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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.

TOUT WARS MIXED DRAFT

Bidding in the Tout Wars Mixed League for Week Three was again heaviest on closers and middle relievers who have a potential path to saves, but there was plenty of competition for healthy outfield and DH bats, as well as starting pitchers. We’ve reached the end of the first quarter of the season, and prices for closers have skyrocketed, as the ranks of available arms have thinned considerably due to injuries and positive COVID-19 tests, as you’ll see in the notes ahead.

Rafael Montero $500 (Other Bids: $283, $212, $197, $147, $75, $27, $18, $8, $0)
The competition was fiercest for Montero, who appears to be the best bet for saves for the Texas Rangers. José Leclerc isn’t returning anytime soon, and nobody else in the Rangers’ bullpen has been particularly effective aside from Jonathan Hernández. Montero struck out 30 percent of batters faced across 29 innings in 2019, despite a modest swinging-strike rate of 12 percent. However, he walked just four percent of batters faced, exhibiting excellent control. Hernández could challenge for the job, but this looks like Montero’s gig to lose right now. The latter picked up a pair of saves over the weekend.

Rowan Wick $254 (Other Bids: $111, $75, $65, $57, $21, $0)
Craig Kimbrel is out as the Cubs’ closer until he can get his mechanics straightened out. Manager David Ross went to Wick twice this past week in closing situations. Wick lacks big-time strikeout stuff and had command issues in 2019. In addition, Jeremy Jeffress, who has 45 saves on his resume and saved a game for the Cubbies two weeks ago, lurks as a competitor for the job. Wick seems to have it for now, but this situation is fluid—especially if Kimbrel can regain his command.

Tommy Milone $191 (Other Bids: $1) (@PHI)
After a rough first start, Milone has been effective over his last two outings, especially in his most recent effort against the Nationals. He held Washington to just three hits in six scoreless innings, striking out three. He has walked just three batters over 14 innings with 16 punchouts overall. The Phillies have batted just .209 against left-handed pitching thus far, so Milone could be a decent streaming option this week.

Mike Tauchman $152 (Other Bids: $118, $48, $40, $26, $0)
Tauchman has shifted to an everyday role with Giancarlo Stanton now on the injured list. Tauchman hasn’t gone yard yet, but he’s batting .310/.355/.414 and has stolen four bases in four attempts, which greatly increases his fantasy value. If Stanton does his usual disappearing act, Tauchman could end up being quite valuable in roto formats. He is worth adding in mixed leagues, if available.

Dylan Moore $114 (Other Bids: $78, $8, $4, $0)
Moore slugged his third home run over the weekend and has three steals in four attempts, while playing all over the diamond for the Mariners. He is batting .293/.326/.610, which is well above his projections, but his high strikeout rate will eventually kick in some regression to the mean. He is worth riding, though, while he’s hot.

Antonio Senzatela $93 (Other Bids: $51, $47) (ARI, @HOU)
Senzatela has a 2.65 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in his three starts thus far, and his strikeout rate has improved to a career-high 19 percent to date. He draws the weak-hitting Diamondbacks and a slumping Astros squad this week, which makes him a decent streaming option.

Ji-Man Choi $78 (Other Bids: $18)
Choi hasn’t homered since July 26 and is batting just .211/.311/.395, but the Rays play four games against the starting-pitching-deprived Red Sox at Fenway and three against the Blue Jays in Buffalo this week. Such a soft pitching schedule could help him get back on track. 

Matt Kemp $57 (Other Bids: $47, $22, $2, $1)
Kemp has shown that he still has something left in the tank, and the Rockies play six home games this week. Kemp has batted .300/.364/.650 with a pair of dingers and seven RBI this season at Coors. 

Carl Edwards Jr. $57 (Other Bids: $0)

Alex Cobb $56 (Other Bids: $43, $41, $1) (@PHI, WAS)
Cobb has been surprisingly effective in his first three starts. He has compiled a 2.51 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and 15 strikeouts over 14 1/3 innings. The Phillies are a tough draw, but the Nationals have batted just .206 against right-handers this season. Even with the tough start on the road against the Phils, Cobb is worth riding while he continues to pitch this well.

