Happy second week of May, everyone! It’s still early in the baseball season, but not necessarily as early as it might seem… within the next few days, most teams will have played 40 or 41 games, which means we are just about 25% of the way through MLB 2019. Still a relatively small sample size, I suppose, but each day that goes by we can feel more celebratory about the guys we drafted in multiple leagues who are treating us very well so far (Tyler Glasnow, Matthew Boyd, and Caleb Smith, right now I love you all more than you’ll ever know). We can also beat ourselves up a bit more every day over the fellows who are looking like downright mistakes (Tyler Skaggs and Colin McHugh, what can I say?… feels like it’s just not going to happen for us this year). Then again, the players in that first group might crash and burn at any given moment, and those in the latter could turn it around at a moment’s notice, which is why fantasy baseball can be both so exciting and so excruciating. Speaking of excruciating, that’s exactly how looking for help on the deep-league waiver wire can feel this time of year – but let’s take a look at a few guys who might be available in NL-only, AL-only, and other deep leagues.
Mac Williamson. I liked Williamson as a deep sleeper heading into 2019, yet somehow the Giants managed to bury him even deeper down that list, DFA’ing him at the end of spring to make room for the likes of Michael Reed, Connor Joe, and 5-week-failed-experiment Gerardo Parra. Williamson might not be quite the hitter he appeared to be in his first game back in Colorado, where he had a homer and 4 RBI, but he has always shown nice power. He’s 28 now, and for his sake I hope if nothing else he gets the chance to play regularly and stays healthy so that we can all find out once and for all if he’ll be able to make an impact at the big-league level.
Junior Guerra. Going into the season, I can’t say I had Guerra on my short list of guys who’d be given high-leverage innings in the Brewers’ bullpen this year. Jeremy Jeffress is still working on getting his velocity back after opening the season on the IL (though he has been pitching very well of late and might be worth a speculative add if you are searching for saves in slightly shallower leagues). Beyond the one constant that is Josh Hader, there may be more twists and turns in 2019 for Craig Counsell’s bullpen, but Guerra is just 5% owned, and has been cruising right along this season: 19 Ks in 21 innings, with a 2.11 ERA/0.75 WHIP, a win, and 2 under-the-radar saves.
Jon Berti. Moving on to this week’s 0%-owned player for the deepest of leagues; who knows if Berti (he’s a utility infielder for the Marlins, BTW) will even still be on the big-league roster by the time you read this. I’m keeping an eye on him though, based on the following: A) my continued belief that useful-if-unimpressive fantasy spare parts can often be found on the worst teams in baseball, b) Berti may be a 29-year-old career minor leaguer, but he’s done a lot of running over the years: in 2016 – 2018, he had 36, 24, and 29 steals, and C) I’m in an NL-only league so deep that most of us have 2 or 3 dead roster spots at this point, so to say the bar is low for a roster upgrade is quite an understatement.
Ben Gamel. I have been way too fond of Gamel for my own good for years now, which makes it all the more painful that I somehow don’t own him in any of my NL-only leagues and therefore wasn’t able to take advantage of the great stretch he’s had of late. After filling in for the banged-up Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain, Gamel is now hitting .298 on the season (84 at bats), with 14 runs scored, a homer, 8 RBI, and a steal. There’s no room for him in the starting lineup when everyone is healthy, but he could still provide some very deep-league value as a fourth outfielder, and that value will only go up if and when another injury opens up more playing time for him.
Jalen Beeks. I grabbed a few shares of Yonny Chirinos this year thinking he might be 2019’s version of 16-game-winner Ryan Yarbrough, but over the last several weeks it appears Beeks has been vying for that role. He may not get to 16 wins (he has 2 and is on pace for 9, for what it’s worth), but has gotten what seems like a surprising number of looks, for a left-hander no less: 29 innings over 10 total appearances, 2.48 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 29 Ks. Oh, he also has a 3-inning save. The numbers are good but not stellar, but that’s probably enough to make him a decent “bulk reliever,” if you happen to be looking for one.
Kelvin Gutierrez. Gutierrez did an admirable job during a stretch starting 10 games in a row at 3B for the Royals: in 40 at bats, he hit .300 with a homer, a steal, and 10 RBI. When the rest of the team is healthy, Gutierrez may be just a bench player, but given his numbers so far this year he’s a guy who could come in handy in the deepest leagues, especially if more playing time should arise.
Stevie Wilkerson. Wilkerson is a 1%-owned player on a bad team who won’t play everyday… which, like it or not, is exactly what we deep-leaguers need to look for from time to time. He did start 4 games in a row in the outfield and has put more-than-acceptable stats together in limited duty so far – he’s hitting .273 in 44 at bats, with 6 runs scored, 2 HR, 5 RBI, and a stolen base. Wilkerson may continue to steal starts from Joey Rickard, and he could also see occasional time in the infield (he has one start at 2B so far this year).
Brandon Workman. For those that haven’t noticed, Workman is doing a rather stellar job this year in the Red Sox bullpen. His 13 walks in 17.2 innings are a bit of a red flag, but everything else looks awfully good: he’s given up just 2 hits for a WHIP of 0.85 (ERA at 1.53) and has 25 strikeouts. With Ryan Brasier hitting some bumps lately, Matt Barnes may be the clear-cut reliever of choice in the Boston pen right now, but Workman could be interesting from a deep-league fantasy perspective as long as he keeps pitching well and stays in the relatively high-leverage innings mix.
Think Carlos Martinez gets to start soon in St. Louis