It's back! And you'll never guess who's leading it off!
It feels good to be back.
No more draft preparation. No more overanalyzing splits from the previous season. No more ADP. No more spring training stats (sort of). It’s all eschewed for the sights and sounds of real, live baseball.
Taijuan Walker nabs the no. 1 spot in the last top 20 of the season.
It’s been another very fun season of writing the Stash List, but all such things must come to an end. This will be the final installment of the 2014 season, so I hope it’s been helpful to you guys, and let’s do it again in 2015, shall we?
The Graduates: Dexter Fowler (2), Mookie Betts (3), Michael Pineda (4), Rafael Montero (6)
Fowler has returned with a vengeance from his intercostal strain, hitting .389/.522/.556 in his first five games back. I like him to close the season strong in an improving offense. The news was relatively sour on Betts until Monday, when Jackie Bradley Jr. was sent back down to Triple-A because his ineptitude at the plate finally overshadowed his delightfulness in the field. Betts should be playing pretty close to every day for the foreseeable future, and should be improved over his first stint, but don’t expect the light bulb to just turn on brightly. Off days for the Yankees have given Pineda some extra rest after his first start back—which was a positive sign—and he won’t toe the rubber for the second time since returning until Wednesday. The upside is still high, especially if you’re chasing strikeouts. Meanwhile, elsewhere in New York City, Montero is trying his hardest to satisfy the Mets faithful who really wanted to see Noah Syndergaard instead. He followed a weak start against the Nationals with a strong one against the Cubs, and fortunately for Montero, the Mets have a reasonably tame schedule the rest of the way.
With four graduates and seven departees, this week's top 20 has a host of newcomers.
The Graduates: Javier Baez (1), Wilmer Flores (10), Trevor May (12), Tommy Milone (15)
Considering it was a regular week, it was a pretty popular one to ascend from the Stash List. We all know how Baez has spent his first week in the majors, and it’s been almost exactly as we would have thought—three homers, 12 strikeouts, and no walks sounds pretty indicative of what to expect the rest of the way. If you need power, make sure he’s not available on the waiver wire.
Flores may only have a .557 OPS, but he’s certainly the best offensive option the Mets have at shortstop in the medium-term, and will now give him every chance to prove he’s as terrible at the position as his scouting report says.
Javier Baez is coming to The Show, but he gets to top the list one final time.
The Graduates: James Paxton (6), Justin Masterson (9)
It only took three-and-a-half months, but Paxton finally reemerged on a major league mound on Saturday, allowing two runs in 4 1/3 innings against the Orioles. Considering the matchup and the rust he was fighting off, it was a pretty positive outing overall. If the current schedule he’s on holds, he’ll pitch exclusively either at home in Safeco or in National League parks for the remainder of August—which is an awfully nice way to ease back into things after a long layoff. Masterson not only graduated, but he switched teams in the process. With the Cardinals, he should have an easier time finding value in mixed leagues than in Cleveland, and is certainly worth owning in 14-team mixed leagues and deeper (while streaming him in shallower leagues than that).
The Departed: Robert Refsnyder (21), Mike Foltynewicz (HM)
Sure, the Yankees not developing a positional prospect that’s made any sort of impact at the major league level since Brett Gardner is partly because their system as a whole has been down, but it’s also because of the same thing that Refsnyder must be feeling right now. Regardless of the hole, the Yankees have the cash to fill it cheaply. In this case, the Yankees brought in Stephen Drew to play second, Chase Headley to play third, and Martin Prado to play the outfield spot not taken by Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner. In other words, like Forrest Gump getting on the school bus, every position that Refsnyder could have been an option at is now taken. Foltynewicz gets the strange distinction of getting called up to the majors, but appearing in the Departed section, rather than as a graduate. That’s because he’ll be used in the bullpen the rest of the season, and with “Mr Untouchable” Chad Qualls holding down the back-end of the Astros’ pen, you can let him go in just about all redraft leagues.
The latest on Mookie Betts, Javier Baez, Noah Syndergaard, and other players who should be on your fantasy radar in case they earn promotions.
The Graduates: Neftali Feliz (22)
This past week saw the sad-sack Rangers finally deal off their closer (who had been one of the best in baseball to this point) Joakim Soria to the Tigers, freeing their former star closer to retake the role. Unfortunately, Feliz still doesn’t have his pre-Tommy John velocity back and it’s manifesting itself in diminished strikeout numbers (he has four in 11 1/3 innings). He can keep the job without the whiffs, as they don’t really have a great alternative, but his value will be diminished if it doesn’t pick up a little.
The Departed: Joey Gallo (HM)
As much fun as this would be, there’s just zero incentive for the Rangers to rush Gallo when he hasn’t even gotten a half-season’s worth of at-bats at Double-A.
This is what happens when you take a week off in mid-July. Gee and Gausman are both back in their respective rotations and should be stalwarts in most leagues down the stretch. There’s always the chance that the Orioles will do something dumb with Gausman, but here’s hoping we’ve seen the last of their roster games. Alcantara was only scheduled to be up for a couple of days initially, but he’s shown enough for the Cubs to DFA Darwin Barney this week. In fact, he’s doing almost exactly what he was doing in the minors, hitting .286/.316/.543 with six extra-base hits and three steals in eight games. Jimmy Nelson got shelled in his first outing, but it’s safe to say that the second one went better, throwing a quality start against a depleted Reds lineup on Tuesday evening. Unless the Brewers end up being a surprise player for a starting pitcher at the deadline, Nelson should hold off the banished Marco Estrada.
