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.
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.
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.