The over-under for the number of starting pitchers featured in the Deep League Report each week is 0.5. This week, we have 3.5. Hope you pounded the over. On the offensive side, we have a couple of players on opposite sides of the same platoon trying to take playing time from each other, and a veteran infielder with a good-glove, no-bat reputation tearing the cover off the ball. This game, it’ll make you cry. Seriously. There’s a link to some sincere tears in the NL-only section. Let’s get going.
AL-only position players
Anthony Alford—Blue Jays
He ranked 93rd on Baseball Prospectus’ Top 101 Prospects list and 79th on BP’s Top 101 Dynasty Prospects list. Alford is a toolsy outfield prospect but he isn’t raw—he consistently has posted above-average walk rates throughout his minor-league career. With Steve Pearce on the DL because of a calf injury, the Blue Jays called up Alford from Double A, where he had been raking to the tune of a .325/.411/.455 line in 33 games. The main issue keeping the 22-year-old from ranking higher on prospect lists is his strikeout rate. He struck out in 29 percent of his plate appearances in High A last season. His breakout in Double A this season has been fueled in part by his ability to reduce his strikeout rate to 17 percent. If he can sustain that improvement with contact, he could stick with Toronto after Pearce returns, since the veteran hasn’t done much at the plate this year. As long as Alford is playing, he’s a legitimate stolen-base threat, so place a bid if you’re short on speed, and bid an extra buck or two in OBP leagues.
The Carlos Gomez injury has opened up some playing time in the Texas outfield over the next few weeks. The primary beneficiary appears to be Hoying, a 28-year-old with all of 68 major-league plate appearances under his belt. He wasn’t off to a great start in Triple A, hitting .242/.336/.477 with seven homers and three steals. On the plus side, though, he should be on the good side of a platoon with Ryan Rua, and his glove in center is well-regarded, which should earn him extra playing time. He offers a modest combination of power and speed, having posted two 20-homer seasons and three 20-steal seasons in the minors. He also draws walks at a decent clip, so bid a bit more aggressively in OBP formats.
While Gomez is sidelined, the bad side of the outfield platoon in Texas will be manned by Rua. He doesn’t have the defensive reputation, or the ability to hit righties, which his platoon-mate Jared Hoying has, but Rua has a longer track record in the major leagues, which might give him a longer leash. Of course, that major-league track record is fairly pedestrian: a .251/.307/.404 career line in 541 plate appearances with 17 homers and 12 steals. While the 27-year-old doesn’t offer much in AVG or OBP, his modest power/speed combo could be useful in deep AL-only leagues, especially if Hoying fails to impress over the next week or two.
My BP colleague Mike Gianella acquired Nolasco in my deep AL-only home league for the princely sum of $3 in FAAB. The veteran righty has been decent for the Angels in 2017, posting a 4.01 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP with 45 strikeouts and 14 walks in 51 2/3 innings. He’s still hittable and he still doesn’t strike out a ton of batters, but he’s not allowing quite as many hits as he did over the past few years, and he’s striking out a few more batters than he has. He’s worth a small-ish bid as a streaming option in deep AL-only leagues, and might even be worth a little more than that, considering his home park. If you pick him up, keep an eye on each start and be ready to cut him if it looks like he’s reverting to his form from 2014—2016.
The Mariners rotation is a wasteland, with Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, James Paxton and Drew Smyly each on the DL. Gaviglio was promoted from Triple A to fill one of those holes after posting a 3.31 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP, with 16 strikeouts and three walks, in 32 2/3 innings in Tacoma. The 27-year-old has very little competition for a rotation spot as long as Seattle’s sidelined starters stay on the DL. He’s also off to a hot start with a 1.29 ERA and a 0.86 WHIP in seven innings with six strikeouts and one walk. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Gaviglio get regular starts over the next few weeks.
