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August 21, 2014

Fantasy Freestyle

Week 21

by Mike Gianella and Bret Sayre

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Norichika Aoki, OF, Kansas City Royals
The Royals have been on quite a tear in August, and having their leadoff hitter doing what he’s supposed to be doing has certainly helped them in this stretch. Aoki, who had been quite a fantasy disappointment over the first four months of the season, is doing the two things the Royals and fantasy owners want him to do recently: get on base and steal bases. Since August started, Aoki is hitting .295/.386/.410 with 14 runs scored and six steals in just 18 games. Compare that to the 40 runs scored and nine steals Aoki had over the first 82 games of the season, and you start to wonder what your team could have looked like if he had been doing this since the start of the year. And while it’s true that non-elite speed gets devalued a bit in shallower mixed leagues, Aoki’s strength in batting average (or OBP, depending on what you fancy) and runs helps make him a player who should be owned across the board right now in rotisserie leagues. —Bret Sayre

Comparable Player: Denard Span

Sergio Romo, RHP, San Francisco Giants
In your league, one of two things happened. Either Romo was on a team that’s been relatively inactive since June and he’s unexpectedly tucked into a starting job somewhere, or he was on an active owner’s roster and they unceremoniously dumped him after Santiago Casilla appeared to be running away with the Giants’ closer job. Part of the dichotomy of ownership here is why Romo hasn’t qualitied for a spot on the Stash List—he’s owned in too many leagues for that. However, if you’re in one of the 50 percent or so of leagues where he remains unowned, now is probably a good time to remedy that—and it’s not only because he could still see saves in September. Since hitting an extreme rough patch in the middle of the season, Romo has been more or less the Romo you expected. On May 10th, he had an ERA of 1.65 and hadn’t blown a single save; however, from May 11th to June 28th (the day he finally lost his closing job), he had a cool 9.00 ERA in 16 appearances. July and August have been far kinder to the right-hander, as he’s put up a 2.35 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and 22 strikeouts in just 15 1/3 innings. Even if he doesn’t get the job back, those are great stats out of a middle reliever, particularly if you are in innings/start limit leagues. —Bret Sayre

Comparable Player: Sergio Romo


Jonathan Schoop, 2B, Baltimore Orioles
As I have mentioned previously in this space, we are reaching that time of the year when category concerns matter far more than a player’s composite skill set. Schoop is having a terrible season in real life (although context matters and he is a 22-year-old rookie), but his 12 home runs rank behind only Brian Dozier and Neil Walker at second base. Schoop is also swinging a hot bat, with a six home runs in 82 plate appearances in the second half. The batting average is still terrible, but if your only concern is power, Schoop is almost a must add in deeper mixed leagues, particularly since there is a good chance that you are carrying a middling or worse option at your third middle infield slot. —Mike Gianella

Comparable Player: Marcus Semien

Shane Greene, RHP, New York Yankees
Greene is the kind of pitcher who poses a dilemma for savvy fantasy owners. Sample-size caveats tell us we shouldn’t put too much weight on his first seven big league starts, but if you wait too long on Greene he won’t be available in your free agent pool by the time his sample is “valid.” So far, Greene has thrived with a strong sinker/slider combo and has not shown any signs of letting up for the Yankees. The park and Greene’s lack of pedigree concern me, but on the other hand his peripheral numbers in the high minors have always been better than his ERA and there is a good possibility Greene is one of those prospects who will defy the scouting reports and turn into a solid #4 starter. In deeper mixed formats, that makes him worth owning, even if the likely fade is coming shortly. —Mike Gianella

Comparable Player: Tyson Ross if everything breaks (ha ha, get it?!) just right


Brandon Guyer, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
I’m always a proponent of acquiring at-bats over anything else in -only formats, but when the other free agent choices are players like Jim Adduci and Will Middlebrooks, adding a semi-regular player like Guyer might make more sense. He offers a smidgen of home run power with a light-to-moderate amount of speed. In mixed leagues, he makes more sense as a bench option who gets the rare weekly start when the Rays have a lefty-heavy schedule, but in -only formats, Guyer should be in your lineup regardless of the handedness of the pitcher the Rays are facing. —Mike Gianella

Comparable Player: Chris Denorfia

Daniel Norris, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays
Norris is one of those guys who started out so far away from the majors at the beginning of the season, that he hasn’t really ended up squarely on redraft radars. In fact, even when Toronto said they were leaning towards calling up Norris and Aaron Sanchez, Sanchez was the closer one to the majors and got the first call—generating the most interest. However, Norris is the better pitcher right now, and he’s absolutely dominated in his two starts at Triple-A. Actually, that doesn’t even do it justice, so I’ll just put the stats here for you to enjoy: 11 2/3 innings, one run, five hits, one walk and 23 strikeouts. If the Blue Jays follow through on their initial promise to put Norris in the bullpen, he should rack up enough innings and strikeouts to warrant ownership in AL-only formats. But if the Jays start freefalling out of the playoff race, don’t be surprised if Norris gets a couple of starts as a reward for a fine season (likely at the expense of Drew Hutchison, who the Jays would probably like to ease off a bit down the stretch). If that is the case, he could hold some real value as the season winds down. –Bret Sayre

Comparable Player: J.A. Happ with more strikeouts


Phil Gosselin, 2B, Atlanta Braves
Gosselin isn’t much of a prospect, but he is getting a fair amount of playing time for the Braves. Tommy La Stella is the better long term bet, but La Stella has done very little with his opportunity this year. At a minimum, Gosselin should get a fair amount of at bats against right-handers, but with Atlanta nominally in contention, it is possible that the Braves play the hot bat on a regular basis until Gosselin cools off. He’s not going to do very much in home runs or steals, but 20-25 at bats a week from a middle infielder is nothing to sneeze at in NL-only. —Mike Gianella

Comparable Player: Jayson Nix back when Nix was “good”

Robbie Erlin, LHP, San Diego Padres
San Diego has not been a hotbed of good news around elbow injuries, and I don’t need to throw out the names to remind you, but Erlin appears to be on the verge of making it back without surgery. Earlier this week, the left-hander was activated from the disabled list and optioned to Triple-A after making his fourth rehab start (in which he has given up four runs, walked four and struck out 15 in 12 1/3 innings). It is extremely likely that he will be in the minors until rosters expand in September, but there’s a real possibility of him being added to the rotation at that point. The Rymer Liriano call up at the outset of the new front office team is potentially a sign of the Padres looking to get some looks at their younger players down the stretch, and if the team isn’t going to call up Matt Wisler (who would need to be added to the 40-man roster), Erlin makes the most sense to spell Eric Stults for a stretch. On top of that, the Padres have a pretty delicious schedule the last few weeks of the season, including a 10-game homestand.

Comparable Player: Kyle Gibson

Mike Gianella is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Mike's other articles. You can contact Mike by clicking here
Bret Sayre is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Bret's other articles. You can contact Bret by clicking here

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