Hello friends, and welcome once again to the deep league corner of Razzball. As our teams continue to get hit by injuries, demotions, and inconsistent play, it gets harder to plug those lineup and rotation holes, but plug away we will. While I actually saw a fantasy site suggest that you might want to check your waiver wire to see if Wander Franco is still available in your league after news of his call up broke a couple of days ago, most of us, of course, will have to get a bit more creative than that. In my leagues the free agent pool is as dried up as I’ve seen it all year, but let’s see if we can manage to stumble upon a player or two that could be of interest to those of us in AL-only, NL-only, and other deep leagues.
Bailey Ober. I’m rarely one to get overly excited about young, unproven pitchers, but that didn’t stop me from putting in an AL-only FAAB bid for Ober over the weekend. I was outbid, so time will tell if I’ll be happy or sad about losing out on him, but I was intrigued enough to give it a try. Ober has started four games for the Twins and isn’t exactly cemented into their rotation (plus he’s only pitched four innings in three of those starts, and five in the other), but one can’t argue with the results so far: 21 Ks and just 2 walks in 17 innings with a respectable 3.71 ERA/1.18 WHIP. He’s pitched 197 innings in his minor league career, and the numbers are very, very good: 244 Ks, 26 walks, 0.96 WHIP, .222 BA against.
Eli White. I am guessing I’m the only human on the planet who has had Eli White on a fantasy roster since opening day, having drafted him in the free round of my (very) deep AL-only auction league. I didn’t do anything crazy like put him in my active lineup this week, but I am going to hold him on my bench a little while longer just in case the 2-homer game he had last week turns into anything remotely resembling steady fantasy production. I suspect it won’t, and the 1%-owned White is so under the radar that he’s not even listed on the Rangers’ outfield depth chart on a couple sites I was recently perusing (even though he has started four games in a row for Texas as I write this, thanks to David Dahl’s most recent injury). That may not be worth much, but it could be worth an occasional counting stat for those in desperation mode.
Robel Garcia. Another 1% owned player, Garcia for the meantime looks to be one of the playing time beneficiaries in the wake of Alex Bregman’s quad injury. Garcia is a switch hitter who qualifies at second and third in most leagues, and has already appeared at all four infield positions for the Astros this year. In those games (39 at bats total), he’s hitting .205 with a .238 OBP and one homer. That, of course, is terrible, and Garcia is a 28 year old who was a Cub a couple years ago, and went through the Reds, Mets, and Angels this past offseason alone before winding up in Houston. At bats are at bats, though, and if Garcia continues to get them for the Astros he’ll be a little blip on the deep-league radar.
Drew Steckenrider. The Mariners’ bullpen has been a source of both sneaky value and sudden fantasy heartbreak for me this year, as I was pretty high on Rafael Montero going into the season, and also drafted Kendall Graveman in a league or two. Montero has been ridiculously inconsistent, though he looked great in his last appearance, and Graveman was stellar in the first part of the season but has been a mess since returning from the COVID IL, giving up a run in three of his four appearances. Montero and Graveman may continue to get save opportunities in Seattle, but I’m keeping an eye on Steckenrider, who already has one himself, and has been great this year and hasn’t given up a run in his last seven appearances.
Daulton Varsho. Varsho is no doubt already owned in your garden variety deep NL-only league, but perhaps it’s finally his time to shine in slightly shallower formats. I’ve been kind of tuned out to what’s going on with the Diamondbacks because watching any baseball team suffer the way that they have recently is too painful for me to stand, even when I don’t have anything personally riding on them. I am aware, though, that Carson Kelly’s fractured wrist may indefinitely open up an every day opportunity for Varsho to catch and/or play the outfield (he was in the starting lineup catching in his first game back up, then moved to center to finish the game). Varsho hasn’t done much with his 146 major league at bats so far, but he was hitting well in the minors and maybe this time will be the charm… and it’s certainly not like the Diamondbacks have anything to lose by running him out there every day to see what he can do.
Wilmer Flores. Another name who, at 7% owned, might have been on a roster all season in most NL-only leagues, but who is on a hot streak worth noting in leagues where he is available. (He also qualifies at first, second, and third in many leagues now). After a four hit game over the weekend, Flores is hitting close to .500 over the last week and a half, including three homers. Obviously nothing close to this pace will continue for long, but if something even sort of close to this pace continues for a least a little while, it could provide value in just about any size league.
Paolo Espino. Espino has made 15 appearances for the Nationals this year, including two starts, and his overall numbers are great: 2.39 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 28 Ks in 26.1 innings. Granted, his last appearance (a spot start in which he went five scoreless and picked up his first win of the season) was against the Pirates. I’m not terribly excited about it, but I may grab Espino in a very deep league or two in the hopes that he won’t hurt me if I need to throw him into an active lineup and he’s pitching out of the bullpen, and could even help if he gets more starting assignments down the line. As you may have noticed, the starting pitching is getting a little thin for some teams, and if he does get the chance to start more games and fails, Espino is an easy drop in even the deepest leagues.
Steven Souza. It continues to confuse me how the Dodgers can still have one of the better MLB offensive lineups on paper, and yet somehow it seems that every week there are about five new hitters on their team that weren’t there a few days before. Souza is one of the latest to join their squad and has already popped one homer after appearing in four games. Souza is 32 now and injuries have derailed him to the point where he hasn’t had a decent major league showing since 2017 with Tampa Bay. The power has always been legit, though, and it may be worth a little deep-league monitoring to see how his tenure with the Dodgers goes as the summer progresses.
Nice call on White and Flores, both of whom produced yesterday (almost as much as Wander)!