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July 29, 2014

Deep Impact

Week 17

by Ben Carsley

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I’m too sad thinking about Jon Lester to write a real intro.

Chris Capuano, LHP, Yankees
Capuano seems to have more lives than a cat, which, proverbially speaking, has nine lives. He was brilliant as a reliever with the Red Sox in the early days of 2014, but was then decidedly less brilliant as the season went on, leading to his release in June. Capuano then signed a minor league deal with the Rockies and was acquired by the Yankees late last week. Yes, Capuano has called Fenway Park and Yankees Stadium home this season, and could potentially have called Coors Field home, too. Capuano does not give a damn about your fantasy league.

Yet somehow, Capuano has found himself back in the rotation for an AL East team that’s in contention, and it looks like he could stay there for a little while if he performs. He threw six innings of two-run ball against a depleted Blue Jays team last week, earning a no-decision in his first start with New York. That’s better than we realistically could’ve hoped for, and you should be very, very selective about how you use Capuano moving forward. He’s still more of a spot starter than a truly roster-able option in 20-team and AL-only leagues, but he certainly has much more value today than he did a week ago.

Kyle Hendricks, RHP, Cubs
Often times when I sit down to write Deep Impact, I take a quick poll of the TINO boys to see if they have any suggestions as to who I should cover. Every week, Mau comes up with some obscure Cubs player who I largely ignore, but this week he caught my attention when he brought up Hendricks, who he tells me is in fact a different player from Twin-turned-Blue Jay-turned-Royal Liam Hendriks. This fascinated me, so I dug into Hendricks’ profile a bit, and it seems like Mau’s suggestion is, for once in his life, a good one.

Hendricks is fairly unheralded as a prospect but he’s put up decent numbers in Triple-A as a 24-year-old this year, holding minor league competition to a 3.59 ERA while striking out 18.2 percent of the batters he faced. Awe-inspiring? No. But if he can come close to replicating those numbers in the majors, he’ll be at least worthy of spot-starting against weak lineups or in many of the NL’s more cavernous parks. Most importantly, Hendricks may get Cubs Twitter to shut up about not having any pitching prospects for three minutes, which would be the greatest gift to the baseball community we’ve seen in a while.

Yangervis Solarte, INF, Padres
I’ve spent much of the season cautioning that Solarte wasn’t the .300 hitter we saw through April and May, so it feels odd to be semi-endorsing him here. But now that Solarte is out of the limelight and into baseball obscurity in San Diego, everyone is going to forget about him. Part of this oversight will be well deserved, as Solarte is never going to be a fantasy superstar. But he’s still worth rostering in 20-team and now in NL-only leagues, in my opinion, as I think he’ll see a good amount of playing time with the Padres.

The move to Petco is obviously going to hamper Solarte’s power, so in that sense this is a move backwards. But Solarte could play close to every day and bat near the top of the lineup in San Diego (an admittedly scary thought), which will provide opportunity for him to be of some use. Maybe we shouldn’t expect more than another five homers from Solarte this year, but if he can hit .270, score some runs, and continue to show a patience approach at the plate, his versatility makes him an attractive backup MI play in leagues where roster flexibility is important.

Deep League Streamer of the Week: Jeff Locke, Pirates
For this week’s streamer, we return to old friend Jeff Locke, who I’ve recommended in this space a few times before. Locke’s pitched to a 3.54 ERA and 1.12 WHIP this season, but his lackluster strikeout rate and 2-2 record have him owned in just 10.3 percent of ESPN leagues. Granted, that means he’s probably owned in some 20-teamers or NL-only leagues, but if he’s not, he probably should be. This week, Locke faces the Diamondbacks in Arizona on Thursday night. Yes, Mark Trumbo is back, but the DBacks still have a middle-of-the-road offense. This isn’t a slam-dunk start, but it’s one I feel pretty decently about if you need ERA or WHIP help.

Twitter Question of the Week:

Let’s get the obvious out of the way—Stewart and Alfaro is a package wrought with upside, but one that comes with a ton of risk as well. You’re looking at a potential no. 2 fantasy starter and a potential starting fantasy catcher, but there’s also a chance you’re looking at a whole big pile of nothing.

That being said, from a dynasty POV, you’re giving up a whole big pile of nothing, too. McCarthy’s days as a reliable starter are pretty circumspect even in 20-team leagues. We need to see his numbers match his peripherals, and we need him to move to a friendlier home park. Beckett has more value, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him survive as a no. 5 SP in the NL for a while. But he’s hardly irreplaceable, especially if you don’t plan on competing until 2016 or so.

You can try replacing Stewart or Alfaro with a safer play, but if you can’t get your partner to budge, this is still a fine move. McCarthy and Beckett aren’t going to bring you back a stud, and upside wins championships, especially in deep leagues. You should pull the trigger here.

Player Namedrop of the Week: Brady Clark
Random RP Who Will Earn a Win: Luke Gregerson, RHP, Athletics
Random Backup Who Will Homer: Carl Crawford, OF, Dodgers
Xander Bogaerts Adjective: Heartbreaking

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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Daily League Strategy:... (07/29)
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