Forget about value at this point of the season. Take a long, hard look at your categories and figure out what you need to do to optimize them over the remaining few weeks. Time to get this week’s Deep League Report started.
AL-ONLY POSITION PLAYERS
Dan Vogelbach was having a monster of a season at Triple-A Iowa before he was acquired from the Cubs earlier this year for Mike Montgomery and Jordan Pries, hitting .318/.425/.548 with sixteen home runs in 365 plate appearances. Since the trade, the 23-year-old hasn’t fared as well, turning in a .240/.404/.422 with seven home runs in 198 plate appearances at Triple-A Tacoma. A lot of that dropoff is due to a hundred-point drop in BABIP from Iowa to Tacoma, and he still managed to post a .400-plus OBP, so it’s not as if he cratered. The Mariners have had him on a short leash since his promotion, keeping his lefty bat on the bench a few times against righty starters after a 1-for-10 start, but that could change in a hurry if he runs into a pitch or two as Seattle looks for runs anywhere they can find them while trying to stay in contention. He’s a better play in OBP leagues than AVG leagues due to his approach, and he’s a better play in keeper leagues than in redraft ones because his next few years hold a lot more promise than his next few weeks. There won’t be many hitters with as much power potential as Vogelbach available in deep leagues over the course of the rest of the season, so go ahead and gamble a decent chunk of your FAAB on him. You can’t take it with you, so why not throw it around on a lottery ticket or two?
The value proposition with Alexei Ramirez is a lot different than the value proposition with Dan Vogelbach. The Cuban import is in his mid-30s, so he there’s no development coming, just decline. He does play a premium position, though, and it looks like he’ll be playing regularly if not quite every day for the rest of the season. His production isn’t what it used to be, as his line on the season is an unimpressive .242/.277/.337 with six home runs and seven stolen bases in 467 plate appearances. Still, this late in the season, getting plate appearances is the name of the game, and Ramirez will be getting them. If you need counting stats and have a dead spot in the middle infield, bid a couple of bucks, but don’t expect the potent power-speed combination that made him so valuable early in his career.
If you need stolen bases in a deep AL-only league, you have to consider Terrance Gore. If you need anything else, stay away, since he has no power and the Royals will rarely if ever use him in any role besides pinch runner. With the big league club this season, the 25-year-old has appeared in eleven games while only batting three times. Gore’s game-changing speed can still help your team, even in limited playing time. He stole 44 bases in Double-A this year in only 87 games while being caught only five times. If three or four stolen bases could make a difference for you in the steals category without negatively impacting you elsewhere, bid a couple of bucks and root for Gore to run wild.
In his short time with the A’s, Joey Wendle has impressed, hitting .305/.328/.356 in 64 plate appearances. Prior to his callup, the 26-year-old hit .279/.324/.452 in 526 plate appearances at Triple-A with twelve home runs and fourteen stolen bases, a fairly interesting line for a second baseman. Oakland seems to be committed to playing him at the keystone nearly every day for the last two weeks of the season, so if you need counting stats and have a dead spot in the middle infield, bid $2-4 on Wendle.
It doesn’t take much to get me to write about Andrew Bailey since he’s a long-time favorite of mine. The injuries to Huston Street and Cam Bedrosian left a vacancy at closer for the Angels, and the 32-year-old has done well in the role, racking up three saves so far while posting significantly better rate stats than he did with the Phillies earlier this season. He’d have little if any value in roto if he wasn’t getting saves, but he’s getting saves. If that’s the category you need to optimize and Bailey is available, place a big bid. There probably won’t be any more saves available in the free agent pool in deep AL-only leagues for the rest of the season, and you don’t gain any points in the standings for leftover FAAB at the end of the season.
His 4.26 ERA doesn’t jump off the page, but the rest of his numbers with Minnesota deserve attention. In 32 1/3 innings, he has allowed 31 hits and only five walks, giving him a 1.11 WHIP. He also has 33 strikeouts, so he can contribute a bit in that category as well. The 28-year-old has been particularly good since his return from the DL earlier this month, throwing 7 2/3 scoreless innings over eight appearances with nine strikeouts while allowing only two hits and one walk. If you want to stabilize your rate stats, and especially if you want to swap out a disaster-prone starter for a safer middle reliever, Boshers is a good play. Bid a couple of bucks and cross your fingers that he keeps performing like he has for the last few weeks.
