Welcome to The FAAB Review, the series that looks at FAAB bidding in expert leagues to help you, the Baseball Prospectus reader, with your fantasy baseball bidding needs. Zach Steinhorn covers the Tout Wars mixed auction league and LABR NL, while Mike Gianella tackles Tout Wars NL and LABR AL. LABR uses a $100 FAAB with one-dollar minimum bids, while Tout Wars uses a $1,000 budget with zero-dollar minimum bids.
Tout Wars’ free agents are awarded at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday while LABR’s are awarded on Sunday at midnight ET.
Edubray Ramos $22 (Other bids: $11, $2)
Ramos pitched a scoreless ninth inning on Sunday to earn his first career save and Hector Neris has been shaky recently, so the logical conclusion is that more save opportunities could be in Ramos’ immediate future. The 25-year-old has been dominant out of Philadelphia’s bullpen this season, posting a 1.13 ERA through 18 appearances with 20 strikeouts in 16 innings, but there have yet to be any reports that Neris could be out as closer. Until that happens, I wouldn’t aggressively pursue Ramos. Derek Carty’s $22 winning bid is a very aggressive one.
Mark Reynolds $13 (Other bids: $5, $3, $1)
Reynolds wasted little time reminding us of his elite-level power, smacking a pair of homers in his Nationals debut. More homers can be expected in the short-term while Ryan Zimmerman is sidelined with an oblique strain, as Reynolds should see a decent amount of playing time. The question is what happens when Zimmerman returns, so there’s risk in spending more than one-eighth of your season FAAB budget on Reynolds. But sometimes, especially in a deep NL-only league, you need to be bold with your bidding, enjoy the immediate benefits and worry about the long-term later.
Freddy Peralta $9 (Other bids: $6, $6)
Making the start for the Brewers on Sunday in place of the injured Chase Anderson, Peralta was…pretty good. The 21-year-old’s big league debut turned out to be quite a memorable one as he tossed 5 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing just one hit while striking out 13, in Coors Field of all places. I think it’s safe to say that the Brewers will try to give him another start. This could prove to be a profitable buy for Steve Gardner if Peralta manages to stick around for awhile. For more on Peralta, check out Scott Delp’s The Call-Up article.
For everything you need to know about Reyes, read this article by Wilson Karaman. At $7 in an NL-only league, there’s significant profit potential with Reyes as well.
Gregor Blanco $5 (Other bids: $1, $1)
Greg Garcia $2 (Other bids: $1, $1, $1)
A.J. Ellis $1
Kyle Farmer $1
Adam Cimber $1
As a rookie in LABR, the biggest challenge for me has been adjusting to the strict roster rules. All FAAB additions as well as all players purchased in the auction must remain in active lineups unless they are on the DL or in the minors. Also, the reserve list is restricted to players drafted in the reserve rounds. This really limits roster turnover, especially in non-mixed leagues where an owner might be more hesitant to drop one of their underperforming players in order to add someone from a watered down waiver wire pool. So, with no DL-eligible players, I stayed on the sidelines this week.
Tyler Clippard $18 (Other bids: $12, $12, $12, $10, $7, $6, $5)
There has been only one save opportunity in Toronto since Roberto Osuna was placed on administrative leave by Major League Baseball following his arrest on May 8 for assault against a woman, according to Toronto police. That save went to Clippard, who has been pitching well for the Blue Jays this season and appears to have the inside track on saves in Toronto for the foreseeable future. I was one of the $12 bidders for Clippard but lost out to Clay Link of Rotowire. Link already has Keone Kela and Blake Treinen and is hoping Clippard gets enough saves to win him the saves category outright. Larry Schechter of Winning Fantasy Baseball, who has Osuna, was one of the other $12 bidders. I don’t have any closers and am last in the category. I wouldn’t mind getting a closer but didn’t want to spend too much for an opportunity to move up a mere 2-3 points in saves.
Blake Parker $13 (Other bids: $5, $1)
I was slightly surprised Parker was cut last week by Andrea Lamont (Rotolady) but not overly so. You can’t reserve active major leaguers in LABR and carrying a non-closer in an active roster spot is frequently a waste of resources. However, Parker has quietly pitched better the last few weeks and the Angels bullpen remains unsettled at the back end. I bid $1, hoping to sneak Parker onto my roster, but Greg Ambrosius and Shawn Childs of NFBC were aggressive, winning him at $13. I do like Parker (I have him in a different AL-only league) but outside of seeing plenty of Scioscia face, who knows what will happen in Anaheim in the ninth. My guess is Parker does get some saves this season but no Angels reliever picks up more than 20.
