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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.

TOUT WARS MIXED AUCTION

Harrison Bader $44 (Other bids: $23, $17, $12, $8, $5)

With Dexter Fowler in the midst of a miserable season, the Cardinals have turned to Bader often this year to provide a spark on offense, and the 24-year-old has been productive, contributing in both the power and speed departments while getting on base at a .340 clip through 72 games. Although Fowler remains in the right field picture, Bader has been getting the bulk of the starts lately, and Derek Van Riper of Rotowire was willing to make a $44 bet that this arrangement will not change anytime soon.

James Shields $41 (KC)

Look beyond Shields’ 3-10 record and his most recent outing in which he got torched for eight runs by the Astros and you will see that Big Game James is actually putting together a decent season. Over a 12-start stretch spanning from the beginning of May through the end of June, the veteran righty pitched to a 3.59 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP, and he opened July with a strong showing versus the Reds (6 2/3 IP, 4 H, 1 ER) before the aforementioned setback in Houston. Shields is still a risky mixed-league option but his matchup this week is about as favorable as it gets, a home date (3.58 ERA at home this season) against a Royals offense that ranks last in the majors in both runs scored and OPS.

Tyler Anderson $27 (ARI, SEA) (Other bids: $17, $7, $5)

I thought about bidding on Anderson, who is fresh off two straight dominant performances in which he has tossed a combined 16 scoreless innings with 17 strikeouts and is in line for two starts this week. But I’m not exactly loaded with FAAB dollars right now and I already have too many starting pitchers on my roster. Oh, and the Coors Field factor kind of scared me off as well. That said, from a long-term point of view, I do like this pickup by Al Melchior, and the price was certainly reasonable.

Matt Harvey $27 (@STL) (Other bids: $17, $5, $5, $0)

Who saw this coming? Over his first 11 starts with the Reds, Harvey has posted a 3.79 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP. Seriously. Who knows what’s going on here. Maybe he just needed to escape from New York. The Cardinals’ offense isn’t terrible, but St. Louis ranks only 24th in the majors in OPS at home, so Harvey is worth a shot for this week.

Danny Duffy $22 (@MIN, @CHW) (Other bid: $2)

Dropped last week by defending champ Jeff Zimmerman, Duffy has found a new home on Derek Van Riper’s roster. Seeing Duffy’s name in the waiver wire pool did seem strange being that he was widely viewed as a quality mid-rotation starter in mixed leagues heading into the season. But 2018 has so far been a nightmarish season for the Royals southpaw, and I really can’t blame Zimmerman for getting fed up. The good news for Duffy is that he’s allowed one run or fewer in three of his last five starts with the two rough outings coming against the Astros and the Indians, two of the best offenses in baseball. This week’s matchups are promising, so it would not be surprising to see a pair of quality starts, at the very least.

Mark Reynolds $21 (Other bid: $8)

Posting a 10-RBI game is quite a feat, and there’s little doubt that Reynolds still has the ability to go on power tears. So why only two bids? Well, the fact remains that most of Reynolds’ at-bats come as the weak side of a first base platoon, so consistent playing time going forward is far from a given. But 10 RBI? You’ve gotta add him, right?

Austin Hedges $14

Victor Arano $13

Wei-Yin Chen $12 (PHI)

Corey Dickerson $8

Drew Steckenrider $7

Several teams are interested in trading for current Marlins closer Kyle Barraclough, and while Barraclough, who is under team control through 2021, is far from a lock to be traded, it is only natural for us fantasy owners to wonder who would take over as Miami’s ninth-inning man. The answer could very well be Steckenrider, who boasts a 2.95 ERA, a 1.18 WHIP and a 10.4 K/9 through 43 appearances this season. Ray Flowers opted to make the preemptive strike, grabbing Steckenrider for seven bucks now before his price might jump exponentially.

