Happy July, Friends! We’re inching closer to the halfway point of the MLB season, and in most deep leagues you probably have a pretty good idea if your team has what it takes to contend for a fantasy title in 2022. Between injuries, minor league call ups, and hot and cold streaks, though, a lot can happen in July, August, and September to shake up the standings. Why not keep an eye out for the chance to improve, regardless of where your teams currently sit? As we usually do here, let’s take a quick look at a handful of players that may be available and of interest to those of us in NL-only, AL-only, and other particularly deep leagues.
Jake Meyers. This winter, Meyers was listed near the top of some versions of the Astros depth chart, albeit with a red cross next to his name. He’s finally back after recovering from shoulder surgery and has started six of six games in the outfield since his activation. Chas McCormick didn’t do much to establish himself as a regular when Meyers was out. Jose Siri has been demoted, and I don’t think anyone sees Mauricio Dubon as more than a utility guy, so the playing time should be there for Meyers. I’m expecting a ton of strikeouts and a bad average (so far, in 18 at bats he’s struck out 8 times, and he hasn’t taken a walk yet), but if you can weather that, Meyers could be of some deep league help when it comes to counting stats.
Nick Allen/Vimael Machin. The A’s are doing whatever they can do to give their terrible offense a jolt, playing Allen regularly for about a week and a half now, and calling up Machin on Thursday. Allen, who has played 12 games at second and 7 at short, is just 23 and may get an extended look as long as he doesn’t look completely overmatched (so far: 11 for 49 with 6 walks and 10 Ks, 6 runs scored, 1 HR, 5 RBI, and a steal). His minor league numbers this year weren’t too exciting, though he did have 10 stolen bases. His speed may indeed be the thing that makes him at least a blip on the deep league fantasy radar; he’s been batting a not-so-ideal eighth against righties but has led off versus a couple of lefties. Meanwhile, Machin is a 28-year-old, 0% owned player who may not even be worth a roster spot in the very deepest leagues, but who will get a quick shout out here for those of us who are in ultra-deep AL-only leagues where we’re chasing every possible at bat. He’s a utility player (he was used at 2B, 3B, and SS in very limited time last year) but was having a solid year in the minors, at least when it comes to getting on base, hitting .324 with a .401 OBP and registering more walks than strikeouts.
Sam Haggerty. Between Taylor Trammel’s recent hamstring injury, Jesse Winker’s impending suspension, and the continued lack of any concrete news letting us Kyle Lewis owners know when he might return to the Mariners, the Seattle outfield needs help, hence Haggerty’s call up this week. (We should also probably mention that, in news that might surprise folks who are neither following the Mariners closely nor chasing deep league at bats, Justin Upton is currently a member of their active major league roster; he’s played in 10 games and has gone 4 for 31). Haggerty can play anywhere in the outfield as well as second and short — while he’s a 28 year old depth piece at this point, a depth piece is just what Seattle needs right now, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see Haggerty get regular at bats for a while. He had a three hit game with a stolen base in his first game back with the big club on Wednesday, so he’s off to a good start. He’ll pop an occasional homer and should continue to run when he plays; he was hitting extremely well in triple A on the season with a .283 average/.369 OBP, with 6 HRs and 15 SBs.
Darick Hall. Hall is a 26-year old who’s been called up by the Phillies to take some of those DH at bats available now that Bryce Harper has undergone thumb surgery. (Side note: in one of my draft and hold leagues, the only player I have available to replace Harper in my active lineup is Darin Ruf. Not amused.) Hall got thrown right into the thick of things immediately after his call up, batting cleanup on Wednesday. He didn’t get a hit, but this sure feels like a situation that’s at least worth monitoring. Hall was hitting an unimpressive .269 in triple A, but his power numbers were most definitely worthy of attention, as he’d hit 20 homers and had a gaudy total of 67 RBI when he was promoted.
Josh VanMeter/Yoshi Tsutsugo. VanMeter is kind of the opposite of a possibly promising newcomer, but after being down three weeks with a finger injury, he’s back and getting chances in the Pirates lineup. He looks to be the strong side of something resembling a platoon with (the now-playing-less frequently) Michael Chavis at second base, and VanMeter has also appeared in five games at first and one in the outfield. VanMeter’s average is currently .210 and he’s never been much of a fantasy contributor in the past (well, he did have eight homers and nine steals in 95 games for the Reds in 2019) so this is strictly a name for those chasing at bats. Speaking of Pirates coming off the IL, Tsutsugo will likely be rejoining the team any day now after a back injury. So far in 2020 he’s hitting .177 with two homers, so there may be nothing to see here even in deeper leagues — but if Tsutsugo is healthy now, he could provide a little power even with limited at bats.
Hunter Strickland. We’ll take a brief pause from my normal ban on discussing Reds relief pitchers to mention Strickland, who as I type this has been performing quite well of late. His last five appearances have been of the scoreless variety, and more importantly to those chasing saves, he’s logged three of the last four that the Reds have had. Fantasy owners are slowly but surely noticing, as his CBS ownership has gone from 1% to 6% over the last week. The bullpen in Cincinnati will no doubt be a fluid, and often unsightly, situation as the season goes on, but don’t forget Strickland, with twenty-five career saves, has that ‘he’s done it before’ thing that some managers find appealing going for him.