Welcome back to The FAAB Review, the weekly series that looks at FAAB bidding in expert leagues to help you, the Baseball Prospectus reader, with your fantasy baseball bidding needs. Every week, I closely scrutinize the expert free agent bids in LABR Mixed, Tout Wars NL, and LABR AL.
As a reminder, LABR uses a $100 budget with $1 minimum bids, while Tout Wars uses a $1,000 budget with $0 minimum bids. LABR and Tout Wars use a bidding deadline of Sunday at midnight ET for all FAAB claims. Any statistics mentioned in this article are through the previous Sunday’s games.
Phil Ervin $6. Other bid: $1.
Injuries to Billy Hamilton and Jesse Winker opened to door to Ervin, who has started three of the Reds’ past four games. Ervin had a down year at Triple-A, but his power/speed (with an emphasis on speed) combination intrigues in fantasy. Ervin could lose starts to Jose Peraza, but even in a job share Ervin could do enough over the last three weeks to be a viable mixed-league regular. Ervin is only owned in 3 percent of CBS leagues so he is almost definitely available in your league.
Ben Lively $4. Tout Auction: $0. Tout Draft: $5. (OAK)
Lively’s 3.86 ERA is undercut by a 5.86 DRA and a low strikeout rate that suggests he is quite hittable. On the other hand, Lively has a 2.57 ERA and 3.39 FIP in his last three starts and looked solid Sunday against a tough Washington lineup. Lively has abandoned his change-up almost entirely of late and started throwing more sliders. It is fair to remain cynical. Lively’s home numbers are far worse than his road stats and his mini-streak was entirely on the road. Counteracting this is that the Athletics hit much better at home than they do away from Oakland. Lively is a borderline play in mixed formats.
Dillon Peters $2. Other bid: $2. (@PHI, MIL)
I wrote about Peters this past week because he was picked up in NL-only Tout Wars. My colleague George Bissell also covered Peters in last week’s article about September call- ups. As I (sort of) predicted, Peters didn’t fare quite as well against the Nationals in his second start as he did in his MLB debut against the Phillies. I prefer Peters to Lively this week but only because Peters has two starts. If Peters isn’t shut down, he will get four more starts, with Arizona (road) and Atlanta also on the projected rest of the season slate.
LABR is the closest of the mixed-league races, with Mike Podhorzer of FanGraphs holding a 11 ½ point lead on Fred Zinkie of MLB.com. Jeff Zimmermann of FanGraphs is up by 26 points in Tout Auction while Rudy Gamble of Razzball holds a 23 ½ point lead in Tout Draft. Close races tend to lead to more aggressive year-end FAAB bidding, so the final two FAAB reviews could be very quiet.
· Another week, another pair of Mets purchased in an expert league. Despite a dreadful April, Reyes now has 12 home runs, 20 steals and a .239 batting average. Because of the steals, this line plays in deep mixed. It’s a shame Lagares isn’t much of a hitter, because his defense in center is solid.
· Biagini, Glasnow and Suter are the $1 LABR spec starting pitchers in Week 24. Even with a two-start week on tap, Biagini cannot be recommended in any format. He did not make it out of the fourth inning in two of his past three starts. Of this trio, Suter is my favorite play. Glasnow is fine to stash for 2018 in keeper leagues; I would not touch him in mixed unless you are desperate.
· With Kelvin Herrera struggling and probably injured, Maurer should get some saves in Kansas City. The Royals mentioned a committee, but Maurer is the guy to grab.
Nine of the 12 teams in Tout Wars NL took a powder and did not bid on a player. Grey Albright of Razzball has a commanding 25-point lead and is spending September taking a victory lap through his native New Jersey. He will be at Raceway Park in Englishtown today followed by a visit to Kevin Smith’s comic book store Thursday. Albright hopes you can come out and say hello.
· With the Nationals clinching the NL East on Sunday, Robles could see more playing time over the last three weeks.
· Gsellman’s surface numbers since his August recall from Triple-A look great, but he only has 10 strikeouts in 21 2/3 innings and a 4.53 FIP in that span.
· Hamilton was dropped at 9:30 p.m. on Sunday and picked up 2 1/2 hours later. I recommend prohibiting this practice in your home leagues and having a rule where players must be free agents for at least 24 hours prior any FAAB or waivers claims.
Brandon Maurer $7
As noted above, Maurer is a fine addition, but this move is puzzling given that Clay Link of Rotowire is first in saves and already had three closers and Yusmerio Petit. It is possible that Link is trying to protect his ERA by using mostly relievers; a strong finish in the category could gain him three additional points.
Teoscar Hernandez $2. Other bid: $1. LABR AL: $84.
This is my bid, though I could have saved a dollar, as the other bidder was ahead of me in the standings and would have lost the tiebreak. Hernandez has started five of the Blue Jays past six games and had a big day Sunday with two home runs against the Tigers. There is no guarantee that Hernandez is a starter down the stretch for Toronto, but his power/speed and the complete lack of starting options in the free-agent pool made him worth speculating on. I am nine points out of first and my offense is sputtering so I needed to take a risk. This has been a running theme for my LABR squad this season, but it would be nice if Hernandez could steal some bases before the clock runs out on my season.
LABR AL isn’t quite the free-for-all it was a few weeks ago. Steve Gardner of USA Today has opened a 5 ½ point lead on Greg Ambrosius and Shawn Childs but is far from a lock for first. He has multiple points he can lose in both wins and batting average that would make LABR extremely dramatic if this came to fruition.
Both Gardner and Ambrosius made moves this week, with Gardner getting Alexander and Ambrosius obtaining Moore and Barney. Despite his wins risk, Gardner is rolling with four starting pitchers. Despite having points to lose in ERA, Ambrosius is pushing nine starting pitchers out there to try and run the table in wins. LABR AL could either be one of the photo finishes for the ages or Gardner could pull away. My offense keeps stumbling. I lost Carlos Gomez to what could be a season-ending injury and my regulars simply haven’t been good enough. One or two players are going to have to get hot for me to pick up some points on offense and get close enough to Gardner to win. I’m not past the point of no hope yet but I could be there by this time Sunday.