As an undersized righty with a fastball that sits in the low-90s, Goody never garnered much attention as a minor leaguer. People are starting to pay attention to the 25-year-old now as his scoreless streak to start the season continues to grow. In 16 2/3 innings across 14 appearances, Goody has a 0.00 ERA (of course) with a 0.66 WHIP, 14 strikeouts and four walks. With Andrew Miller and Cody Allen at the back of the bullpen in Cleveland, Goody won’t get anywhere near the closer’s role, but he definitely can help roto teams in deep AL-only leagues in ERA, WHIP and strikeouts (and holds, in leagues which count them).
NL-only position players
With Eric Thames fighting an illness and nursing a sore hamstring, Aguilar could be in line for a little more playing time than usual over the next week or two. He has hit well so far in limited playing time with the Brewers, posting a .292/.346/.569 line with three homers and 14 RBIs in 78 plate appearances. Obviously, if Thames were fully healthy, the big Venezuelan wouldn’t do much besides pinch hit. That isn’t the case for the time being, though, so if you need some power at a corner in a deep NL-only league, bid a buck or two on Aguilar.
As long as Hunter Pence remains on the DL with a hamstring problem, Williamson figures to be an everyday player in the San Francisco outfield. He has some pop and could provide a few homers for teams in deep NL-only leagues that need help in the outfield. The fact that the 26-year-old is a regular for the Giants is less of about what he brings to the table and more about his team’s lack of depth in the outfield, and the poor health of the outfielders they do have. Playing time is gold in deep leagues, so Williamson is worth a dollar or two of your FAAB, and maybe a little more than that in OBP leagues since he has drawn walks at a decent clip over the past couple of seasons.
We know who Sogard is: a slick-fielding 31-year-old middle infielder with a career .244/.302/.324 line in the majors over 1,360 plate appearances. The journeyman probably has appeared in the free-agent pool in your deep AL-only and deep NL-only leagues multiple times in each of the past few seasons. That said, he has been on a hellacious hot streak since he was called up by the Brewers a couple of weeks ago, hitting .500/.621/.909 with two homers, two steals, six runs and seven RBIs in 29 plate appearances. The veteran infielder doesn’t have a clear spot to play every day in Milwaukee’s lineup, and his performance will probably revert to something resembling his career line sooner rather than later. For now, though, bid a couple of bucks on Sogard and enjoy the run as long as it lasts. And while you’re at it, enjoy this adorable clip of Sogard’s daughter, who was inconsolable after the Brewers lost to the Padres on a walk-off a week ago despite the fact that her dad homered in the game.
They haven’t done it yet, but the Marlins have been talking about moving Phelps into their starting rotation after losing Tom Koehler and Wei-Yen Chen to injury. So far, the 30-year-old swingman has thrown 22 innings over 20 games with a 3.68 ERA, a 1.32 WHIP, 24 strikeouts and eight walks. He has value in deep NL-only leagues even if he doesn’t make a start all year because he throws more innings than most relievers, allowing him to rack up more strikeouts. If Miami decides to throw him into the rotation sometime soon, his value will increase, but so will the amount of FAAB it will take to acquire him. Buy now and hope for the bump.
In each of the past four full seasons, the lowest ERA posted by Feldman was 3.74 while the highest was 3.97. The man is nothing if not consistent. This year, it’s more of the same for the 34-year-old, who has a 3.99 ERA to go with a 1.28 WHIP, 47 strikeouts and 22 walks in 56 1/3 innings with the Reds. He has very little upside and walks too many guys, but he’s a reliable innings-eater who won’t set fire to your rate stats. Innings are hard to find in the free-agent pool in deep NL-only leagues, and innings are the route to the W’s and K’s it takes to win those leagues. If he’s available in a deep NL-only league, bid a few bucks.
He’s way too far down the depth chart to get any saves under normal circumstances, but Hatcher can still help roto owners in deep NL-only leagues. The 32-year-old has 30 strikeouts and four walks in 22 innings, good for a 12.3 K/9 rate and a 7.5 K/BB rate this season. That’ll do. If you need strikeouts and have an opening for a reliever, spend a buck of your FAAB on Hatcher.