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. Tim McCullough covers the FAAB bidding in the Tout Wars Mixed Draft league, while I cover LABR Mixed and both NL-only and AL-only leagues. 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 8 pm ET on Sunday, while LABR’s deadline is Sunday at midnight ET.
All statistics in this article are through Sunday’s games.
Zach Plesac $8 (NYY)
Plesac was solid in his first week in the majors, posting a 1.46 ERA in 12 1/3 innings across two starts. He gets a much tougher test this week against the Yankees. Two-pitch arms generally don’t succeed as starters, but Cleveland has had a strong track record with these types of hurlers of late.
Lourdes Gurriel $6 (Other Bids: $5, $4, $2, $2, $1)
I wrote about Gurriel last week after I picked him up in Tout AL. He had a home run and a steal last week, but more importantly picked up a full week’s worth of plate appearances. The bat will carry Gurriel in deep mixed leagues, if he’s in the lineup daily.
Myles Straw $3
Nick Pivetta $3 (Other Bids: $2) (CIN)
Pivetta’s great outing against the Dodgers yesterday brought back the buzz that surrounded right-hander in the preseason. The good news for Pivetta believers is that even when he struggled before his demotion to Lehigh Valley, the strikeouts were there and the walk rate was acceptable. The problem was that his home-run rate torpedoed his ERA. I love the raw stuff, but we’re looking at a pitcher with a 5.41 career ERA in 326 1/3 career innings. This doesn’t mean Pivetta can’t improve—it takes some pitchers 400-500 innings to harness their stuff and convert potential into talent—but I’m not as excited by Pivetta as others are. He’s a borderline deep mixed-league option at home against the Reds.
Keon Broxton $2 (Other Bids: $1)
Broxton’s brief time in Baltimore has featured a solid line (two home runs and a stolen base with a decent .250 batting average in 30 plate appearances), but the strikeouts that have dogged him throughout his career remain a constant. He’s a great gamble as long as he has a path to playing time, but even on a rebuilding squad, it could all come crumbling down in short order.
Jay Bruce was unavailable in LABR NL. The trade with the Mariners and Phillies was not officially completed when FAAB ran at midnight.
Ty France $5 (Other Bids: $1)
This is France’s second appearance in the 2019 FAAB Review. In that article, I opined France wouldn’t find enough playing time in San Diego’s crowded lineup, but injuries have opened the door. While his Triple-A numbers dating back to 2018 are tremendous, France has done very little for the Padres. Plus, with Fernando Tatis Jr. about to start a rehab assignment, France’s window is closing. I bid $1. France is a stash candidate in leagues that allow you to keep stats for players traded to the AL in-season.
Will Smith $5 (Other Bids: $1)
I overextended myself for the young Dodgers’ catcher, as a $1 bid would have won the bidding. Neither one of my catchers has been very good this season, and Smith has been splitting time evenly with Russell Martin since his promotion. Austin Barnes was fine when he was healthy, but I don’t see why Smith can’t stick, even when Barnes returns. Smith has improved as a hitter in the minors, and while some scouts believe the bat has a limited ceiling, it could translate to 20 home runs at catcher with a .230-.240 batting average.
Jeremy Jeffress $3 (Other Bids: $1, $1)
Jeffress was the final player I bid on, but my $1 bid fell just short. Jeffress has been a solid citizen in Milwaukee’s pen, but he hasn’t been nearly as dominant as he was in 2018. Plus, Josh Hader has taken the closer role and run with it. Jeffress is fine as a bullpen piece in NL-only, but barring an injury to Hader, I wouldn’t expect anything more than the stray save when Hader can’t answer the bell.
Rosell Herrera $3 (Other Bids: $1)
This is the third time Herrera has been acquired via FAAB in LABR. He hit a pair of home runs last week, but isn’t starting and his overall numbers aren’t very good. Herrera is a candidate for stolen bases. Unless the Marlins commit to him as an everyday player, though, he isn’t worth your bid.
Erick Fedde $2 (@SD)
Curt Casali $2 (Other Bids: $1, $1)
Casali had a nice game on Friday (no, this isn’t a “69” reference, you immature pervs), and he has easily outperformed Tucker Barnhart with the bat this season. However, a lot of this is due to a robust .365 BABIP that won’t last, and Barnhart’s defense still rates very highly. Casali is fine as a C2 in NL-only. That’s it.
