In honor of week thirteen of the major league baseball season, I thought I’d brieftly mention the topic of superstition. You always hear how superstitious baseball players are, but I’m starting to think baseball fans, and especially fantasy baseball players, may be just as afflicted. In general, I think of myself as one of the more pragmatic, least superstitious people I know… until it comes to baseball. I KNOW there is no such thing as a jinx, particularly during a baseball game happening hundreds of miles or more away from wherever I happen to be, and yet my behavior would often suggest otherwise. Last week, I actually benched Trevor Story in one league, in an attempt to “get him going” in another, figuring that the minute I hit the reserve button, he’d go off for a couple of home runs that night (spoiler alert: he didn’t).
The feeling of having influence where none actually exists is magnified when one has the good fortune to be sending out thoughts that reach countless readers via a killer platform like Razzball. When a pitcher I say good things about has a disastrous start right after I’ve published something positive about him, I still can’t help but feel like I’ve jinxed him somehow. This then leads to me wonder whether or not I can use such power for my own, selfish fantasy baseball gain. For instance, every week I am tempted to point out what an amazing year Ryan Zimmerman, whom I own on zero fantasy teams, is STILL having. I think about mentioning that his insane success will probably continue, and last throughout the season. I figure I should say that, at this point, it seems highly, highly unlikely that he will ever have a major slump in 2017, or miss any time at all due to injury. But I’m going to take the high road, and just move on with some names that might be of interest to those in NL/AL leagues – besides, nothing I say can possibly affect Ryan Zimmerman’s production in major league baseball games. Right??
Andrew Moore. He’s back in the minors after making a nice start for Seattle (3 runs on 6 hits in 7 innings, 0 BB, 4 Ks against Detroit). He may be back up sooner rather than later, though, as the Mariners don’t need a fifth starter for a while and Moore is being kept on regular rest. He’s not a big strikeout guy, but he also doesn’t walk many and (77 Ks vs. 17 BBs in 82 AAA innings this year, to give you a small-sample hint of what he’s been up to). Of even greater interest is the fact that he made Ralph’s Top 100 Starter list (#96) on Monday. So if you’re looking for starters in a deep league and can stash a fellow who may or may not be in an MLB rotation in a week or two, here ya go.
Tyler Wade. With Starlin Castro injured, Wade will get starts against righties for a little team you may have heard of called the New York Yankees. Speaking of small sample sizes, he was hitting .313 in AAA with 5 homers and 24 steals (70 at bats). To quote/plagiarize (depending on how you look at it) Monday Grey, I hear Wade is “a guy that will hit ninth and make nary a ripple in the fantasy pond”. But wait, that’s a lot of steals for that many at bats! And we are talking about the deep league world, where even a ripple might be of interest. And, Grey also mentioned that he picked Wade up in a league where he was looking for some tasty SAGNOF. (Okay, I added the tasty part). Many of us in deeper leagues are constantly looking for some tasty SAGNOF, so do with the information what you will.
Tyler Austin. Remember that weird dream we all collectively had last year that Chris Carter led the NL in home runs? Well, speaking of the Yankees, dude didn’t even make it out of June before getting DFA’d by them. (Side note: Um, didn’t the Yankees used to have, like, famous guys on their team?) Anyway, Austin started at first base and homered in his first game on Monday, so he’s already on pace to shatter Carter’s 2016 mark! My friends at Fangraphs tell me that Austin has plus bat speed and slugged 80 points above his career numbers last year. They also tell me that he absolutely cannot stay healthy, and ultimately profiles as a bench bat/DH type. But hey, this, is a column for folks who play in crazy-deep leagues, so I’ll probably ignore those last bits and take a FAAB flyer on him in my AL-only league where he’s available.
Bruce Maxwell. Seems like a month ago that the A’s dumped Stephen Vogt and promoted Maxwell, but I guess it was actually sometime in the last week because this is the first chance I’ve had to talk about him. Now looking at his minor league numbers, I’m realizing that it may not have really been worth the wait, as they are pretty darn boring. In 1612 career minor league at bats, he’s batting .296 with a .355 OBP, and has 27 home runs. Actually, a catcher with those career average/OBP numbers who is getting some decent playing time during a season when there pretty much all catchers are horrible is a tiny bit interesting. Perhaps even moderately interesting, in the right league.
