth chart now, but Hildenberger (10% owned in CBS leagues) has seriously outpitched pre-season sleeper Trevor May (28% owned) and even Taylor Rogers (17% owned).  Hildenberger has pitched only 5.2 innings as I write this, but hasn’t allowed a run and has given up just one walk while recording a beautiful 9 strikeouts.  He’s also managed to pick up 2 wins and a save, if you’re into those types of things.

Tom Murphy.  Years of waiting for him to make it to fantasy relevance in Colorado never came to fruition, as Murphy was tossed aside, was momentarily a member of the San Francisco Giants, and has now settled in as the backup catcher in Seattle.  In AL-only leagues, I’ve basically been looking for catchers who will not hurt me and might throw a few counting stats my way in limited at bats – so far, Murphy looks like he may fit the bill.  I’ve read that the M’s love his attitude and approach to the game, and in the last week he has only 11 at bats, but he’s used them to hit .364 with a homer and 2 RBIs.

  1. Giacomo Ortizano says:
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    Laura, a super job, as always. As for myself, fiding hitters in the deep has been quite a challenge. Nothing leaped out at me. So I looked to the IL and the minors to see what I could find. Here is what I saw:

    KE’BRYAN HAYES (Pirates): What do you do when your third baseman is batting .130 and has a recent history of sexual assault and DUI-realted, hit-and-run scandals? You look for a replacement\. Jung-Ho Kang receiving a “three-day break” last week from manager Clint Hurdle indicates Kang’s association with the Pirates are numbered. He has made an awful start while on the right side of a platoon with Colin Moran. But help is on the way! Hayes can do it all. He can hit. He can run. He is developing power. And he is a talented fielder. There is no reason to keep him in triple-A, so I expect him to get the call to the majors soon. (When Hayes arrives in Pittsburgh, he’d better hit the ground running because fans will settle for nothing less from the player they received in exchange for their beloved Andrew McCutchen.)

    SHOHEI OHTANI (Angels): No, he won’t pitch this season. But he can hit and help your batting categories this year. Ohtani’s seasonal debut has been delayed as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. If your keeper league allows Ohtani to contribute both his pitching and hitting stats, he could win it all for you next year. If he is not on the waiver wire, maybe he can be secured in a painless trade from a disgruntled owner. The Angels lowered the ballpark’s fences (to help lefties) just for him, so his HR numbers could soar. Obtain is expected to join the team’s batting order by the middle of May.

    RANDAL GRICHUK (Blue Jays): For now, Grichuk is having a so-so season batting cleanup in Toronto. Thus far he has been walked at twice his 6 percent customary pace (he was walked there times in Tuesday’s game) and the junk he’s been tossed has resulted in a 1.89 GO/AO rate despite his status as an extreme flyball hitter. Grichuk’s record shows that he has a GO/AO rate below 1.00 in every one of his six previous seasons in the majors. In other words, pitchers have been pitching around him, thereby giving him few opportunities to mash. But that should change upon the promotion of Vlad Guerrero Jr. When Vlad Jr. replaces Drury at the hot corner, Grichuk will reap the benefit of a Gricxhuk-Vlad-Smoak threat in the 3-4-5 positions in the lineup. \When that happens, he should get plenty of chances to exploit his 27-year-old year at the plate.

    RYAN MOUNTCASTLE (Orioles): After a successful 2018 season in double-A, Mountcastle is honing his talent at triple-A Norfolk. His career in the minors began as a shortstop. Then he was switched t5o third base. Now he is being tried at first base. And scouts project he will eventually become an outfielder. Considering the Orioles’ pathetic lineup has holes to fill almost everywhere, the former first-round pick will easily find a home at Camden Yards. On a good team, Mountcastle would undoubtedly spend the entire year acquiring experience in AAA. The Orioles, however, are not a good team. They have nothing to lose by bringing him up now. Claim and stash him if you have the roster space. Or keep him on your radar for signs of an imminent promotion.

    JOEY WENDLE (Tampa Bay). Here is still a third player from the AL East. The Rays are hot and about to get hotter when Wendle comes off the injured list. Last year Wendle attracted some attention when he led the majors in Fielding Runs Above Average. He also showed he could hit for power by slugging 33 doubles, which could mean he’ll increase his HR total substantially above those seven he hit in 2018. And his speed last year was good for 16 stolen bags. On top of all this, Wendle plays all over the field and qualifies at both 2B and 3B in most leagues. He might be found on the waiver wire because many impatient owners declined to sit out Wendle’s IL stint.

  2. Moon Shots says:
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    Hey Laura. Love the NL only as always. Its like language almost no one understands.

    I gave you my NL only team after drafting. Heavy bats, dart throws for pitching, bullpen moslty punted:

    C: Contreras
    1B: Alonso
    2B: Shaw
    3B: Bryant
    SS: Tatis
    OF: McCutcheon
    OF: Hoskins
    OF: McNeil
    U: Duggar
    BN: Bryan Reynolds (flier)
    BN: Elias Diaz
    BN: Tyler Oneill
    DL: Trea Turner

    SP: Marquez
    SP: Mikolas
    SP: Weaver
    SP: Eflin
    SP: Soroka
    RP: Moronta
    RP: Crick (dropping)
    BN: Pivetta
    NA: Burnes

    Despite injuries and demoted pitchers im holding my own pretty well so far. Im curious what you think…Harrison Bader just hit waivers. His rough start and injury caused someone to give up on him fast. How aggressive would you be in trying to add him? I feel like he is a very solid player who can give some speed which seems awfully lacking these days. Should i make it happen? Thanks!

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