We’re three weeks into April, the season is in full swing, and that weird lockout nightmare that we all suffered through for most of the winter feels like a fuzzy memory. It’s still early, but we probably all have a completely new outlook on the fantasy baseball landscape. For the moment my offseason obsessions with Nestor Cortes and C.J. Cron look brilliant, while my multiple shares of Jeimer Candelario… not so much yet. Here’s to hoping your fantasy season is off to a promising start, as we continue to do what we do here at Rolling In The Deep: hunt for unearthed gems – or at least an ugly rock or two that is better than not having a rock in your lineup at all – that might be of interest to those of us in NL only, AL only, and other deep leagues.
Sheldon Neuse. I’m getting the vibe that A’s manager Mark Kotsay is quite enamored with Neuse, and why not, given their current roster? Neuse was buried on the Dodgers depth chart this winter, to say the least, and DFA’d before finding his way to Oakland. He’s now started ten games in a row and has already appeared at first, second, and third. So far he’s sporting a .368 average and has a homer and 8 RBI, so if you’re looking at under the radar players to fill out a deep league roster, he’s the kind of guy who might fit the bill.
Andres Munoz. His CBS ownership rose from 7 to 11% this week, so he’s not entirely off the radar, with the Seattle bullpen being the kind of jumble that can be ignored in standard leagues but probably needs to be looked at in the deep league world. I drafted him in a few leagues this offseason, including targeting him in my AL-only keeper league, hoping that he’d be a big piece of the Mariners’ future bullpen even if he didn’t start his season in the thick of things. There will likely be bumps in the road with a young pitcher coming off of Tommy John surgery, but Muñoz has looked the part of an impressive major league relief pitcher so far this year, opening the season with 10 Ks in 5 innings (and a vulture win thrown in for good measure). His strikeout potential alone gives him value, and while Muñoz isn’t in the saves conversation yet — Seattle’s bullpen is not just crowded, it’s crowded with some pretty solid pitchers with good track records — if he can somehow find his way into the closer mix at some point, all the better.
Zack Collins. His ownership was at 1% when I made a note to mention him this week, and as I write this on Thursday it’s up to 11%… and now as I write this, I see he’s hitting cleanup for the Blue Jays on Thursday. Collins was traded from the White Sox to the Blue Jays just before the season started, which I found a bit puzzling. But the timing ended up being perfect for him and for his new team, since even as the third catcher on the depth chart behind Kirk and Jansen, Collins wound up with early playing time after some shuffling around due to Teoscar Hernandez’s injury. He’s made the most of it, going 8 for 20 with 2 homers… an unsustainable pace with what is probably unsustainable playing time, but that’s not stopping me from grabbing him in a couple two catcher leagues and hoping he stays hot a bit longer.
Ross Stripling. Is there are chance Stripling is worth rostering in even a deep AL-only league? Perhaps that’s doubtful, but he appears here anyway because I thought I’d feature someone who is less than 5% owned (he’s at 3% in CBS leagues right now), and pickings are slim. The good: A) he’s on a good team, B) his season has started off well (2 earned runs in 6 innings – one start and two relief appearances), C) he should continue to get starts with Ryu on the IL, and D) he was actually quite good as recently as 2018 and 2019. The bad? A) No human or bot expects him to pitch particularly well, with most projections giving him an ERA in the mid to high 4’s and a WHIP around 1.30, and B) any fears about him having bad K/9 and K/BB ratios are already being realized (in an admittedly tiny sample size) as he’s started the season with 3 walks and just 3 strikeouts in his six innings.
Michael Chavis. I guess it isn’t shocking to see Chavis getting some playing time (at least against lefties) with a team as offensively weak as the Pirates, but it is kind of surprising to see that he’s off to a .500 start (11 for 22 in 8 games) with a homer and 6 RBI. He’s started four games at first, plus one at second and one at third. I have Chavis rostered in a deep NL-only league, so even as his average inevitably goes down, I’ll have to hope he continues to see semi-regular at bats and can provide me with much-needed counting stats here and there.
Daniel Vogelbach. While we’re discussing the Pirates, let’s mention Vogelbach, who has appeared in ten games and is also off to a great start, batting .324 with 2 homers, exclusively as a DH. As with Chavis, that average really has nowhere to go but down, but even on a bad team Vogelbach should be a decent deep league power source with the DH spot largely to himself for the time being.
Albert Pujols. Don’t look now, but Pujols has actually been playable in a deep NL only league to start the year, as he’s hitting .289 with 2 homers in the 5 games in which he’s appeared. I don’t know if he can keep up even this pace — but I thought I’d throw his name out there anyway, since I’m sure he feels that his pre-retirement farewell tour would certainly not be complete without his annual blurb here at Razzball’s Rolling In The Deep.
Keegan Thompson. Thompson is a 27-year old with a limited and unimpressive major league resume who has quietly been pitching lights out for the Cubs as a bulk reliever; he’s made three multi-inning appearances and has yet to allow a run while striking out 10 in 9.2 innings. There are surely rougher waters, or at least regression fairies, ahead for him, but he may be worth keeping an eye on. If he can continue pitching anywhere near as well as he has to begin the season, he’ll not only have a little value in the deepest of leagues, he may even find his way into the Cubs’ rotation.