I’ve been thinking about how great things would be right now if I’d just been restricted from drafting a handful of certain players this year. When I like a guy going into the season, it’s always tough to decide just how many shares I should stock up on, and it’s particularly painful when I overbuy in situations where the answer should have been zero. If I had been unable to place Jose Quintana, Yu Darvish, Luis Castillo, Zack Godley, Robbie Ray, Marcus Stroman, or Sonny Gray on a fantasy team in 2018, it seems like all would be right with the fantasy baseball world. Instead, I have leagues where a combination of these guys has pretty much sunk my team, and other leagues where I am doing well only in spite of having to overcome horrible (or non-existent) pitching from them.
It’s unrealistic, though, to think any fantasy team will be mistake-free, and as destructive as a few bad picks can be in a deep league, it does make acquiring a waiver-wire gem all the more sweet. I don’t know about any of these guys turning your season around, but it really is difficult to predict when the diamond in the deep-league rough will pop up — so we’ll keep plugging away with a handful of players who may be available in your NL-only, AL-only, or other deep league.
John Gant. Looked great Monday filling in for Michael Wacha in the Cardinals’ rotation, allowing just one hit and no runs in seven scoreless innings against Cleveland. (Okay, he did have 5 walks, which is pretty disturbing, but we’re talking about a 6% owned player here; can’t really be too picky). His numbers on the year are looking good (3.48 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 14 BB/32 Ks, in 33 2/3 innings, which includes 4 starts) and it seems Mr. Wacha will be out for a while, so I’m taking a chance of Gant in a deep league or two and hoping for the best.
Jimmy Sherfy. Joining the Diamondbacks bullpen this week from AAA. As you may or may not recall, Sherfy has 14 major league innings under his belt, and his MLB ERA stands at 0.00. His AAA numbers this year: 2.01 ERA, 1.34 WHIP (a dangerous 12 walks in addition to 18 hits), and 36 strikeouts in 22 innings. The D-Backs pen is already pretty crowded, and the walks scare me… but the K rate plus the past MLB success (even though it’s a tiny amount) is reason to at least keep Sherfy on the deep-league radar.
Keon Broxton. I feel like Broxton is one of those guys that most of us in the NL-only world has owned at some point over the last couple of years, relationships that with few exceptions ended in extreme disappointment. I was surprised to see that Broxton is now 28, and I can’t imagine he has a ton of chances left. I also can’t imagine he’ll see much playing time now that he’s been called up by the Brewers, since their outfield is still pretty crowded even now that Lorenzo Cain is on the DL. Seeing that Broxton has 9 homers and stolen 24 bases in AAA this year, though, reminded me why I got into my past relationships with him in the first place.
Elias Diaz. Yay, catcher time! I’m honestly not sure if I’ve mentioned Diaz recently with catchers often being kind of interchangeable and all, but I just picked him up in an NL-only league and am kind of into him right now. When you look at how horrible many catchers that you might have actually paid for this year have been, Diaz’s numbers on the season (.297 average, 5 HR, 19 R, 17 RBI) while backing up Francisco Cervelli in Pittsburgh seem pretty darn spiffy.
Harrison Bader. He’s still only 10% owned, and while he may not be lighting the world on fire (.261 average, 5 HRs, 7 SBs), I’ve grabbed and am holding him in a couple deep-ish leagues. Not a single member of the Cardinals outfield has looked truly right all year, but Bader has been holding his own. He’s 5 for his last 9 as I’m writing this, and it seems like the right combination of playing time and getting hot at the plate could lead to some fantasy value here.
Jimmy Yacabonis. Expected to replace Dylan Bundy and start for the Orioles (against the Mariners) on Thursday. This year in AAA, he’s got a 3.14 ERA, a 1.10 WHIP, and a .205 batting average against. His strikeout numbers (just 39 in 51 2/3 innings) aren’t exactly impressive, put not being picky is a way of life for us deep-leaguers. Mostly, I just didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to mention a guy named Jimmy Yacabonis, ‘cause who knows when that’ll happen again!
Wily Peralta. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, trying to figure out who might gets saves in Kansas City after Kelvin Herera was gone seemed a bit tricky. Wily Peralta pitched a scoreless 9th inning in a 2-0 game against the Angels on Monday, and then got his second save with another scoreless inning against the Brewers on Wednesday. I will admit it that I probably would have needed an unlimited number of guesses to come up with him as a saves source, but for now at least, Peralta seems to be the closer. There’s certainly no reason to think he’ll pitch well — he has a career WHIP of 1.45 and wasn’t looking great in the minors before being recalled. Still, something to keep a SAGNOF-minded eye on for those in dire need of saves.
Kendrys Morales. There’s nothing new or exciting to see here, but he’s raised his batting average 20 or 25 points in the last couple of weeks and hit 3 homers in the last week as well. There will certainly be better options in anything that remotely resembles a standard league, but if he’s floating out there in your deep league and you really need a power boost, why not?
Austin Bibens-Dirkx. Another guy whose numbers may not be spectacular, but are probably good enough to warrant a slightly higher ownerhip (3% in CBS leagues) given how bad many of the “good” starting pitchers have looked. He’s now made 4 starts for the Rangers and is hanging in there in terms of having serviceable stats: 3.57 ERA, 1.32 ERA, and a not-horrible 6 walks to 17 strikeouts.
Rajai Davis. This isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned him this year, but it still seems like he’s underowned (7% in CBS) given how much trouble finding deep and deepish-league steals has been, in my experience at least. Yes, he’s a one-category player, but he is still producing in that category: Davis — not Jose Altuve or Jean Segura or Tim Anderson of Delino DeShields or Mallex Smith — is currently tied with Whit Merrifield for second in the AL in steals with 16. Rajai is behind only Dee Gordon, who, after an injury and a slump or two, isn’t all that far ahead of him with 20.