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Welcome to Week 22 of The Free Agent Watch, Baseball Prospectus’ weekly free agent answer to Dear Abby. This column is designed to offer a brief glimpse into the top free agents in 12-team mixed, 15-team mixed, and AL and NL-only formats, with the idea being that while we can’t address every unique free agent situation in your league, we can guide you through the waters and help with the broader strokes of the decision making process.

I’ll be tackling all the mixed league formats, while Keith will be handling the only-league duties.

Table 1: 12-Team Mixed Hitter

LAST 15 DAYS

Player

H/AB

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

%OWN

+/-

Didi Gregorius, NYY SS

19/50

9

3

12

0

.380

14.4

+10

Travis d'Arnaud, NYM C

14/41

8

3

12

0

.341

61.2

+9.3

Michael Cuddyer, NYM OF, 1B

14/35

7

2

7

0

.400

22.3

+9.2

Wilmer Flores, NYM SS, 2B

16/45

9

3

11

0

.356

40.7

+8.6

Martin Prado, Mia 3B, 2B

17/56

11

3

11

0

.304

32.2

+5.4

Kelby Tomlinson, SF SS, 2B

12/42

4

1

8

1

.286

5.1

+4.3

Cameron Rupp, Phi C

10/32

6

4

9

0

.313

4.2

+3.5

Blake Swihart, Bos C

13/28

9

1

4

3

.464

11.0

+3.3

Michael Conforto, NYM OF

16/38

8

3

7

0

.421

12.6

+3.2

David Wright, NYM 3B

11/34

9

1

1

0

.324

69.6

+3.1

Source: ESPN, Razzball Expert League. Stats through Wednesday, September 2

Boy, it seems like a million years ago since I tweeted this gem:

Half of the most commonly picked up players on Table 1 are Mets, which reflects the late recognition (in standard/shallow mixed, at least) that New York is performing and that there are many opportunities for fantasy owners to ride the crest of the wave, particularly in runs and RBI. The challenge is that nearly every player in the lineup is getting rotated in and out, so while you could get six or seven starts a week, you might also “only” get three or four starts. Conforto and Flores may very well be the best pick-ups on this list on an at bat by at bat basis, but they aren’t as useful in leagues with weekly moves. Wright’s story is amazing, but in standard mixed he isn’t producing enough to be worth the automatic grab.

The catchers on Table 1 look great the last two weeks but aren’t worth it in one-catcher formats, although the three steals from Swihart were a nice surprise if you owned him. D’Arnaud could be worth starting if you have an injury or a dead spot, and unlike many of the Met free agents should play almost every day even with expanded rosters. Even so, he is borderline in this format.

The table above emphasizes the difficulty even mixed league owners will have streaming for steals down the stretch. You can try to grab Eric Young or Quintin Berry if you want to make a pure speed play, but in a standard mixed league there is too much ground to be lost in every other category to do this unless you are blowing the doors off everywhere else.

Mike Recommends: Martin Prado.
It’s a weak list above, so give me the middle infielder riding a hot streak who will play every day no matter what else happens around him. Yes, the Marlins line-up stinks on dry ice, but with Giancarlo Stanton possibly coming back in a week or so, Prado will get a few more run or RBI opportunities depending on how the batting order shakes out. Give me solid every day playing time over the chance that someone like Conforto or Cuddyer stays this hot in limited reps.

