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. Scooter Hotz, filling in for Mike Gianella this week, will tackle Tout Wars AL and Tout Wars NL. 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 agent deadline is at 1 pm ET on Sunday while LABR’s deadline is Sunday at midnight ET.
TOUT WARS MIXED AUCTION
Taylor Ward $56 (Other bids: $37, $33)
Ward was purchased last week by Fred Zinkie for $1 but the transaction was voided due to position eligibility issues (Ward isn’t catcher-eligible in Tout Wars but was bought as a catcher). Anyway, Fred still got his guy, even if it was a week later and $55 more costly than he had planned. After posting elite across-the-board numbers in the minors this season, batting .349 with 14 homers, 60 RBIs, 68 runs and 18 steals in 102 games, Ward has kicked off his big league career by hitting .286 with one homer, four RBIs and three runs through six games. He clearly has the ability to be a strong fantasy contributor down the stretch and needs to be added in all deeper mixed leagues, even if your league provider doesn’t designate him as catcher-eligible. Consider him a borderline 12-team mixed league option for now.
Rafael Ortega $49 (Other bid: $3)
With four steals through ten games this season, Ortega is proving that he can be a useful stolen base source for owners in deeper leagues. His .317 batting average and seven runs scored aren’t too shabby either. The 27-year-old was called up following the Justin Bour trade and should see regular playing time in the outfield going forward with Derek Dietrich moving to first base. A few points are within reach for Scott Pianowski in the stolen base category, so perhaps Ortega can help to provide the boost he needs to earn those points.
David Bote $33
Koda Glover $28
With Sean Doolittle, Kelvin Herrera and Ryan Madson all on the shelf, Glover has been given the opportunity to take over as Washington’s interim closer. He picked up a save on Thursday against the Cardinals but followed that performance with a rough outing on Saturday versus the Marlins in which he allowed two runs on three hits and one walk in one inning, suffering the loss in an extra-inning affair. The Koda Glover Closing Experiment, 2018 Edition might not last much longer as Herrera could return as soon as Tuesday.
Austin Gomber $19 (@LAD, @COL) (Other bids: $17, $1)
I thought about bidding on Gomber. The 24-year-old southpaw has made a fine first impression in the big leagues, pitching as both a starter and a reliever, and has tossed a combined 11 scoreless innings over his last two starts. Oh, and he’s a two-start pitcher this week. The problem is that one of those starts will be in Coors Field, so I ultimately passed on the idea of adding him. The other start, on the road against the Dodgers, isn’t exactly favorable either. Gomber is worth an add in most deep mixed leagues but with Tout Wars rules requiring that all FAAB buys must be in active lineups for the week following the purchase, he was too risky of an option for my liking.
Jake Junis $17 (@TB) (Other bids: $6, $2)
Very quietly, Junis has fared rather well in six starts since the All-Star break, registering a 3.52 ERA with 35 strikeouts across 30 2/3 innings. This week’s matchup is far from scary, as the Rays rank in the bottom third of the AL in both runs scored and OPS. At a reasonable price of $17, this could turn out to be a quality investment for Ron Shandler.
Tyler Austin $12 (Other bid: $1)
It was only a week ago that I dropped Sanchez to pick up Jose Iglesias. But after Iglesias missed much of this week with a thumb contusion and Sanchez’s bat caught fire, I figured I’d go back to Sanchez at my MI spot for this week, especially since I wasn’t sure if Iglesias would be back to full health. Plus, I do have the roster space to keep Iglesias on my bench. Now watch Iglesias get hot and Sanchez cool off.
Ryan McMahon $6
Wade Miley $4 (PIT)
Ryan Yarbrough $4 (Other bid: $1)
Ty Blach $4 (@NYM, TEX)
Trevor Williams $3 (ATL) (Other bid: $2)
Did you know that in five starts since the All-Star break, Williams sports a 0.87 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP? I didn’t either until I looked it up. The problem is that he offers very little in the strikeouts department (6.0 K/9 this season) and his matchup this week is a tough one, as the Braves lead the NL in runs scored. Despite his second-half success, Williams remains a risky play in mixed leagues.
