Happy Summer! The solstice has arrived: the days are longer, responsibilities fewer, and it’s finally warm everywhere (well, I’m in L.A. so I really have no idea if it’s warm everywhere right now). No one wants to be spending extra time stuck inside at a computer over-managing his or her fantasy baseball team, but don’t be the guy who drops the ball completely. There are still plenty of points to be gained and team upgrades to be made, so keep your head in the game. For those of you whose game is of the deep league variety, we’ll get right to it this week, taking a look at some names who may be available and/or of interest to those of us in NL-only, AL-only, and other deep leagues.
Blaine Hardy. He’s gotten a chance in the Tigers’ 6-man rotation, and has done his thing well: over 43 1/3 innings, he has a 3.32 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and 9 walks vs. 30 strikeouts (hey, I never said he was a fireballer). He’s technically been bumped back to the bullpen due to the Tigers schedule but should get another chance in the rotation sooner rather than later, so there could be some deep-league value here for those in need of a starter.
Rosell Herrera. Yet another guy who is listed on CBS as a 0% owned player despite the fact that he is on a team in at least 2 of my leagues, but whatevs. He’s listed at/qualifies as a shortstop (still in a Reds cap, no less – is it really that difficult to update these photos with today’s technology?!) but so far this year he’s played 1 game at second and 4 in the outfield, and as I’m writing this he’s penciled in the bat second and play center on Wednesday. Since the Royals recalled him a few days ago after the injury to Jorge Soler, he’s 3 for 9 with a steal, so there could be more playing time in his immediate future if he keeps it up.
Adalberto Mondesi. A classic post-hype prospect: at 9%, I think his CBS ownership is about as low now than it was a couple of years ago. There’s not really any reason to think he’s suddenly going to turn into a successful major league hitter, but if nothing else it sounds like he’ll be getting a handful of infield starts for the Royals. Now that I’m thinking about it, that 9% number may actually be ridiculously high, but he’s not a crazy flyer if you need speed — and in addition to 10 steals, he had 5 homers in the minors this year as well.
John Lamb. Getting at least a temporary chance in the Angels’ much-injured rotation. He’s started out nicely enough, with a 5-inning, 2-run effort (3 hits, 1 walk, 5 Ks) against the A’s. He’s 27 years old, served a 50-game suspension last year for “a drug of abuse,” and hasn’t had a good year in the minors since 2015… so as his 1% ownership would suggest, he’s probably best left to the deepest of leagues, and only when the matchup is right. A little good news: he was ranked as the 34th best overall prospect on MLB Pipeline.com. More bad news: the year was 2011.
Charlie Tilson. Not exactly an exciting player to add to your team, but he’s a 2% owned guy who is getting regular starts for the White Sox and has some speed, in case you’re desperately looking for some. He’s now hitting .280 with 3 steals in 25 games at the major league level, with 5 runs scored and 6 RBI. Nope, not exactly earth-shattering, but a guy who will help you more than he’ll hurt you if you have an open roster spot in the deepest of leagues.
Devon Travis. I was surprised to see that he’s still just 7% owned in CBS, as he’s been picked up in several of my league recently. After some pre-season sleeper hype, 2018 was looking like a lost season for Travis. It may still be, but there have been signs of life lately, at least. He’s picked up about 90 points on his average over the last month (granted, not insanely difficult to do given that he was hitting around .140 a month ago), and has 2 homers in the last week. One of those home runs was a big one of of Max Scherzer, so there could be some deep-league intrigue here if the power stroke continues.
Enrique Hernandez. He’s only hitting .218, but 6% ownership seems too low for a guy who has 10 homers, qualifies at 2B,3B, SS, and OF in most leagues, an is on what might still be a really good team. Weirdly, the notorious lefty-killer has similar numbers against left-handers and right-handers this year: 6 HR and 11 RBI in 87 at bats against lefties, 4 HR and 11 RBI in 78 ABs against righties. Either way, he could be a sneaky deep-league power source this summer if he goes on a tear or two.
Sal Romano. His overall results have been unimpressive this year (a very ugly 5.17 ERA/1.45 WHIP with just 56 Ks in 80 innings), and he’s had a couple absolute nightmare outings for the Reds. He’s also had a few gems, though, like his recent outing against the Tigers where he picked up a win after pitching seven scoreless. There aren’t going to be many streamer options available in the deepest of leagues, but Romano could fit the bill as an NL-only streamer when he’s got a juicy-looking matchup.
J.T. Riddle. If Riddle had been healthy this preseason, he probably would have opened the year as the Marlins’ starting shortstop and been on the deep NL-only radar. Instead, he’s spent most of the year on the DL while watching Miguel Rojas get off to a surprisingly good first couple of months. Riddle has been back and playing pretty regularly for several weeks now, to the fantasy interest of almost no one. He has, however, had a couple multi-hit games over the last week, and does show a little pop every now and again, so if you just need to plug a hole in an ultra-deep league lineup he might be worth a look.
Yoshihisa Hirano. I recently dropped Hirano in a deep NL-only league with limited bench space and am already regretting it. His numbers are better than I realized, and now there are even rumblings that he could see D-Backs saves over Archie Bradley if Brad Boxberger has another blow-up or two. I recently dropped Bradley in an NL-only league as well, so I have a feeling I’m screwed no matter how this comes out. This is a bullpen that needs some close watching if you’re doing some NL saves speculating, though, and are exahausted from trying to figure out what on earth is going in the pens of the Phillies and the Giants.
Drew Steckenrider. While we’re doing some saves speculating, it’s a good time to put a note on your March/April 2019 calendar to remind yourself that drafting closers is much trickier than it seems, and one might want to save precious auction dollars and high draft picks for other areas. What I’m really thinking about is how difficult it is to even draft back-up closers, because I feel like the two hottest non-closer reliever/handcuff-y guys going in to 2018 were Addison Reed and A.J. Minter, who have a grand total of 2 saves between them. Back to Steckenrider, I’m highlighting him because he’s a guy who, when he’s pitching well, could be valuable in the right league as a reliever even if he isn’t getting saves (and of course if he ends up in the 9th inning at some point, all the better). I think he was released from just about every fantasy team he was on after an unbelievably nightmarish four-appearance stretch in May where he gave up 11 earned runs in 3 1/3 innings. What some folks may not have noticed, though, is that he hasn’t given up a run since then, which covers 14 appearances since May 22.