Table 2: 12-Team Mixed Pitcher

LAST 15 DAYS

Player

IP

K

W

SV

ERA

WHIP

%OWN

+/-

Week 22

Josh Tomlin, Cle RP, SP

20.0

21

3

0

3.15

0.75

25.3

+13.7

DET

Joe Kelly, Bos SP

20.2

9

3

0

1.31

1.02

22.4

+11.3

TOR

Kris Medlen, KC SP, RP

14.1

13

2

0

3.77

0.98

31.4

+10

MIN

Matt Shoemaker, LAA SP

14.1

10

2

0

0.63

0.63

23.2

+9.8

LAD, HOU

Bartolo Colon, NYM SP

19.2

20

2

0

3.20

1.22

42.7

+8.9

@ATL

J.A. Happ, Pit SP

17.2

11

3

0

0.51

0.85

22.4

+6.5

@CIN

Nathan Eovaldi, NYY SP

20.0

22

2

0

3.60

1.15

60.9

+5.5

TOR

Rick Porcello, Bos SP

15.0

18

1

0

0.60

0.73

15.0

+4.9

TOR, @TB

Yovani Gallardo, Tex SP

16.1

8

2

0

2.20

1.35

41.0

+4.2

@SEA, OAK

Scott Feldman, Hou SP

10.2

8

0

0

2.53

1.31

9.8

+2.7

@OAK

Source: ESPN, Razzball Expert League. Stats through Wednesday, September 2

In a standard mixed league, you don’t want any of these guys as part of your rotation. Maybe Eovaldi is worth using on a regular basis down the stretch if you believe in him, but given the healthy diet of AL East on the schedule for the Yankees, the matchups aren’t favorable. And at this point, that’s what all of the pitchers on Table 2 are: matchup plays, not pitchers you want to assume are going to pitch like Top 50 arms down the stretch.

Besides the matchups, the other factor worth looking at is whether or not wins or strikeouts are more important. ERA/WHIP certainly matter as well, but any pitcher in this group runs the risk of torpedoing your rate stats with one terrible outing and if you pick one of these guys up, you certainly are aware of this risk. I know that Shoemaker and Happ’s ERA/WHIP look pretty in their last few outings, but Anaheim isn’t that much of a pitchers’ park and Ray Searage isn’t that much of a miracle worker. Regression is a thing, and while it’s OK to ride a hot streak, don’t be surprised if any of these guys burn you.

The final factor to look at is the possibility of six-man rotations down the stretch and skipped starts. Colon and Feldman are slated to be in a six-man turn this time around and lose some value in leagues with weekly moves as a result.

Mike Recommends: Bartolo Colon. Yuck. Colon doesn’t seem like a big upside guy, but he avoids the Nationals this week and has a super easy schedule down the stretch. Matt Shoemaker is worth considering if you’re playing more for wins/strikeouts, but even though the Astros are potentially a high strikeout matchup, that lineup against Shoemaker scares me, even in the spacious confines of Anaheim.

Table 3: 15-Team Mixed Hitter (Last 14 Days)

Player

Own%

AB

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

Simmons, Andrelton (SS,MI)

21.98

29

3

0

2

1

.310

Escobar, Eduardo (2B,SS,3B,OF)

12.28

35

13

3

7

0

.371

Suzuki, Kurt (C)

12.08

28

5

0

5

0

.321

Flowers, Tyler (C)

7.92

20

0

0

5

0

.250

Santana, Danny (SS,OF)

7.72

0

0

0

0

0

.000

Gutierrez, Franklin (OF)

6.73

38

9

4

11

0

.368

Butler, Joey (OF)

4.95

13

1

0

2

0

.231

Galvis, Freddy (SS)

4.75

48

7

1

4

1

.229

Johnson, Kelly (1B,2B,3B,OF)

4.55

35

7

1

3

1

.314

Gregorius, Didi (SS)

4.36

43

9

3

12

0

.442

SOURCE: RT Sports, LABR Mixed, Stats through Wednesday, September 2

As is always the case, the deep mixed league free agent list is far uglier than the standard mixed free agent pool. The sort I use in deep mixed to pull this table is players most owned. Perhaps this isn’t the best way to do this; instead of looking at ownership percentages, maybe looking at most at bats over the last two weeks is a better method.

This method adds Jason Bourgeois, Andres Blanco, Gregory Bird, Thomas Pham, Marwin Gonzalez, Carlos Sanchez and Adonis Garcia for Simmons, Escobar, Suzuki, Flowers, Santana, Butler, and Johnson. Bird is the only player in the new group of players I would argue is demonstrably better. Regardless of what method you use in deep mixed, the player pool is weak.