The 25 players you might want to put on your fantasy bench for help down the road.
The Graduates: Oscar Taveras (2), Tyler Skaggs (3), Corey Hart (10), Jeremy Hellickson (HM)
This is what happens when Allen Craig has a .657 OPS. Of course, Taveras is hitting far worse right now, but his 11 strikeouts in 60 plate appearances suggest that he’s not being overmatched. If he’s given time to work through his initial struggles, look for Taveras to start hitting for more average in the second half—even if the power takes a little longer to come. Skaggs looked fantastic in his return from the hamstring injury, going into the eighth inning and allowing only two runs on the road in a tough hitters’ park. Hart returned on Friday and hasn’t done a whole lot with his at bats thus far. He’ll be OK, but not the pre-injury version. The fact that Hellickson went less than five innings in his 2014 debut, but it still can be considered a success (only one run allowed), shows how low expectations probably are for the disappointing right-hander.
The Departed: Jaime Garcia (23)
And in the span of a week, we’ve gone from wondering whether Garcia will be back on the mound in July to wondering if we’ve seen the last of him in a Cardinals’ uniform. In fact, it’s fair to wonder if we’ll ever see Garcia start another game in the majors again, as the surgery he will have to try and fix his thoracic outlet syndrome is the second major procedure he's had on that left shoulder of his.
The top 25 players you might want to put on your fantasy bench for help down the road.
The Graduates: Taijuan Walker (2), Mookie Betts (6), Marco Gonzales (21)
After firing a complete-game shutout in his last turn in Tacoma, Walker got the win on Monday night in his 2014 debut with the Mariners in Houston. If the shoulder problems are really behind him, Walker could be a solid third starter the rest of the way with that park at his back. There have been very few prospects to get people on both sides of the aisle (fans and writers) in a tizzy like Mookie Betts. There are some who think he’s going to perform like a top-10 second baseman (or shortstop, depending on eligibility) right out of the gate, and while I don’t see that happening, there should be room for him on almost any roster. The counting stats may not be plentiful hitting towards the bottom of the lineup for now and he’ll likely struggle to even show below-average power in game, but the average and steals will be helpful. With Michael Wacha, Jaime Garcia, and Joe Kelly all sidelined, Gonzales will get a few runs in the Cardinals’ rotation to prove he belongs. It’s very possible with a strong pre-break showing, he could stick in the rotation rather than Carlos Martinez—who Mike Matheny may opt to keep in a setup role anyway. The upside isn’t high, and he’s just a fringy mixed league play, but his control will make some friends in the WHIP category.
Andrew Heaney came up last week, so a new pitcher moves into the top slot.
The Graduates: Andrew Heaney (1), Miguel Gonzalez (20)
Heaney’s major-league debut went very well, albeit against a not-so-great Mets offense—as he allowed five base runners in six innings while striking out three. I’ve been talking about him for a while here, and I also had the opportunity to put my money where my mouth is. Mike Gianella and I won the FAAB bidding for Heaney this week in mixed LABR with a heavy-handed $21 entry. There will be no time wasted in getting him into our lineup this week as he gets two starts against the Phillies and Athletics. With Miguel Gonzalez now healthy, the Orioles are going with a temporary six-man rotation for as long as they have the roster flexibility to do so. Eventually they’re going to have to cut one, and Gonzalez still may be furthest out on the bubble.
The Departed: Francisco Lindor (24), Joba Chamberlain (HM), Casey Kelly (HM)
There’s nothing wrong with what Lindor is doing in the minor leagues—he’s still an excellent prospect and fine fantasy one as well—but the Indians are shaping up to hang around the AL Wild Card race and Asdrubal Cabrera is playing reasonably well. At this point, it will take an injury to make room for the future star shortstop. Chamberlain is also not a victim of his own failures, but a victim of Joe Nathan’s success—at least recently. Nathan has put together two very strong outings after making some mechanical adjustments, and the storyline is built for him to run with it. He’s still worth keeping a peripheral eye on, but Nathan has more rope now than a week ago. There’s a large soft spot in my heart for Casey Kelly, and I still think he is going to be a good major league pitcher. But this just appears to be another lost year for the athletic right-hander, who just can’t get past these elbow setbacks. Don’t worry, Casey—I don’t give up that easily.
A new player takes over the no. 1 spot, but he won't be there for long.
The Graduates: Gregory Polanco (1)
Much was made about the contract that Jonathan Singleton signed upon his call up, but his first week has seen ups and downs similar to the opposing sides of the contract discussion. On the plus side, he had two homers and a steal while slugging .480. On the negative side, he hit .200 and struck out in 10 of his 26 plate appearances. Expect a lot more of both the rest of the way. Meanwhile, I had my eyes squarely on Gausman as he made his way back into the Orioles’ rotation (at least for now) and took on the hottest team in baseball in the Oakland Athletics. Those eyes watered with joy as he threw seven strong innings, allowing only one run with five base runners and six strikeouts. He may be the best starting pitcher the Orioles have right now, and if he shows it, he’ll be up for good—despite the Orioles’ best attempts to shoot themselves in the collective feet.