Greetings, deep-leaguers! We’ve now officially hit mid-August, and if you’re fighting for a money spot in one of your fantasy baseball leagues, every decision you make and every day’s worth of stats probably seem magnified. One or two bad starts (thanks, Trevor Bauer and Cole Hamels!) can cost you crucial ERA and WHIP points that you’ve been slowing but surely building up in a roto league, or sink your head-to-head week completely. You may not be able to control how major league baseball players pitch, but it’s as important as ever to try to keep your team as strong as possible and to take advantage of trying to grab a few counting stats where you can. On that note, let’s look at a few players that might be of interest in NL-only, AL-only, and other deep leagues.
Josh Rojas. Rojas’s name wasn’t on a lot of top prospect lists going into the season, but after a great year in double A (.332 average, .418 OBP, with 23 homers and 33 steals (!) in 105 games), Rojas is now playing major league games for the Diamondbacks. He’s listed as a third baseman in most leagues, but has made all of his first three appearances for Arizona in the outfield. He’s jumped out to a nice start, with 4 hits in 9 at bats, plus 2 runs scored and an RBI. If he keeps playing and hitting, he could be a game-changer in even somewhat shallower leagues.
Elieser Hernandez. Much like Koby Allard, Hernandez is a young pitcher whose numbers aren’t inspiring but is getting a chance to pitch for a major league baseball team, in this case the Marlins. His ERA and WHIP are 5.40/1.29, but he is at least striking out over a batter per inning (55 Ks in 53.1 innings). One of his biggest issues so far has been homers (he’s given up 15), so like the other pitchers on this list, he’s someone to keep a deep-league eye on, but probably a very wary one.
Johnny Cueto. My past with Cueto is too tortured for me to actually consider adding him to a fantasy team right now, but it’s probably worth noting that he’s been making minor league rehab appearances for the Giants. It also may or may not mean anything that if the Giants are interested in adding him to their potential postseason roster, they’d need to activate him off of the IL by the end of August. The chances of him adding positive value to a fantasy team in 2019 seem like a long shot to say the least, but crazy long shots are often what we need to pay attention to in the deep-league world.
Matt Albers. When I watch Albers pitch I don’t exactly get a lock-down, prime Mariano Rivera-type vibe from him, but sometimes you need to give extra points just for opportunity. In the midst of a surprisingly dicey stretch of pitching from Josh Hader, Albers has vultured 3 saves just in the last week. A Craig Counsell-led bullpen can be tough to predict, but his reliance on Albers lately is certainly worth something — plus his numbers on the year aren’t as bad as I thought they’d be when I looked them up: the 3.86 ERA isn’t too pleasing, but his WHIP is 1.17 and he does have 50 Ks in 51 innings.
Koby Allard. Allard is probably owned in deep AL-only leagues, as his CBS ownership has almost doubled (from 8 to 15%) since he came over to the Rangers in their Chris Martin trade with the Braves. Allard got thrown right into the rotation, at least temporarily, and has now made two starts (10 innings) with an ERA of 4.50/WHIP of 1.30, and 12 Ks. Not exactly exciting numbers, but if he sticks in the rotation he could be a serviceable deep-league starter. Then again, he could also pull a Bauer/Hamels, given his lack of MLB experience and the fact that he hasn’t pitched in his hitter-friendly home park yet, so you might want to keep an eye on those matchups.
Jace Peterson. Peterson is probably just for the deepest of deep leagues, but if the Orioles’ outfield stays banged up, he should continue to see at least semi-regular playing time. He started 6 games in a row over the last week, going 8 for 25 with 5 runs scored and 5 RBI. He hasn’t swiped a bag lately (he has 4 on the year), but that may be where his value ultimately lies — Peterson doesn’t bring much to the stats table, but he is a guy who could get you a couple steals if you are desperate for them.
Brandon Drury. I almost added Drury to a team over the weekend, and soon wished I had after he had a homer and 5 RBI on Monday. He never feels like a particularly inspired fantasy choice, but even though he’s hitting just .227, he’s now hit a sneaky 14 HRs on the year (330 at bats). Also, he qualifies all over the place — 1B, 2B, 3B, OF — in most leagues. If he can put a string of decent games together when he has the opportunity to hit in the now-very-intriguing Blue Jays’ lineup, he should provide at least a handful of counting stats over the last 6 or so weeks of the season.
Chad Pinder. Pinder is another multiple-position guy (2B, 3B, OF), and he’s been hitting pretty darn well of late: over the last couple weeks, he’s hitting .375 (.444 OBP) with 3 home runs. In addition to 49 games in the outfield, he’s also played 2 at first, 20 at second, 15 at third, and 2 at short, so if he can continue his current hot streak he should keep finding a way into the A’s lineup. He’s still just 7% owned and could provide a bit of rest-of-season offensive help on a deep-league fantasy roster.