Some weeks, a few of the players profiled in the Deep League Report will be interesting in shallower leagues, too. This is not one of those weeks. It’s ugly out there in deep AL-only and NL-only leagues. Be careful.
AL-only position players
Daniel Ray Robertson—Rays
He doesn’t offer much stolen-base potential and he’s currently hitting below the Mendoza line, but Robertson has some value in deep AL-only leagues. He has played four or more games at second base, shortstop and third base this season and even made an appearance in left field. That kind of positional flexibility can be a godsend in deep leagues, where the best bat on the waiver wire or the free-agent pool might be someone at a position that’s already filled on your roster. Having a player like Robertson around can give you the freedom to acquire a wider range of players out of free agency or in trade since he’ll fit just about everywhere.
What does Robertson bring to the table beside the ability to fit in just about anywhere on your roster? As mentioned earlier, he’s not a base-stealing threat. He didn’t show it in either of the past two seasons, but he has a little power. He already has three home runs this season in limited playing time and he did hit 15 home runs at High-A Stockton back in 2014. He’s also still only 23 years old, so there is some room for development. In OBP leagues, his 17 percent walk rate makes him a bit more valuable than most of the utility infielders available. He probably won’t play more than two or three times a week for now, but he has more upside than a few of the infielders ahead of him on the depth chart in Tampa Bay, and could play his way into more playing time.
Josh Rutledge—Red Sox
The Boston infield has been decimated by injuries to Pablo Sandoval, Brock Holt and Marco Hernandez, clearing a path to playing time for Rutledge. He has very little home run power, but he can steal a few bases if he gets regular playing time. The 28-year-old is making the most of his opportunity so far, hitting .304/.360/.304 while mostly playing third base. He probably won’t be getting regular playing time for much longer since Brock Holt has already started his rehab stint but, for the time being, Rutledge is getting plate appearances, and plate appearances mean counting stats in deep leagues.
Luke Maile—Blue Jays
With starting catcher Russell Martin sidelined because of a shoulder injury, Maile has inherited the lion’s share of starts behind the plate in Toronto. The 26-year-old isn’t much of a hitter, but as long as he is getting starts, he’s worth a flier in deep AL-only leagues where playing time is in short supply in the free-agent pool. He won’t hit many homers, he probably won’t steal any bases, and he’ll probably struggle to hit above .200, but as long as he hits enough to keep minor-league free-agent pickup Michael Ohlman on the bench most days, he’s worth a dollar in FAAB for the plate appearances if you are short at catcher for a few weeks.
My BP colleague Mike Gianella picked up Chavez for $1 in my deep AL-only league oSunday. Only two other owners, one of whom was I, placed bids on the veteran swingman. He pitched exclusively out of the bullpen last year for the Dodgers and the Blue Jays, with virtually no change to his rate stats despite spending most of the two previous years as a starter. So far this season, he’s doing what he’s done, posting an ERA in the mid-4.00s and a WHIP in the mid-1.3s while striking out 7-8 batters per nine innings. You’ll need innings and the counting stats that come with them in deep AL-only leagues, and the 33-year-old will give you that with a pitching-friendly home park in a division that includes a couple of teams that also play in pitcher-friendly parks.
He allowed earned runs in three of his first four appearances this season, but Otero has settled down since then, allowing only one earned run over his past six starts, lowering his ERA to 3.18 and his WHIP to 1.24. It looks like he has regained the form that allowed him to post a 1.53 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP last season, even if his rocky start prevents him from approaching those marks this season. For roto owners, that rough start might be a good thing, making his numbers look pedestrian for the time being, thereby keeping his FAAB bids low.
In only 5 2/3 innings, Hoyt has been nearly untouchable, posting a 0.71 WHIP while allowing no earned runs and one walk with 13 strikeouts, making for an absurd 20.7 K/9 rate. He probably won’t end the season striking out more than two batters per inning, or with a 13-1 K-BB ratio, but the 30-year-old should be able to build on the solid rookie season he had as an integral part of the Houston bullpen a year ago.
NL-only position players
Called up when Travis d’Arnaud landed on the DL with a wrist injury, Plawecki is backing up Rene Rivera until d’Arnaud is ready to return. The 26-year-old has more potential than the 33-year-old Rivera, but he is also less of a proven commodity. Bid a buck or two of FAAB on Plawecki if you’re thin at catcher, especially if you’re in a keeper league and your league’s rules would allow you to keep him at a reasonable price.
The season-ending injury to Adam Eaton has elevated Michael Taylor to an everyday starting role in center field. Goodwin was called up to be Taylor’s backup in center. He bats lefty while Taylor bats righty, so continued struggles from Taylor could result in Goodwin landing on the good side of a platoon. He can steal bases and has a little bit of pop, so if he ends up with more playing time than he has right now, he could be a useful piece in deep NL-only leagues, especially considering Taylor’s well-documented struggles at the plate.
In only 110 plate appearances this year at Triple-A Indianapolis, Moroff hit eight home runs, tying his previous career high for a full season. With Adam Frazier on the DL and Phil Gosselin not hitting, the Pirates called up the 28-year-old Moroff to back up second base, third base and shortstop. If the power spike he showed at Triple-A carries over to the big-league club, Moroff could end up with more playing time in short order. Of course, the more probable outcome is that he receives only sporadic starts until Frazier returns, which is likely to happen within the week.
Through 19 innings this season, Felipe Rivero has allowed only one earned run. The hard-throwing lefty has a 0.47 ERA and a 0.84 WHIP with 20 strikeouts and only four walks, numbers that should be helpful in any format. The Pirates don’t use him as a lefty specialist, mostly deploying him in inning-long stints against both righties and lefties, which should help keep his innings total high enough to let his ERA and WHIP have a meaningful impact on those categories for your roto team in deep NL-only leagues.
Jose A. Ramirez—Braves
Ramirez has made 15 appearances so far this year and has only allowed an earned run in one of those games (he gave up two overall). The game in which he allowed those runs was all the way back on April 9, which means that the 27-year-old is working on an eleven-game streak without allowing an earned run. Through 15 innings, Ramirez has a 1.20 ERA and a 0.67 WHIP with 13 strikeouts and five walks. If you need a reliable relief option in a deep NL-only league, place a small bid on Ramirez.
A surprise starter when Joe Ross was sent down, Jason Turner returned to the bullpen almost as quickly as he joined it, ceding the final spot in the rotation to A.J. Cole after making a single start. Regardless of his role, the 25-year-old Turner has performed well for the Nationals, throwing 14 2/3 innings with a 3.07 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP with 12 strikeouts and three walks. He’s a safe option for owners in deep NL-only leagues looking to pick up a reliable swingman for a buck or two of FAAB.