Daniel Gossett. Now has two quality starts in a row for Oakland after getting hammered by the Marlins in his first outing. He’s not a flamethrower and doesn’t have one stellar pitch, but he has four decent ones (slider, changeup, and curve are his non-fastball offerings). He’s also been described as durable — nothin’ wrong with that! If I were to roll everything I’ve read about him into a sticky ball of fantasy baseball goo, I think it would say that he soundss like a back-of-the-rotation guy who has neither a particularly high ceiling nor a particularly low floor, who will never anchor a real or a fake rotation, but could eat some innings and be of at least some use to a manager of either (real team or fake team, that is) in the right setting.
Phil Maton. Maton made a tiny splash in the waters of NL-only fantasy back on June 17th when he picked up a save for the Padres in an extra-innings game. He’s only made eight appearances, but has yet to allow a run, his WHIP sits at 0.75, and he has 10 Ks without a walk in 6 2/3 innings. His K% in AAA this year was almost 30%, and he’s allowed a grand total of four homers in his 110 career minor league innings (he also has 30 saves, by the way). He may or may not work into the saves mix this year, but with Carter Capps still in post-TJ surgery, delivery-altering purgatory, Maton is starting to look like he could be in the mix as the Padres proverbial closer of the future.
Arodys Vizcaino. I was happy to scoop him up in a league last week when an owner had to dump him for extra bench space. For now he should be owned in all NL-only leagues as the clear-cut eighth-inning guy behind an often-shaky Jim Johnson, as he could obviously end up closing if trades and/or ineffectiveness break the right way. In the meantime, he’s not hurting you with his numbers – on the year, 1.99 ERA/0.98 WHIP, 9 BB/36 K (plus he’s picked up a save and three wins).
Luis Castillo. Now in the Reds’ rotation after coming over in the offseason Dan Straily trade. He’s been able to limit the walks and homers in his minor league career, but he’s also not really a strikeout guy, and I’ve never seen him described as having anything close to a high ceiling. His ownership has gone from 2% to 14% this week, but I’m not buying into a rookie pitching in Cincinnati, even in the league where I’m starved for starting pitching. (Remind me of that when he has a couple of good starts and I’m still starved for starting pitching. And then remind me of how excited we NL-onlyers were about Dinelson Lamet after his first two starts).
Chris Herrmann. Okay, I’ve waited until week 13 to mention Hermann, whom I know Grey and I both had high hopes for in the NL-only world coming into this season. While I think we’ve both completely given up those hopes, Herrmann did hit his seventh home run on Monday while leading off for the D-Backs. (He also drew two walks. I happen to find walk-drawing quite a turn on, but if you’re not into that kind of thing, no worries.) Anyway, it seemed like it was time to mention him, just in case he goes on a tear, and just in case you really need a second catcher in your NL only league. Yes, I realize that it’s going to be hard for him to go on a tear given that his reward for his efforts Monday will probably be a five-day benching, but (begin sarcasm font) you can only imagine how crucial it is for the D-Backs to do whatever they have to in order to get the bats of Chris Iannetta and Jeff Mathis in their lineup.
Brian Goodwin. He’s still owned in only 6% of CBS leagues, but unfortunately he’s not available in either of my NL-onlys where I was desperate for an extra bat this week. I guess I should have paid more attention to him when Jayson Werth first hurt his foot, since A) it meant Goodwin would be getting a lot of playing time near the top of a potent offense, and B) Jayson Werth doesn’t really seem to have a habit of snapping right back from injury. Goodwin’s average is up to .275, and he suddenly has 6 homers. I didn’t realize that he’d been a fairly hyped prospect a few years ago; in 2013, Fangraphs called him a five-tool player who was “one of the brightest lights in the Nationals farm system,” projecting he’d hit the majors for good some time in 2014. He stalled at AA though, and it seems the general consensus is that his swing is “awkward” and he won’t hit at the MLB level long term. That may be his ultimate outcome, but it doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of his hot hitting for the moment… and if it turns into anything more, all the better.
Mike Tauchman. Don’t think I’ve ever heard of him before today, don’t have time to look up anything more than how to spell his name before I submit this article, so am telling you everything I know about him: has 10 homers and 11 steals in the minors this year, has been promoted by the Rockies, may get some PT in the outfield with Cargo down with a bad shoulder. You may now decide if any of that means anything to you.