As Mike Gianella and I mentioned on Friday, we are making a change going forward and the Deep League Report article will now appear on Wednesdays. This is the debut of the midweek edition. As a friendly reminder, the Free Agent Watch article will take the place of this series on Fridays and will cover any midweek transactions that might impact your interest in available players.
With all that said, here’s what we have to pique our collective interests from a free agent perspective as we head into week eight of the fantasy season.
Collins was called up from Triple-A Toledo last week when Victor Martinez was placed on the DL and immediately saw action, getting three starts in five days. Collins possesses some pop (39 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A the past two seasons) and a little speed, with 55 stolen bases in 71 attempts over parts of five minor-league seasons. The past few games the Tigers have been using more of a rotation between J.D. Martinez and Rajai Davis to split time between right field and the DH spot, so you should monitor Collins’ playing time this week. He did pick up two hits against Jesse Hahn on Monday, and Collins will have value in deep AL-only leagues if he can continue to see 12-18 at-bats a week.
Rosales is what he is, but he has been getting regular playing time in the Rangers infield, and with that he has value in the deep AL-only world. The veteran utility man had a nice weekend series against the Yankees, registering a couple of multi-hit games and a home run. His versatility adds a little more value as he qualifies at three infield spots (1B, 2B, 3B) in most standard leagues. He has three home runs to go along with a couple of steals on the season, so if you need to fill a MI dead spot, Rosales could be your guy.
The former 43rd-round pick out of the United States Naval Academy was called up this weekend and made his major-league debut on Saturday, tossing three scoreless innings in relief against the Marlins, over which 25 of his 37 pitches were strikes. He came back on Monday and struck out two Astros in a clean eighth inning to set up Zach Britton for his 11th save. Drake put up solid numbers the previous two seasons in Double-A (39 saves, 109-to-30 K:BB ratio over 83 2/3 IP) and continued his success in Triple-A this season, posting a 30-to-4 K:BB ratio along with a 0.750 WHIP and eight saves at the time of his call-up. The reports are that his splitter is lethal, and from what I saw on Monday, I would tend to agree. The 28-year-old right-hander is an arm to keep an eye on in AL-only leagues.
Since being activated from the 15-day disabled list back on May 8th, Wilhelmsen has posted five scoreless outings and a 10-to-2 K:BB ratio over 6 2/3 innings. The 6-foot-6 reliever had 53 saves as the Mariners closer in 2012 and 2013, and while I like Carson Smith more, it’s always wise to keep tabs on a “proven closer” when the current closer for Seattle has logged a 5.89 ERA and 1.582 WHIP, and seen a large drop in K/9 this season.
Steve Geltz, RP, Tampa Bay Rays
It’s a very thin waiver-wire pitching pool early in the week in AL, so I will once again mention Geltz, who was profiled in Friday’s article. He has put three more appearances under his belt since then and now boasts a 25-to-9 K:BB ratio though 20 innings with a 1.000 WHIP. The Rays bullpen uses a heavy rotation, which means Geltz will bring value in AL-only formats with these peripherals.
With Yasmani Grandal on the DL as he recovers from a concussion, Barnes was called up from Triple-A this weekend and is expected to split time with A.J. Ellis behind the dish for the Dodgers. Barnes was acquired this past offseason from the Marlins in the deal that sent Dee Gordon to south Florida. Barnes has a pretty solid minor-league résumé, including a .297/.390/.431 line and an impressive 226-to-231 K:BB ratio over parts of five seasons on the farm. You can never predict the future impact of Grandal’s concussion, and Ellis has not looked like the same player offensively since his 2012 breakout. If Barnes can impress in the time that Grandal is out, he has a chance to replace Ellis as the Dodgers’ backup backstop.
I wrote about Difo in Friday’s Deep League Report and he went unclaimed in some expert leagues this weekend, including in Tout Wars. I’m still not sure what to expect from a player who only has 14 games above A-ball, but he should see some time at second base and is worth a spec play based on the potential power/speed combination. Difo was named the Nationals 2014 Minor League Player of the Year, after hitting .315 with 14 home runs and 49 stolen bases in Low-A ball. He was slashing .315/.367/.520 over his first 33 games between High-A and Double-A ball this year, including seven steals in eight attempts. He is much more of an interesting play in keeper leagues, as he was FAAB’d in all three of the NL-only leagues that I participate in. Check out Bret Sayre’s fantasy analysis of Difo in The Call-Up article from last Wednesday for more input on his fantasy impact.
With the Reds finally deciding to place Devin Mesoraco on the DL on Monday, Barnhart should continue to see playing time behind the dish in Cincinnati. Barnhart has authored solid OBPs in the minors, and he is slugging .438 in his limited time with the Reds this season with two long flies, making the 24-year-old a decent second catcher option in deep NL-only leagues.
Other NL-Only FAAB hitting options: Jose Tabata OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
During The Only League Landscape series before the season started, I wrote about Capps in my NL relief pitcher capsule for the Marlins. Here was my summary: “Capps is purely a potential play based on his live arm, and in hopes his elbow troubles do not resurface. A healthy Capps has back of the bullpen potential.”
Nothing has changed in my synopsis since, and I still like him. His 11-to-0 K:BB ratio in his first six innings this season is making baseball fans hope the elbow will hold up. If so, the Marlins bullpen is loaded.
To piggyback off the Capps profile, I also wrote about Knebel in that same article, but not with as much passion…“Corey Knebel has upside, but is probably better suited for keeper leagues as his impact will probably not be felt in 2015.”
Well, based on the Brewers struggles this year, Knebel could be given the opportunity to show what he can do this year. The young right-hander has flashed his potential in his three appearances since his call-up last week, striking out five of the 10 batters he has faced. Keep him on your radar as the week progresses.
Hunter Strickland, RP, San Francisco
Admittedly, it’s a thin NL-only free agent pool early this week, so why not continue to call out relief pitchers I wrote about during the NL relief pitcher The Only League Landscape series?
“Hunter Strickland’s postseason performance last year was a cautionary tale for young fireballers that big-league hitters can turn on a high-90s fastball when there is no movement on it. That said, Strickland has the potential to be a force in the back end of the Giants bullpen if he can work on that fastball. His value will be low, so he is a nice reserve pick to stash away for later in the season.”
Strickland was called up by the Giants this weekend and came into Saturday’s game against the Rockies and struck out three of the six batters he faced over two scoreless innings. When Casey McGehee was DFA’d on Sunday, Strickland remained on the Giants active roster and on Monday struck out three of the seven batters he faced over 2 1/3 clean innings. When you hit triple digits on the radar gun, you have value in deep NL-only 5×5 formats even if you are not closing. Like Capps and Knebel, Strickland makes for another nice spec play in NL-only keeper leagues.
Other NL-Only FAAB pitching options: Jose Urena, SP, Miami Marlins; Chad Bettis, SP, Colorado Rockies; Dale Thayer, RP, San Diego Padres; Luis Avilan, RP, Atlanta Braves; Taylor Jordan, RP, Washington Nationals