Welcome back 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 minimum budget with zero-dollar minimum bids.
Tout Wars’ free-agent deadline is 8 p.m. ET on Sunday, while LABR’s deadline is Sunday at midnight ET.
(NOTE: LABR did not process FAAB this week and is treating the first 11 days of the regular season as Week One.)
TOUT WARS MIXED
Injuries galore to pitchers, the scramble to pick up saves, and the loss of several players to the coronavirus all contributed to a healthy number of bids in the Tout Wars Mixed League—despite this being the second FAAB run in just four days. Potential closers and some deeper starting-pitcher choices generated many of the highest bids, but several position players generated a lot of interest, as well.
Greg Holland $216 (Other Bids: $66, $2)
Royals manager Mike Matheny is on record, stating that he will not use his relievers in traditional roles this season, but it was Holland who recorded the first save for Kansas City on Saturday. Holland certainly has the experience with 207 career saves, including 17 for the Diamondbacks in 2019. Still, it appears that Matheny is leaning toward a committee approach with Holland, Scott Barlow, and Ian Kennedy all in the mix. Kennedy notched 30 saves with a 3.41 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP last year, so he’s still the favorite to get the most opportunities.
Enrique Hernández $138 (Other Bids: $40, $27, $22)
Hernández has started all four of the Dodgers games so far. Considering that he is eligible at both second base and outfield, it is amazing that he went undrafted in the Tout Mixed League. With a .357/.357/.571 slash line, he is far outperforming his projection, but it is clear that the Dodgers are going to start him against right-handed pitching, despite his career .223/.288/.386 mark. Time will tell if he hangs onto the job, or if he is just a place holder for Gavin Lux.
Elieser Hernández $83 (Other Bids: $75, $5) (BAL, WAS)
The slew of strained arms over the first weekend of games has many of the Touts digging deeper into major-league starting rotations. Hernández is penciled in as the fifth starter for the Marlins, after last season’s 15 starts saw him rack up a 3-4 record with a 4.58 ERA, a 1.17 WHIP, and 78 strikeouts over 74 2/3 innings. Hernández looked good in spring training and pitched well enough during Summer Camp to beat out Jordan Yamamoto for a spot in the starting rotation. There is some fantasy upside here for those in deeper mixed and NL-only leagues.
Anthony Bass $180 (Other Bids: $104, $79, $37, $28)
The injury to Ken Giles opens the door for the Blue Jays’ reliever corps to compete for save opportunities. Anthony Bass, who was part of the Mariners’ closer committee last season, notched five saves with a 3.56 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP for Seattle in 2019 and looks like the favorite so far. Rafael Dolis could also get some run in the ninth with his sneaky-good sinker/slider combination.
Brady Singer $120 (Other Bids: $56, $47, $37, $5) (@DET)
Singer was solid in his debut on Saturday against Cleveland, allowing just two runs over five innings with seven strikeouts. He comes with some command issues, but the 23-year-old clearly has swing-and-miss stuff. At the very least, he’s a decent streaming option against weaker teams. He’s not an ace, but he has a particularly good shot at being a back-end fantasy starter.
Trevor Gott $136 (Other Bid: $7)
Tony Watson was the favorite to nail down the ninth for the Giants, but it was Gott who notched the first two saves for San Francisco in 2020. Manager Gabe Kapler has been mum about his bullpen plans and has not named a dedicated closer, so this looks like another committee situation. Closers have been going for big FAAB bids thus far, and Gott is just another example of the scramble for saves that is likely to be a theme in this short season.
Matt Adams $75
Adams started two of the first three games of the Braves’ season as their DH and added a hit as a pinch hitter in the game that he didn’t start. It appears the Braves will start Adams at DH against right-handed pitchers, against whom he has put up a career mark of .272/.325/.490 with 99 home runs. Unless the Braves decide to realign their outfield and move Marcell Ozuna into the DH role, Adams will get plenty of plate appearances and a chance to stay in the lineup.
Oliver Drake $69 (Other Bid: $7)
Drake notched the first save for the Rays with Nick Anderson bridging the gap with 1 1/3 setup innings. Although Anderson was the favorite to be the Rays’ closer, manager Kevin Cash has shown that he is more than willing to go with the hot hand to finish games. Drake has a filthy sinker and does a great job inducing ground balls, so he’s got the stuff to handle closing duties. Still, you should expect Cash to mix and match as he sees fit, which makes this bullpen another one that will give fantasy managers fits.
Zach Eflin $60 (Other Bid: $44) (NYY, @TOR)
Eflin is returning from a back injury suffered during Summer Camp. He struggled on the road (4.26 road ERA) and gave up an .856 OPS and 17 home runs to left-handed batters last season. All together, he coughed up 28 dingers over 163 1/3 innings (1.5 HR/9), so he’s not a good choice in a two-start week against two tough lineups. Fantasy managers should be overly cautious about using Eflin, who doesn’t offer much in the way of strikeouts and could have a negative effect on rate stats.
