“Three sheets to the wind” means drunk, referencing a sailing term I believe, so don’t ask me what it has to do with fantasy baseball. I guess you could say I wished I was drunk this weekend when perusing the stats my fantasy relief pitchers left me… Hector Neris, 6 earned runs? Really? Just another snapshot of how difficult the deep league journey can be… of course I would never have had Neris in an active lineup in a “normal” league at this point, but was forced to play him in my deepest NL only league this week because I had basically no alternative until I could grab someone in our weekly FAAB bidding Sunday. Anyhow, let’s stop focusing on the negative and look forward: time for this week’s list of players that might be of interest to those of us in AL-only, NL-only, and other particularly deep leagues.
Gavin Sheets. When I started writing this post, our lede was a mere 6% owned in CBS leagues, but I see he has now tripled that and is up to 18%, which of course means he is likely long gone in AL-only formats. Sheets is a 25 year old who has 342 minor league games under his belt, in which he’s hitting .281 overall, with a .357 OBP, 33 home runs, and 5 steals. He’s listed as a first baseman, but is getting his current opportunity with the White Sox in the outfield, given their glut of injuries there. In his first 22 major league at bats, he has two homers and a .682 slugging percentage, a pace one would not expect to continue given that his career minor league SLG is .416. The fact that he’s hit the ground running, though, should give both the player and the team confidence in his ability to fill in at major league level, and he could be a nice stopgap at the very least even in slightly shallower fantasy leagues.
Jose Suarez. We’ll get into deeper waters slowly but surely this week, as we now move to a 12% owned player in Suarez. He’s been great all season in the Angels’ bullpen (1.98 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 26 Ks in 27.1 innings) and now is being given the opportunity to take over the spot of Dylan Bundy, who — if you missed it — literally and figuratively threw up on the mound last week. The reliever to starter transition is not always a smooth one, but we’ll see if Suarez is up to the task. He should have a relatively long leash to prove he belongs in the rotation since the Angels have a dearth of options when it comes to starting pitching.
Wily Peralta. Since we’re chatting about a dearth of options when it comes to starting pitching, it’s time to mention the fact that my starters are so weak in one AL-only league that I recently picked up the 7% owned Peralta, and will probably have to start him in my active lineup this week. Scary, but we deep leaguers have to do what we have to do. This could blow up in my face spectacularly, but on paper it doesn’t really look that stupid because Peralta has been pitching very well for Detroit. Okay, by very well I mean he’s thrown a mere 14 innings with a meager 8 strikeouts, but his ERA and WHIP look pretty good at 3.21/1.07. He’s made three starts now and has gone five innings in two of them, so it appears he’s getting sufficiently stretched out, and should — for better or worse — have a spot in the banged-up Tigers’ rotation for now.
Tim Locastro. Locastro is 2% owned, so we’re finally in true deep league territory here, and was traded from the Diamondbacks to the Yankees last week. The team change isn’t going to suddenly crank up his playing time a ton, but even as a bench player Locastro could serve a purpose in the deepest leagues for those hunting for AL-only speed. He’s still one of the fastest players in baseball, so if. few stolen bases might make a difference to you, Locastro has a decent chance of providing them.
Jace Peterson. He’s 12% owned, so probably not still hanging around in deep NL-only leagues. But if he’s available and you need a hitter, it’s worth mentioning that he A) has been playing a lot for the Brewers lately, B) qualifies at 1B, 2B, and OF in most leagues (and has also played a game at 3B), and C) he’s been playing relatively well. In 90 at bats, he now has an OBP of .389, and has chipped in with 3 homers, 19 RBI, 18 runs, and 4 steals.
Thairo Estrada. It barely made a blip on the MLB radar when the Giants acquired Estrada from the Yankees earlier this year, just as Estrada barely made a blip on the fantasy stats radar in the 61 games he played for New York in 2019 and 2020. He’s already made more of an impact with the Giants in a single game over the weekend in which he had a homer and 5 RBI. I’m not expecting another game like that any time soon, but I did pick him up in a deep NL-only league in hopes of getting some at bats from him in the immediate future given the Giants’ injury situation (Tommy LaStella, Eva Longoria, and Brandon Belt are all sidelined at the moment, and Mauricio Dubon remains in the minors). Estrada has played three games at 2B and one at 3B this year, so we’ll see if he can continue to make an impact while he has the chance and establish himself as a useful utility man in San Francisco.
Elias Diaz. Diaz caught the attention of some deep leaguers, myself included, to open the season, simply by being a player at the weakest position in fantasy who plays in the most hitter-friendly ballpark in MLB. The first half of his season was an extreme disappointment by even the deepest league standards, though… at least until last week. Diaz has been on a tear, hitting four homers in four games, and raising his average over that time from .161 to .203. His CBS ownership has quintupled from 1% to 5%, so we’ll see if he can keep the momentum going and keep playing/hitting enough to draw some attention in slightly shallower leagues.
Heath Hembree. As I mention occasionally, I’ve tried to avoid the Reds’ bullpen at all costs in fantasy for a while now, and if there was ever a time to avoid the Reds’ bullpen, 2021 has been the year. Seven pitchers have recorded at least one save for Cincinnati so far this year, and the four players that have more than one of them are all either on the IL, have an ERA above 5, or both. Hembree is in the ERA above 5 camp, which obviously isn’t encouraging. His WHIP, however, is just 1.05, and he now has three saves on the year, two of which came in back to back games last Friday and Saturday. Most interestingly, he also has 45 strikeouts in 26.2 innings, and given all of the blowups I’ve been getting from my middle relievers lately, I figured it was worth taking a chance on Hembree in a couple of leagues.