Stephen Gonsalves $2 (CHW, OAK)
Gonsalves will make his major league debut on Monday as the rotation replacement for the injured Ervin Santana, and he’s in line to start twice this week if all goes well. Better yet, it’s easy to envision him sticking around even after Santana returns. In 23 minor league appearances this season (22 starts), the 24-year-old lefty is 12-3 with a 2.76 ERA, a 1.17 WHIP and a shade under a strikeout per inning. Those are pretty good numbers. I like what Al Melchior did here, grabbing Gonsalves now for a mere two bucks before his price tag could skyrocket with an impressive outing or two.
Brett Anderson $1 (TEX, @MIN)
Matt Moore $0
Hector Neris $0
TOUT WARS AL
Taylor Ward $455 (Other bids: $171, $53, $2)
In Tout Wars AL, Ward is only eligible at third base. If he had been taken in the auction, he would have been eligible at catcher because that was his primary position in the minors last season. For in-season FAAB acquisitions, however, players called up from the minors have their position eligibility based on the games they played in the minors this season, not last season. The 24-year-old’s bat would be nice behind the plate in an AL-only league, but it plays well at third base, too. He hit .345/.453/.520 with six homers and eight steals in 42 games at Double-A, earning a move up the ladder. In Triple-A, he hit .352/.442/.537 with eight homers and 10 steals in 62 games before he was called up to the majors. It looks like he’ll play every day at the hot corner, so he’s a worthy pickup for just about any team, especially in an AL-only league. Considering his potential production over the rest of the season and the limited production usually found in the free agent pool in this league, Ward is a good player on which to spend most of your remaining FAAB. The bidding would have been even higher if teams had more FAAB left at this point in the season.
Eric Young $74
Steals are hard to find in a deep AL-only league and Eric Young can steal bases. The speedy veteran should be in the lineup most days while Mike Trout is on the DL, so he could help fantasy owners in the stolen base category, at least for another week or two. I’m surprised more teams didn’t place a bid on him despite the fact that he’ll either be back on the bench or in the minors once Trout returns to the lineup.
Mikie Mahtook $56 (Other bids: $26)
The injury to JaCoby Jones has given Mahtook a shot at starting every day for the Tigers. The 28-year-old outfielder hasn’t done much in the majors this season, but it’s possible that regular playing time will help him find his stroke. It’s also possible that he’s just a below-average hitter.
Brandon Workman $51
The Red Sox have had Workman on the Triple-A shuttle all season, calling him up and sending him down depending on what was happening elsewhere on their roster. The 30-year-old reliever has been very good when deployed in the majors, posting a 2.59 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP with 24 strikeouts and seven walks in 24 1/3 innings. He’s a useful guy in a format like this for strikeouts and for exerting downward pressure on your team’s ERA and WHIP, at least while he’s in Boston rather than Pawtucket.
Ryan Pressly $35
Acquired at the deadline by Houston in their playoff push, Pressly has kept on doing what he was doing in Minnesota, putting up good rate stats with excellent strikeout numbers. While relief wins are notoriously difficult to predict, the veteran righty is about as strong an option as you’ll find since he’s not a closer or a setup guy and he plays for a good team.
Taylor Rogers $25 (Other bids: $2)
Rene Rivera $6 (Other bids: $0)
Joey Rickard $6
Adam Plutko $5 (@BOS)
Luis Avilan $1 (Other bids: $0)
Adam Engel $0
The 28-year-old backstop came out of the gates fast, popping a few homers and driving in a bunch of runs over his first week in the majors. Since then, his bat has cooled off and Rene Rivera has returned from the DL, hurting Arcia’s production and playing time. Barring another injury, he will be the backup in Anaheim, although the fact that he hits lefty and Rivera hits righty could lead to a few more starts for Arcia than most backups.
Heath Fillmyer $0 (CLE)
TOUT WARS NL
Tyler Chatwood $33 (CIN)
Earlier this season, Chatwood lost his spot in the rotation due to poor performance. Mike Montgomery’s stint on the DL gave the 28-year-old righty another shot at starting, but he only threw two innings before being chased in his first start since July. He might only get one or two more starts since Montgomery is expected back fairly soon. His low strikeout rate and poor control make him a bad bet in fantasy unless you’re no longer concerned about your rate stats and are simply looking for starts and wins. You might be able to squeeze a couple more starts out of Chatwood if the Cubs decide to play it safe with Montgomery.
