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Welcome to the Deep League Report, where each week you can find out which pedestrian starting pitchers are scheduled to face the Braves, A’s, or Twins and which reserve players on bad teams have been hot enough to grab a share of a starting role, if only for a few weeks. Given the fact that we’re in the last week of May, your might be focusing more on potential trades than you are on the free agent pool. That would be a mistake—there’s still a lot of value out there. Let’s get started.


Devon Travis

A shoulder injury kept Devon Travis off the field until Wednesday. He can hit for average, has some power and some speed, and will be part of a Blue Jays lineup that scores a ton of runs. He also doesn’t face much of a threat from Ryan Goins or Darwin Barney. If he’s available in your league, he might be as good a middle infielder as you’ll find in the free agent pool all year barring a Tulowitzki-level import from the National League around the trade deadline. And four months of Travis is likely to be better than 2-3 months of an NL import, anyway.

Steve Pearce

He struggled last year after his breakout 2014 campaign with a .218 AVG and a sub-.300 OBP. He still hit 15 HR last year, though, because if there’s one thing Steve Pearce can do, it’s hit for power. Despite the fact that he’s 33 years old, Pearce added another facet to his profile last year: second-base eligibility. He played 18 games there last year for the Orioles, which is not enough for 2016 2B eligibility on opening day in most leagues. Thanks to Logan Forsythe’s injury, Pearce has played eight games at 2B for the Rays this year, more than enough to gain midseason positional eligibility in most leagues. Forsythe is expected to return to the Rays lineup around the end of the month, but between Logan Morrison’s struggles and Pearce’s productivity, Pearce will likely see his name on the lineup card nearly every day for the foreseeable future.

Paulo Orlando

The injury to Alex Gordon, who hadn’t been hitting like Alex Gordon anyway, has opened a door to more playing time for Paulo Orlando. He was on the bad side of a platoon in right field with Jarrod Dyson prior to the injury and he still might not play quite every day as the Royals mix and match while Gordon recuperates, but Orlando’s stellar defense and hot start to the year should get his name on the lineup card more often than not for the next few weeks. He can steal some bases as long as he continues getting playing time and the hits keep falling in, which they have been to the tune of an unsustainable-but-pretty .509 BABIP so far this year.

Other Options: Juan Centeno, Kaleb Cowart, Jared Hoying


Tim Lincecum

He won back-to-back Cy Young awards a few years ago, so you probably know who he is already. Given the litany of injuries to their pitching staff, the Angels were the most likely landing spot for Tim Lincecum, so it wasn’t much of a surprise when he signed with them. The scouting reports on Lincecum from his showcase a few weeks ago were encouraging, but until he puts on a uniform and starts throwing to live hitters in the minors, any guesses about how he’ll perform this year won’t be all that educated. It’s not often that a former Cy Young Award winner is available as a free agent in deep leagues, though. If you’re in a position to gamble and your league allows players outside of the major leagues to be acquired, you could do a lot worse than a flier on Lincecum.

Pat Dean

As a 26-year-old soft-tossing lefty who doesn’t strike many guys out, Pat Dean isn’t much of a prospect. He pitched well in his last start against the hard-hitting Blue Jays, though, allowing two runs on three hits and three walks while striking out five. Those strikeouts were a surprise given that Dean’s K/9 last year in Triple-A was well below 5.0 over 27 starts. His next matchup, Friday against the suddenly formidable Mariners, doesn’t seem promising, but next week’s start against the injury-riddled A’s in pitcher-friendly Oakland does. If you pick him up as a spot starter next week, be sure to remember to release him or reserve him afterwards.

Zach Neal

Like Pat Dean, Zach Neal doesn’t strike many guys out. His K/9 was 5.35 across twenty starts in Triple-A last year and was even lower at 4.48 in seven Triple-A starts this year. The injury to Sonny Gray has opened the door for Neal to get a few starts over the next few weeks, but his fringy stuff means that the A’s won’t hesitate to send him back to Triple-A if he struggles out of the gate. Next week, Neal has a favorable matchup against the feeble Twins in Oakland’s offense-suppressing ballpark. Like Dean, Neal is a decent spot starter next week but should probably be jettisoned as soon as that start is over, before he kills your team’s rate stats.

Other Options: Mike Montgomery, Nick Goody, Tommy Hunter


Tyler Goeddel

With a hot May and little opposition from the other corner outfielders on the roster, Tyler Goeddel seems to have played himself into something close to an everyday role in Philadelphia. If he gets regular plate appearances, he could hit 7-8 home runs and steal 10-15 bases over the rest of the season. Plus, he’s still only 23 years old, so there could be some room for growth. Goeddel is definitely worth a pickup in deep leagues if he’s still available.

Michael Bourn

At 33 years old, Michael Bourn will probably never be an everyday player again. Recently signed by the Diamondbacks, he’s at the bottom of their depth chart at each outfield spot. He probably won’t do much more than pinch run and serve as a late-inning defensive replacement. He could still steal a few bases, though, so if you’re desperate for steals, you might want to kick the tires on Bourn.

Chase d’Arnaud

Chase d’Arnaud isn’t a prospect anymore at 29. He plays for Atlanta, though, which means a week-long hot streak is enough to stake a claim to a starting job and a spot towards the top of the order. d’Arnaud has been hot since he was called up at the start of the month, hitting well over .300. As long as he’s getting semi-regular plate appearances, he’s worth a pickup for the counting stats. He stole 58 bases between 2014 and 2015 in Triple-A, so he could definitely steal a few bases for the Braves and your team for as long as his hot streak lasts. Depending on your league’s configuration, he could be eligible at 2B, SS, and 3B, too, making him a versatile fill-in.

Other Options: Keon Broxton, Ramon Flores, Matt Szczur


Michael Bolsinger

He’s pretty pedestrian as far as rotation options go, even in deep leagues, but Michael Bolsinger has a good matchup against the historically feeble Braves next week. If you’re looking for a spot starter for next week, the fact that he’s facing Atlanta makes him a palatable option, but I could say that about pretty much any starter in the majors scheduled to face the Braves. By the time the season is over, I probably will have said that about just about every starter in the NL who has faced the Braves.

Adam Warren

He hasn’t been filling the swingman role that he did for the Yankees last year when he started 17 games. He’s been so effective as a reliever this year that the Cubs might not want to remove him from their bullpen, even if a spot opened up in their rotation. His ERA is right around 2.00 and his WHIP is right around 1.00 despite 10 walks and three home runs allowed in 17 1/3 innings, components that contribute to a 5.33 FIP that suggests his ERA and WHIP are significantly lower now than they will be at the end of the season. Still, Warren’s track record makes him a decent middle relief option in deeper leagues.

Joe Blanton

Joe Blanton had a pretty good year last year for a guy who retired in 2014, and he’s having an even better year through the first two months of 2016. Reinventing himself as a reliever in 2015, Blanton posted a 2.84 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP with 79 strikeouts in 76 innings. This year, he’s sporting a 2.66 ERA and a 0.80 WHIP with 23 strikeouts in 23.2 innings, which is better than just about any non-closing reliever you’ll find in the free agent pool in deep leagues.

And since I’m a Phillies fan, I feel obliged to remind you all that Blanton hit a home run in the 2008 World Series and it was awesome.

Other Options: Louis Coleman, Yusmeiro Petit, Andrew Bailey

Thank you for reading

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Every time I try to get out, they pull me back in. Big Fat Joe Blanton fantasy relevant? Urgh, I've had such long love/hate relationship with him, always hoping for under-the-radar success.