More importantly, some of the best recent performers are on Table 3. Escobar, Gutierrez, and Gregorius have all been terrific. I typically don’t recommend playing the hot hand, but here is a case where I would rather grab one of these guys than take a stab at a September call up who is only going to get limited playing time regardless.

Mike Recommends: Franklin Gutierrez
Maybe Gutierrez gets hurt again, but unless or until he does it is imperative that you ride his hot streak in 15 or 16-team mixed leagues. Gregorius and Escobar are more tempting due to their middle infield eligibility, but I have much more faith that Gutierrez can keep this up in September.

Table 4: 15-Team Mixed Pitcher

Player

Own%

W

ERA

SV

IP

SO

WHIP

Week 22

Haren, Dan (P)

66.93

0

4.98

0

21.2

15

1.20

@STL, @PHI

Storen, Drew (P)

34.65

0

4.50

0

6.0

8

0.50

Fister, Doug (P)

27.52

1

4.50

0

8.0

5

1.50

Rodney, Fernando (P)

24.36

1

10.80

0

3.1

3

1.20

Bolsinger, Michael (P)

20.20

0

0.00

0

0.0

0

0.00

???

Gonzalez, Miguel (P)

19.80

0

6.52

0

9.2

4

1.86

Feldman, Scott (P)

19.41

0

2.53

0

10.2

8

1.31

@OAK

Young, Chris (P)

15.05

1

0.00

0

2.2

4

1.12

Duffey, Tyler (P)

14.85

0

4.50

0

10.0

6

1.70

@CHW

Eickhoff, Jerad (P)

11.88

1

2.84

0

19.0

15

1.00

CHC

SOURCE: RT Sports, LABR Mixed, Stats through Wednesday, September 2

You could perform the same exercise here for pitchers using innings pitched instead of at bats, but this offers little in the way of viable streaming options. Justin Nicolino is the play if you simply don’t care about wins and are willing to let the chips fall where they may, but using an innings criterion also gives you Randy Wolf, Jeff Locke, and Brad Hand. Locke and Hand are fine in NL-only I suppose, but you don’t want these guys anywhere near your roster in any kind of mixed format.

The pitchers in Table 4 fall into the “do I have to” category? I’d grab Haren if I needed strikeouts and didn’t care about the qualitative categories, but if I just needed a win I’d grab Feldman with the good matchup in the pitchers’ environment in Oakland. If you need a starter in deep mixed, the odds are excellent that you are chasing and it isn’t going to work out for you in any category.

Mike Recommends: Dan Haren
I lean Haren over any of the other options in Table 4. The start against the Cardinals could be rough, but Haren’s propensity to keep base runners at bay should keep this start from being a complete train wreck, and he then gets the Phillies, who aren’t playing at the same level that they were when they swept the Cubs earlier this year. One potential win with 12-14 strikeouts seems like a pretty good deal for a week in mixed, even if the ERA climbs over four. —Mike Gianella

AL-ONLY

Paulo Orlando, OF, Kansas City Royals

I have profiled Orlando in the past in this weekly piece, but based on his recent spike in playing time, Orlando has re-emerged as a player who can have fantasy relevance in the short term in deep AL-Only formats. The Brazil-born outfielder has gotten starts for the Royals in six of their past seven games heading into Thursday night, and is 8-for-24 with a home run and three RBI in those games. The Royals have the AL Central pretty much wrapped up, so it is possible Ned Yost could give players like Orlando more playing time down the stretch to rest regulars like Alex Gordon, Alex Rios and Lorenzo Cain so they are fresh for the post season. Orlando has racked up over 200 career steals in the minors, including 34 stolen bases for AAA Omaha last season and has a little pop as well. Orlando is also a plus defender, which can only help his playing time, making him a potential valuable fill-in if you have a hole in your outfield.

