Greetings, deep-league friends and other hangers-on! Well, since we chatted last week, it’s happened again… a player most of us had never even heard of, Franmil Reyes, got a surprise promotion, and went from 0% owned to 38% owned in CBS leagues in the span of a few days. If you are in an NL-only or other extra-deep league, Reyes has probably already been scooped up, either by you or someone else, and time will tell if he becomes a fantasy asset (I’m a little skeptical after watching his first handful of at bats, but we shall see). If nothing else, he gives his owners a chance at having a productive outfielder suddenly added to their teams — once again reminding us all that even in the deepest of leagues, help could be right around the corner when we least expect it. None of the names on this week’s list packs quite the excitement that our new friend Franmil generated with his call-up, but who knows if one of them might help you out in your NL-only, AL-only, or other deep league.
Phillip Evans. Recalled by the Mets to take Yoenis Cespedes’ roster spot (if you’re new to the fantasy baseball thing, little tip: this Cespedes character is really, really good, and really, really fragile. He’s also into golf and yoga). For the moment, Evans qualifies only at 3B in most leagues. He had 9 homers and 23 RBI in AAA, so there’s some power potential here if he can carve out even a temporary spot with New York. Hey look, he’s in the lineup Wednesday batting fifth against the Blue Jays!
Jarrod Dyson. For now, it looks like A.J. Pollock‘s wrist injury means Dyson will spend quite a bit of time patrolling center field for the Diamondbacks, and potentially finding himself near the top of the batting order (he’s hitting second Wednesday) to boot. Dyson is 33 years old these days and has been fairly horrific at the plate this year with a .184 batting average, but he’s hit .375 over his last 5 games. And, you know, there’s that speed thing that many of us are in need of.
Hernan Perez/Tyler Saladino. Milwaukee’s relationship with Jonathan Villar seems strained at best. I’m not sure I’ve seen a team less interested in playing a guy who could be a potential fantasy asset since… well, the Diamondbacks and Yasmany Tomas about a month ago. Villar was finally forced into the lineup Monday due to a (surprise!) late scratch for Ryan Braun, and all he did was completely ignite the offense by getting three hits including a homer, scoring three runs and stealing a base. Actually, now this blurb is turning into a PSA to go make Villar’s owner a lowball trade offer, which I might go do right now in at least one league, but I will also mention Perez and Saladino while I’m at it. Perez’s numbers are really meh, and he’s not really running which is the one thing us fantasy kids are interested in him doing, but seems to be the Brewers’ number one second baseman of late. Meanwhile, Saladino seems like he shouldn’t have a place to play at all, but may be relevant in the very deepest of leagues because he feels like a guy who Craig Counsell will give more playing time to than makes any logical sense. (Saladino did have an inside-the-park home run on Monday, which seems like the kind of thing that Counsell would be REALLY into). Hmm, now reports say Perez has a wrist issue, so perhaps even more life for Villar with a glimmer of PT hope for Saladino… we’ll see how this one plays out.
Edubray Ramos/Seranthony Dominguez/Luis Garcia. Time for another messy bullpen discussion: Hector Neris has looked like anything but a closer lately, Pat Neshek’s injury woes continue, and I think I’ve finally given up on Tommy Hunter taking over. Ramos got a save Sunday, Dominguez is recently up from AAA, hasn’t allowed a run over his first four appearances, and has a cool name, and Garcia doesn’t really strike guys out but is rocking a 0.78 WHIP on the year, and now leads the lead in not allowing inherited runners to score, as he has now stranded 15 of 15. Kooky Gabe Kapler said something like “any of our relievers should be ready to pitch at any time” a while back, so we may have a true closer-by-committee situation here. Or, if we go with the Duck-Duck-Goose-Closer rule, which I’ve just invented and which anoints the last pitcher to record a save as the team’s closer, perhaps Ramos is the closer. Or not. (Wednesday afternoon update: Ramos did indeed get the nod with a 3-run lead in the 9th, got two quick and impressive strikeouts, and as I’m writing this update, Gabe Kapler is pulling Ramos to bring Neris in to face Chris Davis, and I am trying not to fall off my chair. It works, but it was no longer a save situation with two out, so both Ramos and Neris lose the Duck-Duck-Goose-Closer game and Gabe Kapler sits back and giggles like a 4-year old at how much fun he’s having).
Nick Hundley. According to my calculations, Hundley is currently the 7th most valuable catcher in standard 5×5 NL-only fantasy leagues. I’m not saying he’ll end the season there (though I’m not saying he won’t either!), but it is a definite reminder than more at bats do not necessarily equal more fantasy goodness, especially when it comes to deep-league catchers. In about half as many at bats as the Buster Poseys and Wilson Contrerases of the world, Hundley is hitting .290 with 4 homers and 14 RBI. I’ve grabbed him in a couple NL-only leagues and am just rolling with him even while he goes days in a row without playing because it is much less stressful than wondering if and when Chris Iannetta or Alex Avila will have a decent game.
Manny Pina. I’m going to break my normal rule of not talking about more than one catcher in a given week (yawn, already getting sleepy) because I do want to mention Pina. He was a bit of a sleeper in NL-only this preseason, but I’ve noticed several owners kicking him to the curb in even the deepest of leagues after his miserable start to the year. He’s been hitting much better of late though, around .300 over the last 5 games, and now has 4 homers on the year. I picked him up in one of my leagues where he was dropped – if he, the rest of the Brewers hitters, and the weather all heat up at the same time, he could go on a nice little run for a fantasy team.
Daniel Palka. He’s still only 3% owned in CBS leagues despite getting quite a bit of playing time for the White Sox of late, including a 3-hit game about a week ago. He also has just one walk to 12 Ks on the year, which I don’t approve of, but you know what they say about beggars and choosers.
Dwight Smith. Recalled by the Blue Jays, who have Randall Grichuk and Steve Pearce on the DL. Smith was hitting .278 with 2 homers and 5 steals in AAA — don’t know that he’ll get much playing time, but why not keep an eye on him in the super-deep world?
Guillermo Heredia. May be the beneficiary of more playing time in the Mariners’ outfield with Dee Gordon moving back to second base to cover for the injured/suddenly-failing-at-life Robinson Cano. Heredia isn’t exactly a slugger, but he’ll put a homer or steal a base every once in a while if you really, really need an outfielder in a very deep league.
Wade LeBlanc. I did a little write-up on him the other day, then he went and stole my thunder by pitching another gem on Monday before I could post this. He doesn’t strike out a lot of guys even when he’s going well, but overall his numbers this year are quite sparkly: 2.51 ERA/1.05 WHIP, 4 BB/22K in 28 2/3 innings. I don’t exactly see things continuing at this rate, but his numbers over the last few years and even over his career are not nearly as scary as I thought they would be — I grabbed him over the weekend in an AL-only league and will be deciding on a week-to-week basis if he’ll be in my lineup/on my roster.
Bruce Rondon. Got a save Sunday in the super-confusing White Sox bullpen. Rondon has the exact same 1.38 ERA as Joakim Soria, which is super confusing A) because those numbers are identical even though Rondon and Soria are two different people, B) because no one with a 1.38 ERA should be getting major league saves, and C) of course there is no C. Meanwhile, Nate Jones hasn’t been very good either, and was last seen pitching the 8th inning– his WHIP is lower (1.30) than Rondon’s, and Jones has 6 walks and 17 strikeouts, while Rondon has 7 walks and 16 strikouts. Like I said, super confusing, but if you are in a desperate game of Duck-Duck-Goose-Save (which I just made up a few blurbs ago if you missed it) in a deep league, Rondon may be “it” for the moment since he got the last save. Or not.