Each week, two members of the BP fantasy team will provide a rundown of potentially valuable players that are available as free agents in most fantasy formats across the major platforms. We will run one column on the National League and one on the American League each week, with Josh Shepardson tackling the senior circuit on Mondays and Paul Singman focusing on the junior circuit on Tuesdays.
At the moment, Greg Holland is tenuously holding on to the Royals closing job. Oddly, his slow start last year is proving beneficial, as manager Ned Yost cited his struggles last April as a reason for patience. Still, Holland’s leash is one of the shortest in the AL, and Herrera is a more-than-capable replacement. Herrera is known for having the second-fastest average fastball velocity last year at 97.4 mph, behind only—you guessed it—Aroldis Chapman. Mixing this overpowering velocity with a nasty change and solid control makes Herrera particularly effective and worth owning in deeper mixed leagues, even if saves don’t come his way immediately.
After news of David Ortiz’s injury, it was Jackie Bradley who grabbed the headlines with an outstanding spring. Since the regular season has begun however, Nava has made all the noise with a .500 average, two homers, and six RBI in 17 plate appearances. If Bradley’s struggles continue, Nava could be the one earning the majority of the starts in left field for the Red Sox against righties. Given 450 plate appearances, Nava is capable of batting .250 with 10 homers and a handful of steals. He has also batted in the two-spot in the lineup twice this year and has manned first base once, adding to his value. He should be owned in all AL-only leagues and is entering the conversation for deep mixed leagues.
Please don’t take this as a general endorsement of Beavan the pitcher, who—over 254 career innings—has a K/9 under 4.0. However, the contact-heavy Beavan draws the historically bad Astros tomorrow, and that’s a matchup I can endorse. Consider streaming him for Wednesday’s start and then dumping him before he faces Detroit his next time out.
If you’re desperate for saves, you can’t let pride prevent you from looking in those embarrassing places from which saves can sometimes come. Valverde is one of those embarrassing places, and with the Tigers’ closing situation as clear as the Beijing skyline, you can’t ignore Valverde, even in 12-team mixed leagues.
Stephen Drew, SS, Red Sox
Ownership: ESPN: 2.1% Yahoo!: 9% CBS: 35%
2013 Stats: N/A
Concussion-related symptoms have so far delayed Drew’s Red Sox debut, but after a few successful minor-league games, he is slated to be recalled on Wednesday. In leagues without many DL spots, Drew is likely sitting on waivers. I’d considering adding him in all league types if you are weak up the middle. It has been a couple years since he was last worthy of mixed-league ownership, but the move to Fenway could help to fuel a bounce-back season.
Despite an impressive rookie season, Smyly lost out on snagging a spot in Detroit’s rotation. For now, he’s a long-reliever, but more likely than not, he’ll find his way into the rotation eventually. Smyly possesses good strikeout ability, having fanned nearly a batter an inning in 100 frames last year. Once he is a starter again, he will be relevant in all leagues, so those who play in deeper formats should consider adding him now..
Scott Sizemore, 3B/2B, Oakland A’s
Ownership: ESPN: 0.0% Yahoo!: 1% CBS: 3%
2013 Stats: 0 R, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB, .250 AVG
The A’s second- and third-base positions are currently manned by Eric Sogard and Josh Donaldson, who so far aren’t doing much offensively. Sizemore is the primary backup at both spots, and I expect him to be given the majority of at-bats at either second or third in the near future. If he’s unowned in your AL-only league, I’d consider roster-ing the 28-year-old.
With Luke Scott sidelined with a calf strain, Duncan has found his way into the Rays lineup more often than not in 2013, whether at designated hitter or in the outfield. By now, you should know the story with Duncan; he offers solid power against southpaws and not much else. He has, however, shown a penchant for home-run outbursts, especially in the early going. In AL-only leagues, it’s worth gambling on a Duncan power spree now that he already has one big fly in the bag.