Andrés Giménez $55 (Other Bids: $30, $18)
Giménez has been sensational in his debut with the Mets, batting .333/.371/.424 with three stolen bases and playing daily. He won’t hit for power but could be a nice source of steals.

Jay Bruce $50 (Other Bids: $0)
The Phillies have deployed Bruce wisely, using him almost exclusively against righties, with Phil Gosselin working his way into the lineup against southpaws. This makes Bruce tougher to roster in weekly-lineup leagues, and even with a seven-game slate for Philadelphia, they only see three right-handers. Bruce is still a prodigious power bat who has slugged .500-plus in three out of the last four seasons, but he’s a tough sell in mixed without regular playing time.

Drew Pomeranz $46 (Other Bids: $0)
Kirby Yates has righted the ship for the Padres in the ninth, but Pomeranz has plenty of value as a premium set-up arm. Pomeranz was a mediocre starter who switched to relief in the second half of 2019, starring with Milwaukee down the stretch, and his success in the role hasn’t changed thus far for San Diego.

Sergio Romo $33 (Other Bids: $0)
Taylor Rogers has been fine, but the Twins haven’t been afraid to mix-and-match in the ninth. Romo has been the beneficiary with two saves. I wouldn’t overbid for Romo, but he’s likely to get a handful of opportunities. The Twins don’t want to overwork Rogers, even during this shortened season.

Brandon Bielak $21 (Other Bids: $7, $2) (SF, COL)
Ben Gamel $16
Tyler Alexander $7 (Other Bids: $1) (CHW, CLE)
Hansel Robles $6
Austin Romine $3 (Other Bids: $1)
Max Stassi $2
Jake Cronenworth $2 (Other Bids: $0)
Logan Webb $1 (@HOU, OAK)
Robbie Grossman $0
Adam Duvall $0
Ryan Helsley $0
Brett Phillips $0
Carlos Estévez $0

TOUT WARS NL

David Peterson $173 (Other Bids: $87, $85, $34, $33, $1) (WAS)
I enjoy watching smart pitchers like Peterson make the most of their stuff when they take the hill, but his strikeout rate is underwhelming and his upcoming matchup against the Nationals isn’t favorable, even at Citi Field. Peterson should be rostered in all NL-only leagues, and given the lack of pitching options on the wire and Tout’s $1,000 bid limit, I’m surprised that there wasn’t more aggressive bidding on Peterson.

Chad Kuhl $108 (Other Bids: $1, $1)
Kuhl looked great against the Tigers on Friday, striking out seven in four innings. Although his mid-90s fastball generated the most buzz, what interested me was the way that Kuhl increased his changeup usage and generated greater velocity separation than he has in the past. Kuhl and Steven Brault are being used in tandem, which makes it difficult to add either pitcher, but my bet would be on Kuhl between the duo. The Pirates series against St. Louis was postponed due to COVID-19. The Pirates’ entire pitching slate is up in the air.

Alex Young $77 (Other Bids: $0)
Young was a serviceable back-end starter last season. While he’s currently pitching out of the Diamondbacks bullpen, he could get a chance to start if there is an injury to one of the current front five. I’d leave him in the free-agent pool for now.

Luis Patiño $76 (Other Bids: $55, $44, $2) (@LAD)
MacKenzie Gore gets more buzz, but the BP Prospect Team has had a healthy debate about whether Gore or Patiño has the brighter future, which speaks volumes. Patiño has an extremely high ceiling, but this is a column for one-and-done leagues. It’s fair to wonder how much value he’ll have in 2020. The Padres are toying with the idea of starting Patiño on Tuesday—and he is listed as their probable starter at ESPN—but his 1 2/3 innings in relief on Sunday make me believe that he’ll stay in the ‘pen for now. Patiño is a high-end bullpen arm, but I suspect that’s where he’ll stay in 2020. I dig this roster addition for a Padres team that looks like it is going all out to make the playoffs, but it limits his fantasy value in one-and-done leagues like Tout.

