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 budget 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.
Shelby Miller $10 (SD) (Other bids: $3, $3, $3)
Miller has struggled mightily (11.42 ERA, 2.08 WHIP) in his first two starts for the Diamondbacks this season, but that didn’t discourage one-third of the league from bidding on him, with the NFBC duo of Greg Ambrosius and Shawn Childs submitting the winning bid of $10. There’s upside with Miller, but with only 30 2/3 innings pitched since 2016, there’s plenty of rust to shake off as well. The good news is that the Padres rank among the bottom five teams in the majors in runs, batting average and OPS, so this week is as good a time as any to take a chance on Miller.
Wei-Yin Chen $3 (TB, @WAS)
Although Chen has been maddeningly inconsistent this year, he is coming off a strong outing against the Diamondbacks (6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER) in one of his better performances of the season. He’s also a two-start pitcher this week with one favorable matchup followed by a seemingly dangerous matchup, that is until you realize that the Nationals rank in the bottom half of the majors in runs, batting average and OPS. Oh, and Chen dominated Washington in his lone start versus the Nats this season, allowing just one run on three hits over 7 1/3 innings. All in all, he’s worth the $3 flier in this deep NL-only league.
John Gant $3 (@SF)
Gant followed an excellent performance versus the Indians with a mediocre outing against the Braves on Sunday. Filling in for the injured Michael Wacha in the St. Louis rotation, Gant is probably too unreliable to trust in mixed leagues. But he’s an adequate NL-only play for this week, when he will take the mound in pitcher-friendly AT&T Park to face a Giants lineup that is far from intimidating.
Elieser Hernandez $3 (TB, @WAS)
Hernandez’s main NL-only appeal this week is that he’s a two-start pitcher, because the rookie, who is serving as both a starter and a reliever for the Marlins, hasn’t been overly impressive so far. On the bright side, he did strike out eight in his latest appearance last Tuesday, which also happened to be his first start since June 1, so maybe we will see better overall results from him going forward.
Pablo Lopez $2 (@WAS?)
Erik Kratz $1 (Other bid: $1)
Ty Blach $1
Curtis Casali $1 (Other bid: $1)
Greg Garcia $1
Wily Peralta $11 (Other bids: $9, $6, $4, $4, $2). Tout AL: $56
I am reluctant to place the label “failed major league starter” on a person who is much better at his job than I will ever be at any of mine, but a career 4.29 ERA and 4.41 FIP in 686 1/3 innings is enough of a sample to render this verdict. After years toiling with Milwaukee, Peralta signed with the Royals in December, was designated for assignment in March and seemed gone for good from our collective fantasy radar. Peralta’s 2018 numbers were pedestrian at Triple-A (4.37 ERA, 39 strikeouts and 21 walks in 35 innings) but Kansas City called him up anyway and two weeks later, it appears he is the closer. Peralta is throwing gas, averaging 97 miles-per-hour on his fastball and mixing in a mid-80s slider. Most starters-turned-relievers remove a pitch or two from their mix, but Peralta has added a changeup to his repertoire. While the stuff looks great, control is why I didn’t bid more than $4. Peralta’s velocity was up in 2017 too. Since that time, he has walked 67 batters in 113 innings between Triple-A and the majors. I don’t care how thin the Royals’ bullpen is, that walk rate won’t cut it for the rest of the season. A low-end bid on Peralta is sensible; anything more than $4-5 out of $100 is too risky.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa $3 (Other bids: $2, $2, $1)
After suffering through numerous injuries early this season, the Rangers have mostly recovered, and it seemed Kiner-Falefa would be headed back to the minors. However, the Rangers decided to use him as a back-up catcher, which not only keeps Kiner-Falefa on the team but gives him a value boost depending on your league’s in-season eligibility requirements. LABR uses a five-game rule, so Kiner-Falefa will gain catcher eligibility with his next game behind the dish. Two home runs, 30 runs, 23 RBI, six stolen bases and a .250 batting average isn’t very interesting at middle infield but at catcher, it makes him interesting, even in 15-team mixed, two-catcher leagues. I bid $2 but was beat out by Clay Link of Rotowire. Kiner-Falefa is probably an upgrade over both of my lousy backstops but I didn’t want to spend $3-4 for a player who could be back in the minors next month.