Chris Herrmann $5

Nick Ahmed $5

Enyel De Los Santos $3 (@NYM)

If it was more widely known at the time of yesterday afternoon’s FAAB deadline that De Los Santos was likely to make his big league debut this week, Tim McLeod would not have been able to win him for a mere three bucks. But either Tim had some inside info or he just lucked out. De Los Santos has dominated in Triple-A this season to the tune of a 9-3 record with a 1.89 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP through 16 starts. If the 22-year-old does indeed take the mound at Citi Field on Tuesday, he will be greeted warmly by a struggling (to put it very mildly) Mets lineup, so he deserves a speculative add in deep mixed leagues. De Los Santos’ big-league fate beyond this week remains to be seen, but he might come out of the All-Star break with a spot in Philadelphia’s starting rotation if the injured Vince Velasquez isn’t ready to return from the DL.

Brad Ziegler $3

Willy Adames $2 (Other bid: $1)

Lou Trivino $2 (Other bid: $0)

Yefry Ramirez $0 (NYY)

Danny Valencia $0

TOUT WARS NL

Luis Perdomo $57 (LAD, CHC) (Other bid: $7)

Plunking $57 on a pitcher with a 6.86 ERA seems like a losing play but Perdomo is also striking out slightly over a batter an inning, easily exceeding his whiff rate in his prior two seasons in the majors. I haven’t seen him pitch in 2018 and it doesn’t appear Perdomo’s velocity readings are different or that he’s using a different pitch mix, so it is doubtful this is sustainable. Perdomo does get two home starts at Petco this week but they come against two strong teams and against two aces (Clayton Kershaw and Jon Lester). I’m OK with Perdomo as an add in NL-only for the two-start week but if your ERA/WHIP concerns you at all, I’d pass.

Victor Arano $45 (Other bids: $30, $17)

A few years ago, a two-save week would have led to a flurry of aggressive FAAB bids, especially in an NL-only. But with more teams eschewing a traditional closer, it is difficult to speculate wildly on saves in fantasy. This is particularly true with the Phillies, whose most dominant reliever – Seranthony Dominguez – has not been used as a traditional fireman but rather to face the heart of the opponent’s order regardless of whether it is a save situation or not. Arano has pitched well and should be grabbed in any NL-only leagues where he is available. My guess is Dominguez remains the primary closer but in a bullpen where Gabe Kapler isn’t afraid to go with the best matchup at any time, it’s possible that no one finishes with more than 20 saves. It’s a suboptimal situation for fantasy but to be fair, saves are a terrible stat.

Chase d’Arnaud $34

Jesmuel Valentin $23

Jordan Patterson $17

Pat Valaika $12

Yadiel Rivera $9

Antonio Senzatela $1 (SEA)

Taylor Williams $1

Scott Alexander $1

Randall Delgado $1

Jacob Nottingham $1

You’re probably tired of hearing this but it was another quiet week. With the AL playoff race virtually over, my guess is the NL experts are anticipating several AL players getting traded from non-contenders to contenders. Manny Machado would be the big prize, but several secondary pieces could also find their way to the NL. If you’ve spent most of your FAAB like I have, it doesn’t make sense to be conservative but with most of my team healthy and most of my earlier FAAB purchases working out well, I have been sitting on the sidelines in Tout.

LABR NL

Victor Arano $6 (Other bids: $2, $2, $2)

Jesmuel Valentin $1 (Other bid: $1)

Jeremy Jeffress $1

Max Moroff $1

As the July 31 trade deadline approaches, it is common for the FAAB activity in non-mixed leagues to lessen significantly with many owners saving their money for potential big-name crossover players. This could be the reason for the extremely slow week in LABR NL. Or maybe there simply weren’t many exciting players to bid on. In all likelihood, it’s a combination of both of these reasons.