Josh Tomlin $75 (Other Bids: $44, $5)
Very little good will come out of the hellscape that we call 2020, but if it leads to multi-inning relievers being appreciated again in fantasy, I’ll consider that a minor victory. Tomlin is unlikely to get save chances; however, he could be a sneaky source of vulture wins and lots of innings as a rubber arm in Atlanta’s bullpen. While I prefer a higher strikeout arm for plays like this, I do agree with the idea of having one or two pitchers like Tomlin on your NL-only staff.

Chris Owings $67 (Other Bids: $36, $22, $22)
Owings has become the Rockies super-sub, starting at second, shortstop, third, and center field in the last week. He’s nothing special with the bat, but Coors Field gives him a batting-average boost.

Cole Tucker $65 

Erik González $62 (Other Bids: $43, $23)
González is a light-hitting utility infielder who has been pressed into regular playing time at shortstop and third base for Pittsburgh, in part because of injuries and in part because he’s swinging a hot bat. There isn’t anything here about which to get excited. González is fine in NL-only if he’s playing every day, but he’s also the kind of player who you cut quickly when he is back on the bench.

Tyler Anderson $24 (@HOU)
Mark Mathias $23
Josh Harrison $22

Elias Díaz $15 (Other Bid: $6)
Díaz, Tony Wolters, and Drew Butera have each started twice for the Rockies over their last six games. If you’re going to take a shot on a three-headed catching combo in fantasy, I guess Colorado is the place to do it. Still, I’d avoid all three of these backstops, particularly since none of them have much upside.

Logan Forsythe $12 (Other Bids: $7)
Chasen Shreve $6
A.J. Minter $5
Dennis Santana $4
Andy Young $1
Joe Kelly $0
Phil Gosselin $0
Jake McGee $0
Magneuris Sierra $0

TOUT WARS AL

Miguel Castro $176 (Other Bids: $70, $22, $0)
I bid $70 on Castro but was handily defeated by Rick Wolf and Glenn Colton of Sirius XM. Castro picked up the save on Saturday, but it’s unclear if he’s truly stepping in as the closer in Baltimore. Cole Sulser may still be the guy, or it may just be a committee. Castro has been great and is worth a $50-70 bid in a $1000 FAAB format to see whether he can pick up a few more saves going forward. I don’t see anyone in this bullpen as the definitive answer.

Carl Edwards Jr. $155 (Other Bids: $30)
I initially placed an $80 bid on Edwards, but I moved it down after Taylor Williams notched his third save on Sunday. Edwards is a solid fastball-curveball pitcher who had plenty of long-term upside, but I’d guess that Williams remains the primary option in Seattle. Edwards should still see the occasional opportunity when Williams needs a break.

Tyler Alexander $114 (Other Bids: $0) (CHW, CLE)
Alexander garnered some attention when he flirted with a major-league record, striking out nine batters in a row in a relief appearance (the record for an individual pitcher is 10 in a single game, for a team it is 11). The Tigers moved him to the rotation, and he’s worth streaming in deep mixed and AL-only for two home starts this week. The nine-strikeout performance isn’t a sign that Alexander is doing anything differently, nor that he has suddenly turned a corner. Sometimes, these performances just happen, particularly in a context where strikeouts are so commonplace. Alexander remains a fringy swingman type, and I’m a little worried about him getting exposed if he stays in Detroit’s rotation long term.

Mike Ford $114 (Other Bids: $112, $77, $53, $22, $14)
Remember when the Yankees had so many good hitters that it didn’t seem like anyone would get to play? With Miguel Andújar at the alternate site and Giancarlo Stanton on the IL, Ford could have a chance to get regular reps at DH, although Mike Tauchman also figures to push his way into some playing time. Ford’s power potential is considerable, and while he is already 28 years old, this won’t stop the Yankees from giving him a shot if the bat plays. Ford is worth the gamble if you need power; however, Tauchman could steal enough time to make both players marginal additions. My money is on Tauchman over Ford, if I had to choose just one.

Tyler Wade $66

Blake Taylor $53 (Other Bids: $5, $0)
In a depleted Astros bullpen, Taylor has moved up the pecking order rapidly. He is likely next-in-line for saves behind Ryan Pressly. He was acquired from the Mets this past offseason in the Jake Marisnick deal. Taylor has been dealing, and while he never had much of a scouting profile, he could be a perfectly capable reliever in the ninth if Pressly can’t stay healthy. I liked him as a low-level stash and bid $5.