Jake Diekman $1. Tout AL: $29
Jesse Chavez $1
Adalberto Mejia $1 (BAL)
As is the case with Kiner-Falefa, Astudillo’s catcher eligibility makes him more intriguing in deep leagues. But unless his Triple-A steals translate to the majors, this is merely an AL-only play. Diekman is the contingency option for saves in Texas if closer Keone Kela gets hurt or is traded. Much virtual ink was spilled about Mejia as a back-end starter in this column and Scooter Hotz’s Deep League Report last year, when Mejia logged 21 major league starts with a 4.50 ERA. He’s fine to use as a match-up play against Baltimore but in a league like LABR where you can’t reserve free agent acquisitions, I don’t want Mejia, even for $1.
TOUT WARS MIXED AUCTION
Anthony DeSclafani $87 (CHW) (Other bid: $9)
DeSclafani has been far from dominant since making his season debut in early-June, but the Reds righty has allowed only two earned runs in three of his five starts while giving up no more than four earned runs in any of his outings. The biggest concern with DeSclafani so far this season has been his gopheritis, as he’s already served up six home runs, but the sample size is still small. I’m not sure I would have paid $87 for him, but in a deep mixed league, quality starting pitchers do not stay on the waiver wire for long, and DeSclafani was without question one of the better available options. As for this week, a favorable matchup is on tap versus a White Sox offense that ranks in the bottom third of the Majors in both runs scored and OPS.
Tyler Clippard $83 (Other bids: $13, $9, $5)
You may have heard of this saying before, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Back in March, I drafted Roberto Osuna and Kelvin Herrera to serve as my closer duo. I know, not good. Now that neither pitcher is getting saves, I’m left with Corey Knebel, who I acquired via trade in late-May. As it turned out, I overpaid by quite a bit for Clippard, but he’s quietly been pitching extremely well for awhile (2.92 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, three saves in June). With Ryan Tepera sidelined due to elbow inflammation, Clippard is the logical choice to assume the role of fill-in closer for the Blue Jays. At the moment, Tepera’s return timetable is unclear, so I’m hoping that his absence extends beyond just a week or two.
Felix Pena $39
Yolmer Sanchez $38 (Other bid: $12)
My other purchase this week, this move is all about me getting fed up with Freddy Galvis and his minuscule contributions and viewing Sanchez as an upgrade at my MI spot. Who knows, maybe Sanchez will only be a short-term add and I’ll get fed up with him too, but he should at the very least provide me with a few steals over the next few weeks. Plus, he has been swinging a hot bat of late, with multiple hits in four of his last five games heading into Sunday.
Adalberto Mejia $37 (BAL)
The owner of a 2.74 ERA across 11 appearances (nine starts) this year at Triple-A, Mejia struggled (4 IP, 6 H, 3 BB, 4 ER) in his big-league season debut on Saturday, on the road against a potent Cubs lineup. The good news is that the schedule is much kinder to him this week, as he will go up against a Baltimore lineup that ranks 29th in the majors in runs scored, last in batting average and 27th in OPS.
Will Smith $36 (Other bid: $0)
Smith has earned each of the last two saves for the Giants, including Sunday’s one-out save in which he relieved a shaky Mark Melancon, who could not get the job done in the ninth. Smith boasts a 1.11 ERA and a 0.70 WHIP through 26 appearances this season, and since he now appears to be at the top of San Francisco’s closer pecking order, he needs to be added in all league formats.
Keon Broxton $30 (Other bids: $22, $22, $18, $18, $4)
Broxton’s window of fantasy relevance might be about to close with Lorenzo Cain expected to return from the DL when first eligible on Wednesday, but that was quite a game on Friday (3-for-4, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 3 R, 1 SB). It’s easy to forget that this is a guy who put together a 20/21 season last year. Anyway, at a price of 30 bucks, Broxton is a worthy investment in case he performs well enough over the next few days to stick around with the big club.
