Happy mid-June everyone! School’s out, the weather’s warming up, and real-life leisure activities and starting to chip away at fantasy baseball time, at least in my household. So, let’s get right to what we’re here for: looking at some players who might be available for those who need help in AL-only, NL-only, and other deep fantasy baseball leagues.
Kevin Newman. Newman qualifies at 2B, 3B, and SS in many leagues, and I will freely admit that I did not realize that he’d been playing so regularly for the Pirates, and so not-horribly. Newman seems to have established himself as a regular in the Pirates infield – he’s been leading off the last few games– and he’s now hitting a crowd-pleasing .319 on the year. What about counting stats, you ask? Well, he only has 2 homers on the year but does have 14 runs scored and 17 RBI in 41 games, numbers that aren’t useless in the deep-league world. He’s also stolen 2 bases in the last few days (bringing his season total to 3), so his value would obviously increase if he suddenly starts running more.
Elieser Hernandez. Filling in for an injured Caleb Smith in the Marlins’ rotation, Hernandez was recalled from triple A and started on Tuesday. His 2018 stint in the majors was less than impressive (5.21 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, just 45 Ks in 67.1 innings), so you’ll want to proceed with extreme caution, but his minor league numbers this year are much more intriguing: 1.13 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and 69 Ks in 48 innings. The latest note on Smith is that he hasn’t even started throwing yet, so Hernandez could get more looks in Miami and may be worth at least keeping an eye on.
Vince Velasquez. Since being bumped from the Phillies rotation, Velasquez’s ownership in CBS leagues is down to 14%. But we’ve all seen how much more effective some hard-throwing starters can be in relief, so I am monitoring Velasquez accordingly. Even though Hector Neris has turned into an actual closer, the Phillies bullpen under Gabe Kapler tends to be nothing if not fluid, and Velasquez has been pitching quite well lately. After an ugly May (well, more than ugly: 13.06 ERA/2.74 WHIP), he seems to be putting things together in June. He hasn’t allowed a run in his last four outings, with 6 Ks in 4.2 innings.
Sam Dyson. After a disastrous 2017, Dyson pitched better than anyone remembers in 2018 (2.69 ERA/1.08 WHIP) and is pitching similarly even better in 2019 (2.61 ERA/0.94 WHIP, with just about a strikeout per inning). If the Giants trade Will Smith at some point, I’m not sure why Dyson wouldn’t get at least a look in the 9thinning, given that he is pitching as well or better as anyone in their bullpen, and also has 58 career MLB saves under his belt.
Mark Trumbo. Trumbo is on rehab assignment recovering from a bad knee, but is supposedly close to returning to the Orioles. I’m not placing any bets that he’ll come back and suddenly be a big fantasy force, but we all know that if he is healthy and plays regularly, which he should be doing for the Orioles, he’s likely to hit some homers. It you need some in a deep league, he could be a sensible grab.
Justin Bour. Sticking with the theme of searching for deep-league power, Bour has been recalled by the Angels after holding his head high and performing well in triple A after being demoted a month ago. He was hitting .163 when he got sent down, so it won’t take too much to improve his 2019 MLB numbers. It’s not crazy to think he could string some homers together this summer, especially if he figured some things out during his time in the minors. (Note: I wrote this blurb on Tuesday afternoon and Bour hit a 3-run homer in his first at bat Tuesday evening, so it does indeed appear that Bour hasn’t completely forgotten how to go yard).
Adam Plutko. Plutko has a job in the Indians’ starting rotation, for the moment at least. His numbers, as with any pitcher who doesn’t strike out a ton of guys, are unexciting — in 97.1 career MLB innings: 5.36 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 74 Ks. (And by unexciting, I mean bad). This year, he has a strange-looking combo of a 1.04 WHIP with a 5.19 ERA, and again the Ks aren’t there: 11 in 17.1 innings. He does have a major league job though, and has 2 wins in his 3 starts this year, so in the right league when he’s in the right situation, he may be able to do more fantasy good than harm.
Cameron Maybin. Maybin is a 2% owned guy whose ownership may actually go down soon if the Yankees outfield actually gets healthy, but I grabbed him in my deep AL-only league to fill a hole in my lineup for the next couple of weeks. I’m really just hoping for a steal or two, since it looks like every stolen base could make a difference in that league, but Maybin has actually had a couple decent games lately (2 hits and 2 runs scored twice in the last week). His average on the year is a respectable .274 (.361 OBP), and if he keeps hitting a bit he feels like a guy who could end up on another team, with more opportunity, as we get deeper into the summer.
Trumbo experienced renewed soreness in his surgically repaired right knee, so he got pulled off his rehab assignment and shut down for a week to 10 days after receiving a PRP injection. He might still be worth a flyer for HRs at some point, but probably not until at least July at this point.
Yeah, I read that about an hour after I turned in my post… so, sorry for the jinx to any Trumbo owners out there (if there are any ; )!
I’m in an auction keeper league and building for next year, who do you see as the better stash: Madrigal or Newman?
And I only ask because of Newman’s performance so far…that can supersede time in the minors, prospect status, etc.
That’s a good/tough question… Madrigal certainly wins in terms of upside, but you really can’t discount what Newman has done in terms of establishing himself, even if only for a couple of months, as a successful big league hitter — that alone is farther than many higher-ranked prospects ever get. Newman could well stick for the semi-long term (and it’s impressive that he rather easily fended Cole Tucker off and send him packing back to the minors) but probably will never provide more than solid average & a decent number of runs scored, and pretty good speed. If you’re indeed building for the future , though, I’d roll the dice on Madrigal — even though he profiles similarly in terms of not having a ton of power, he was considered one of the best pure hitters in last year’s draft and it would be hard for me not to take a chance of that upside.
Thanks for your reply, very much appreciated. What are your thoughts on Trevor Larnach? (There’s an Oregon St. theme here…)
I don’t know a ton about Larnach (TBH prospects are not usually my area of focus, which I blame largely on my lack of patience ; )… but I know enough that I would have liked to get him in my AL minor league draft this past spring, but he didn’t fall to me. Don’t know that he’s a superstar, and it may be a bit of a wait, but he has the classic tools & natural power that a future MLB impact seems likely.