Jordan Hicks $20 (Other bids: $12, $3, $0, $0)
Hicks is still walking too many batters and not striking out as many as you would guess based on his radar gun readings, but he’s throwing really hard, too. While his peripherals have remained about the same, his results have been better for the last month or so, helping to bring his ERA and WHIP down somewhat. It doesn’t seem like he’ll get anything more than the occasional save unless Bud Norris hits the DL or has a meltdown, but he could help in deep NL-only leagues if he continues to perform well. Just keep a close eye on him if you grab him to make sure he hasn’t reverted to his poor early-season form.
Koda Glover $17 (Other bids: $11, $3, $0)
Not too long ago, Glover was pretty far down on the depth chart for saves in Washington behind Sean Doolittle, Kelvin Herrera and Ryan Madson. Now, all three of those guys are on the DL and Glover is occupying the closer’s role. It looks like Herrera will be the first one to return from the DL, with a mid-week activation looking likely. That means Glover will probably only have another week or two in the ninth inning before Herrera shows that he has returned to form and reclaims the role. Two weeks of saves are nothing to sneeze at, though, especially in deep NL-only leagues.
Shortly after Hechavarria assumed a backup role on his new team, Jordy Mercer landed on the DL. The injury made Hechavarria the starter at shortstop in Pittsburgh, at least for the time being. He doesn’t offer much in fantasy, even in deep NL-only leagues, since he doesn’t hit homers or steal bases and doesn’t hit for average, either. Still, if you have an injury, he’s probably slightly better than a string of zeroes for the week. Probably.
Jesse Chavez $3 (Other bids: $0)
Erik Kratz $0
Hector Neris $0
It’s bad when a pitcher goes from closing in the majors to a demotion to Triple-A in the span of a few months. Neris managed to turn that trick for the Phillies with a series of spectacular blowups and a lot of home runs allowed. The 29-year-old dominated in Triple-A, earning a second shot in the majors after posting a 1.45 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP with 31 strikeouts and seven walks in 18 innings. He isn’t closing in Philadelphia at the moment, but the role is currently distributed between a few candidates, so he could reclaim the job before the end of the season if he keeps racking up strikeouts and avoids the longball. It’s a gamble, but it’s a worthwhile one.
Wilson Ramos $18 (Other bids: $5, $3, $3, $2, $2, $1)
No surprise here. The only reason why Ramos wasn’t bought in LABR NL prior to this week is that players on the DL are not eligible to be bid on in LABR. But with Ramos now back in action, Brian Walton of Creativesports used his FAAB advantage to grab the new Phillies backstop. Considering that he plays at a position that is severely lacking quality fantasy options, which is even more of a factor in mono leagues, Ramos is a steal at $18. With only $7 remaining in my FAAB budget, I knew I wasn’t getting him but threw out a token $3 bid anyway.
Dixon is expected to get regular starts at first base for the Reds while Joey Votto is on the DL with a right lower leg contusion, though Votto could return when first eligible. Dixon’s big league stat line this season is not good. His stat line is actually borderline embarrassing, so I won’t even include the numbers here. This is purely a playing time-based add by Steve Gardner of USA TODAY in the event that Votto remains sidelined for an extended period.
Rafael Ortega $3 (Other bids: $2, $1)
Ortega was bought this week in the Tout Wars Mixed Auction league, so naturally, he was well worth a pickup in LABR NL. The squad anchored by Glenn Colton and Rick Wolf, which happens to already lead the league in steals, came away victorious in the Ortega sweepstakes.
Craig Stammen $2 (Other bid: $1)
Last week’s Ryan Madson buy backfired miserably, as he didn’t even make an appearance for my team before heading to the DL. So, I’m trying again in my quest to find an active lineup replacement for Kyle Barraclough. Stammen, who carries a stellar 2.74 ERA and 1.04 WHIP with 70 strikeouts across 62 1/3 innings this season, seems like a safe bet. The added bonus is that he might see some save chances in the near future with Kirby Yates struggling a bit of late.
Austin Gomber $1 (@LAD, @COL) (Other bid: $1)
While I’d be hesitant to add Gomber in mixed leagues for this week’s tough pair of matchups, he’s worth the risk in NL-only formats. I’m actually surprised that one dollar was all it took to land him.
Brett Kennedy $1 (@LAD)
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