A couple of notable call-ups are mixed in with the usual cast of utility players and middle relievers in today’s column. Hang the garland, pop the champagne and fire up the band—it’s a banner week here at the Deep League Report.
AL-only position players
After being acquired off waivers from the Twins in April 2016, Tigers catcher/first baseman John Hicks had a nice 69-game stretch at Triple-A Toledo, hitting .303/.356/.485 with eight home runs, three stolen bases, 42 RBI and 38 runs. Called up to fill in at first base while Miguel Cabrera is on the DL, the 28-year-old should get plenty of playing time until Detroit’s regular first baseman returns. It looks like that will happen next week, so Hicks won’t have a ton of time to pile up counting stats. He has performed well so far, hitting .268/.369/.464 with three home runs. Bid a couple of bucks of FAAB but don’t expect more than a week’s worth of plate appearances before Miggy returns.
The beaning that landed JaCoby Jones on the DL also led to Adduci’s call-up. Already 31 years old, Adduci is no rated rookie, but that doesn’t mean he can’t help in a deep AL-only league. In 62 career major-league games dating back as far as 2013, the veteran outfielder has barely stayed above the Mendoza Line, but he was off to a hot start in Triple A this season, hitting .349/.375/.488 in an admittedly small 12-game sample. His playing time will end once Jones proves that he has recovered, and that he’s comfortable in the batter’s box, but if Adduci hits, he’ll play nearly every day until then.
Opening-Day center fielder Jacob May’s terrible start has given Leury Garcia the opportunity to claim the position as his own. The 26-year-old has hit well so far this year, posting a .275/.310/.450 line with one home run and one stolen base. Those numbers are a big improvement over his career .198/.234/.261 line in the majors across 170 games, so Garcia could revert to a line like that any time, but he’s also young enough that his increased production can be attributed to genuine improvement at the plate. If your team needs outfield help, Garcia is an interesting bet as long as he continues playing nearly every day.
He won’t be picking up saves for Boston anytime soon barring a series of injuries or blowups, but that’s not why roto owners in deep AL-only leagues should consider Hembree for a spot in their bullpens. The 28-year-old has gotten off to a hot start this season, posting a 1.59 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP with 13 strikeouts and four walks over 11.3 innings. Bid a buck or two as a safe fill-in option at the back of your staff that can help with strikeouts and rate stats.
Once a highly rated prospect, Cashner had a horrible season last year, posting a 5.25 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP, with 112 strikeouts and 60 walks over 132 innings. He’s off to a good start in Texas this season, with a 2.38 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP in his first two starts. He’s definitely worth rostering if he can keep putting up numbers like this, but his five strikeouts and seven walks over 11.3 innings suggest that his success probably isn’t sustainable. If you need innings in a deep AL-only league, take a flier on Cashner, but be ready to cut bait in a hurry if his ERA and WHIP start to catch up with his bad peripherals.
In 2015, Zych was excellent for the Mariners, throwing 18.3 innings with a 2.45 ERA, a 1.09 WHIP, 24 strikeouts and only three walks. His line took a step backward a season ago, despite his K/9 increasing from 11.8 to 13.8, because his control disintegrated. His BB/9 went from 1.5 in 2015 to 6.6 in 2016, causing his ERA and WHIP to swell to 3.29 and 1.46 respectively. The righty got off to a late start this year while recovering from offseason biceps surgery, but he has yet to allow a run over his first four appearances. If he can keep the walks down like he did in 2015, he could be very useful in deep AL-only leagues as a source of strikeouts and an anchor for rate stats.
NL-only position players
The injuries to the Giants’ outfield have prompted them to move Eduardo Nuñez to left field and promote Arroyo to play third base. Arroyo was raking in Triple A so far this year to the tune of a .446/.478/.692 line in 16 games with three home runs and two stolen bases. Those three home runs tie his season total from 2015, and he has never reached double digits in homers in a single season, so don’t expect home-run power to be a big part of his game. He has never reached double digits in steals, either, limiting his fantasy potential. Contact is his calling card offensively—he doesn’t strike out much, but he doesn’t walk much, either. He’s worth a couple of bucks for the playing time he’ll get, but he probably won’t contribute much across the board.
Jose Alberto Martinez
Standing 6-foot-6, Martinez doesn’t have as much power as it seems he should have. His career high in homers in a minor-league season is 11. A surprise addition to the Cardinals’ roster out of spring training, the Venezuelan has played well as the fourth outfielder, posting a .379/.438/.448 line with no homers and one steal in 33 plate appearances. He’s the first option for St. Louis if they choose to rest one of their outfielders, and he’s the first right-handed bat used to pinch hit on days he doesn’t start.
A few years ago, Bradley was the best pitching prospect in baseball. Now he’s a middle reliever on a team with a shaky rotation and a bad bullpen. In 34 big-league starts split between 2015 and 2016, he put up an ERA well over 5.00 and a WHIP well over 1.5. This year, though, pitching exclusively in relief, he has a 0.79 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP in 11.3 innings with 12 strikeouts and three walks. It’s a disappointment to roto owners if the big Oklahoman settles in as a good middle reliever rather than an ace or near-ace starter, but he can still provide plenty of value as a multi-inning reliever with a high strikeout rate and good rate stats.
In 5 1/3 innings with the Dodgers this year, Fields has yet to allow an earned run, striking out 11 while walking only one. Kenley Jansen isn’t in any trouble as the closer in Los Angeles, but the 31-year-old Fields is carving out a significant role as a shutdown option late in games. From a roto perspective, he probably won’t continue striking out more than two batters per inning, but he probably will post a great strikeout rate alongside a good walk rate, a valuable combination in deep NL-only leagues.
Reds reliever Wandy Peralta has allowed only two hits and two walks in 8 2/3 innings, with 14 strikeouts—good for a 1.04 ERA and a 0.46 WHIP. One of a number of interesting options in the suddenly competent Cincinnati bullpen, the hard-throwing lefty is behind Raisel Iglesias and maybe another pitcher or two for saves, but his role won’t prevent him from racking up strikeouts or delivering solid rate stats to his owners in deep NL-only leagues.