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12-TEAM MIXED

Randal Grichuk, OF, St. Louis Cardinals

Grichuk has started every game in left field since Matt Holliday hit the disabled list on June 9th and has slashed .300/.356/.725 with four home runs in those 11 contests. Grichuk’s approach remains too aggressive—he’s striking out nearly seven times for every walk—but his plus raw power is starting to show. He hit 65 bombs in his three full years in the minors, including 25 in 108 Triple-A games last year and has a .281 isolated power in 136 big-league plate appearances this year. That’s right between Joc Pederson and Jose Bautista.

Grichuk is getting some help from the batted-ball gods but has just enough feel with the stick to avoid completely tanking your batting average after that corrects. His ability to play all three outfield positions will provide an opportunity for semi-regular at-bats after Holliday returns. Holliday is eligible for reinstatement whenever he’s ready, and though the quad tear was not severe, the Cardinals are a near-lock for the postseason and figure to take it slow. Unless you’re particularly power hungry or daily moves allow you to use Grichuk exclusively against lefties, you might want to see a little more before making him a regular in your lineup, but he’s a guy who should be owned.

Roberto Osuna, RP, Toronto Blue Jays

J.J. Jansons outlined the Jays’ closer situation in this week’s version of The Stash List, and though it’s unclear who John Gibbons is going to turn to, it’s time to grab Osuna. His 2.10 ERA is right on top of his 2.11 FIP, and that FIP mark is inside the top 10 among relievers who have pitched at least 30 innings. If you prefer our advanced measures, his DRA and cFIP are both top 15 among the same subset. The ERA is accompanied by a 0.90 WHIP and 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings.

Despite persistent chatter about how the Jays need to pursue a closer before the trade deadline, the Toronto bullpen as a whole owns a 3.67 ERA and 3.62 FIP, ranked 15th and 17th in baseball, respectively. That’s neither great nor terrible, and Osuna is just as likely to be successful in a ninth-inning role as Jonathan Papelbon or some other trade target with saves on his résumé. I think Gibbons and Anthopoulos are smart enough not to trade much in the way of future assets for three months of veteran-ness and will instead opt to reshuffle current roles and/or make a play for a quality, less-expensive non-closer. In the worst case scenario, Osuna is part of a committee for a month, and then gets displaced by a trade, and you’re still left with someone whose ratios and strikeout ability have been good enough to make him a top-50 reliever despite only one save and one vultured win.

15-TEAM MIXED

Josh Phegley, C, Oakland Athletics

Phegley is a top-five catcher over the past two weeks even though he has participated in just half of Oakland’s games in that span. He mashed three home runs in the last week and his triple-slash for the season sits at .305/.362/.568, good for a .397 wOBA that’s one one-thousandth behind Stephen Vogt’s. Phegley’s value is tied to how the Athletics handle Vogt, who has been playing more first base recently while dealing with an elbow strain. Vogt didn’t catch at all after the first week of July in 2014, and it will be interesting to see how the A’s handle him this summer, as they surely want to keep their best bat in the lineup as often as possible. Their 25-man roster is versatile, and there are several paths to playing time for Phegley, who is a better defensive catcher than Vogt.

First, Phegley owns a career 141 wRC+ against lefties and should be in the lineup against southpaws. Given the heavy offseason investment, Country Breakfast has had a long leash, but his OPS is below .600 in May and June, and in the last week the A’s have used Vogt, Mark Canha, and Ben Zobrist at DH and left Billy Butler on the bench four times. Phegley is 27 years old and was never a highly regarded prospect but hit for acceptable averages throughout his minor-league career and added 38 homers in his final two minor-league seasons. Even if the A’s don’t pencil him in more often, his occasional power will add value in deeper leaues.