D.J. Stewart $12 (Other Bids: $7, $7, $6, $3, $1)
Stewart was promoted by the Orioles last week and is getting a clear shot as Baltimore’s starting right fielder. Stewart’s upside is a 20/20 hitter, and he has hit at every stop in the minors, with the exception of a down 2018 in Triple-A. The negatives are a bat that some reports say is slow and a defensive profile that suggests first base is where Stewart’s defensive future rests. This seems to be true for every Orioles prospect.
Zach Plesac $12 (Other Bids: $8, $5, $2, $1) (NYY)
Devin Smeltzer $11 (Other Bids: $9, $6, $6, $5, $2, $1) (@CLE, @DET)
Anthony Bass $7
Cesar Puello $4 (Other Bids: $3, $3, $2, $1, $1)
Cheslor Cuthbert $3
Andrew Cashner $3 (@TEX)
Christian Arroyo $3
Jace Fry $1
Adrian Sampson $1 (OAK)
Richard Bleier $1 (Other Bids: $1)
Sandy Leon $1
Joe Biagini $1
David Hess $1 (@HOU)
Jonathan Davis $1
TOUT WARS MIXED DRAFT
I am honored to be joining Mike Gianella for the weekly FAAB Review for the rest of the season. Every week I’ll be presenting the FAAB bidding and results from the Tout Wars Mixed Draft League, which is a 15-team league with 23 active players and six bench slots. As you might imagine, this extremely competitive league features some of the most well-known and respected members of the fantasy sports community, and it is easily one of the most difficult leagues I’ve ever played in. But I digress. Let’s get to the business at hand.
After several weeks of very aggressive bidding on some of the more notable rookie call-ups, Week 10 was relatively quiet. FAAB bids were submitted by 11 of the 15 team owners, and a total of 22 players were awarded. However, only five of the 22 players, for whom bids were submitted, received bids from more than one team. Now that 11 of the 15 teams have spent more than 50 percent of their total FAAB budget (just one-third of the way through the season!), we are bound to see reductions in both the overall bid amounts and the number of teams going after multiple players each week. Indeed, many of this week’s bids were for injury replacements, as opposed to attempts at replacing underperforming players. Let’s examine the fallout from this week’s FAAB bidding.
Devin Smeltzer $69 (Other Bids: $23, $8, $6, $6, $5) (@CLE, @DET)
The Twins promoted Smeltzer to replace Michael Pineda, who landed on the injury list with a knee injury. In his major-league debut against the red-hot Milwaukee Brewers, Smeltzer threw six shutout innings, allowing just three hits and striking out seven. Across 54 2/3 innings at Double-A and Triple-A this season, Smeltzer compiled a 1.15 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, and a 48:10 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Unfortunately, PECOTA doesn’t project Smeltzer to be anything more than a bottom-of-the-rotation starter, forecasting a 5.58 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, and a strikeout rate of 7.4 K/9.
Tom Kessenich of SportsHub Games Network bid more than twice the next highest bid and blew away the other four bids, which were in single digits. This may reflect the low expectations for Smeltzer by many analysts, but it’s more likely because Pineda is only expected to miss two or three starts. Unless Smeltzer continues to dominate, there is a very good chance that he returns to Triple-A once Pineda returns. Smeltzer is in his age-23 season and has only pitched 24 2/3 innings above Double-A. The Twins starting pitchers have a combined ERA of 3.55—third best in MLB—so they don’t really need to rush Smeltzer’s development. Unless the Twins decide they’ve had enough of Pineda’s struggles (5.34 ERA), Kessenich may have bought himself an expensive bench ornament.
Jose Suarez $48
Suarez pitched very well in his MLB debut. He notched a victory with 5 2/3 innings, in which he allowed three runs on five hits, three walks, four strikeouts. He also surrendered a home run. His changeup turned out to be a nasty-looking pitch. By my count he threw 15 of them, with 10 going for swinging strikes. As expected, Suarez was optioned back to Triple-A after the game. Since Angels starting pitchers are carrying a hefty 5.53 ERA, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Suarez return to the majors soon. Undoubtedly, Kessenich is planning to stash Suarez, which is really his only option, considering the amount of FAAB he laid out.
