The All-Star break makes this a short week for roto purposes. The games that count for your team don’t start until Friday. That gives your players nursing minor injuries time to recuperate without costing your team in the standings. If you need to fill holes in your roster for the three days of games scheduled for this week, check out the players below.
AL-ONLY POSITION PLAYERS
The injury to C.J. Cron has given Ji-Man Choi a shot at regular playing time with the Angels, something he didn’t get in his first stint in Anaheim. The 25-year-old made the team out of spring training in April, but he played sparingly and struggled at the plate, managing only one hit in 28 plate appearances. He was much more effective playing every day in Triple-A, hitting .327/.411/.485 prior to his recall. He doesn’t have the home run power of a prototypical first baseman and he doesn’t steal many bases, but he draws a lot of walks, which could make him a decent source of runs. His batting eye also makes him a better play in OBP leagues than AVG leagues.
Traded last week from rebuilding Milwaukee, Aaron Hill should be available in AL-only leagues as an import from the NL. Playing for the Red Sox, he won’t get as many starts as he did with the Brewers, but he should have more opportunities to score runs and drive them in when he plays due to the strength of the lineup. Somewhat surprisingly, the 34-year-old has been effective this year, posting a .286/.359/.420 line with eight home runs, 31 RBI, 34 runs, and four stolen bases. For the time being, it looks like he’ll get most of the starts at third base in Boston against lefties while Travis Shaw starts against righties. However, if Shaw’s struggles from June persist and Hill produces, he could carve out more playing time for himself in short order.
As a fringe prospect at best, he wasn’t expected to play in the majors for the Angels this year, but the injury to Geovany Soto opened the door for Jett Bandy. Since his call=up, he played well while starting catcher Carlos Perez struggled. The team noticed and Bandy started playing more frequently. When Soto was activated from the DL, the Angels surprised a lot of people and demoted Perez, opting to go with Bandy and Soto behind the plate. The 25-year-old has some power which could translate to 5-6 homers over the rest of the season if he continues to share duties behind the plate with Soto.
He won’t be picking up many saves after being traded from Arizona to Boston, but Brad Ziegler is still useful in deep leagues. And as long as Craig Kimbrel is on the DL, Ziegler will pick up a few saves on days when Koji Uehara is unavailable. That could lead to a decent number of saves over the next 3-6 weeks considering how careful the Red Sox are with the 40-something Uehara’s workload. Ziegler is no spring chicken himself and he doesn’t strike out many batters, but is control and his extreme ground-ball profile should allow him to continue to help roto owners with their rate stats.
The problem with the flame-throwing righty has always been his inflated walk rate. In 2016, Bruce Rondon has lowered his BB/9 to a downright respectable 2.8 after posting a 5.5 BB/9 last season, allowing his WHIP to drop well below 1.00 to 0.83 while continuing to strike out more than a batter per inning. His ERA of 3.72 is much higher than the stellar WHIP would suggest, though, mostly because he hasn’t been keeping the ball in the park. In only 9.7 innings, the burly 25-year-old has allowed three home runs. Rondon is definitely worth a pickup if you like to gamble, especially if you think the control improvements are real while the home run spike is a fluke.
I could just copy and paste the Deep League Report comment I wrote for Pat Neshek in Week Seven, update the numbers and run it again since nothing has really changed. The 35-year-old sidearmer is as reliable as middle relievers get. Since Week Seven, Neshek has lowered his ERA from 2.84 to 2.63 while his WHIP rose from 0.63 to 0.91. He’ll still help your team’s rate stats, and he still won’t strike many guys out. In other words, he’ll continue to do what he’s been doing for a long time.
NL-ONLY POSITION PLAYERS
Grant Green could turn into a classic post-hype sleeper. If he does well for San Francisco while Joe Panik and Matt Duffy are sidelined, he would also be living proof of Giants Even-Year Magic. He showed a good amount of power in the minors through 2013 but has regressed with regards to home runs since then. In Triple-A this season, Green hit a respectable .294/.321/.437 with six home runs and two steals. The 28-year-old has gotten off to a good start with the Giants, hitting .300/.344/.333 in 32 plate appearances. He should get a starter’s share of playing time as long as Duffy and Panik remain on the DL.
He hasn’t hit as well as the Phillies had hoped he would since his major league debut in 2013, but Cody Asche is still young enough to develop into a decent major league hitter. Since his return from the DL in early June, the 26-year-old has shown some improvement. His .257 AVG and .305 OBP are roughly the same as his career rates, but his .477 SLG is impressive for a player who has yeat to post a slugging percentage of .400 or better in the big leagues. In 118 plate appearances, he has four home runs and twelve doubles. With the rebuilding Phillies, Asche will not have a problem getting playing time as long as he continues to hit.
Since Gerardo Parra went on the DL last month, Brandon Barnes has had an expanded role in the Colorado outfield. He offers a modest power-speed combination with a sub-.250 average for as long as the Rockies are willing to put up with that sub-.250 average. The 30-year-old doesn’t have a ton of upside, but regular playing time in Colorado is nothing to sneeze at in deep leagues, even if the guy getting it is this guy.
With Brad Ziegler traded to the junior circuit, the Diamondbacks will deploy a combination of Tyler Clippard and Daniel Hudson as their closer, presumably until one of them runs away with the role. Clippard got the first shot post-Ziegler since Hudson was away from the team on the bereavement list. Clippard has better rate stats for the season than Hudson, and more experience closing, too. One problem Clippard could have is the long ball—he gives up a lot more flyballs than Hudson. In Arizona, flyballs turn into home runs more often than they do in most other parks. If Clippard blows a save or two, Hudson’s ability to keep the ball on the ground could become a lot more attractive to manager Chip Hale.
He can hit triple digits with his fastball, which is impressive. Velocity isn’t a category in most roto leagues, though. Recently called up by the Braves, Mauricio Cabrera has posted a 3.00 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP in six innings. Curiously, despite his premium velocity, the 22-year-old has only struck out one batter. Like a lot of hard-throwing young relievers, Cabrera walks too many batters. In 33.7 innings in Double-A this year, Cabrera walked an astronomical 22 batters. Despite this, the Braves think highly of him. He picked up a couple of saves over the last two weeks while nominal closer Arodys Vizcaino has struggled. With Vizcaino clearly on the trading block, Cabrera is a decent bet to get a shot at locking down the closer’s role if and when a trade happens.
His strikeout rates aren’t that good and his walk rates are almost always too high. That said, Lucas Harrell has looked good in his first two starts with the Braves, posting a 1.32 ERA and a 0.73 WHIP in 13 2/3 innings with 10 strikeouts and three walks. Atlanta doesn’t have a lot of rotation depth, so Harrell should continue to make starts, even if he can’t keep up the Clayton Kershaw impression for much longer. The fact that the Braves are likely to trade at least one starter before the deadline makes Harrell an even better bet to stay in the rotation for an extended period of time. If you have a lot to lose in WHIP, though, you might want to steer clear given his on-again, off-again relationship with the strike zone throughout his career.
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