Ivan Nova, SP, New York Yankees

Nova threw his final “rehab” outing on Wednesday against the Phillies, pitching 6 2/3 scoreless innings while allowing only five baserunners. His velocity was right in line with historical performance. As is the case with most Tommy John returnees, one key to Nova’s 2015 value will be how well he commands his repertoire. His walk rate has gotten better every season since his 2010 debut, and he’ll hope to buck a common post-TJ symptom by sustaining those gains. Another key will be whether he can keep the ball on the ground, as he struggles with the long ball when he fails to do so. Despite striking out more than eight batters per nine innings in 2012, he returned no value thanks to a 5.02 ERA. That ugly number was the product of a ground-ball rate well below his career average and the subsequent 28 home runs allowed in just 170 innings. I’m not optimistic that Nova will achieve a league-average strikeout rate in 2015, and I’m concerned about the start-to-start volatility, but Nova makes for a fine matchup play or depth for owners in need of pitching.
Greg Wellemeyer

AL-ONLY

Franklin Gutierrez, OF, Seattle Mariners

Injuries have derailed the former Gold Glove-winning outfielder’s career, but after tearing up Triple-A this season to the tune of a .317/.402/.500 line with seven home runs in 48 games, Gutierrez was called up on Wednesday and immediately inserted into the no. 2 hole in the Mariners order. The oft-injured outfielder has been quite the fantasy tease over his career with his desirable power/speed combination, but he has only appeared in 173 games for the Mariners over the past four seasons, making him too much of risk to invest in. However, the Mariners are sputtering on offense and Gutierrez could be the spark they need atop the lineup—and his defense in the outfield will get him regular at-bats. Health is always the key, but in deep AL-only leagues, Gutierrez should be owned and is worth a decent FAAB bid.

Zach Putnam, RP, Chicago White Sox

After a rough start to the season, Putnam has begun to relive some of his success in 2014 when he posted a 1.98 ERA and 1.08 WHIP over 49 games with the White Sox, on his way to a $10 fantasy season in standard 5×5 AL-only formats. Since May 6th, Putnam has been impressive, appearing in 15 games and posting a 1.15 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 27-to-8 K:BB ratio over 15 2/3 innings heading into Thursday’s game against Detroit. He did give up a run on Thursday but still struck out two in his inning of work, and his 13.9 K/9 on the season is enough reason to roster Putnam in AL-only formats.

Other AL-Only FAAB options: Kyle Kubitza, 3B, Los Angeles Angels; Curt Casali, C, Tampa Bay Rays; Daniel Robertson, OF, Los Angeles Angels; Charlie Furbush, RP, Seattle Mariners; Alex Wilson, RP, Detroit Tigers; Chaz Roe, RP, Baltimore Orioles; Josh Fields, RP, Houston Astros; Chasen Shreve, RP, New York Yankees; Casey Fien, RP, Minnesota Twins

NL-ONLY

Cesar Hernandez, IF, Philadelphia Phillies

I wrote about the 25-year-old reserve infielder in Wednesday’s Deep League Report, and that was prior the news that Chase Utley was placed on the 15-day disabled list with an ankle injury. However, even before the DL stint, Utley was beginning to lose playing time to Hernandez at second base. Hernandez’s fantasy upside is limited, but he has started five of the last six games for the Phillies at 2B, and regular ABs at the MI spot always have value in deep NL-only leagues.

Javier Lopez, RP, San Francisco Giants

Even if they’re LOOGYs, I am a big fan of relievers with superb ratios. Lopez has been spectacular in relief for the Giants and had allowed a sparkling .054/.125/.054 line to LHB in 40 PAs this season heading into Thursday’s game. However, the 13-year veteran has also been very effective against righties this year, and his 0.96 ERA and 0.65 WHIP over his 20 innings have earned $4 in standard NL-only leagues even without the benefit of a win or a save. His current 72 percent grounder rate is pristine, possibly meaning the law of averages will lead to a few decisions down the road.

Other NL-Only FAAB options: Joey Terdoslavich 1B/OF, Atlanta Braves; Brett Wallace, 1B, San Diego Padres; Darin Ruf, 1B/OF, Philadelphia Phillies; Hernan Perez, IF, Milwaukee Brewers; Xavier Scruggs, 1B/OF, St. Louis Cardinals; Luis Avilan, RP, Atlanta Braves; Adam Morgan, SP, Philadelphia Phillies
Keith Cromer

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earlweaver
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