Multiple guys named Matt, maybe? Alliteration? There might not be a single, consistent theme running through the players profiled in this week’s Deep League Report besides their potential production. If you notice one, let me know in the comments. The value on display this week, however, is surprisingly substantial. Fling that FAAB freely.
AL-ONLY POSITION PLAYERS
Sequencing can have a big impact on our impression of a player. Logan Morrison hit a putrid .100/.156/.133 in April, low enough to keep his season stats underwhelming despite a .351/.455/.486 line in May. If Morrison’s splits for April and May were reversed, he’d be owned in a lot more leagues. If he’s available in your league, he’s definitely worth a pickup. He might lose some playing time to Steve Pearce once Logan Forsythe returns from the DL, but the offensively challenged and injury ravaged Rays won’t keep Morrison’s bat on the bench if he keeps producing at the plate.
With Mike Moustakas out for the year and Omar Infante struggling at the plate for the second consecutive season, Whit Merrifield has a chance to grab a good chunk of plate appearances in the Royals’ infield with a hot start. Two weeks into his first stint in the big leagues, Merrifield has been doing his part, hitting .356 with two steals and 10 runs in his first 45 plate appearances. He’s old for a prospect at 27, so don’t bet on his hot start as a signal that he’ll be a $25 guy in AL-only league auctions a few years down the road. He’s worth a few FAAB dollars, though, since he was hitting .278 in Triple-A with 16 steals against only one time caught, and he has a clear path to playing time in Kansas City’s depleted lineup as long as he keeps hitting.
The injury to Leonys Martin gives Franklin Gutierrez a temporary opportunity to do more than crush lefties. His .192 AVG against righties this year suggests that he might not do much with extra plate appearances against righties, but his HR power justifies the AVG risk. Gutierrez hit two homers in 26 at-bats this season and seven homers in 67 AB last season against right-handed pitchers, so he’s a decent bet to pop a few extra HR over the next few weeks if he receives regular PAs against righties. If that sounds good to you, just remember that he might hit .150 against righties while driving those balls over the wall.
Matt Bush made the news a lot a few weeks ago because of his circuitous, tumultuous path to his major league debut twelve years after being drafted first overall. Shortly after that debut, he made the news for throwing the beanball that put Jose Bautista on first base and on a collision course with Rougned Odor. It would be easy to miss the fact that Bush has pitched pretty well since he was called up: 10 IP, 1.80 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 9 K, 1 BB. Rangers manager Jeff Banister has definitely noticed, deploying Bush frequently in both high-leverage and low-leverage situations. As several people have mentioned on Twitter and elsewhere, Bush’s velocity has dipped noticeably as his appearances have become more frequent. If his arm doesn’t fall off, Bush could help your rate stats and strikeouts and could even grab some saves considering that the Rangers’ closer has held that role for all of a couple of weeks.
After getting off to a good start in Triple-A with a 2.06 ERA, a 1.15 WHIP, and 41 K in 48 innings, Matt Boyd earned a shot at a spot in the Tigers rotation. If he pitchers well, he’s a decent bet to keep that spot even after Shane Greene finishes his rehab assignment. Potentially serviceable starting pitchers aren’t available often in the free agent pool in deep leagues, so if your rotation is thin, you should be setting a couple of FAAB dollars aside for Boyd. Next week, though, he is scheduled to start against Toronto and their seemingly endless procession of right-handed sluggers, a tough matchup for a lefty with a fastball that tops out in the low 90s.
17 2/3 innings pitched, 21 strikeouts, one walk, 13 hits, a 1.02 ERA, and a 0.79 WHIP. Vidal Nuno’s line speaks for itself. He’s far enough down on the closer depth chart that you shouldn’t expect him to get a shot at saves any time soon, but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t offer value for roto owners. Nuno’s ERA, WHIP, strikeouts, and control make him an asset in deep leagues. If he’s available in your league, he’s probably earned more so far than a couple of pitchers on your roster.
NL-ONLY POSITION PLAYERS
Lucas Duda’s injury left the Mets scrambling to find a replacement. James Loney is the guy they found. On the positive side, the former first-round pick hasn’t hit lower than .280 in a season since 2012 and his defense should earn him a few more starts than he might get based on his hitting. On the negative side, he’s 32 and he couldn’t crack the 25-man roster for the punchless Padres this year. Players don’t appear in the Deep League Report without a bullet point or two on the negative side of the ledger, of course. He won’t save your season and the best case scenario is five or six weeks of plate appearances with a decent batting average with subpar power, but that probably makes him the best option available in the free agent pool in your NL-only league, so don’t be shy about spending some FAAB on him.
He’s still not an everyday starter in the Dodgers’ outfield, but he’s been productive when he plays: .266 AVG, .333 OBP, .514 SLG, 7 HR, 19 RBI, 18 R in 120 PA. In the short term, with Yasiel Puig nursing a sore hamstring, Thompson is line for more playing time. In the medium term, the Dodgers left fielder is a second baseman by trade while their second baseman is a 37-year-old who has qualified for the batting title twice in the last five seasons. Thompson has a lot of paths to playing time in Los Angeles, and if he keeps hitting like he has, he’ll find his way down one of those paths sooner or later.
Hunter Pence left the Giants’ game Wednesday night, apparently reaggravating the hamstring injury that kept him sidelined for a few games a week or two ago. If Pence ends up missing some time, Jarrett Parker figures to get some of Pence’s playing time. Parker has a ton of power but will strike out a ton, too, making him an AVG risk. Keep an eye on Pence’s injury, because if he’s out for more than a game or two, Parker becomes a decent short-term play for teams that need power.
Unlike the Diamondbacks current closer, Jake Barrett fits the profile of a traditional closer: he’s young, he’s big, he throws hard, and he strikes batters out. His 2.29 ERA and 1.02 WHIP are pretty attractive, too. If Brad Ziegler falters as the closer in Arizona, Dan Hudson would probably get the first shot at replacing him, but Barrett might not be far behind. He’s not just a closer-in-waiting play, though. If Barrett can maintain his current rate stats, he’s worth rostering in just about any deep league.
The Cincinnati bullpen has been atrocious so far this year. Ross Ohlendorf’s 4.37 ERA suggests that he might be part of the problem, but the rest of his stats tell a different story. Ohlendorf has a 0.97 WHIP over 22 2/3 innings with 25 strikeouts, five walks, and 17 hits allowed. His mediocre ERA is attributable to the three home runs he has allowed. If Ohlendorf can keep the ball in the park for a few weeks while maintaining the rest of his stats, he could easily inherit the Reds’ closer role by virtue of being the only pitcher in their bullpen who can keep crooked numbers off the scoreboard.
The last BP Annual that featured a writeup on Jhan Marinez appeared in the 2014 edition. The blurb closes with a warning: “if he ever learns how to pitch, look out.” More than two years later, it looks like Marinez might have learned how to pitch, so you might want to look out. He has a 3.27 ERA and a 0.82 WHIP with 16 strikeouts and only three walks in 11 innings. If he can steer clear of the injury issues, control issues, and HR-allowing issues that merited multiple mentions in his BP Annual comments dating back to 2011, he could earn himself a return to writeup-worthy status for the 2017 BP Annual.