Wilmer Flores $50 (Other Bids: $18, $6, $3, $1)
Flores has started all four games for the Giants thus far and has at least one hit in each of them. He has played both second base and shortstop, and he’s also eligible at first base based on last year. He put up a .317/.361/.487 slash line in limited play with the Diamondbacks last year, so Flores may have some fantasy upside if he continues to play regularly. Right now, the Giants could use every hit that they can get, so they’ll probably keep running Flores out there as long as he continues to be productive.
Framber Valdez $37 (LAD)
The injury to Justin Verlander and the absence of José Urquidy have opened the door for Valdez to claim a spot in the Astros’ starting rotation. When he’s pitching well, Valdez generates tons of ground balls (62.1 percent ground-ball rate in 2019), but he walks too many batters (13.4 percent walk rate in 2019) and doesn’t generate enough strikeouts to be a real fantasy option. It’s possible that the left-hander has improved since last year, but he may be miscast in a starting role.
Rafael Dolis $11
Trevor Williams $8 (@CHC)
Williams was not sharp in his season debut on Saturday against the Cardinals, coughing up three runs on five hits over 3 2/3 innings with three strikeouts. Williams doesn’t rack up many strikeouts and is best limited to NL-only leagues.
TOUT WARS AL
Greg Holland $289 (Other Bids: $227, $213, $201, $56, $0)
On Saturday, Holland picked up the first save for the Royals in 2020, as anticipated closer Ian Kennedy pitched two shutout innings in the sixth and seventh. It was only one game, but there’s some logic to using Kennedy—a former starting pitcher—in a multi-inning role and saving Holland for the ninth. If you want or need a closer, the short season means that you will have to open your FAAB wallet and be aggressive when opportunities present themselves.
Anthony Bass $227 (Other Bids: $147, $147, $88, $67)
Rafael Dolis $177 (Other Bid: $0)
Ken Giles’ elbow is barking (again), and he’s going to have an MRI to determine the severity of the injury. Bass and Dolis are the two most logical candidates to replace Giles if Toronto’s closer needs to miss any time, although Jordan Romano was throwing in the upper 90s in Summer Camp and is the sleeper in this pen.
José Marmolejos $116 (Other Bids: $27, $23)
I know who almost everyone is in the AL-only player pool at any given moment, and even I must admit that I found myself whispering “who?” when Marmolejos’ name showed up on Seattle’s roster right before Opening Day. The former Nationals first-base prospect is getting some reps in the Mariners’ outfield (he DH’d yesterday), but there’s not much to see here. There’s a little power, but Marmolejos is more of a spray hitter who won’t provide a lot of home runs.
Alex Cobb $98 (Other Bids: $66, $42, $42) (MIA)
Cobb looked decent in his 2020 debut against the Red Sox, although this is one of the weaker iterations of the Red Sox that we’ve seen in years. Cobb gets a soft matchup against the Marlins this week, although any start in Baltimore makes that landing a little rougher. Cobb showed increased velocity on Saturday, and this could be one of those “if he’s healthy, he’s usable” sort of things. I remain wary in any format outside of AL-only.
Brady Singer $93 (Other Bids: $66, $61, $11) (@DET)
If you’re old enough, or a diehard Royals fan, thinking about pitchers the Royals have taken in the first round is an exercise in futility and sadness once you get past Zack Greinke. Hi there, Jimmy Gobble. You still around, Kyle Zimmer? Is that Luke Hochevar’s music I hear echoing in my head? Singer looked good in his major-league debut against Cleveland, averaging 94 on the gun with his heater and mixing in a slider. He’ll need to throw his change-up more to sustain this level of effectiveness, but I’m willing to take a chance on him for his next start in Detroit.
Taylor Williams $53 (Other Bids: $41)
Williams’ reputation has always been as a hard thrower with command problems, but thus far in 2020 he is throwing a little less heat and relying heavily on his slider. Williams picked up a save in the Mariners’ patchwork bullpen, and while he’s not a great bet for saves, neither is anyone else in Seattle. Bidding five percent of your FAAB in a league with $1,000 budget is reasonable.
Cole Sulser $53 (Other Bids: $32)
Sulser has been a serviceable minor-league reliever for most of his professional career and picked up the save for the Orioles on Sunday across two scoreless innings. I suspect that Baltimore’s bullpen will be wide open this season, but the same theory that applied to Williams applies to Sulser as well. Even if Sulser isn’t the closer, he has moved up the depth chart and is worthy of a $30-50 bid.
Iván Nova $47 (KC)
Ehire Adrianza $9 (Other Bids: $3)
Daniel Johnson $8
Jalen Beeks $5
Richard Bleier $4
Cheslor Cuthbert $3
Kevin Plawecki $2
Harold Castro $0
Max Stassi $0
Cam Bedrosian $0
Tyler Clippard $0
Jesse Chavez $0
TOUT WARS NL
Aristides Aquino $34 (Other Bids: $3)
Many of us wrote this guy off when the Reds removed him from their 30-player active roster, but Aquino is back in Cincinnati and could see some time in the Reds outfield or as their DH. He mashed 14 home runs with a .320 AVG last August and followed that up with five home runs and a .196 AVG in September. The late-season swoon explains the reticence to buy, but in an NL-only or deep mixed, I like the low-level gamble on the raw power, even though it’s probably not going to work.
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