Put down that Fantasy Football magazine!! (Do they even make fantasy sports magazines any more? Man, I miss walking to the mailbox in late February and seeing my beautiful new fantasy baseball magazine sitting there. Damn interweb! Wait, if it weren’t for reading about fantasy sports on the internet, I wouldn’t be writing this right now. Hmm, may need to rethink my position on this). Anyway, I know it’s hard to pay attention to fantasy baseball at this time of year, even if your teams are hanging in there, and it’s emotionally and mentally grueling to follow along if your teams have already crashed and burned. I get it… another weekend of one step forward (Colin McHugh) and two steps back (Jake Odorizzi and Roberto Osuna – thanks, guys!) had me so frustrated in a deep AL-only league where my team is fading fast, that I barely remembered to set my lineup this week. I’ll also admit that when I sat down to write this article, I was almost immediately distracted by all of the pretty pictures of NFL players, and spent about twelve minutes thinking about whether to rank Bilal Powell or Carlos Hyde higher in a football draft that isn’t happening for another week and a half.
But even if it’s only a few minutes each week, check in on your poor, neglected friend, your old pal fantasy baseball. Even if you don’t have a team vying for a money spot, keep your head in the game. Do it for your league-mates, and do it for yourself… even if it doesn’t make a difference this year, maybe it will impact your 2018. You may uncover a hidden gem of a player, or a piece of information that will percolate in your brain over the winter, and turn into a late-round steal or early waiver wire pick up next year. Those of us who missed the Ryan Zimmermans, Justin Smoaks, and Scooter Gennetts, of the world in 2017 know just how big a difference a couple of these fellas can make.
For now, though, we remain in 2017… with another handful of players who may be available in your NL or AL-only league to assist you in getting through the season’s remaining weeks:
Brandon Nimmo. Nimmo didn’t do much to impress in his last shot in the majors, but we’ll see what this go around brings. He should get a decent amount of playing time over the next few weeks in a suddenly un-crowded Mets outfield to prove whether or not he can survive at the major league level. If he can somehow manage get hot, he’s the kind of guy who could help an NL-only team that’s doing well but needs a few reinforcements to keep it afloat over the coming weeks.
Jeurys Familia. He is supposedly pitching in back-to-back games in his rehab assignment this week and should be activated soon. I don’t suspect Familia will supplant A.J. Ramos in the ninth for the Mets right away, or maybe at all, this season — but he might be worth keeping an eye on, especially in keeper leagues, if (big if?) he looks healthy and effective.
Tyler Lyons/John Brebbia. How do the bullpen situations keep getting messier and messier every week? And I liked Seung-Hwan Oh going into the season as a relatively “safe” NL-only closer choice – ha! After months of pedestrian numbers (1.36 WHIP on the year? No thanks) and losing his gig to Trevor Rosenthal, Oh seems to be the guy in the ninth again after Rosenthal’s rather alarming-sounding elbow issues cropped up, but it doesn’t seem like anyone’s too excited about it. I’ve picked up Lyons (14 BB/46 K in 39 innings, 2.77 ERA/1.10 WHIP) and Brebbia (5 BB/29 K in 35 innings, 2.04/0.76 WHIP) in a couple leagues because, why not, and also because they’ve both been pitching damn well.
Chris Stratton. He’s 27, and there’s no reason he should be succeeding in the major leagues right now, based on his downright ugly past numbers (his AAA ERA this year is 5.11/1.46 WHIP, his career minor league numbers: 4.07 ERA/1.35 WHIP over 623 innings). But, many things happen in baseball that can’t be explained, and that includes that fact that Stratton’s last two starts have been absolute gems, against two of the tougher offenses in the league. (6 2/3 scoreless with 1 walk and a scrumptious 10 Ks against the Nats, and 6 scoreless against the Brewers — okay, only 1 strikeout, and he walked 2 in that one, but still). His next start is in Arizona, which seems like an obvious disaster waiting to happen, and I think he has a turn coming up at Coors as well (insert Edvard Munch Scream emoji). But at this point I don’t feel any worse about having Stratton in my lineup than I do about bums like Julio Teheran and Mike Foltynewicz, ie. guys that have been clogging my deep NL-only rosters all year and making me cry on a regular basis lately.
David Wright. Has “begun his road back to the big leagues.” Sorry, big guy, but that’s a road I will not be taking. Man, did I love me some shares of David Wright back in the day, though. And now that I’ve publicly announced that he’ll never be fantasy-relevant again, watch him turn into the 2018 version of Zimmerman.
Kennys Vargas. I’m not keeping track, but when it comes to leading the league in promotions to the big club/demotions to AAA, Vargas has to be up there. He’s back with the Twins for now (and was red hot in the week and half he spent at Rochester before being recalled, for what it’s worth) and went yard on Tuesday. One would think he’ll get a healthy number of DH at bats with Miguel Sano and Robbie Grossman both down.
Mitch Garver. I don’t know too much about him, except that he qualifies at catcher, has been getting some starts in the wake of the Twins just-mentioned recent injuries, and hit .291 with 17 homers in AAA this year. If you’re in a 2-catcher AL-only league and have a black hole at one of your spots, why not?
Delino DeShields. If he’s still sitting around on the waiver wire, now might be the time to pick him up. He was dropped in one of my AL-only leagues by an owner who has more steals than he knows what to do with, but one man’s trash is another’s treasure, as they say, which is why I scooped him up over the weekend (even though I’m not a man and don’t really care for trash). He should play regularly at least while Carlos Gomez is on the DL, and he’s hitting .333 (.467 OBP!) with seven runs scored and four five steals over his last five games.
Andrew Heaney. He’s been a popular AL-only pick up this week, as his CBS ownership has gone up 9%. In his return after Tommy John surgery, he was predictably less-than-meh (five earned on seven hits in five innings, though he didn’t walk anyone and did have five Ks). Given the sorry state of AL starting pitching right now, I don’t blame anyone in a really deep league who wants to take a flyer on Heaney to see how he looks between now and October.
Boog Powell. He’s been getting some time in the Oakland outfield and has put a few nice games together… he lead off on Sunday and got three hits, hit his first major league homer while pinch-hitting on Monday, and had two more hits on Tuesday. He has a grand total of 15 homers in 1,552 career minor league at bats, so don’t hold your breath for a power explosion, but he does have some speed and a minor league career average of .305. Plus, he’s evidently meeting the real Boog Powell, to whom he is not related, in Baltimore on Tuesday, so maybe that’ll keep the spark going.