So, I thought the ridiculously garish nickname jerseys over “players’ weekend” were going to be the lamest thing ever (side note: Huh? Don’t the players get 100% of the attention every weekend? Isn’t that kind of like when you asked your parents why there was Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day, but no Children’s Day, and they told you EVERY day was Children’s Day?) Maybe the uniforms were kind of silly, but I’m going to have to admit that I actually enjoyed them. Of course, we have to remember that the comedy bar in professional sports is, well, comically low… but still, the jerseys were pretty entertaining. My three personal favorites:
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3) Sonny Gray: PICKLES — I’m not sure if I like this one more because it sounds cute, or because Gray, when interviewed, couldn’t really come up with an explanation for why he chose it, which I find endearingly weird.
2) Zach Davies: BAT BOY – which would have been fairly clever anyway, but was almost actually funny since Davies still looks like he could successfully go undercover at a junior high school.
1) Josh Phegley: PTBNL – Phegley wasn’t even the player to be named later the one time he was traded, but like with Zach Davies’ choice, this would be kind of funny on anyone. The humor, in my humble opinion, is compounded due to the fact that Phegley is a random backup catcher that no one has ever heard of.
(Somewhat on-the-nose but passable honorable mentions: ALL RISE, COREY’S BROTHER, KENLEYFORNIA, ALL-STARLIN, SHOWMINGO).
By the way, I realize that the majority of baseball nicknames are pretty weak, but in this case I feel like the guys could have stepped it up a notch. It was for charity after all, and how often do these uniform-clad players get a chance for this amount of self-expression on the major league baseball diamond (not counting Carlos Martinez’s hair this year, which I’ve blocked from my own personal stockpile of mental images)? With the possible exception of superstar-level guys (I’ll pardon MIGGY, GOLDY, or even MURPH at this point), I can’t condone the embarrassingly uncreative use of free jersey space. I contend that anyone who, a) simply shortened his last name and b) was a giant fantasy disappointment this year, should get an automatic unpaid two-game suspension. I’m talking to you, LACK, HARV, FOLTY, ODO, DANS, and LUC!
And now, speaking of fantasy disappointments, it’s time to see who might still be available on the cesspool-like NL or AL-only waiver wire as we head into the last month of the season.
Kevan Smith. As I and others on this site have mentioned before, catchers are boring. Especially this season and especially in deep leagues. Is Kevan Smith boring (as a fantasy player – perhaps he’s an absolute hoot in real life)?Well, I was fairly sure I’d written about him last week, dozed off, and forgotten about it, so I’m going to say yes. But according to a “quick” internet search (is there really any such thing?), I didn’t, so I’m gonna talk about him now. When we crunch some numbers, Smith is actually the sixth most valuable catcher in standard AL-only leagues over the last month, hitting .314 with 2 homers and 11 RBI. The fact that those stats translate to the number 6 catcher in the league for August prove that A) the catcher position is even more dull than we thought, and B) as with real-life men, sometimes boring and dependable isn’t the worst choice.
Mark Canha. Okay, this is obviously for the deepest of leagues where having a warm body is better than an empty roster spot. Give a girl a break – it’s hard to come up with a catchy title towards the end of a long, hot, emotionally grueling summer of fantasy baseball! In trying find some positive things to say about Canha, here’s what I got: he qualifies at two positions (1B/OF), has more than one homer (4) and more than one steal (2) on the season, and may get a handful of at bats for a major league baseball team over the next few weeks. Hmm, maybe he had a clever nickname for players’ weekend; let’s check… CANHA. (Sad-face emjoi). All right, I give up.
Zack Granite. Granite made nary a splash in the big-league waters during his last call-up, but his actual name is so cool that he doesn’t even need a clever nickname, so that’s a plus. Even with Robbie Grossman down, Granite may not get a ton of bats, but he should be motivated to make them count, as there’s no time like the present for him to prove to the Twins that he can hang at the major league level. His AAA numbers were quite nice this year: in 76 games, a .340 AVG, .394 OBP, 5 homers, and 18 steals. We’ll see if he can translate any of that into success in the show, and he should be of particular interest to any super deep-leaguers for whom a few extra September stolen bases could make a difference.
Craig Gentry. Gentry is no prospect; he’s a 33-year old utility man who has already shuttled back and forth from the minors a few times this year. (Did I mention that your deep-league waiver wire might be a bit of a cesspool right about now?) Gentry has only had 30-some at bats over the last few weeks, but he is hitting .355 with a .394 OBP over that time, and he did have a two-steal game. He was picked up in my deepest AL-only league over the weekend by a team who is in the money hunt, had an empty roster spot, and could use any possible run or steal (one RBI made the difference between second and third place in this league last year). You never know who’s going to make the difference in a league that crazy deep.
Jake McGee/Pat Neshek. If you’ve had better things to do than keep tabs on the Rockies bullpen over the last week (must be nice!), here’s a recap: A) Greg Holland has lost his slider, isn’t so good at pitching anymore, and two days after getting the “managerial vote of closer confidence” (ha ha ha ha!), was unofficially bumped from the gig. (The Rockies are “navigating the closer role” for the time being, which might be the most pitiful term for breaking up with someone that I’ve heard yet). B) Jake McGee took over mid-save op on Saturday and got the job done, then was given the ball in the 9th inning on Sunday and converted his second save of the weekend. C) Pat Neshek has also been pitching well, including pitching the 8th inning of Saturday’s game, and may be in the saves mix, as the kids call it, as well. D) Addendum after I originally wrote this: McGee pitched in a non-save situation Monday, as did Holland, who had a clean inning – he may already be the guy again. Conclusion: this bullpen is lame and I pity all of us who need to pay attention to it over the next month.
Sal Romano. Romano’s numbers are hideous on the season (4.96 ERA/1.54 WHIP going into Tuesday), but his ownership numbers are up a bit over the last week or two, as he’s actually been pitching pretty well. Tuesday he beat the Mets (granted not exactly an all-star lineup these days), going 6 innings with 3 earned on 6 hits, with 2 walks and 5 Ks. He now has three quality starts in a row, which is more than I can say for way too many of the starting pitchers on my fantasy teams.
Tyler Mahle. As long as we’re talking about the Reds rotation, I suppose we should discuss Tyler Mahle, who made his major league debut on Sunday against the Pirates. He gave up 3 earned on 3 hits and 4 (blech!) walks, but his minor league walk rate was around 5% this year, so perhaps we can chalk all of the free passes up to nerves. I don’t know how many more chances he’ll have this late in the season since he already threw 144 innings in the minors, but his numbers over those 144 innings were pretty impressive (2.06 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 138 K/30 BB), so there’s some upside here.
Chris Iannetta. Okay, I think I’m finally ready to concede that the Chris Herrmann thing just isn’t gonna happen in 2017. One of the Diamondbacks’ three (still don’t get this!) bad catchers looks to be done for the season (Jeff Mathis, hand fracture), so Iannetta should get extra at bats and I’m gonna make him my obligatory NL-version of a desperation catcher for super deep two-catcher leagues. Even though he’s not much of a hitter, at least several of the guys around him in the Arizona lineup are! (Plus, he’s actually been hitting pretty well lately: .350 with a homer over the last week or so).