Happy almost-Fall Equinox, deep-leaguers! We’ve continued to tick the days off the calendar and here we are with just over a week to go in this glorious time of year we like to call the fantasy baseball season. I seem to forget each year how random (and often frustrating) setting a lineup gets each September, with expanded rosters wreaking havoc on playing time situations, pitching rotations, and accurate injury reports, but it will all be in the rear-view mirror soon enough. If nothing else, in the deep-league world, this is a good time of year to keep an eye on the teams at the bottom of the standings, looking for that proverbial diamond in the rough. This week we’ll concentrate on guys who’ve been getting regular playing time for bad teams. I find bad MLB teams are always a great place to look for deep-league fantasy help, and perhaps never more so than these last weeks, when players who would be lucky to be scraping together a few at bats for a contending team often find themselves in an eliminated team’s lineup daily. As is our deep-league norm, it’s unlikely any of these players will make a standard-league fantasy impact any time soon (or perhaps ever), but some may be of interest to those in NL-only, AL-only, or other deep leagues – either for the last days of 2018, or for us to put a pin in for when we head into the 2019 season and beyond.
Ty Buttrey. Buttrey has been getting a lot of notice lately as he appears to be the Angels’ closer of choice and has looked beyond great: 0.59 ERA, 19 strikeouts in 15 1/3 innings, and 4 saves already? Yes, please! While my general rule is to avoid Mike Scoscia-run bullpens at all costs, he sure has been valuable as 2018 winds to a close, and he sure sounds like someone that we deep-leaguers should at least be taking notice of as we head into 2019.
Jim Adduci. Adduci is 1% owned and has now played 53 games for the Tigers (who knew?), qualifying at 1B and OF in most leagues. He’s hitting .279 with 3 homers and 20 RBI, so the numbers aren’t exactly exciting. Oh, and did I mention that he’s 33? Not someone to rush out and grab in your dynasty league, but if you’re just looking for some AL-only at bats over the next 10 days or so…
Christin Stewart. If your looking for a Detroit outfielder who is almost 10 years younger than Adduci and is actually still a prospect, Stewart might be your guy. He may not be available in your AL-only dynasty type leagues, but in slightly shallower leagues, who knows — he hasn’t done much to draw attention to himself so far, hitting around .235 without a homer or a steal. He should play every day from here on out, giving the Tigers and us fantasy leaguers a chance to see if there’s anything of interest for us here now, or in the future.
Sean Reid-Foley. I’m watching him fairly closely as I own him in a deep AL-only keeper league and will have to make a decision on whether or not to hold on to him come March. The results, as he’s gotten a chance to start for the Blue Jays, have been mixed at best, as he’s rocking a 5.54 ERA and 1.54 WHIP. He does have 32 Ks in 26 innings, though, and his best start was against none other than the Yankees, when he threw 5 scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts. I’m not holding my breath that he’ll ever be a linchpin of my fantasy rotation, but he might be worth keeping an eye on from afar, if nothing else.
Peter O’Brien. He’s been playing every day for the Marlins, and he’s hitting .308 with 3 homers in 12 games. Given his lackluster minor league pedigree, it’s hard to imagine that it will continue, either in 2018 or beyond, but crazier things have happened, I suppose.
Austin Dean. Like O’Brien, Dean is a 1% owned Miami outfielder. Dean’s numbers aren’t quite as flashy, as he’s batting only .211 in 26 games, with 3 home runs (though he also has a not-embarrassing 14 runs scored and 10 RBI). Again, there may not be much to get excited about here, but we’re in the realm of the super-deep league here. He’s basically started every game except two over the last month, so it seems like the Marlins haven’t ruled him out of their future plans.
Philip Ervin. Ervin is getting a lot of playing time for the Reds, so he may be of interest to anyone looking for deep-league at bats right now, but I’m not exactly excited about his long-term propects. In his last 5 games he’s hitting .091 with 1 walk and 10 strikeouts, so if these last weeks are a test for the future, Ervin isn’t exactly passing with flying colors.
Jeff McNeil. Okay, McNeil’s ownership is much higher than the rest of these guys and so I guess he’s not a true deep-leaguer right at the moment, but I wanted to close with him, because he’s the guy on this list that I’d probably vote most likely to be fantasy relevant at some point in the relatively near future (granted, it’s not the highest bar in the world). He’s on fire right now for the Mets, and his overall numbers are darn impressive: .339 average (!) in 53 games, with 30 runs scored, 3 homers, 18 RBI, and 5 steals. It’s starting to look like it wouldn’t be crazy for him to get a shot as a regular in the Mets 2019 infield.