Week five of the major-league season is upon us already, and now is when we typically will see a lull in viable waiver-wire choices. These limited options make for tough decisions of whether to go with a dead spot rather than spend any more valuable FAAB on a so-so player. As a grizzled veteran of AL- and NL-Only leagues, I have always been of the belief that you need to spend your FAAB when the opportunity arises, and not wait for future uncertainties of inter-league trades or late-season call-ups by big league clubs.
That said, the continued injuries and slow starts by several players have brought us fantasy owners a weekly cornucopia of potential saviors to our respective fantasy seasons. This week offers up some more interesting players, so without further ado, here is the latest installment of The Deep League Report.
The Twins called up Rosario this week to replace Oswaldo Arcia when Arcia was placed on the DL with a hip injury. It was a historic debut for Rosario on Wednesday night, as he became the 29th player in major-league history to hit a home run on the first pitch he saw. Rosario can hit, but his defense has been the concern, so the Twins moved the former second baseman to the outfield to accelerate his path to the majors. Rosario has been a top prospect in the Twins organization the past few years and opened a lot of eyes with his performance in the Arizona Fall League, hitting .330 with 18 RBI and 10 stolen bases. Rosario should get his share of ABs in the OF while Arcia is on the shelf and is solid AL-Only FAAB option who has more value in keeper leagues. He might stick if he can continue to produce.
Like Rosario, Perez had a memorable big league debut for the Angels on Tuesday night, as the 24-year-old catcher became the first player to hit a walk-off home run in his major-league debut since 2003, when Miguel Cabrera did it with the Marlins. Perez was acquired by the Angels in the offseason from the Astros (along with Nick Tropeano) in the Hank Conger deal and had a strong showing in the Venezuelan Winter League. Perez was slashing .361/.418/.556 in his first 17 games in Triple-A at the time of his call-up, and Chris Iannetta has looked inept at the plate (.094/.192/.109 through his first 21 games). There is no reason to doubt that Perez could steal playing time away from Iannetta if the rookie produces.
Remember when Colabello had 27 RBI last April with the Twins? If you don’t, that’s okay, because neither did I. Colabello was called up by the Blue Jays this week after putting up impressive numbers in Triple-A: namely, a .337/.421/.554 line with five home runs in 23 games. With Michael Saunders’ knee still not 100 percent, Colabello could see his share of ABs. He is 6-for-8 with two ribbies in his first two games with Toronto, so maybe he can relive some of last year’s early-season magic.
The former 15th-round pick back in 2008 was called up on Sunday when Desmond Jennings was placed on the DL, and he paid immediate dividends for Kevin Cash by hitting his first career HR in Fenway Park on Monday night. Cash was on record as saying he plans to use Butler "a lot" while Jennings is out, so you should put him as one of your contingency waiver-wire picks if you need an outfielder this week.
While he has not received as much recognition as the more highly regarded prospects in the deep Astros farm system, Tucker has put up solid numbers at every level of the minors. After posting video-game-type stats in his first 25 games at Triple-A this season (.320/.378/.650 including 10 home runs and 32 RBI) Tucker was called up yesterday when George Springer was placed on the seven-day concussion DL. While Tucker does not project as an everyday player in the OF, he has a good stick and could provide offense if you have a dead spot. It’s unclear how long the former Florida Gator will be up with the Astros, but he is worth a waiver-wire flier.
I wrote about Shreve in Monday’s Free Agent Watch. The southpaw came out of nowhere in 2014 and posted a 102-to-15 K:BB ratio in 76 innings over three levels, including 15 punchouts with the Braves over 12 1/3 innings. He was dealt to the Yankees over the winter in the David Carpenter deal, and has been providing Joe Giraridi with productive innings out of the pen this season. While Shreve will not be in the mix for saves with Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances handling the late-inning duties, middle relievers who can put up peripherals like Shreve does will always have a spot on deep AL-Only league rosters.
Esmil Rogers, RP, New York Yankees
Rogers has a 17-to-5 K:BB ratio and 1.038 WHIP over his 17 1/3 relief innings. Right now, he is a serviceable arm in deep AL-Only leagues, and hemight be next in line for a spot start if the need arises. Rogers is no someone to target right now, but he is a pitcher to keep on your radar if he continues his success in his middle-relief role.
Okay, I know… let it go, Keith. Sorry, but I love the Astros bullpen and both Harris and Sipp should be owned in AL-Only leagues. The experts may not respect them, but you should.
They are good.
Other AL-Only FAAB pitching options: Tommy Hunter, RP, Orioles
Hedges has been regarded as one of the top catching prospects in the game the past couple of years, but that notion has been primarily based on his defensive prowess behind the dish, and not for his skills with the bat. It’s yet another thin waiver-wire week in the NL from a position player perspective, though, so Hedges does warrant some interest. He’s not a bad flier if you need a second catcher, especially in keeper formats.
Maness is the type of reliever you would think would have more value in real baseball than in our world, but the sinkerballer has earned $17 in standard NL-Only 5×5 formats the past two seasons, showing he brings fantasy value as well. Maness has already picked up two saves this year, and with Jordan Walden on the DL for the next 6-10 weeks, he could be in line for more if Trevor Rosenthal needs a breather. Realistically, Maness is an unassuming but effective reliever who does not allow many free passes, and who boasts strong ground-ball rates that lead to strong ERA and WHIP totals for fantasy owners. If he can grab a few more saves, that’s just gravy.
Zach Rosscup, RP, Chicago Cubs
The concerns with Rosscup have been with his control, evidenced by his walking 19 batters over his first 20 big-league innings. The control issues have not surfaced yet in 2015, and the lefty reliever has a 12-to-1 K:BB ratio though 10 1/3 innings. He has not been used as a LOOGY this year—he’s faced nearly twice as many RHB as lefties—and hehas a win and couple of holds already on the season. Rosscup could be a pitcher to keep an eye on the Cubs bullpen this year.
Nick Vincent, RP, San Diego Padres
If you have been reading my material on the site, you know I love my middle relievers. Vincent was sent down on April 10th due to a roster bind, but he was called back up last week by the Padres, and I expect Vincent to return to his old reliable self. Vincent has been an overlooked fantasy asset in the Padres bullpen, but he has been one of their more reliable short men the past three seasons. Vincent improved his BB/9 rates in each of the past three years (1.8 BB/9 last year), while his K/9 rate jumped to 10.1 in 2014. He was called upon often in high-leverage situations in 2014 and allowed only six of his 42 inherited runners to score while registering 20 holds. Vincent’s numbers would have been electric if not for a battle with shoulder fatigue in June, when he gave up nine runs in just 2 1/3 innings over four appearances before being put on the DL. When he came back off the DL in July, he returned to his dominant form and had 25 consecutive scoreless appearances. Vincent is lethal against right-handed batters, holding them to a sick .162/.199/.227 line the past two seasons. Vincent’s peripherals will help any fantasy team, and he gets an added bump in NL-Only leagues that count holds.
Paco Rodriguez, RP, Los Angeles Dodgers
I wrote about Rodriguez, last week, but felt he still warrants mention based on the Dodgers bullpen. The back end of their bullpen remains a fluid situation because of injuries. With a career 10.7 K/9 and strong ratios in an unstable Dodgers’ pen, I still like Rodriguez as an NL-Only pitching play right now.
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