His first stint in the majors is going well. A September call-up, Jandel Gustave has a 2.79 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP with 11 strikeouts and two walks in 9 2/3 innings with the Astros. His walk rate in Triple-A was nearly twice as high, so he might not be able to sustain this level of performance. However, if he can keep his walks down, watch out, since control combined with his high-90s heat makes for an attractive combination. The 23-year-old righty has more value in keeper leagues than he does in redraft leagues, but he’s worth a dollar of FAAB in either format.
NL-ONLY POSITION PLAYERS
He missed almost half of the season, but in the 81 games he has played, Jon Jay put up a decent .293/.343/.391 line with two homers, two steals, 42 runs, and 25 RBI. He should be in the lineup nearly every day for the Padres for the rest of the season, making him a good bet for runs, RBI, and possibly AVG despite his meager home run and stolen base totals. Bid a few bucks for the regular playing time and hope for a starter’s share or runs and RBI the rest of the way.
All of Pete O’Brien’s appearances over the last week have been as a pinch hitter and it doesn’t look like that will change before the end of the season. The 26-year-old does have light-tower power, though, so he could knock a few out and help your team if you’re locked in a tight race in home runs. Depending on your league’s configuration, O’Brien might even be catcher-eligible, making him worth an extra dollar or two in deep NL-only leagues. Without catcher eligibility, bid a buck on him in deep redraft leagues and maybe two in deep keeper leagues.
As the Cubs cruise towards the division title and look to rest their starters for the playoffs, reserve players like Chris Coghlan figure to see more playing time. The 31-year-old has had a disastrous season so far, posting a 179/.267/.308 line with six home runs and one stolen base over 270 plate appearances. He’s still drawing walks, though, and he did hit sixteen home runs just last year. He could easily pop 2-3 home runs down the stretch and help you secure a half-point or a full point in the HR category. Bid $2-3 for the power, maybe a buck more in OBP leagues.
His 2.98 ERA probably isn’t sustainable given his 1.64 WHIP and his 1.6 K/9, but that undersells how well Richard has pitched since he joined the Padres: a 1.87 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP with 32 strikeouts and 17 walks in 43 1/3 innings. No, that strikeout rate isn’t great, but none of the starters who might be available in deep NL-only leagues come without their blemishes. The 33-year-old pitches his home games in a pitcher-friendly park and is as good a bet to give your roto team a shot at useful starter’s innings as anyone else you’ll find in your deep NL-only league’s free agent pool. Bid $1-3 and hope he doesn’t put up a disaster start that destroys your rate stats. And for what it’s worth, I was happy to win the veteran lefty for $1 in my deep NL-only home league over the weekend.
If you’re looking for strikeouts from a reliever, Josh Smoker is your man. He put up a 12.8 K/9 in Triple-A before joining the big league club and has picked up the pace since his promotion to the Mets, posting a Dellin Betances-esque 15.3 K/9 so far in 12 1/3 innings. His MLB ERA is a little high at 4.38, mostly due to the three home runs he’s allowed. If your rate stats aren’t fully locked in by now, steer clear. If you need strikeouts from a reliever and can absorb a potential blow-up to rack up those Ks, bid a dollar of your remaining FAAB on the 27-year-old lefty.
If you’re looking to protect a lead in rate stats or avoid a disaster start from one of the pitchers in your rotation, you should look to replace a low-end starter with a reliever like Jerry Blevins. He has handsome rate stats himself, with a 2.48 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP in 40 innings. He also has an 11.5 K/9, which is nothing to sneeze at. The real value that the veteran lefty provides at this point in the season in deep NL-only leagues, though, is safety. Releasing your worst starter before he destroys your ERA with a seven-run, 2 1/3-inning outing with a reliever like Blevins is sound strategy, because at this point in the season, optimizing your categories matters a lot more than overall value or profit. Bid a buck if you need to jettison a volatile starter for someone more reliable.
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