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May 21, 2014

Deep Impact

Week Seven

by Ben Carsley

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Allow me to reintroduce this column: it’s about deep leagues.

Ronald Belisario, RP, White Sox
I’m not going to beat around the bush here—we’re only talking about Belisario and his league-leading #FACE because the White Sox bullpen is, to put it lightly, a flaming pile of poop. With Actual Real Life 2014 Closer Matt Lindstrom on the DL, it’s likely to fall to Belisario or Daniel Webb for saves among this ragtag group. Given Belisario’s veteran status, I like his odds of getting a shot first.

Will Belisario be very good in this role? Probably not. But Lindstrom himself isn’t very good, and Robin Ventura was apparently willing to live with his 3.32 ERA (4.71 FIP), 13.3 percent strikeout rate and 10.8 percent walk rate, so how much worse could Belisario really be? Don’t invest a ton in Belisario, but he’s the type of stupid, random middle reliever who could hold on to this job for two months and nab you 12 saves on the cheap.

Stephen Drew, SS, Red Sox
I don’t know if you’ve heard, but the Red Sox signed Stephen Drew yesterday. It’s either the best move ever or the worst move ever depending on who you ask, and there don’t seem to be many opinions in between. But regardless of how Red Sox Twitter may feel or how nervous they may be about hurting Xander Bogaerts’ feelings, Drew is an employed professional baseball player once again.

This is pretty much a godsend for players in deep leagues who need middle infield help. We all know Drew isn’t an elite option, but he’s better than most of what’s out there right now. Drew will score runs in Boston’s lineup, he’ll swipe the occasional base and he’ll challenge for double-digit home runs. Add in that Drew may enter a platoon situation in which he only faces right-handed pitchers, and you could get a good average out of him, too. He should be owned even in every 20-team league, and he’ll likely be playing in the majors within 10 days.

Andrew Heaney, SP, Marlins
Even casual fantasy owners hear about Archie Bradley, Noah Syndergaard, Taijuan Walker and Kevin Gausman all the time. I’m not trying to suggest Heaney is at their level, but he’s a uniquely anonymous prospect for a left-hander who’s really just one tier below the household names. That’s partially due to his status as Marlins property, but when you’re a pitcher, Miami truly isn’t such a bad place to be.

Heaney was promoted to Triple-A (yes, the Marlins actually have Triple-A team) this week, putting him on the precipice of the majors at a time when Miami needs starting pitchers. Jose Fernandez is gone, and while Henderson Alvarez, Nate Eovaldi and Jacob Turner form an interesting middle of the rotation, Heaney has more upside than the lot of them. He profiles as a no. 3 MLB and fantasy starter, and he could be in the majors in two or three weeks. The time to grab him in deeper redraft leagues is now.

Liam Hendriks, SP, Blue Jays
It feels like Hendriks has been on the edge of MLB relevancy for about six years now, but in truth he’s only made major league appearances in each of the past two seasons. Those appearances have not been very good, as Hendriks has registered a 6.06 ERA, 5.31 FIP, and 14.2 percent strikeout clip in his 156 MLB innings.

So why talk about Hendriks here? The right-hander has been very, very good in Triple-A this season, and has shown the ability to master the upper minors in the past. He’s a no. 5 starter at best, but if you’re not desperate for strikeouts, it’s not crazy to hope for the best and start Hendriks in favorable matchups. The Jays have a great offense, Hendriks doesn’t issue any free passes and there are some pretty weak offenses in the AL right now. He’ll likely be replaced by Marcus Stroman at some point, but he could sneak in some effective starts in the interim.

Deep League Streamer of the Week: Blake Treinen, RHP, Nationals
No, I’m not just inventing names! Treinen finds himself with a stint in the Nationals rotation thanks to Gio Gonzalez’s arm injuries, and while he’s not very good, neither is the Pirates offense. That’s why I suggest rolling the dice with Treinen on Thursday when he battles the Bucs in Pittsburgh. He won’t earn many strikeouts, but Treinen doesn’t walk anyone and can grab a cheap win without killing your WHIP. This is always the most soul-crushing portion of this column to write.

Twitter Question of the Week:

I’ve received a ton of Will Middlebrooks/Garin Cecchini/Bogaerts questions in the wake of the Drew signing, so I’ll briefly run down what this means for deep leaguers here.

Middlebrooks is likely to either serve as a short-side platoon third baseman in the majors or as a hybrid 1B/3B in Triple-A once healthy. Either way, his window to cement himself as an everyday starter in Boston is likely over. I would not expect him to generate more than an additional 200 PA this season, barring a trade.

Cecchini’s future is still bright, but his defense isn’t ready and while he’ll never be a big power guy, he does need to improve on his .368 SLG in Pawtucket. He was always more of a 2015 name, and that continues to be the case now.

Bogaerts will likely make most of his remaining starts at third base this season, but I see no reason to suggest he won’t move back to short on a full-time basis next year, other than “teams don’t usually do that.” Sure they don’t, but doesn’t mean the Red Sox can’t or shouldn’t. If anything, this just gives Bogaerts an additional season of SS/3B dual eligibility.

Player Namedrop of the Week: Cla Meredith (h/t Bret Sayre)
Random RP Who Will Earn a Win: Chris Withrow
Random Backup Who Will Homer: Scott Hairston
Xander Bogaerts Adjective: Versatile

Ben Carsley is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Ben's other articles. You can contact Ben by clicking here

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