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Free Agent Watch

Week Nineteen

12-Team Mixed

Drew Smyly, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays

Smyly suffered a shoulder injury during his May 5th start, and the belief at the time was that it would require season-ending surgery. Smyly was dropped en masse, and understandably so, but now he’s back and slated to start Sunday against the Rangers. With the flurry of injuries this season, especially to the large amount of higher profile pitchers, Smyly has been relegated to under twenty percent ownership in ESPN leagues and it now makes for a nice opportunity to pick up a quality starter than was ranked as a three-star performer prior to the year. The question, of course, is how healthy Smyly actually is and what can be expected over the rest of the season. Shoulder injuries are always a scary proposition to be sure, but the fact that the Rays are letting him pitch at all this year — when they seemingly have other viable options like transferring Alex Colome from the bullpen, calling upon the recently demoted Matt Moore or summoning another option from Triple-A in Matt Andriese or Enny Romero — would seem to indicate that they feel he is fully healthy. Smyly ramped up to 94 pitches in his last rehab start, which came Tuesday at Triple-A Durham, meaning he should be able to comfortably pitch into the fifth or sixth inning in his first few outings back. Smyly struck out over a batter per inning (26 in 22 1/3 IP) during his rehab stint, a good sign that his stuff has regained a significant portion of its pre-injury form.

Danny Valencia, INF/OF, Oakland A’s

After being kicked to the curb by the Blue Jays at the beginning of the month, Valencia has taken his frustrations about being cut loose (despite hitting .296/.331/.506 in 173 plate appearances) out on American League pitching. Valencia, who has eligibility at first base, third base and the outfield in most leagues, has played four of his six games with Oakland at third base and found his way into the cleanup spot on Wednesday, where he went one-for-three with a home run, a walk and two runs scored. Valencia has clearly enjoyed his time in Oakland, hitting .391 with three home runs (giving him ten on the season), seven runs batted in and getting on base at a .462 clip. The A’s have struggled all season to get production out of third base and it looks as though they could give Valencia, who turns 31 in September, the majority of the at-bats over the rest of the season and with his nice positional flexibility, he could offer cheap power production down the stretch.

15-Team Mixed

Enrique “Kiké” Hernandez, INF/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

Hernandez has earned his way to deep league relevance by absolutely crushing left-handing pitching this season to the tune of a .396/.468/.755 line in 62 plate appearances. Hernandez can play anywhere in the infield or outfield, which comes in handy when Howie Kendrick hurts his hamstring, Justin Turner has to visit the dermatologist and also particularly when Joc Pederson has hit the proverbial “rookie wall,” or the times when Jimmy Rollins looks like he’ll never get another base hit the rest of his life. Add it all up and it’s led to Don Mattingly inserting Hernandez into the lineup for four starting assignments in center field over the last seven games and he has been given the opportunity for two additional starts in the same timeframe, with one coming at second base and the other coming at shortstop. Hernandez has made the most of his playing time, hitting two home runs and knocking in three runs over the seven contests.

A player with the versatility that Hernandez offers can fill a lot of holes in a fantasy lineup at any time of the year, but a productive one like he’s been lately is all the more valuable the deeper the league and helps cover for virtually any injury that could crop up down the stretch, which has a lot of value this time of the year.

Matt Boyd, LHP, Detroit Tigers

Boyd had to have breathed a deep sigh of relief when he was dealt to the Tigers in the David Price trade. It gave him both an opportunity to get away from Rogers Centre and the chance to stick in a big league rotation this season — which wasn’t looking likely to happen in Toronto. Boyd sent fantasy owners running after his horrific performance during his July 2nd start against the Red Sox where he failed to record an out and was charged with seven earned runs. Boyd was then sent back to Triple-A Buffalo, where he made his final four starts as a member of the Blue Jays organization, striking out 25 batters in 27 innings pitched, holding opponents to a .202 batting average against and compiling a 3.00 ERA, numbers that were in line with his previous minor league totals. Boyd made his first start with the Tigers on August 5th at home against the Royals and worked seven strong innings, giving up seven hits and one earned run, striking out two. He faced Kansas City again in his next start on August 10th, this time working 5 1/3 innings and giving up three earned runs while striking out six.

