Week 11 is a good week at the Deep League Report. There are a lot more innings to go around on the pitching side and a lot more playing time available on the hitting side. Four of the six featured pitchers are starters and at least three of the hitters should get more playing time than someone on the bad side of a platoon. It’s a good week to be active in the free agent pool and on the waiver wire in deep AL-only and NL-only leagues. Get to work.
AL-only position players
The injury to Kevin Kiermaier has opened up center field for the Rays. That time will be split between Mallex Smith and Bourjos, with Smith having the advantage of being on the left-handed side of the platoon, and being a 24-year-old prospect with potential rather than a 30-year-old journeyman with a .243/.300/.383 career line in well over 2,000 plate appearances. Of course, in deep AL-only leagues, Smith probably has been rostered all season due to his prospect status and his stolen base potential, especially if it’s a keeper league. Bourjos, however, ticks all of the boxes for the Deep League Report: he’s old, limited as a player and not guaranteed to get much playing time. He still is fast, though, so he can still steal some bases if he can get on base at a decent clip. His glove should buy him some extra playing time, too, as he is still an excellent defensive center fielder. And I don’t really believe in Mallex Smith’s bat, at least not yet, so Bourjos might end up with more playing time than someone on the bad side of a platoon usually gets, because the guy on the other side of the platoon is struggling.
The White Sox acquired off Hanson off waivers from the Pirates as infield depth. The 24-year-old hasn’t done much in the majors so far, posting a .205/.239/.261 line in the majors, although the sample size of 92 plate appearances is hardly enough to consider that line an accurate representation of his skills. The fact that he has yet to receive regular playing time in the majors is probably suppressing those numbers, too, since it’s harder to hit consistently when you’re only playing once or twice a week. He has very little home-run power, but he makes a lot of contact and swipes a lot of bags. The issue on the South Side of Chicago will be playing time, same as it was in Pittsburgh. Looking on the bright side, though, his competition for playing time with the White Sox isn’t quite as stiff as it was with the Pirates.
With Justin Upton and J.D. Martinez entrenched in the corner outfield spots, Mahtook is going to get most of his playing time on the bad side of a platoon in center field with Alex Presley. Mahtook started the season slowly, hitting below the Mendoza line through the end of May with only two home runs. Since the calendar flipped over to June, the 27-year-old has hit two more home runs and posted a batting average well above .300 in limited time. He won’t play every day, but he can provide some cheap pop and could certainly steal some playing time from Presley, a 31-year-old journeyman who has never been able to hold down a major-league job for an extended period.
The veteran righty hasn’t been as good this season as he was over the past few season with the Cubs and the Athletics, but Hammel has been better in June, throwing 13 2/3 innings over two starts, while allowing four earned runs, eleven strikeouts and no walks, lowering his ERA to 5.43 and his WHIP to 1.48 in the process. While those numbers are still ugly, if you’re looking for innings in a deep AL-only league, Hammel is a decent bet to provide performance somewhere between his solid 2016 numbers and his current 2017 ones.
I wrote up Nolasco in the Week 8 edition of the Deep League Report after my BP colleague Mike Gianella acquired him for $3 in FAAB. I’m writing him up again this week after my esteemed colleague dropped him in favor of Mike Fiers. In between, Nolasco did many Nolasco things, giving up a lot of hits and a fair number of runs. Mike did what I said roto players should do, dropping the veteran starter if he strung together a few bad starts. Nolasco probably will keep on giving up too many hits and putting up disaster starts every once in a while, but if you can pick your spots and get a little lucky dodging his blowups, you can use him for bulk innings in deep AL-only leagues. You need innings to win, even some white-knuckle ones.
Signed as a minor-league free agent in the offseason, Bergman was called up from Triple A in May after a rash of injuries to Seattle starters. Since then, the 29-year-old has held his own, posting a 4.03 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP in seven starts spanning 38 innings, while allowing 39 hits, 12 walks and striking out 26. He isn’t striking out anywhere near a batter per inning, but as long he’s putting up solid starts like for the Mariners, he’s worth a $3-$4 bid in deep AL-only leagues.
NL-only position players
On the one hand, Pirela is a player who was having a huge season at Triple-A El Paso who can be written credibly into the lineup at second base, third base or anywhere in the outfield. On the other hand, Pirela is a 27-year-old utility man who has yet to establish himself as an everyday player in the majors despite several shots who put up big numbers in an extremely hitter-friendly environment at Triple A. There’s truth on both sides, but the players ahead of Pirela on the depth chart in San Diego aren’t exactly setting the world on fire, so it wouldn’t take much for the versatile Venezuelan to find himself in an expanded role with the Padres. Bid a few bucks on Pirela in deep NL-only leagues if you like to gamble.
The 32-year-old is back in the majors for the first time since 2010 when he made his major-league debut. He can hit, as he posted a .286/.387/.505 line in Triple-A with 17 homers and a career-high 11 steals in 122 games a season ago, and was hitting .292/.407/.508 in 43 Triple-A games when he was called up by the Cardinals. Despite his age and non-prospect status, it seems like Huffman could get a decent amount of playing time in St. Louis since the team appears to be eager to shake things up and try something new. Bid a couple of bucks on Huffman for his combination of hitting skills and opportunity and add a buck or two on top of that in OBP leagues since he has good plate discipline. For what it’s worth, I picked him up in my deep NL-only league on Sunday for $2 in FAAB and I’m pretty happy about it.
The injury to starting second baseman Cesar Hernandez has opened up some playing time for Kelly in Philadelphia, although it’s not clear if he’ll get that paying time at second base or in the outfield since Howie Kendrick. Like Kelly, can play at either spot. The 28-year-old has very little power, but he makes a ton of contact and has good plate discipline. He won’t be an everyday player for the Phillies while Hernandez is out, but he’ll play more than he had been playing prior to the injury. If you need help in the middle infield or the outfield in the short term, Kelly is a decent gamble for $1 in FAAB and might be worth an extra buck in OBP leagues.
In deep NL-only leagues, you need innings to compete, and not all of those innings are going to be pretty. Adleman is exactly the kind of guy you’ll need to pick up, in order to rack up some innings in hopes of grabbing some counting stats in wins and strikeouts—but without torpedoing your rate stats in the process. If your league has innings minimums to make your rate stats count, guys like Adleman are even more necessary than they otherwise would be. The 29-year-old Reds starter doesn’t throw very hard but is outperforming his FIP for a second year in a row while increasing his K/9 from 6.1 in 2016 to 7.8 this season. He’s worth a couple of FAAB dollars if you need innings.
Picked up by the Padres in late April after being waived by the Angels, Yates has been a revelation. The 30-year-old has been the most reliable right-hander in the Padres bullpen since he joined the team, posting a 2.37 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP in 19 innings, with 27 strikeouts and seven walks. He’s worth a dollar or two of FAAB just for the strikeouts and rate stats. On top of that, Yates has the potential to pick up some saves between now and the end of the season, too, considering the shakiness of incumbent closer Brandon Maurer and the fact that Yates is the only other worthwhile righty in San Diego’s lefty-heavy bullpen.
After a shaky April, Grimm ended up on the shuttle between Triple-A and the majors, being optioned twice before staring his current stint with the Cubs. He has performed well recently, throwing six scoreless innings over his past five appearances, while striking out 11 and walking two. If his performance the rest of the way resembles his excellent 2015 season more closely than his pedestrian 2016 season or his dreadful start in 2017, he’s worth a dollar in deep NL-only leagues as a back-of-the-bullpen option.
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