It’s crunch time, my friends, and whether you can’t wait for season’s end, or are dreading it with every fiber of your being regardless of how your fantasy teams are doing (raises hand while tear rolls down cheek), it’ll be here in a couple of weeks. There may not be much waiver wire shopping going on these days, but while we still have this precious time together, let’s check in on a handful of players whose ownership has risen recently and/or who could potentially be of interest to those of us in NL-only, AL-only, and other particularly deep leagues.
Joey Wentz. Wentz made two starts for the Tigers back in May, one of which was pretty good and one of which was an epic disaster. He’s now started two games for them since being recalled, both very good: 6.2 shutout innings against the Royals and 2 earned runs in 4 innings against the Astros, with 5 Ks in each appearance. He’s gone from 1 to 3% owned in CBS leagues this week, so there are at least a few of us out there who are taking a look-see over the remainder of the season and/or as a potential ultra-deep league flyer for next year. Expect no run support, but the minor league numbers this year are encouraging: 3.04 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 57 Ks in 53.1 innings. He also only has 2 wins in those 14 appearances/13 games started, so at least he’s already used to that whole ‘no run support’ thing I just mentioned.
Romy Gonzalez. Gonzalez is owned in just 5% of CBS leagues, which makes it a little disconcerting that I’ve been playing him in a mixed league for about three weeks now. The waiver wire was thin, and really I just needed someone at my final hitting spot who wouldn’t hurt me in average and might throw an occasional counting stat my way, and he’s actually been decent for me on those fronts. Gonzalez is on the White Sox, by the way, and has appeared in 20 games for them — 17 at 2B, 2 at SS, and 1 at OF — and qualifies at 3B in some leagues. He’s not doing much, but he’s managed a .300 average over his 70 at bats so far, and has scored 12 runs and has 2 homers and 10 RBI. I told you, I was just looking for an “occasional” counting stat!
Mark Mathias. This is likely a case of mentioning a guy just as he’s finishing a ridiculous little hot streak, but Mathias still gets a deep league shout out given the week he’s had. After having five hits and six RBI over two games earlier this week, when you combine the MLB cups of coffee he’s had this year: in 62 at bats he’s hitting .306 (.371 OBP!) with 13 runs, 6 homers, 20 RBI, and 3 steals. Pretty good for a 2% owned guy who arrived in an unceremonious trade with the Brewers (for Matt Bush) at the beginning of August. We’ll see how much and where he plays to finish out the year, but deep leaguers in need of hitters to fill out their rosters might at least want to check in on Mathias if he’s available.
Trevor Williams. Williams looked like more than a 2% owned player on Wednesday when he came in and cleaned up the disaster that the Mets’ David Peterson made in just 1/3 of an inning. If you’ve ever left a dog or a toddler alone with ink, flour, or lipstick for more than four seconds, you can appreciate what Peterson’s third of an inning (against one of the weaker offensive teams going, no less) looked like: 2 hits, 3 walks, 5 earned. Anyhow, Williams came in and pitched 4.1 innings, allowing just a run on 4 hits and a walk, with 8 Ks. Evidently the Mets were deciding between Peterson and Williams in terms of who’d make the start, and methinks they may be regretting their ultimate choice. Williams may get the next opportunity, and even as a Swiss army knife type on their roster, could be mildly useful in deeper leagues over the coming weeks.
Aristides Aquino. Time to check in again with “The Punisher;” I was surprised he’s only 5% owned (up from 2% last week) in CBS leagues as he’s already been gobbled up by power-hungry teams in a few of my 15-team leagues. I noticed this when I, the owner of a power-hungry team myself in one of those leagues, went searching for someone to possibly provide me with a few homers as we close out the season, and was disappointed to find Aquino already planted on another roster. The .206 average he’s currently rocking may never rise significantly and is probably more likely to go down before it goes up, but he’s had three big games in the last two weeks (accounting for 4 home runs and 9 RBI). Even on the short side of a platoon for the Reds, he has a chance at a few more power outbursts in 2022. I should also mention that, at least for next week, his schedule does NOT look good in terms of facing lefties, but if you’re at the point where one or two homers makes a difference you may want to keep him on your radar.
Cal Mitchell. We’ll end the week with the 3% owned Mitchell (up from 1% last week), who if you forgot for a moment — as I did, even though I think I actually have him rostered somewhere right now — is an outfielder for the Pirates. Mitchell is only hitting .234 on the season and won’t get many/any starts against lefties, but as we often have to remember here at RITD, there’s usually a reason these fellows are only on 3% of teams even after an ownership boost. If you’re looking for a very recent, tiny sample size hot hand, though, we may have found one: over his last 5 games played, Mitchell is hitting .444, has a .524 OBP, with 3 runs scored, a homer, 3 RBI, and a steal.