After a slow week due to the All-Star break, it’s a big week here at the Deep League Report thanks to a big move from the NL to the AL, a couple of notable call-ups, and a Cuban signee expected to be in the big leagues a few weeks from now. You can’t take those FAAB dollars with you if you have any left at the end of the season. It’s time to put them to work for your team.
AL-ONLY POSITION PLAYERS
The Cuban signee won’t be on the major league roster right away, but he should be in Houston fairly soon if the scouting reports are to be believed. The translations on the stats from the Cuban league have pretty wide error bars on them, so the scouting information is more instructive. He can play second base and third base, and it looks like the Astros are considering giving him some time in a corner outfield spot, too. As a hitter, he’s fairly advanced and should be able to hit for a decent average with some power and an advanced approach at the plate.
At 32 years old, he’s not young enough to be considered a prospect, so don’t go crazy bidding on him in keeper leagues thinking that you’ll be getting years of above-average production. He’s probably one of the better players that will be come available in deep AL-only leagues this season, but he might end up in a super-utility role rather than a guaranteed starting spot at a single position. He’s starting at Double-A and should advance to the major league roster within a month if he’s able to get rid of the cobwebs on his swing and hit at a reasonable level.
The A’s packing it in for the season, playing young guys over veterans and trying to trade the veterans for players that will help them in 2017 and beyond, or at least provide some financial relief. Jake Smolinski is one of the beneficiaries of this approach. He’s been starting in center field for Oakland recently, mostly at the expense of Coco Crisp. He doesn’t have a high walk rate but he doesn’t strike out a lot, either, especially for someone with fifteen-homer power over a full season. He’s not young for a prospect at 27, so this shot at regular playing time might be the last one he gets. He’s not a bad bet in deep leagues, though, since he’ll be getting more playing time than most of the other players available in the free agent pool, and he has some promise, too. Bid a few FAAB dollars on him, especially if you need help in the outfield, but don’t spend a big percentage of your budget on him as if he’s a big-name import from the senior circuit.
If you’ve been saving your FAAB dollars for an impact import from the National League, this is the time to start spending it. Drew Pomeranz was tremendous for the San Diego Padres during the first half this year, posting a 2.47 ERA with a 1.06 WHIP in 102 innings with 115 strikeouts and 41 walks. The pitching environment won’t be as friendly in Boston, as the ballpark is much less pitcher friendly and the American League features better lineups. That said, there’s a good chance that the tall lefty will be the best starting pitcher to join the junior circuit midseason or close to it, so don’t be shy with your bids.
He hasn’t been great this year but he’s been tolerable, putting up a 4.37 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP with 61 strikeouts and 31 walks in 94 2/3 innings. This week, he has two starts, both in pitcher friendly Oakland. The first one is against Houston, which isn’t a great matchup, but the second is against light-hitting Tampa. If you’re looking for a two-start starter in a deep AL-only league, here you go. Don’t expect much, though, and remember to release him or reserve him before lineups lock for next week.
It’s been several years since Anthony Swarzak was a highly rated pitching prospect in the Twins’ system. He didn’t pan out as a starter and aside from a productive 2013 season, he hasn’t been great out of the bullpen or as a swingman, either. He started this season in Triple-A with the Yankees an earned a callup in June. Since then, the 30-year-old has been good for the Yankees. His 4.70 ERA is high but could be deceptive as it is largely driven by a 2.4 HR/9 rate that looks like it could be a fluke, since his 1.6 GB/FB rate is lower than his rate from last season and in line with his career levels. His other stats are pretty good, though: a 0.98 WHIP with sixteen strikeouts and three walks in 15 1/3 innings. He won’t get a sniff at saves in the Bronx with Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances ahead of him, but he could help your rate stats while striking out more than a batter per inning if his home run rate proves to be as fluky as it seems.
NL-ONLY POSITION PLAYERS
Clint Robinson has been filling in for Ryan Zimmerman while he’s been on the DL. It looks like Zimmerman might be back fairly soon, so Robinson probably won’t be getting a starter’s share of plate appearances beyond this week. He started off slowly this year but has been coming around lately, hitting two home runs with five RBI over the last week. Zimmerman wasn’t hitting all that well before his injury, so it wouldn’t take much for the lefty-hitting Robinson to enter into some kind of quasi-platoon with the righty-hitting Zimmerman once the latter returns to the active roster.
The trade of Aaron Hill to the Red Sox has opened up some extra playing time for the rest of Milwaukee’s infielders. Will Middlebrooks has gotten most of the starts at third base since Hill’s departure, but Perez has been getting some playing time there and elsewhere in the infield and the outfield for the Brewers. In 151 plate appearances, he has five home runs and 10 stolen bases with a .261 batting average, which isn’t great but is nothing to sneeze at in deep NL-only leagues. He could be a poor man’s Jose Ramirez over the course of the rest of the season, getting starts all over the place, stealing some bases and even popping a couple of home runs. He’s worth a FAAB dollar or two, especially since his multi-position eligibility could help you solve roster crunches later in the season.
He’s 32 years old and he’s only in the majors to back up A.J. Pierzynski until Tyler Flowers returns from the DL towards the end of August. That said, he does offer a little value in two-catcher NL-only leagues. He has some power, hitting eight homers and eleven doubles in Triple-A this year in 230 plate appearances. He’ll also take walks, giving him a little more value in OBP leagues than AVG leagues. Lastly, since Pierzynski is the oldest starting catcher in the majors, Recker might get a few more starts than most backup catchers to give the 39-year-old enough rest to get him through the season in one piece.
After a rough June, Brad Hand has returned to his dominant form this month, not allowing a run over eight appearances in July. For the season, the 26 year old has a 2.98 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP with 61 strikeouts and 25 walks in 51 1/3 innings. He issues too many free passes, but he’s hard to hit, he strikes out significantly more than a batter per inning and he keeps the ball in the ballpark. Don’t expect any saves, but feel free to spend a dollar or two on Hand to help your rate stats and your strikeouts.
The Giants’ bullpen has been shaky all year, but Derek Law hasn’t been a part of the problem. His numbers are impeccable: a 2.81 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP with 34 strikeouts in 32 innings with only four walks and only one home run allowed. With several arms ahead of him in the pecking order for saves, including a former closer, Law probably wouldn’t be Bruce Bochy’s first choice for saves if he removes the erratic Santiago Casilla from the role, but given the chaos in the San Francisco relief core, it’s possible if unlikely. Even if he doesn’t pick up a save for the rest of the year, he’ll provide plenty of value in deep NL-only leagues via his strikeouts and his contributions in ERA and WHIP, especially via his miniscule walk rate. Put one more dollar on him than you put on any other non-closing relievers in your contingent bid queue.
I wrote the fantasy take in The Call-Up feature for Reynaldo Lopez like I did for Ryon Healy. I could copy-and-paste that text and put it here, but that seems like a cheat. Follow this link to The Call-Up for the 22-year-old fireballer for my fantasy take and Adam McInturff’s scouting profile.
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