Addison Russell $21 (Other Bids: $9, $8)
After a slow start through the first half of May, Russell has been heating up. Over his last seven games, Russell has batted .417/.462/.792 with three home runs, four RBI and five runs scored. Scott White of CBS nabbed Russell to replace injured shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who will not need surgery on his ankle but could be out for several more weeks with a Grade 3 sprain. White is currently relying on Logan Forsythe, who is off to a very hot start this season. However, regression to the mean is almost certain to visit Forsythe. He is sporting a .398 BABIP and will almost certainly see his surface stats plummet when his BABIP normalizes.
Steven Brault $37 (ATL, @MIL)
This move is a bit of a head scratcher for me. Perry Van Hook of Mastersball enters today’s action with 38 pitching points and is in eighth place overall. Moreover, he has five points each in ERA and WHIP. Van Hook is now adding Brault’s poor 5.87 ERA and 1.60 WHIP to his team, which comes with some awful control problems. Those issues are seen in Brault’s below average 18.8 percent strikeout rate and his terrible 13 percent walk rate. The southpaw could do a number on Van Hook’s rate stats in short order, so the best strategy might be to stash Brault after this week until he turns it around.
Ariel Jurado $15 (Other Bids: $7, $2, $1) (BAL)
Seth Trachtman (Rotoworld) must be hoping to catch some lightning in a bottle with Jurado, who has struggled to maintain any kind of consistency. Jurado has thrown 250-plus innings at Double-A over the last two seasons, but the 22 2/3 innings he has tossed at Triple-A have all been this season. He was called up to the Rangers at the end of April and was basically on mop-up duty for much of May. He has made three starts over the last two weeks and has done fairly well. Jurado boasts a 3.24 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, one win, and 13 strikeouts across 16 2/3 innings. The Rangers’ starting rotation currently consists of Mike Minor, Lance Lynn, and “pray for rain,” so Jurado has an opportunity to pitch his way into the mix. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good idea to add him, unless you have the roster space to keep him benched while trying to figure out whether he can help you. It’s not a foregone conclusion.
Jose Urena $15 (Other Bids: $4) (ATL)
Although Urena’s overall numbers don’t look stellar, he’s actually been pitching quite well over the last month or so. Over his last five starts (32 IP) he’s put up a 2.53 ERA, 0.66 WHIP, 20 strikeouts and 10 walks. The low bid is much closer to what he’ll earn this season, but it’s not hard to understand why Anthony Perri of Sirius XM bid $15.
Emilio Pagan $1 (Other Bids: $1)
Tampa Bay is still going with a committee approach to close out games, and Pagan has been part of that effort since its inception. Unfortunately, all three of Pagan’s saves were in April. The strategy Kessenich is employing in Tout is standard fare. The other members of the Rays’ save committee have been struggling of late. Jose Alvarado has a 3.09 ERA and six saves, but his ERA for the month of May was 5.79. He also took two losses and two blown saves. Diego Castillo, the other committee member, also has a nifty looking 3.04 season ERA with six saves. Unfortunately, he has taken two losses in his last five appearances with a 10.13 ERA and a .300 batting average against. Adding Pagan now is a great idea, since he is likely to get some save chances. For the month of May, Pagan pitched 13 1/3 innings, allowing just nine hits with zero runs scored. He also struck out 21 batters with only four walks. That’s a 0.00 ERA, a 0.66 WHIP and a strikeout rate of 14.18 batters per nine innings!
David Bote $3
Bote has played almost every game since the beginning of May with the occasional regular day off, and it is showing up in his productivity. Since May 15, Bote is slashing .361/.410/.694 with three homers, seven RBI and five runs scored. He’ll continue to play, if he continues to hit. Either way, three bucks was a bargain.
JaCoby Jones $3
Curt Casali $2
I needed a catcher to replace Yadier Molina, whom I hope will not be out too long with a leg injury. The waiver wire cupboard is practically bare when it comes to catchers, so I targeted Casali figuring nobody else would bid on him. I am very carefully babying my FAAB, which is down to a mere $77.
