Just as we expected, the 2020 baseball season has seen its share of highs and lows. On the deep-league fantasy front, let’s hope your season has seen more highs (if you’re reading this, Anthony Sandander, Teoscar Hernandez, or Brandon Lowe, thank you for everything so far, and please keep it up!), than lows (sorry, Oscar Mercado, but I’m looking at you). If you’re in the fantasy baseball thick of things but need some reinforcements, let’s take our weekly look — AL version — at some guys who may be of interest to those of us in deeper leagues (we’ll use a 20% or less owned in CBS leagues threshold this week).
Stephen Piscotty. Anyone that took a seemingly desperate chance on Robbie Grossman a few weeks ago got rewarded nicely (he now has 3 homers and 4 steals), and speaking of A’s in the outfield, Piscotty came into this week as hot as anyone out there. Piscotty has 3 homers and an insane 10 RBI over his last three games, bringing his RBI total on the season to 17 (and he’s also stolen a base). No one can keep up this kind of pace, but there could be more value to mine here over the coming weeks.
Brett Gardner. The waiver wire is abuzz with Clint Frazier bids (well, at least in one of my AL-only leagues), and I’ve rolled the dice on Mike Tauchman in a league or two… but don’t completely forget about Gardner as we ponder real-life/fantasy replacements when it comes to the Yankees outfield. He was only hitting .163 going into this weekend’s games, which pretty much means he has nowhere do go but up, right? He’s not going to be filling the power shoes of Judge or Stanton any time soon, but don’t forget he had 28 homers (!) last year while swiping 10 bases.
Jemier Candelario. Candelario doesn’t exactly tend to pile up the homers and steals we fantasy owners crave, but he should be playing a lot for the Tigers after C.J. Cron’s season-ending injury – he’s played 10 games at 3B, and now should be starting most days at 1B. He was batting 5th last time I checked, and don’t look now, but he’s hitting almost .400 over the last couple of weeks.
Adam Plutko. I’m not sure how the Zach Plesac/Mike Clevinger saga will ultimately end, but it’s likely that the middle of this twisted, pitiful story involves Adam Plutko making more starts for the Indians than they originally planned for him to. In his 11 innings so far, he’s allowed 10 hits and just 1 walk with 7 K’s… there’s a reason he didn’t make the rotation out of spring training or summer camp, but if everything falls into place he could prove to be a serviceable starter for anyone whose pitching staff has been decimated by injuries/demotions/postponements/etc.
Tyler Alexander. An under-the-radar starter for Detroit (though not as under-the-radar as I thought, as he’s owned in 20% of CBS leagues), his ERA has been quite bad (4.76) but his other numbers are more intriguing (15 K’s in 11 1/3 innings, with a 1.06 WHIP). It’s hard to imagine that WHIP doesn’t go up sooner rather than later, but see my serviceable starter note above.
Chad Green/Tyler Duffey/Adam Ottavino/etc/etc. I didn’t think there’d be a spot in my lineup for middle relievers who aren’t starting and aren’t in the saves mix this year, even in deeper leagues. Times have changed, however. It’s definitely a shot in the dark in terms of finding the right guy in the right week, but I have a few leagues where I’m starting guys like these — relief pitchers with a track record of good K rates and occasionally being in the right place at the right time — in a spot or two. If teams end up playing 7 or 8 games a week from here on out, I feel like some of the pitchers in this category have a decent shot of out-earning a mediocre starter, not just by hopefully pitching better, but by pitching enough to rack up at least a handful of strikeouts – and, who knows, even vulturing a win (Green, for instance, already has 2 wins and 15 Ks).