Boyd struck out over a batter per inning over his 50 career minor league starts, adding in a tidy 0.99 WHIP mark, so this is not the profile of a soft-tossing lefty, this is a young pitcher with some upside that can help in a few categories over the rest of the season. – J.J. Jansons

AL-ONLY

Jerry Sands, OF, Cleveland Indians

With Cleveland completely revamping its outfield, trading away Michael Bourn, Brandon Moss, David Murphy, and even Nick Swisher over the past two weeks, Sands now becomes relevant in deep AL-only leagues. Sands has been seeing regular playing time this past week for the Tribe, and he consistently put up impressive power numbers in the minors, posting a career .523 SLG over parts of eight seasons. His success in the high minors has yet to translate to the majors, but the power potential combined with the increase in playing time makes Sands a decent FAAB play this week.

Kris Medlen, RP, Kansas City Royals

The former 15-game winner with the Braves back in 2013 was activated by the Royals on July 20th to pitch out of the bullpen. Medlen made his first big-league appearance following his second Tommy John surgery that night against Pirates and struggled, allowing four ER over 3 1/3 innings. Since then, the right-handed hurler has recorded four straight scoreless appearances, including 3 2/3 hitless innings on Sunday in relief of an ineffective Danny Duffy. With Jeremy Guthrie’s season-long struggles and the inconsistency of both Danny Duffy and Yordano Ventura, Ned Yost could look to the proven veteran Medlen as a rotation option down the stretch in Kansas City.

Other AL-Only FAAB options: Daniel Nava, OF, Tampa Bay Rays; Cliff Pennington, IF, Toronto Blue Jays; Sam Fuld, OF, Oakland A’s; J.R. Murphy, C, New York Yankees; Paulo Orlando, OF, Kansas City Royals; Junior Lake, OF, Baltimore Orioles; Chris Gimenez, C, Texas Rangers; Nate Jones, RP, Chicago White Sox; Trevor Gott, RP, Los Angeles Angels; Chasen Shreve, RP, New York Yankees; Zach Putnam, RP, Chicago White Sox; Josh Fields, RP, Houston Astros; LaTroy Hawkins, RP, Toronto Blue Jays

NL-ONLY

Jason Rogers, IF, Milwaukee Brewers

It’s a very thin week on the waiver wire for NL hitting options, so Rogers will get top billing in this spot this week. Rogers was called up by the Brewers last week to be a bat off the bench to face left-handed pitching. Rogers has put up impressive numbers in the minors, he was the Brewers Minor League Player of the Year in 2013, and was slashing .344/.449/.607 with eight home runs in 33 games at Triple-A before his call-up. Realistically, Rogers is a liability defensively, so regular playing time is probably not in his future, but he has some pop and might be good for a HR or two if he can scratch out 8-10 at-bats per week. He got the start on Thursday for the Brewers and was batting fifth, reason to hope Rogers may get a look down the stretch.

Adam Conley, SP, Miami Marlins

The former college closer converted into a starter by the Marlins was called up last week from Triple-A and got the start on Wednesday in Milwaukee against the Brewers. With Jose Fernandez on the DL, this former second-round pick back in the 2011 MLB Draft has a chance to stick in the rotation and be a potential streaming option in deep NL-only formats. Conley compiled solid ratios in Triple-A this season over 18 starts, but the lanky southpaw struggled against the Brewers. Despite the poor performance on Wednesday, the lefty hurler appears likely to stay in the Marlins rotation, so he should be on your radars in deep NL-only leagues as a potential FAAB play on Sunday night.

Other NL-Only FAAB options: Logan Schafer, OF, Milwaukee Brewers; Jamie Romak, 1B/OF, Arizona Diamondbacks; Javier Lopez, RP, San Francisco Giants; Corey Knebel, RP, Milwaukee Brewers Keith Cromer

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