Marcus Walden $2
Walden got his first save opportunity from Red Sox manager Alex Cora last week, so I’m adding him for future consideration. The Red Sox are going with a committee approach that allows the hot hand to pursue the save chances when they’re available. It doesn’t hurt that Walden has vultured six wins, and he has compiled an ERA of 1.97, a WHIP of 0.88, and 35 strikeouts in 32 innings. For $2 I really can’t go wrong, and there is a good chance Walden gets the job at some point.
TOUT WARS AL
Delino DeShields $145 (Other Bids: $18, $3)
DeShields has been with the Rangers for all of or parts of five major-league seasons. He has mostly been bad. He’s interesting in fantasy because he runs like the wind, and if everything breaks right, he could steal 40-45 bases. The problem is DeShields has never been much of a hitter. Since 2018 he has played out like a poor man’s Billy Hamilton. Joey Gallo is sidelined, though, so the Rangers will likely give DeShields another extended opportunity. In Tout, where we use OBP and not AVG, DeShields is a stronger option, thanks to his high walk rate.
Anthony Bass $53 (Other Bids: $6)
Bass is the latest in a long line of Mariners relievers to pick up a save and get fantasy managers excited. Roenis Elias has fallen apart, giving Bass a window to nab some saves before Hunter Strickland returns, which will possibly be later this month. Bass has opted for a slider-heavy approach this season, and thus far it has led to increased effectiveness (cue the small sample size siren). He’s worth a low-end $20-30 bid, if you’re desperate for saves.
Devin Smeltzer $45 (Other Bids: $27, $24, $22) (@CLE, @DET)
I bid $24, missing out on Smeltzer, but keeping with my philosophy not to bid too much for starting pitchers in AL Tout. Smeltzer was awesome in his major-league debut against the Brewers. I was impressed by his poise and confidence on a big-league mound. However, his stuff is fringy, and Smeltzer relies on deception as opposed to big time stuff. I’m admittedly biased against deception-oriented pitchers, but guys like Smeltzer do sometimes succeed, particularly in the short-term. The left-hander has a strong two-start week on tap, and I’d use him almost everywhere in these softer matchups.
Jose Suarez $27
Myles Straw $26 (Other Bids: $26, $11, $0)
I was busy yesterday and didn’t notice Straw’s three-steal game. I might have upped my bid, if I had been home to overthink it. Straw is incredibly fast, and with the Astros battling multiple injuries, he’ll get a fair opportunity to play. There’s nothing else in Straw’s toolkit, but he’s worth a grab for some of the best stolen-base upside I’ve seen since Mallex Smith’s initial call-up.
Cesar Puello $25 (Other Bids: $22, $18, $3)
I narrowly missed out on Puello at $22. A former Met prospect, Puello was more tools than skills while he was in New York’s system, and he was released by the Metropolitans without ever reaching the majors. He had settled in as organizational depth for multiple teams before finally making the majors this week with the Angels as a 28-year-old. Puello was on fire in Triple-A and had two jacks for the Angels last week. He is more likely to flame out than produce, but in an uncertain outfield after Mike Trout, I like the low-level gamble.
Jack Mayfield $23
Braden Bishop $18
Richard Bleier $14
Dylan Covey $13 (@WSH)
Jonathan Holder $4
Christian Arroyo $4 (Other Bids: $4)
Eduardo Nunez $3 (Other Bids: $0)
Bobby Bradley $2
Daniel Palka $2
Joe Biagini $2
Ehire Adrianza $2
Cheslor Cuthbert $2
Scott Barlow $1
Tom Murphy $1
Ian Miller $1
Trevor May $0
Richie Martin $0
TOUT WARS NL
Jay Bruce $401
It obviously wasn’t clear to nearly all the Tout NL participants whether Bruce was eligible for bid. I’d surmise most of the teams in the league would have bid something on him if they believed he was eligible. Brian Walton of Creative Sports took advantage of the uncertainty with the lone bid for the newly acquired Phillies outfielder. Citizens Bank Park is going to be a terrific boost for Bruce’s already prodigious over-the-fence power, and while Philadelphia’s Bruce/McCutchen/Harper defensive alignment is going to be painful to watch, it doesn’t matter in fantasy.
Thank you for reading
This is a free article. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing to Baseball Prospectus. Subscriptions support ongoing public baseball research and analysis in an increasingly proprietary environment.Subscribe now