The speedster has started three of the four games since Alex Gordon hit the DL and figures to be the primary playing-time beneficiary in his absence. As Keith Cromer pointed out last week, Dyson might find himself in a platoon situation with Paulo Orlando, but Dyson would be on the long side of it and offers enough defensive flexibility to occasionally spell Lorenzo Cain and Alex Rios. A batting average likely to be in the .260 range won’t help or hurt you, his run-scoring potential will be depressed by his placement at the bottom of the order, and he has zero power. Spending a roster spot on a one-trick pony can feel empty but Dyson’s wheels are a premium asset. Dyson stole 70 bases in the past two seasons—ninth-most in baseball—despite receiving only 529 plate appearances. He’s got 11 swipes in 121 plate appearances this year. There is widespread speculation that Kansas City will pick up an outfielder before the trade deadline and even if they do, Dyson can pad your stolen base total in the meantime. With the Royals’ playoff odds approaching 90 percent, there’s a chance they stand pat and assume Gordon will be at full health by October. If that happens and Dyson continues to see the field regularly, his stolen-base total alone will make him a top-50 outfielder in the season’s second half.
Cron parlayed a strong spring into a starting gig with the Angels, but he was horrific in the season’s first seven weeks. A .204/.225/.276 line earned him a ticket back to Triple-A. Cron got right in Salt Lake, rediscovering his power stroke and hitting six home runs as part of a .323/.347/.667 triple-slash in 23 games. Since becoming an everyday major-leaguer again at the end of June, Cron has been one of the best hitters in the league, though admittedly over just a 10-game sample. A 2.0 percent walk rate (two percent!) is not that far out of line with his minor-league track record and figures to be exploited eventually, but Cron makes contact at an above-average rate despite his aggressiveness. First base and corner spots are fairly easily filled in mixed 12-teamers, but if you have a bench where you can stash him or play in a league with 15 teams or more, the former 17th-overall pick makes for a good power-upside play for the rest of the summer.
After 230 mostly uninspiring innings in 2013-14, fantasy owners shied away from the sinkerballing former top prospect this spring, in part because of the lack of strikeout upside. Some reluctance to buy in was fair; the margin for error can be razor thin for starters who strike batters out as infrequently as Gibson does, but preventing runs and getting outs are categories, too. Gibson’s 2.85 ERA is 21st-best in baseball and his 1.21 WHIP is inside the top 40. DRA likes what he’s done so far but cFIP is less optimistic, implying his first-half performance is somewhat luck-driven. I would tend to agree based on full-season numbers, but I’m buying his improved performance lately as a real step forward. Both his slider and changeup are getting better as swing-and-miss pitches, and the improving secondaries are showing up in the stats. Gibson has struck out more than eight batters per nine since May 24th, an arbitrary endpoint, but also a sample that includes 65 1/3 innings over 10 starts. I don’t think the 22.4 percent strikeout rate over that period is sustainable, but it indicates some upward mobility from the 14.1 percent mark that was nearly a league-worst in 2014. —Greg Wellemeyer
With Stephen Drew’s continued struggles at the plate, evidenced by a dismal .182/.257/.372 line at the break, the Yankees called up Refsnyder from Triple-A last weekend to see what he could do at the big-league level. The 24-year-old middle infielder from South Korea got the start at second base for New York in both games prior to the All-Star break, and he showed a glimpse of his potential at the plate by smacking a two-run home run against the Red Sox in Sunday’s victory. Refsnyder has shown great contact skills in the minors, and an impressive .296/.388/.437 slash line over parts of four seasons in professional ball. The former fifth-round pick has also displayed some power, launching 14 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A a season ago, and seven more bombs this year at Scranton, while mixing in a little speed by swiping 10 of 11 bags in 81 games before his call-up. The concerns surrounding Refsnyder are more related to his defensive skills at second base, but the reports out of New York are that he will remain with the Yankees as the All-Star break concludes. His bat should play well in Yankee Stadium, making Refsnyder an attractive FAAB option in AL-only formats this week.
This is purely a spec play if you are trying to find some potential saves in AL-only formats. Sure, Joakim Soria’s meltdown on Friday against the Twins could be viewed as knee-jerk evidence by those who think he should be pulled out of the closer role in Detroit, but the numbers also show a steady regression for Soria over the past month. He’s allowed 10 earned runs over his past 14 appearances, including six home runs and two blown saves. His ERA has jumped over two full runs during that period, while his FIP on the season sits at a very uninspiring 5.12. Yes, Feliz was DFA’d by the Rangers and his drop in velocity the past few years is well documented, but he has had success in the closer role. If Soria’s struggles continue, Brad Ausmus could give this former RoY award winner and owner of 93 career saves a shot to close again.
Other AL-Only FAAB options: Paulo Orlando, OF, Kansas City Royals; Tim Beckham, 2B/SS, Tampa Bay Rays; L.J. Hoes, OF, Houston Astros; Jake Elmore, IF, Tampa Bay Rays; Daniel Robertson, OF, Los Angeles Angels; Curt Casali, C, Tampa Bay Rays; Chasen Shreve, RP, New York Yankees; Zach Putnam, RP, Chicago White Sox; Brad Brach, Baltimore Orioles; Felix Doubront; SP, Toronto Blue Jays; Steve Geltz, RP, Tampa Bay Rays
When you become the first Mets hitter in team history to hit three home runs in a game at home, and if you are on the waiver wire despite that, you deserve a little shout out. At the end of the day, that performance on Sunday will not catapult Nieuwenhuis into fantasy relevance unless it leads to increased playing time, which I am not sure is in the cards here. However, the Mets have been looking for any type of offensive spark this season, so Nieuwenhuis just might see some more playing time based on his home-run binge. He has displayed solid power numbers throughout his career in the minors and showed some improvement at the plate last season, smacking 12 doubles and three home runs in 112 at-bats with the Mets while sporting a strong .223 ISO. He’s certainly worth a $1 flier in deep NL-only formats to fill a dead spot on offense for a week.
With the season-ending Achilles injury to closer Jason Grilli, Vizcaino’s value is gaining some momentum in the fantasy world the past few days. Way back in March during The Only Landscape series article on NL relief pitchers, I wrote about Vizcaino as an arm to target in the reserve rounds as a deep sleeper for saves, and now it appears that prediction might come to fruition. The former top prospect has regained his velocity after missing two seasons to recover from Tommy John surgery, and he was activated last week by the Braves after serving his 80-game suspension for testing positive for PEDs. Jim Johnson will assume the closer duties in Atlanta for the time being, but there is reason to be optimistic the 24-year-old reliever can step in now and be the Braves closer for the remainder of 2015 and the future. I FAAB’d Vizcaino in two of my expert leagues and my NL-only home league, and was out bid by $1 in another NL-only league. I guess what I am saying Is, I like Vizcaino the rest of the way for saves, and I like him even more in keeper formats.
Other NL-Only FAAB options: Travis Ishikawa, 1B, Pittsburgh Pirates; Pedro Ciriaco, IF, Atlanta Braves; Dan Johnson, 1B, St. Louis Cardinals; Sam Tuivailala, RP, St. Louis Cardinals; Corey Knebel, RP, Milwaukee Brewers; Javier Lopez, RP, San Francisco Giants; Chad Billingsley, SP, Philadelphia Phillies; Deolis Guerra, RP, Pittsburgh Pirates; Adam Morgan, SP, Philadelphia Phillies —Keith Cromer