Brandon Bielak $52 (SF)

Danny Mendick $42 (Other Bids: $22, $18)
With Tim Anderson and Nick Madrigal both on the shelf, Mendick has a short-term opportunity to pick up plate appearances at second base for the White Sox. He has never been viewed as more than an organizational soldier or minor-league placeholder, but Mendick has performed capably at every level. The minor-league steals are what jump out for AL-only teams that are looking for a middle infielder who might swipe a few bags now and again. The scouts are probably right about Mendick, but he’s worth putting into your lineup while he’s playing.

Ryan Borucki $34

Zack Godley $31 (Other Bids: $18) (TB)
If you could guarantee me the 2017 version of Godley, I’d sign up in a heartbeat. Godley, however, has been all over the map since then, and while he did throw four solid innings against the Blue Jays in his last time out, he got hit hard by the Yankees in his outing before that. I still don’t trust Godley to be consistent or reliable. His start this week will be on short rest, so even if he is effective, he probably won’t go more than four or five innings. I’d use Godley in AL-only this week—and only if you don’t care about getting the win.

Travis Demeritte $15
Scott Heineman $12
Pat Valaika $11 (Other Bids: $7)
Kyle Zimmer $5
Erik Kratz $1
Andre Scrubb $0
Josh Staumont $0
Matt Wisler $0
Jordan Romano $0

LABR MIXED

Rafael Montero $29 (Other Bids: $23, $20, $19, $18, $6, $5, $4)

Hanser Alberto $10 (Other Bids: $8, $4, $3, $3)
Infielders like Alberto and David Fletcher, who provide strong batting averages and solid run/RBI totals, are typically seen as great in mono leagues but as tougher sells in mixed. There is the perception that they leave too much of a gaping roster hole in terms of power and speed to make them useful. The reality is that while you can’t field a team of Albertos and Fletchers, having one player like this on your roster is valuable. Alberto continues to rake, and while he won’t hit .350 this season, he will be a solid performer and could hit .300 again.

Touki Toussaint $8 (Other Bids: $6, $2, $2) (@NYY)
Atlanta’s rotation is swiss cheese (it has lots of holes and is stinky), but Toussaint is one of their more reliable replacements. If Atlanta were at full health, I’d be concerned about Toussaint’s staying power, but multiple injuries have given him some wiggle room. Control is what has always made me wary of rostering Toussaint, but his walk rate has been manageable in 2020. He won’t keep striking out batters at a 35 percent clip, but he has the potential to be a reliable contributor in the category.

Kyle Freeland $7 (Other Bids: $6) (ARI)
Sound the alarm, we have a “Kyle Freeland has been picked up in a mixed league” alert! On the surface, you’d completely avoid a pitcher who had a 6.73 ERA in 2019 and who calls Coors Field his home, but the early returns this year have been good. Freeland has leaned into being a junkballer, keeping hitters off balance and generating weak contact even more than he has in the past. The southpaw could be a passable, back-end starter—though his .235 BABIP and 87 percent strand rate aren’t sustainable. An ERA around four is probably the best-case scenario. Freeland is an NL-only play, and even there I only want him if I have the option to reserve him for tougher Coors starts.

Austin Nola $6 (Other Bids: $3)
Tom Murphy’s broken foot gave Nola the chance to catch full-time for the Mariners. Nola has a .324 batting average but little else. He is a must in two-catcher leagues, but I don’t see him as more than a second catcher who is playable in deep mixed almost entirely because of the volume.

Matt Kemp $6 (Other Bids: $2, $1)

Ty Buttrey $6 (Other Bids: $4, $3, $2)
Saves are saves, but one strikeout in seven innings is a rough number at which to look, even if Buttrey does become the closer in Anaheim. Buttrey grabbed the save for the Halos on Saturday, but Joe Maddon is keeping his cards close to the vest. We could see a committee for the Angels. A low-level bid like this is the correct play.

