While playing time concerns due to the return of Anthony Rendon kept me from writing in Espinosa two weeks ago, Ryan Zimmerman’s DL stint has removed that roadblock. After being fantasy relevant in 2011 and 2012 as a 20/20 middle infield threat, Espinosa quickly became irrelevant the past two seasons. His fall from grace was largely due to an inability to hit right-handed pitching, which manifested itself in a high volume of strikeouts and a dearth of power. After toying with giving up hitting left-handed, Espinosa has come back with a vengeance as a left-handed hitter. He is striking out at a career-low rate, walking at a career-high rate, and posting a career-high slugging percentage so far this season. He has always hit lefties (and he has continued to do so), which—given his regained success against righties—makes him an every day option for the Nationals. He appears ready to receive near-everyday playing time at first (and even a little in the outfield), and even though he is no longer a base stealing threat, his pop and middle infield eligibility certainly makes him worth an add.
Ramirez is the poster child for pitchers that are under-owned because of early season blow up starts that continue to make their ratios look bad. After allowing 14 earned runs in 5 1/3 innings over his first two appearances of the season, Ramirez has allowed 14 runs in 53 1/3 innings, good for a 2.36 ERA. His groundball rate is up to 47.3 percent, which is a big plus for a pitcher who has struggled with home runs. While Ramirez seems like he has been around forever after making his debut in 2013, he just turned 25 in May.
Maybe it is the heavier slate of lefties the Astros have faced lately, but Tucker seems under-owned at this point. With Jake Marisnick now having cooled off, Tucker figures to start against righties for a now potent Astros lineup. In fact, Tucker started in left field and batter third (behind George Springer and Carlos Correa) for the Astros yesterday. The pop seems very real as Tucker has hit 20-plus home runs in each of his full seasons and has hit 13 home runs already this season between the majors and Tripl-A. It is easy to loop him in with the high strike out Astros, but he is only a slightly high strikeout hitter and is currently striking out 20.7% of the time which is in line with what he showed in the minors (there might even be some positive regression in there).
Drew Hutchison, SP, Blue Jays
It has been ugly for Hutchison. That said, of the pitchers available in most 15 team mixed leagues, most do not nine percent swinging strike rates with potential for improvement. He has been better of late, lowering his ERA from 7.47 on May 4th to 5.33 today. He has been maddeningly inconsistent, which has probably led to him being dropped in a lot of leagues, but the stuff is still there as he hopefully finds some semblance of command. Obviously, this is not a ringing endorsement, but Hutchison’s upside and signs of improvement make him worth a flier for me. —Jeff Quinton
The former 20th-overall pick back in the 2006 MLB draft by the Twins was signed by the Orioles this offseason, and was called up from Triple-A Norfolk on Tuesday. He provided immediate dividends for Baltimore, going 5-for-9 with three home runs and five runs scored in his first two games. Parmelee has always shown moderate pop at the major-league level with 27 HR over 821 career AB, but not enough for a regular corner outfielder/first baseman. However, the Orioles are still trying to find the right combination in their OF, so Parmelee can be the flavor of the week in Baltimore, and possibly longer. His career splits vs. RHP and LHP are nearly identical, leading to the possibility he could see time again southpaws if this production continues.
With Shane Greene being demoted to Triple-A last Friday, the 23-year-old Ryan will take Greene’s spot in the rotation. The 6-foot-5 southpaw does not have electric stuff—his average fastball velocity is south of 90 mph—but despite the low strikeout totals, the pitch-to-contact hurler has put up solid ratios over his professional career. Ryan allowed just two runs on three hits over seven innings in a no-decision against the White Sox back on June 5th, and has a 3.03 ERA and 1.146 WHIP over his 29 2/3 innings with the Tigers. He got the start on Tuesday against the Reds and only gave up five hits over 6 1/3 innings, but three of those hits left the yard, including two off the bat of Todd Frazier. Overall, he did not pitch badly, as he had a quality start heading into the seventh inning. Ryan is scheduled to start this weekend against the Yankees, so this situation will need to be monitored for the Sunday night FAAB process. Ryan has more value in standard 4×4 formats, but if he can stick in the Tigers rotation, he would make for a nice streaming option in any format.
Other AL-Only FAAB options: Kyle Kubitza, 3B, Los Angeles Angels; Domingo Santana, OF, Houston Astros; Curt Casali, C, Tampa Bay Rays; Shane Robinson, OF, Minnesota Twins; Scott Copeland, SP, Toronto Blue Jays; Chasen Shreve, RP, New York Yankees; Alex Wilson, RP, Detroit Tigers; Steve Geltz, RP, Tampa Bay Rays; Tom Wilhelmsen, RP, Seattle Mariners; Charlie Furbush, RP, Seattle Mariners
Since being recalled by Triple-A New Orleans last Friday, the former second-round pick in the 2010 MLB Draft has gotten the start the last three starts at 3B for the Marlins while Martin Prado is on the DL nursing a shoulder sprain. Dietrich homered on Monday against the Yankees and registered two more hits and a ribbie the next night against the Bronx Bombers. His natural position is in the middle infield, but with Adeiny Hechavarria and Dee Gordon solidifying those spots for the Marlins, seeing playing time at 2B or SS seems like a pipe dream barring an injury. Dietrich is not an everyday major-league player, especially at 3B, where he has only appeared 19 times in over 550 games in professional baseball. However, Dietrich is a nice short-term fill-in at the hot cofner while Prado is out and is worthy of a FAAB bid this week in deep NL-only leagues.
It’s a thin free agent NL pool in general this week, so even though I wrote about Knebel in Wednesday’s Deep League Report (one of a few encore appearances), I am bringing him back yet again since expert leaguers are ignoring his potential value. I still believe in Knebel long term, and like the reliever much better in keeper leagues as the potential future closer for the Brewers. Given the Brewers struggles, Knebel should be given the opportunity to show what he can do as a late inning option at some point in 2015. The young right-hander has 15 strikeouts in his 12 2/3 inning, so even without the saves, he will provide value thanks to his K/9 rate.
Other NL-Only FAAB options Jose Tabata OF, Pittsburgh Pirates; Chris Stewart, C, Pittsburgh Pirates; David Aardsma, RP, Atlanta Braves; Luis Avilan, RP, Atlanta Braves; Sam Dyson, RP, Miami Marlins; LaTroy Hawkins, RP, Colorado Rockies —Keith Cromer