Raimel Tapia $18
Wily Peralta $13 (Other bids: $9, $5)
Peralta was my fallback option in the event I missed out on Clippard, and a case could be made that Peralta is the better pickup since he could conceivably serve as Kansas City’s ninth-inning man for the remainder of the season. The risk here is that he has posted mediocre at best stat lines throughout most of his big-league career, and he’s struggled with his control so far this season, issuing four free passes in just 4 2/3 innings. I’m expecting a bumpy ride.
Max Fried $11 (@MIL)
This might turn out to be quite the bargain for Ron Shandler. Fried, called up over the weekend to take the injured Brandon McCarthy‘s spot in Atlanta’s rotation, was flat-out dominant on Saturday against the Cardinals, tossing 6 2/3 shutout innings while racking up 11 strikeouts. He will make at least one more start, a tough road matchup against the Brewers. But with McCarthy’s return date unknown, the top prospect could get an extended opportunity to prove that he belongs in the majors.
Eric Lauer $9 (@OAK)
Ryan Borucki $5 (DET)
Nick Hundley $5
Sorry, I just had to point this out because it looks weird. Here we have a likely first-ballot Hall of Famer and first-round fantasy pick for more than a decade being purchased for a measly two FAAB dollars in a deep mixed league. How times have changed.
Tony Watson $2
Elias Diaz $1 (Other bid: $0)
Mark Canha $1
Chris Bassitt $0 (SD)
TOUT WARS NL
Max Fried $111 (@MIL) (Other bids: $42, $1)
Among the scouting community, the jury has been out for some time on whether Fried’s major league future is in the rotation or the bullpen. Proponents point to Fried’s strong curve and a fastball that induces plenty of groundballs while detractors see a pitcher with average stuff who doesn’t have the consistency to make it through a lineup more than once or twice without getting tattooed. Fried showed off his ceiling and then some with an 11-strikeout effort against the Cardinals on Saturday and will get at least one more chance to show his stuff this week in Milwaukee. My rotation is filled but if I had a need, I would have bid somewhere in the $40-60 range. The ceiling is high but so is the risk that hitters figure him out and wear him down over the course of the season.
Pablo Lopez $71 (Other bid: $5)
Lopez missed all of 2014 due to Tommy John surgery and for a couple of years, he looked like one of those pitchers who would never fully recover from the procedure. It finally came together for Lopez in 2017, and after he was acquired from the Mariners for David Phelps, Lopez turned it up another notch. The young righty can reportedly hit 96-97 miles-per-hour with his fastball but was working in the 92 mph range against the Mets in his major league debut on Saturday. Lopez also features an above-average slider and a decent change-of-pace. He looked solid against the Mets, but I couldn’t tell if this was because Lopez is good or because the Mets look like a team playing out the string in late-June/early-July. Lopez is a decent spec play based on raw ability but given his reputation as a groundball pitcher, the two solo shots allowed against New York make me nervous and wonder if a team with a pulse would capitalize more on his mistakes than the Mets did.
Andrew Knapp $27 (Other bid: $0)
Jorge Alfaro remains the starter behind the plate for the Phils, but Knapp has been getting a few more reps, as Philadelphia has been giving Alfaro more of a breather of late. Tout is an OBP league, so Knapp has slightly more value than he would in an AVG league, but without much power or speed to speak of, Knapp remains a fringy option, even in mono formats.
Tyler Glasnow $24
Carlos Asuaje $17
Tommy Hunter $16
Pat Valaika $4
Chris Shaw $1
Jared Hughes $1
Jeff Mathis $0
The pickings are slim as always and now that we are in July, the teams near the top of the FAAB heap will be conservative with their cash. I didn’t purchase anyone but I’m toward the bottom in FAAB and unless Clayton Kershaw goes on the DL with a season-ending injury (please don’t read this, baseball deities), I won’t have enough FAAB to compete with the heavy hitters this month if players get traded over from the AL at the deadline.
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