Starting pitchers are usually in short supply here at the Deep League Report, but not this week. Five of the six featured pitchers are starting pitchers and four of them are likely to be two-start pitchers next week. Granted, they’re not the most established group, but you can’t be too picky in deep leagues. If you need innings, especially in leagues with a minimum, this week is a good week to make some moves. On with the show.
AL-only position players
He’s not a starter, but Carrera can provide a boost to owners in deep AL-only leagues. He’s always had speed, and he has eight steals this year in 272 plate appearances. The big surprise is his bat: he has a career-high eight home runs and a .301/.375/.448 line. If you have an opening in the outfield and are in a tight race in stolen bases, bid $4-6 on the 30-year-old Blue Jays outfielder and root for him to take some playing time away from Steve Pearce down the stretch.
Finally back from the DL, Bird should have a clear shot at the first base job in the Bronx, or at least the good side of a platoon there. The 24-year-old has missed most of the past two seasons and a lot of development time along with it, but he still has the upside of a top-10 first baseman in fantasy. He hasn’t done much with the bat since he made his return to the lineup Saturday, but he was raking on his rehab assignment in Triple-A prior to his call-up, hitting .298/.424/.574 in 59 plate appearances. Bid $10-12 since starters with power won’t pop up in the free-agent pool very often between now and the end of the season in deep AL-only leagues.
The Royals have given Cuthbert a little more playing time at third base recently, moving Mike Moustakas to DH. Cuthbert hasn’t done much with the opportunity yet, but all he has to do is outhit nominal DH Brandon Moss to earn more playing time, so the bar for more playing time hasn’t been set all that high. The 24-year-old has some power and is eligible at second, and first, as well as third, so he could fill in pretty much anywhere you have a dead spot in your infield. Bid $2-3 as a bet that he hits a bit more than Moss, maybe a buck or two more in keeper leagues.
Injuries to his groin and his hip have sent Andriese to the DL twice this season. After a three-inning relief appearance with the big-league club Monday, the 28-year-old is expected to take back his spot in the rotation, displacing Austin Pruitt. He’s one of the better starting pitchers likely to appear in the free-agent pool in deep AL-only leagues, so if you need a starter, be aggressive. Bid somewhere in $15-20 range if he’s available, and be willing to go above $20 if you are desperate for the innings. For what it’s worth, he’s scheduled to start Sunday, so unless the Rays decide to go with a six-man rotation for the time being, there’s a good chance Andriese will make two starts next week.
In Triple-A, Junis posted a 2.92 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP with 86 strikeouts and 15 walks in 71 innings, earning a call-up. The 24-year-old has made 13 appearances with the Royals, nine of them starts, posting a 4.68 ERA, a 1.37 WHIP, 49 strikeouts and 18 walks in 57 2/3 innings. If you need starts in a deep AL-only league, bid $4-5 on Junis since he’s scheduled to be a two-start pitcher next week.
He has struggled this season, especially since he was traded to the Royals, but Maurer might have turned a corner. The 25-year-old hasn’t allowed an earned run in his past three outings, a change in outcomes that lines up with a change in his delivery, moving from the first-base side of the mound to the third-base side. If this isn’t just a sample-size fluke (which it could be), Maurer could provide some sneaky value for owners in deep AL-only leagues down the stretch. Bid $1 if you need bullpen help and can’t find any more reliable options in the free-agent pool.
NL-only position players
Injuries to Odubel Herrera and Aaron Altherr have opened up some playing time in center field for Florimon. Herrera and Altherr are both expected back soon, so the journeyman might not have much longer to accumulate stats in Philadelphia, but he has performed well so far, hitting .367/.406/.533 in 32 plate appearances. If he keeps hitting and the Phillies decide to take a conservative approach with their injured outfielders, the 30-year-old could get the chance to see how long he can stay hot.
With Martin Prado and J.T. Riddle on the DL, Dietrich is getting an extended run at third base in Miami as they make an inexplicable run at the second NL wild-card slot. His .248/.333/.404 line this season isn’t as good as last season’s .279/.374/.425 line, but he has a good chance at topping his career high of 10 home runs—since he has eight with a month to go. The 28-year-old is eligible at first, second and outfield in addition to third, so you can use him to fill in for a dead spot just about anywhere on your roster. Bid $4-5 if you need a bat.
He doesn’t hit enough to be an everyday starter, but Descalso is on the good side of a platoon at second base in Arizona and that’s not too shabby in deep NL-only leagues. His eligibility at every offensive position except catcher is pretty useful, too. The 30-year-old hasn’t turned into a monster at the plate several years into his career like Daniel Murphy or Justin Turner, but if he’s getting two-thirds of the starts at second base, he’ll rack up enough counting stats to make him worth a $4-6 bid.
In nine starts with the Phillies this year, Lively has a 4.36 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP in 53 2/3 innings with 29 strikeouts and 17 walks. The 25-year-old doesn’t throw very hard, so he doesn’t have much of a margin for error. That said, he doesn’t have much competition for a rotation spot in Philadelphia, so he should take the mound every fifth day for the rest of the season. If you need starts in a deep NL-only league, bid $3-5 on the soft-tossing righty, but don’t expect a strikeout per inning or anything close to it.
Rookie starter Trevor Williams has been a pleasant surprise for the Pirates this year, helping stabilize the rotation. The 25-year-old sports a 4.37 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP with 95 strikeouts and 44 walks in 127 2/3 innings, which isn’t great but is about as good as you’ll be able to find in the free agent pool in a deep NL-only league. Plus, next week is a two-start week for Williams, which makes him an appealing play for roto owners looking to maximize their counting stats. If you have more to lose in ERA and WHIP than you have to gain in W and K, avoid Williams. If the counting stats mean more to you than the rate stats, bid $2-4 and hope for the best against the Reds and the Cardinals.
Like Trevor Williams, Garza is a two-start pitcher next week. The veteran is an even riskier play than Williams due to his inferior stats, and the fact that he’s facing a couple of high-powered offenses—the Nationals and the Cubs. If you’re desperate for innings in a deep NL-only league, Garza can help if you can stomach the risk. Bid $1-2 and buy a Powerball ticket while you’re at it.
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