Picking the NL-only pitchers to feature in the Deep League Report this week was easy. I just went with the three guys I bought in my deep NL-only home league Sunday night in a possibly futile attempt to rack up enough innings to meet my league’s minimum. Whom did I grab? Keep reading.
AL-only position players
He’s probably the best offensive player likely to be available in the free-agent pool in deep AL-only leagues for the rest of the season, so if you need offense, empty the bank on Calhoun. The 22-year-old bat-first prospect should be eligible at both 2B and OF in most leagues, giving owners a lot of flexibility. If you’re out of contention in a keeper league, bid as much as you can while making Calhoun at least a slight bargain for next season since there’s no point in winning him unless you do so at a price point where you’d consider keeping him. For reference, my Baseball Prospectus colleague Mike Gianella won Calhoun at $12 in our long-running AL-only keeper league.
His call-up was primarily a reward for a great season in Triple-A, as he doesn’t have a clear position to play on a daily basis through the end of the season with trade acquisition Todd Frazier at third, Greg Bird at first and Matt Holliday at DH. However, two of those players have spent a significant amount of time on the DL recently and the Yankees are likely to clinch their playoff spot soon, which means that the 22-year-old third baseman could end up getting a week of starts between now and the end of the season. Bid $2-3 in deep AL-only leagues, and a couple of bucks more in keeper leagues.
He dropped off a lot of prospect lists after a disastrous 2016 season in Triple-A. Of course, he was 22 years old and in Triple-A, giving him plenty of time to turn it around in 2017. Repeating the level, the now 23-year-old Venezuelan third baseman finished the season tied for second in the Pacific Coast League in homers with 32. The rest of his numbers mark an improvement over 2016 but are still underwhelming, as a .249/.319/.518 line in the hitter-friendly PCL doesn’t stand out much. He probably won’t play a ton with Matt Olson, Matt Chapman and Ryon Healy ahead of him in Oakland, but he has enough power to make him interesting in deep AL-only leagues, especially if 1-2 homers could swing things in your favor. Bid $1 and hope he runs into a couple.
He hasn’t pitched much over the past couple of seasons, but Simmons has been pretty good when he has been on the mound. Since returning to the big-league bullpen after rehabbing a forearm injury that kept him sidelined for most of the season, the 27-year-old has yet to allow an earned run with Seattle across five innings, also allowing one hit and two walks with four strikeouts. He won’t pick up any saves for the sort-of contending Mariners, but he could provide some decent numbers in a low-leverage role. If you need bullpen innings and aren’t chasing saves, bid $1 on Simmons.
He got hit hard in his previous start Sunday, bucking a trend of excellent performances he had sustained over five starts. Gibson should be a decent bet in his last start next week against a Cleveland team that will have clinched everything. Bid $8-10 in deep AL-only leagues if you need innings and/or wins since you’re unlikely to find anyone better.
Claimed off waivers by the Angels from the Red Sox in August, Ramirez is carving out a spot for himself in the bullpen, albeit a low-leverage one. The 27-year-old posted a 3.51 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP with 57 strikeouts and 16 walks in 48 2/3 innings at Triple-A Pawtucket, and 4.3 scoreless innings at Triple-A Salt Lake before coming to the majors for good, so he should be able to rack up some strikeouts without embarrassing himself. Bid $1 in deep AL-only leagues.
NL-only position players
With limited power but a great walk rate, Knapp is kind of the inverse of the Phillies other young catcher, Jorge Alfaro. Loud tools make Alfaro a better prospect, but Knapp could turn into something worthwhile himself if given the opportunity. If you have a dead spot at catcher, Knapp could make it slightly less dead, especially in OBP leagues. Bid $1 if you need a catcher, adding a buck or two in OBP leagues.
On the one hand, Vargas is a 26-year-old second baseman who has only posted interesting offensive numbers in the extremely friendly confines of Triple-A Reno. On the other hand, he plays for the Diamondbacks, a team that runs Daniel Descalso out at the keystone regularly. Between his unimpressive competition and the fact that Arizona is likely to clinch a wild-card spot about a week before the season ends, Vargas could be in line for a bunch of final week starts. Bid $1-2 if you need middle-infield help in deep NL-only leagues.
Blanco is the practically perfect fourth outfielder, which is a great thing to be in real life but of limited value in roto, even in deep NL-only leagues. However, with Friends superfan David Peralta nursing a tight quad and the Diamondbacks likely to rest some regulars before the playoffs start, Blanco could get a starter-esque share of playing time through the end of the season, making him worth a pickup in deep NL-only leagues. Bid $2-3 if you need an outfielder.
I didn’t expect to write about Roark in the Deep League Report this year after his exemplary 2016 season. But then, in my deep NL-only home league, the 30-year-old righty ended up in the free-agent pool after a roster crunch left his owner unable to find a spot for him, so here we are. Sure, he hasn’t been nearly this good as he was last year, but he’s still been better than most of the misfits on the waiver wire in deep NL-only leagues. If someone in your league dropped Roark, by all means, grab him, especially in keeper leagues. I did (for $10, our minimum salary for keepers acquired via FAAB bid during the season).
In leagues where your rate stats don’t count unless you reach a minimum-innings threshold, owners ferociously troll the waiver wire for starters over the last few weeks of the season for milquetoast innings-eaters like Clayton Richard. If you find yourself in that situation, why settle for an impostor? Just go out and pick up Richard yourself. Bid $4-6 and hope he gets you over the line. I did (for $5).
Will Brault be a member of the Pirates’ rotation next season? Maybe. His 1.94 ERA and 1.07 WHIP with 109 strikeouts and 44 walks in 120 1/3 innings in Triple-A this season suggest that he will. A few good starts over the last few weeks of the season might make more of an impression on the decision makers in Pittsburgh than 20 starts in Triple-A. If he performs well, he’ll help your team while giving himself a better chance at breaking camp in the majors. Try to pick him up for $3-5 in deep NL-only leagues if you need innings and/or wins. I did (for $3).
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