This week’s theme is repeats. For the first time this season (I think), I am listing players who have been profiled in this space already this year. These players have changed teams, jobs, or just gotten hot. Circumstances change, and sometimes, so do players. None of the players here are the 2016 version of 2010 Jose Bautista, but that doesn’t mean that they’re the same player they were in March when you finalized your bid limits, either.
AL-ONLY POSITION PLAYERS
He’s in Tampa now, and that’s probably for the best. Oswaldo Arcia never got regular playing time with the Twins and he never quite developed into the power-hitting everyday corner outfielder that many projected him to become. The Twins tired of his poor defense and low average and designated him for assignment a few weeks ago.
The Rays decided to take a chance on Arcia and have been playing him nearly every day since they acquired him. Since the change of scenery, Arcia has raised his average from .214 to .252. As long as the illness that kept him sidelined Wednesday doesn’t keep him out of the lineup for long, Arcia should get a decent share of plate appearances in the outfield and at DH for the Rays. Given that opportunity, he should be able to pop a few home runs for your team. And even though it seems like he’s been around for a long time, he’s still only 25, so there’s still room for real growth here, too.
It seems like Sandy Leon has good timing. He was called up when backup catchers Ryan Hanigan and Blake Swihart went down with injuries. Since his major league debut, he’s been on fire, hitting .467/,543/.700 in his first dozen games. Leon’s surprisingly potent bat has provided a stark contrast to the offense provided by starter Christian Vazquez, whose has struggled at the plate enough that the Sox are considering demoting him to Triple-A when Hanigan returns from the DL. That scenario could play out as early as this weekend.
His minor league numbers suggest that he won’t put up big numbers with regular plate appearances over the course of a full season. Still, given how thin the catcher position is in deep AL-only leagues, the fact that he could be getting the lion’s share of starts behind the plate for a powerful offensive team makes him an interesting gamble.
With Jose Bautista on the DL, Junior Lake could be in line for a few more starts than usual. He hasn’t run much since 2013 and he has never hit for much power, but between Bautista’s injury, his age, and the fact that the other outfield corner in Toronto is occupied by the frequently injured Michael Saunders, Lake could fall into more plate appearances over the course of the rest of the season than a lot of reserve outfielders in the junior circuit.
The Mariners tired of Nate Karns’ subpar performance in their rotation and moved him to the bullpen. His loss is Wade LeBlanc’s gain. He won’t have a long leash, but if he performs well in his next few turns against the Orioles and the Astros, he could stick for a while. At 31, he’s no prospect, but his numbers in 14 starts in Triple-A this year were excellent: 1.71 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 84 hits, 85 strikeouts, and 21 walks in 89 2/3 innings. He won’t post an ERA under 2.00 for your roto team, but he could be a useful piece in your rotation if he can stick in Seattle’s rotation.
There are probably five pitchers ahead of Robbie Ross in the pecking order for saves in the Boston bullpen, but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have value in deep AL-only leagues. He has struck out more than a batter per inning in 2016, although his walk rate makes him a WHIP risk. The Red Sox trust him, though, and deploy him frequently. If you need innings but want to avoid the disaster-prone starters available in your league’s free agent pool, you could do a lot worse than Ross.
Another Red Sox reliever, this one a little higher in the pecking order for saves in Boston should Craig Kimbrel unexpectedly falter or succumb to injury. Junichi Tazawa’s numbers so far play well in any league, deep or otherwise: a 36-to-7 K:BB ratio in 30 1/3 innings with a 3.26 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP. Betting against Kimbrel is a bad play, but filling out your pitching staff with quality middle relievers like Tazawa is a good one.
NL-ONLY POSITION PLAYERS
The injury to Jon Jay has given Travis Jankowski an expanded role in the San Diego outfield. He doesn’t offer much in the way of power, but he can run. He stole 34 bases last year between Double-A, Triple-A, and the majors, and he already has 10 steals for the Padres in less than a hundred plate appearances. If you need speed, Jankowski is one of the best options likely to be available in deep NL-only leagues. If you need home runs, look elsewhere.
The injuries to Matt Duffy and Joe Panik have given Conor Gillaspie a spot in the Giants’ lineup for the foreseeable future. He has established himself as a thoroughly mediocre major-leaguer over his 400-plus-game career. That makes him a perfect candidate to put up huge numbers for the rest of the season thanks to Giants’ even-year magic. Realistically, though, he should pop a few homers with a batting average that is, well, average. If you have a part-timer or two in your lineup, Gillaspie’s playing time should make him an upgrade for a long as Duffy and Panik are out of commission.
Through the end of May, Peter Bourjos was terrible for the Phillies, hitting .199/.231/.291. He turned that around in a big way in June, posting an otherworldly .410/.455/.623 line. He’ll keep playing as long as he keeps hitting. Enjoy the ride while it lasts, but note that despite the hot bat, Bourjos only stole one base in June, and that’s usually the only category where he provides any value. If he’s not stealing bases and reverts to his career .244 average, he might not provide much value at all.
His strikeout rate, ERA and WHIP are all well above average, which is par for the course for Kevin Siegrist. What’s new is the fact that he could get a shot at saves after the removal of Trevor Rosenthal from the closer’s role. It looks like righty Seung Hwan Oh will get most of the saves for now in St. Louis, but against lefty-heavy lineups or if Oh struggles, Siegrist could get the call in a few save opportunities. However, as my BP colleague Mike Gianella noted earlier this week, Siegrist’s home run rate has been elevated this year at 1.67 HR/9. That could be noise in a small roughly-30-inning sample, or it could be a signal that Siegrist is ready and willing to destroy your team’s ERA.
In his major league debut, Chad Kuhl allowed three runs on four hits and four walks with five strikeouts in five innings. Nothing special, except for the fact that he beat Clayton Kershaw. The young righty is filling in for the injured Gerrit Cole, who could be back as early as next week. The Pirates haven’t set a timetable for Cole’s return, though, and he has yet to make a rehab start.
In the meantime, expect Kuhl to provide roughly league average innings. He doesn’t strike out a lot of batters, but he doesn’t walk many, either, and he doesn’t allow a ton of home runs. He’s not an exciting option, but he is a fairly safe one, especially since he’ll probably be back in Triple-A before long.
Edubray Ramos forced his way into the Phillies’ major league bullpen by dominating Triple-A, posting a 0.38 ERA and a 0.78 WHIP with 15 hits allowed, 26 strikeouts and only three walks in 23 2/3 innings. He’s been excellent so far in the majors, too, although not quite in the neighborhood of his absurd stat line from Lehigh Valley. If Ramos continues to pitch well and the Phillies decide to cash in their bullpen arms like Jeanmar Gomez, Andrew Bailey, David Hernandez and/or Hector Neris, he could move up the pecking order for saves very quickly. He won’t need saves to provide value for your roto team, though.