Bruce Rondon $9
Ryan Tepera $6 (Other bid: $2)
I was 0-for-3 in my efforts to grab a reliever, as Ray Flowers of Sirius XM beat me out for Tepera’s services. I dig Tepera but suspect Clippard is the primary closer for the Blue Jays while Osuna is out. Tepera has been the Blue Jays vulture-of-choice, with three relief wins in 21 games, so even if he isn’t saving games, there is still value in a pitcher with a strong strikeout rate who could get wins if the Blue Jays continue using him in high leverage situations.
Wade LeBlanc $5 (@MIN, DET)
Joe Kelly $2 Tout Wars AL: $3
Craig Kimbrel had a shaky outing last week against the Yankees but make no mistake, he is The Man in Boston. Kelly has pitched extremely well this season and is the clear backup if Kimbrel gets hurt or more realistically if Kimbrel needs rest. Kelly has two saves this season and another 3-5 are possible even if Kimbrel is healthy all season. Kelly is a strong play in AL-only and a nice weapon in mixed leagues with daily lineup changes and start limits.
John Axford $2
Johnny Field $1
Tyler Naquin landed on the DL with a hamstring injury and I decided to replace Craig Gentry. I landed Almonte and Field. Almonte hasn’t been productive in real life but he has three home runs in 71 plate appearances and does have some stolen base potential. Field has been productive when he has played for the Rays and has slight-to-moderate power/speed potential: think a 15-home run/15-steal ceiling with a mediocre batting average if he starts. What I’m looking for in both cases are at-bats. My Mike Trout/Francisco Lindor/Jose Altuve plan on offense is working out well but I can’t have complete zeros on offense. My “scrubs” must do something. Hopefully, Randal Grichuk returns soon and does something but I need 10-15 plate appearances a week at a minimum from all my outfield slots while I am waiting.
TOUT WARS MIXED AUCTION
Travis Jankowski $154 (Other bids: $78, $37, $22, $14, $1)
Steals are scarce and Jankowski is fast. In 13 games since getting called up by the Padres, the former first-round pick has already swiped three bags. Jankowski collected 30 steals in 131 games for San Diego back in 2016, so he could be a true difference maker in that category if given enough playing time. He carries batting average risk but has posted solid walk rates in both the minors and majors, a factor that helps his value in Tout Wars, which uses OBP instead of AVG. Hunter Renfroe is still multiple weeks away from returning, so Jankowski should see regular playing time at least until that point. With the stolen base race still very much bunched up, Jeff Zimmerman wasn’t stingy with his $154 winning bid.
Zack Wheeler $128 (Other bids: $29, $23, $1) (TOR)
After missing out on a few of my preferred starting pitching targets last week, I wasn’t about to let that happen again this time. Despite his inconsistency so far, Wheeler still offers every-week starter upside in a deep mixed league. I know you can’t do this, but take away that one rough outing against the Rockies and he would currently sport a 3.54 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP. OK, I just did it. As it turned out, I overpaid by quite a bit, but even after this week’s spending spree, I’m roughly in the middle of the pack in terms of FAAB budget.
Kyle Freeland $66 (Other bids: $34, $25, $11, $0) (@SF)
There was plenty of interest in Freeland, and for good reason. Over his last four starts, the Rockies southpaw is 3-1 with a 1.65 ERA, a 0.91 WHIP and, perhaps most surprisingly considering his 6.2 K/9 last year, an 8.9 K/9 rate. Freeland enjoyed some strong stretches last season but was inconsistent overall, so I’m skeptical that he can pitch well enough to remain on mixed league rosters from start to finish this year. That said, he is just 25 years old and this is only his second big league season, so maybe he will take a significant step forward. He does have a favorable matchup on tap for this week, on the road against the Giants. I actually bid $92 for Freeland but it was a conditional bid in the event that I didn’t land Wheeler.
Nick Ahmed $45
Jaime Barria $41 (HOU)
Though not yet a regular member of the rotation, Barria has been impressive when given the opportunity to start this season, going 3-1 with a 2.45 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP across four outings. So why the lack of bids? His upcoming matchup, at home against Gerrit Cole and the Astros, probably has a lot to do with it. Still, in a deep mixed league, Barria is worth a shot.
Devin Mesoraco $39 (Other bid: $1)
Andrew Suarez $38 (Other bid: $4) (CIN)
Suarez is coming off a poor performance against the Pirates that raised his ERA to a mediocre 4.57. But I am intrigued by the 23-to-4 K/BB ratio through 21 2/3 innings and the appealing upcoming matchup, at home versus a struggling (to put it mildly) Reds squad. I’m a little surprised that there was only one other bid and that it wasn’t even in the double-digits.