Framber Valdez $6 (Other Bids: $5, $2, $2, $1) (SEA)
The primary concern about Valdez heading into the season was his high walk rate. In three outings (two starts), that hasn’t been an issue, with only three free passes in 17 2/3 innings. He also tossed seven innings in his last start, so he is in line for wins on a strong Astros team. Valdez makes for a solid addition and might even be playable in standard mixed formats.

Chris Taylor $5
Alex Gordon $4
Dylan Moore $4 (Other Bids: $1)

Marwin González $4 (Other Bids $1)
Josh Donaldson’s lingering calf issue landed him on the IL, so González will get most of the starts at the hot corner for the Twins while Donaldson is on the mend. He is a low-end deep-mixed corner, and while he did hit .303 in 2017, he’s not a high-average hitter. After all, he did have some, um, help that year.

Alex Cobb $3 (Other Bids: $1) (@PHI, WAS)
Max Stassi $2
Freddy Peralta $1
James McCann $1
Miguel Castro $1
Joey Wendle $1
Joakim Soria $1
Andrés Giménez $1

LABR AL

Miguel Castro $21

Brandon Bielak $14 (Other Bids: $7, $3, $1, $1) (SF)
Bielak profiles as one of those back-of-the-rotation dudes who doesn’t do anything particularly impressive but throws four pitches for strikes with good command and movement. He also isn’t afraid to work backwards, mixing in any of his pitches at any time. The strikeouts probably won’t be there, but Bielak is on the right team to see if they can make him into something more than a back-end starter. The Giants are a great matchup for Bielak. He is worth streaming in deep mixed.

Pat Valaika $12
Tyler Alexander $9 (Other Bids: $8) (CWS, CLE)
Josh Staumont $4

Tommy Milone $3 (Other Bids: $1) (@PHI)
This is the 100th time that I’ve written about Tommy Milone in the FAAB Review (balloons fall from the sky, a large crowd materializes out of nowhere, and someone in a tacky suit hands me a giant novelty check). This is also the third time that I’ve made this lame joke (a stray balloon falls from the sky and someone throws a penny in my general direction). Milone has pitched well, but nothing has changed in his repertoire to make me believe that he is the second coming of Jamie Moyer. Like many pitchers who have a pulse, he is OK to use in AL-only, even in a tough matchup against the Phillies.

Anderson Tejeda $2
Evan Marshall $2
Asher Wojciechowski $1 (WAS)
Kyle Zimmer $1
Sandy León $1
Danny Mendick $1
Adam Plutko $1

LABR NL

Nick Markakis $31 (Other Bids: $13, $11, $7)
Outside of a walk-off home run against the Blue Jays on Thursday, Markakis has done virtually nothing since deciding to return to baseball after opting out earlier this year. The east’s lefty-heavy slate makes it even tougher than it would normally be for Markakis in a season with a more balanced schedule. I bid $11. Markakis is worth rostering, but he was more of a luxury for me than a necessity. I need pitching more than offense.

David Peterson $23 (Other Bids: $18, $16, $9, $3) (WAS)
Chadwick Tromp $18
Richard Rodríguez $9
Chris Owings $8 (Other Bids: $1)
Pedro Báez $5
A.J. Minter $5
Erik González $3 (Other Bids: $2)

Andrés Giménez $3 (Other Bids: $1)
Thanks to Robinson Canó’s strained adductor, Giménez quickly went from defensive specialist to starting middle infielder for the Mets. The questions all revolve around the hit tool; Giménez is a slick fielder whose defense is above average and already plays in the majors. The three steals in 35 plate appearances are what make Giménez exciting, especially if he can keep (checks Mets roster) Brian Dozier at bay … wait, really?

Derek Holland $2 (@CIN)
Travis Jankowski $2
Josh Tomlin $2

JT Brubaker $2 (Other Bids: $1) (@CIN)
Brubaker struggled in his last outing against the Twins, but that’s OK. Everyone struggles sometimes against the hard-hitting Twins. Brubaker throws hard but without enough movement to generate swings and misses, and he needs his offspeed stuff to work to keep hitters off balance and guessing. Brubaker’s week is up in the air now that the Pirates/Cardinals series has been postponed.

Lucas Sims $2
Yency Almonte $1
Shane Greene $1
Ryan Castellani $1 (TEX)
Kyle Farmer $1

Thank you for reading

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