This week’s Deep League Report features three repeat customers who have outperformed their projections since their first appearance. Also featured this week: a former MVP, two guys who are really fast, a pitcher who used to be a shortstop and a guy who’s striking out more than two batters per inning. It’s go time.
AL-ONLY POSITION PLAYERS
He’s nowhere near the player he was when he won an MVP award for the Twins ten years ago, but he can still help your team. Justin Morneau doesn’t hit for much power for a 1B/DH type any more—the last time he posted a slugging percentage of .500 or higher was 2010. The Canadian hit well for average in each of the last two seasons, though, registering a .310 figure in 2015 and a .319 mark in 2014. That was in Colorado, though, which inflates average as well as power. The White Sox home park isn’t as hitter friendly as Coors Field, but it’s still among the better venues for batters. More importantly, it looks like Morneau has a guaranteed starting role for as long as he produces. Those regular plate appearances will help him rack up runs and RBI for your roto team and might help boost your average, too.
With Ketel Marte on the DL with mononucleosis, it looks like Shawn O’Malley is in line for the lion’s share of playing time at shortstop for the Mariners. The native Washingtonian isn’t any great shakes offensively, but he should be getting most of the playing time at shortstop for Seattle for as long as Marte is on the shelf. Don’t expect many homers, but he should steal a few bases in addition to any runs and RBI he can rack up. He can take a walk, too, so he might be a little more valuable in OBP leagues than AVG leagues.
Delino DeShields Jr.
Shin-Soo Choo’s latest injury has left an opening in the Texas lineup in left field. Ryan Rua was given the first shot at the opening but he didn’t hit too well, so it looks like Delino DeShields Jr. is getting a shot now. The 23-year-old hit terribly to start the season, losing his starting job in centerfield and earning a demotion to Triple-A. There’s no guarantee that DeShields will hit enough to hold the job for long given his poor performance earlier this year, but given his rare ability to make a big dent in the stolen base category in a short period of time, he’s definitely worth a couple of FAAB dollars. And for what it’s worth, he hit a home run and stole a base while going two for three with a walk on Sunday.
Everyone knew that Edwin Diaz would strike people when he was promoted, but this is getting ridiculous. I said that the 22-year-old would get strikeouts in Week Ten of the Deep League Report, but I didn’t think he’d strike out more than two batters per inning. He’s currently sporting a 2.08 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP with six walks in 21 2/3 innings along with a nearly unfathomable 44 strikeouts. It doesn’t look like he’s anywhere near usurping the closer’s role, but then again, Steve Cishek and Joaquin Benoit haven’t been nearly as good as Diaz this year, so he might be closer to saves than it looks at first glance. That would be a bonus, though. The beyond-elite strikeout rate is more than enough reason to pick him up if he’s still available in your league for some reason.
With Jordan Zimmermann due back this week, most people expect Matt Boyd to lose his spot in the rotation, ending up in either the bullpen or Triple-A. I’m not so sure, though. Anibal Sanchez has been bad all year and has given up at least three runs in each of his last three starts and Mike Pelfrey is still Mike Pelfrey. I think there’s a decent chance Boyd stays in the rotation after Zimmermann’s return while either Sanchez or Pelfrey gets a new role. If that doesn’t happen and Boyd ends up in the bullpen, he’s still probably worth keeping given the poor performances and injury histories of the pitchers holding down spots in the Detroit rotation ahead of him.
The numbers that Daniel Coulombe put up in Triple-A this year were tremendous: a 1.08 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP with 35 strikeouts and six walks in 25 relief innings. He’s been good with Oakland but not quite that good: a 3.80 ERA with a 1.17 WHIP with 19 strikeouts and seven walks in 21 1/3 innings. The short lefty won’t get any saves with the A’s, but he should strike some batters out while putting up good rate stats. He’s a safer bet than the bottom-of-the-barrel starting options available in deep AL-only leagues, so if you’re trying to protect a slim lead in ERA and/or WHIP, picking up Coulombe or someone like him is preferable to picking up a disaster-prone starter.
NL-ONLY POSITION PLAYERS
With the injuries to Jhonny Peralta, Matt Carpenter and Brandon Moss and the performance dropoff from Kolten Wong, Jedd Gyorko has unexpectedly gotten a lot of playing time. He started six of the last seven games for the Cardinals, hitting five home runs with eight RBI and seven runs. That should keep him in the lineup most days at one position or another. He obviously won’t hit five home runs every week, but given his career numbers, the power is certainly a legitimate part of his profile. The fact that he’s eligible at every infield position in most deep NL-only leagues is pretty helpful, too.
I wrote about Peter Bourjos in the Week 13 edition of the Deep League Report after a month-long hot streak. He hasn’t been quite as hot since then, but he’s still been fairly productive, especially in the context of deep NL-only leagues. Since the 29-year-old is on a one-year contract and the Phillies are sellers as the trade deadline approaches, Bourjos is definitely on the trading block. As such, the Phillies will have him in the lineup every day or close to it, showcasing him for contending teams. Between his decent production and the certainty that he’ll be in the lineup through the deadline, you could do a lot worse than the speedy outfielder.
Another repeat from an earlier edition of the Deep League Report, Ryan Schimpf has exceeded expectations and gone all Trevor Story on the league. In the Week 12 edition of my column, I noted that the 28-year-old had legitimate power, but like everyone else, I didn’t see him hitting eight home runs in only 101 plate appearances through Saturday. Like Story, he’s an average risk, hitting .229 despite the hot streak with 29 strikeouts, but the power he showed in the minors seems to have made the trip with him to San Diego. In OBP leagues, add a buck or two to your FAAB bid since Schimpf brought his strike-zone judgment with him to the Padres, too.
I wrote the fantasy take in The Call Up feature for Braden Shipley. 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 24-year-old converted shortstop for my fantasy take and Christopher Crawford’s scouting profile.
Logan Verrett is nothing special, but he’s got a spot in the Mets rotation for the foreseeable future. His line so far this year, a 4.14 ERA and 1.44 WHIP in 67 1/3 innings with 44 strikeouts and 29 walks, doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence and it definitely won’t save your season. Still, he’s got a decent matchup this week against the injury-ridden Cardinals at pitcher-friendly Citi Field. Next week, he has a matchup at Citi Field against the Yankees, who, in addition to being injury-ridden are also geriatric and likely to have traded away a hitter or two at the deadline. Keep an eye on the matchups beyond that, ready to let Verrett go if things look unfavorable.
Giants closer Santiago Casilla has been a little shaky lately. As the only pitcher in the San Francisco bullpen with significant closing experience, Sergio Romo seems like the logical choice should manager Bruce Bochy decide to name a new closer. Romo’s health issues this year might preclude that, though. Since his return from the DL on July 4th after missing two months with a forearm injury, Bochy has been careful with the 33-year-old, limiting him to 4.7 innings over six appearances. Those innings have been tremendous: five strikeouts, two hits, no walks, no runs. Hunter Strickland, Derek Law, or a deadline acquisition from another team is more likely to assume the closer’s role if Casilla stumbles again due to Romo’s usage restrictions. But he’ll still be there for the Giants, flipping that unhittable slider up there, getting everyone out until his arm issues land him on the DL again. Enjoy the boost to your rate stats while you can.