Edgar Olmos, SP/RP, Seattle Mariners

Olmos was drafted out of high school back in 2008 by the Marlins in the 3rd round as an 18-year-old starting pitcher. After several unsuccessful seasons as a starter in the lower minors, the Marlins moved him to the bullpen in the hopes the 6’4” lefty from California could prove to be a viable commodity out of their bullpen. Following a couple of more uneventful seasons, the Mariners claimed Olmos off waivers from the Marlins during the offseason. While the starter converted to reliever did pitch mostly in relief in AAA for Seattle this season, he did get two starts and showed enough in those starts for the Mariners to call him up for s start on Sunday against the White Sox. While the southpaw was not overly impressive in his major league debut—he did struggle with his command—he flashed a mid-90’s fastball and overall solid stuff. Olmos sported a 9.3 K/9 in AAA this season and is scheduled to get another start on Friday night against the A’s so monitor that outing and bid accordingly if you need a potential wins play.

Other AL-Only FAAB options: Dalton Pompey, OF, Toronto Blue Jays; Jonny Gomes, OF, Kansas City Royals; Danny Santana, IF/OF, Minnesota Twins; Kennys Vargas, 1B, Minnesota Twins; Paul Janish, IF, Baltimore Orioles; Jonathan Villar , IF, Houston Astros; Drew Stubbs, OF, Texas Rangers; Nate Jones, RP, Chicago White Sox; Chasen Shreve, RP, New York Yankees; Zach Putnam, RP, Chicago White Sox; Mychal Givens, RP, Baltimore Orioles; Trevor Gott, RP, Los Angeles Angels; Vincent Velasquez, RP/SP, Houston Astros; Heath Hembree, RP, Boston Red Sox; Erik Johnson, SP, Chicago White Sox

NL-ONLY

Austin Jackson, OF, Chicago Cubs

The Cubs acquired Jackson and cash considerations from the Mariners in exchange for a player to be named later and international slot No. 98 on Monday, to the delight of NL-Only owners who need a source for steals. With Jorge Soler still out with an oblique injury, and Kyle Schwarber nursing a possible rib or oblique injury, the speedy outfielder could see regular time in the Cubs outfield over the last month of the season. While Jackson is not exciting, he is extremely consistent from a fantasy earnings perspective, having earned at least $16 in standard AL-Only 5×5 formats in each of his first five season and on pace again for that in 2015. The veteran outfielder is hitting .319 with 4 home runs, 17 RBI and 4 stolen bases since July 26th, so he is riding a hot hand as he heads to his new venue. Jackson seems like a waiver wire gift this late in the season for those NL-Only contenders sitting on a surplus of FAAB and in need of an offensive player to provide value across three to four categories. Jackson had earned $15 in standard AL-Only formats this season with the Mariners, so make those FAAB bids healthy ones.

Zach Davies, SP, Milwaukee Brewers

Davies was acquired from the Orioles in the Gerardo Parra deadline deal, and made his major league debut for the Brewers on Wednesday night against the Pirates. He was leading 3-0 heading into the 4th inning but allowed a three-run bomb to Aramis Ramirez that frame and could not make it out of the fifth inning, ending up with a no-decision. The knock on Davies has been his size, he is listed at 150 pounds, and after watching his start Wednesday I do not think he has put on any weight since the beginning of the season. That said, he has posted solid numbers in the minors, and while his fastball tops out in the low-90’s, he has a plus changeup and changed speeds effectively in his big league debut. He struggled with his command against the Pirates, but has posted strong BB:9 rates in his minor league career so I would not read too much into that after one start. The 22-year old right-hander will toe the rubber against the Marlins in his next start, making him a decent streaming option next week in NL-Only formats.

Other NL-Only FAAB options: Alejandro De Aza, OF, San Francisco Giants; Travis Snider, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates; Eric Young, Jr., OF, New York Mets; Quintin Berry, OF, Chicago Cubs; Clint Robinson, 1B/OF, Washington Nationals; Elian Herrera, IF, Milwaukee Brewers; Dustin Garneau, C, Colorado Rockies; Greg Garcia, INF, St. Louis Cardinals; Justin Ruggiano, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers; Javier Lopez, RP, San Francisco Giants; Edwin Jackson, SP/RP, Atlanta Braves; Tyler Lyons, SP/RP, St. Louis Cardinals; Jairo Diaz, RP, Colorado RockiesKeith Cromer