Pedro Alvarez $35
Very quietly, Alvarez has tallied seven homers and 14 RBIs in only 80 at-bats this season. Brent Hershey of BaseballHQ took notice and now hopes that he has found a decent power source at a minimal cost. The fact that Alvarez isn’t guaranteed everyday at-bats going forward does complicate things, but he’s been playing enough recently to be mixed-league relevant. Also worth noting is that Alvarez is now eligible at third base in Tout, which requires only five games played to gain position eligibility in-season.
Daniel Palka $34 (Other bid: $11)
Mike Leake $34 (Other bid: $2)
Jose Reyes $26
Jose Pirela $24 (Other bid: $0)
Ryan Tepera $24 (Other bid: $23)
Jeff Zimmerman edged out Ray Flowers in the battle for Tepera’s services, a battle that I had little interest joining even though I happen to be the Roberto Osuna owner in this league. Tyler Clippard, who was already owned, seems to be John Gibbons‘ preferred ninth inning choice. I think Clippard will have to blow a few saves before Tepera gets an opportunity, which is entirely possible, but Clippard has pitched very well so far this season. I’m sure Matt Collins will have a lot to say about the Toronto bullpen situation in tomorrow’s Closer Report, so stay tuned for that.
Hernan Perez $13 (Other bids: $11, $7)
Luke Maile $11 (Other bid: $0)
Adam Frazier $11
Tommy Hunter $0
Jace Fry $0
Max Stassi $0
Strikeouts were already a weak area before the injuries to Johnny Cueto and Carlos Martinez, so I really needed to make up ground in the whiff department while at least maintaining my mid-pack position in wins. I’m hoping that Wheeler and Suarez will help me in that respect.
TOUT WARS NL
Jose Osuna $54
Mark Reynolds $24 (Other bids: $22, $12)
Last year in Tout Wars NL, my corner infielders were soft as I neared the end of the auction, so I chased then-Rockies first baseman Reynolds, who I had very little faith in, to $6. I did not believe Reynolds would hold the job for more than a month, and that David Dahl would be back from his injury sooner rather than later. When the dust settled on 2017, Reynolds was one of my best players, leading my offense with 30 home runs and 97 RBIs. A year later, Reynolds couldn’t even find a major league job and had to settle for a minor league contract with the Nationals. Washington called him up over the weekend when Ryan Zimmerman went on the DL and since I bought Zimmerman, Reynolds at $24 seemed like a natural fit for my squad. He loses the Coors advantage this year but hopefully for my sake, he is a short-term replacement for Zimmerman and not a long-term solution. His two home runs last night against the Diamondbacks are hopefully the beginning of a hot streak.
On Friday night, Hector Neris horrifically blew a save against the Mets, allowing a two-run blast to Michael Conforto followed by a solo shot to Devin Mesoraco. Speculation was rampant in the Philadelphia media/blogosphere that Neris wouldn’t get the next save chance, so I dove into the fray, grabbing Hunter and Dominguez. Hunter seemed like the logical, short-term alternative, while Dominguez is the long-term play. My cynicism about Neris turned out to be correct, but it was Edubray Ramos who grabbed the save opportunity on Sunday, after Hunter and Dominguez appeared earlier in the game. Gabe Kapler hasn’t formally announced a closer change, but I may have wasted four percent of my FAAB on nothing. There is also the possibility that the Phillies go with a committee, as Eric Karabell of ESPN pointed out on the Fantasy Focus podcast earlier today. Dominguez faced the heart of the Mets order in the eighth inning yesterday with Ramos getting the save versus the bottom of the Mets lineup. This could mean nothing, but it could also mean if anyone supplants Neris, it will be Dominguez.
Victor Caratini $3 (Other bid: $1)
A.J. Ellis $0
David Bote $0
It was a very quiet week in Tout Wars NL if your name wasn’t Mike Gianella. Scott Wilderman of On Roto grabbed Osuna for $54 and no other expert spent over $7 on a player. I grabbed Bote to replace Eric Sogard at middle infield. Peralta was terrific at Colorado in his major league debut on Sunday. It’s unclear as I write this if he’ll stick in the Brewers’ rotation or if this was merely a spot start, but Peralta is an intriguing prospect, and the Brewers rotation certainly isn’t filled with ironclad names in the front five. Peralta’s fastball has tons of movement, but he’ll need more out of his secondary offerings to be more than a one-time wonder. De Los Santos is an intriguing stash by Grey Albright of Razzball. Acquired from the Padres this offseason for Freddy Galvis, De Los Santos has a 0.84 ERA with 39 strikeouts in 32 ⅓ innings in six starts at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. If you have room on your reserve list for a spec play like De Los Santos, it’s a slick move with almost no FAAB cost.
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