Victor Arano was the only multi-dollar player, and he earned the honor by picking up the most recent two saves for the Phillies. The promising 23-year-old sports a 2.25 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP for the season with better than a strikeout per inning, so he does seem like a viable closer candidate. Just a week ago, the Philadelphia ninth-inning situation, which has been in flux all year, appeared to be fairly stable with Seranthony Dominguez getting the job done, and now we have this? Doug Dennis of Baseball HQ, who beat out three other owners to win Arano’s services, is hoping that his $6 investment has bought him a consistent source of saves for the second half.

LABR AL

Ronny Rodriguez $13. Tout AL: $79

These aggressive bids are less about Rodriguez and more about Tigers third baseman Jeimer Candelario. Rodriguez started consecutive games at third for Detroit on Thursday and Friday and there is speculation that Candelario’s chronic wrist injury is worse than he is letting on. Since June 20, Candelario has a miserable .153/.242/.288 line with two home runs in 66 plate appearances. With the Tigers out of the race, it is possible Detroit places Candelario on the DL and advises him to opt for surgery. I’m not sure how well Rodriguez’s moderate minor league power and speed would translate to the majors but a full-time job at third would give us a chance to find out. These bids seem aggressive to me but then again, I’m an agitated Candelario investor in LABR.

Edwin Jackson $4 (@HOU) (Other bids: $1, $1)

Edwin Jackson is 34 years old. Let me repeat this for those in the back of the room. He is 34 YEARS OLD! Without looking, I would have assumed he was pushing 40. This confusion about Jackson’s age stems from the fact that he made his major league debut on his 20th birthday, allowing one run in six innings against the Diamondbacks in Arizona on September 9, 2003. The other thing that’s easy to forget about Jackson because he has bounced around so much is that he had a four-year run as a decent pitcher. From 2009-2012, Jackson posted a 13 WARP. That isn’t special but is certainly better than what you might expect given Jackson’s reputation. Since you’re not in a retrospective fantasy league, this trip down memory lane doesn’t help you in your quest for a title in 2018. EJax has a negative 2.2 WARP since 2013 and has been a replacement-level pitcher this year. His ERA and raw results look nice, but Jackson is difficult to trust, even in AL-only. The matchup against the Astros this week is another reason to stay away. I needed a pitcher but didn’t even place a contingent bid on Jackson.

Ryan Borucki $4 (@BOS) (Other bids: $3, $1)

Borucki was one of the pitchers I bid on, but my $1 bid fell short. A 15th round prep school pick in 2012, Borucki battled injuries for a couple of years in the minors before bouncing back the last two seasons with solid results. The overall minor-league numbers appear pedestrian, but the stuff is solid and Borucki profiles long-term as a back-end major league starter. He is a risky play against the Red Sox this week but he was risky against the Yankees yesterday and performed well.

Felix Pena $2 (@LAD)

Jim Adduci $2. Tout AL: $21

Adduci has worked his way into the good side of a platoon at first base with John Hicks. He should be added in AL-only because he is playing but the ceiling for a 33-year-old career minor-leaguer who has a .210/.282/.297 career line is low. Adduci does have some stolen base potential, but we’re talking about a 5-10 steal seasonal pace. Mitch Moreland’s All-Star selection yesterday highlights how thin first base is in the AL, so when Adduci picks up first base eligibility in LABR, it will enhance his value slightly.

Kyle Higashioka $1. Tout AL: $3

Ryne Stanek $1

Jesus Sucre $1

Adam Warren $1

Victor Reyes $1. Tout AL: $0

Austin Bibens-Dirkx $1 (@BAL)

On Saturday, my LABR team put up one of the worst pitching lines I have ever suffered through in fantasy and I tumbled in the standings. This was always the risk of a heavy hitting/light pitching auction and part of the drawback of a strategy that relied on heavy speculation on arms. Bibens-Dirkx was my $1 buy. I like the matchup at Baltimore, but I don’t need Bibens-Dirkx to be spectacular as much as I need him to eat innings at the back-end of my staff and put up enough strikeouts and wins to keep me competitive in those categories. I still have a shot in a wide-open LABR race but there’s no avoiding the fact that this past week was ugly.

Thank you for reading

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