A few weeks ago, we finished a month-long market-research project here at Deep League Report headquarters. We figured out that the people love Yankees named Tyler and Cincinnati Reds starting pitchers, so we covered the hell out of those two beats. Pretty confident that we’ll triple our readership numbers this week working those angles. Plus, a no-name Angels reliever, since this column just isn’t itself without a no-name Angels reliever. Can’t ignore the regular readers while trying to draw in new ones. The Deep League Report: something for everyone, as long as “everyone” means “people in AL-only and NL-only leagues deep enough that non-closing relievers and guys on the bad side of a platoon are valuable.”
AL-only position players
The injury to Chad Pinder prompted the Athletics to call up Franklin Barreto, their top prospect. He’s a five-tool prospect at shortstop, a pretty rare commodity in fantasy. His carrying tool is his hit tool, as he is known for using his excellent bat speed to hit line drives to all fields. He hit .281/.340/.413 with 10 homers and 30 steals in 119 games in Double A in 2016, and was hitting .281/.326/.428 with eight homers and four steals in 68 games in Triple A this season prior to his promotion. The 21-year-old’s current stint as the starting shortstop in Oakland might be fairly short, though, as Pinder’s injury doesn’t look serious and Marcus Semien should be returning from the DL in the near future. Bid aggressively since up-the-middle players with Barreto’s upside don’t come along very often.
The Yankees decided that Chris Carter’s Three True Outcomes approach was weighted too heavily towards the worst of those outcomes, designating him for assignment. Tyler Austin was called up to fill Carter’s sizable shoes at first base. The 25-year-old certainly earned the promotion, hitting .300/.366/.560 with four homers in 27 games at Triple A. He should be in the lineup nearly every day until Greg Bird returns from the DL, at which point he could stick around as the right-handed side of a platoon with Bird if he performs well. And considering the amount of time that Bird has missed since the start of the 2016 season, a healthy and productive return from the DL is far from a guarantee, which could lead to a more substantial role for Austin. Bid $3-$5 in deep AL-only leagues, maybe a little more if you need power or are thin at corner. Just don’t be surprised if he isn’t a regular a couple of weeks from now.
As an undersized righty with a fastball that sits 91-92, Daniel Gossett doesn’t quite look the part of a major league starter. That means he has to perform well at each stop for an extended period before he gets a crack at the next level. He has done just that, putting up a 2.49 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP with 94 strikeouts and 25 walks in 94 innings in Double-A last year alongside a 3.41 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP with 54 strikeouts and 19 walks in 60.7 innings at Triple A this year. When Andrew Triggs landed on the DL earlier this month, the 24-year-old was called up to make his major league debut. He has held his own so far, posting a 4.50 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP with 12 strikeouts and two walk in 16 innings spanning three starts. It looks like he’ll be in the A’s rotation for the foreseeable future, and it also looks like he might be able to do a little more than provide bottom-shelf bulk innings in deep AL-only leagues. Bid more than a couple of bucks, especially if you need the innings.
The Angels have gotten surprisingly good performance out of the collection of unknowns and has-beens populating their bullpen. As a result, several Anaheim relievers have graced this column. Making his Deep League Report debut this week is Keynan Middleton, a hard-throwing 23-year-old rookie righty sporting a classic fastball/slider combination. In 23 innings, Middleton has a 3.13 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP with 24 strikeouts and 10 walks. He could definitely cut down on the free passes, but it’s hard to complain about the rest of that line. Bid a buck on him in deep AL-only leagues if you need relief help but don’t bother going past a dollar since you should be able to find similar performance in the free agent pool for $1.
It doesn’t seem like Domingo German will be joining the starting rotation in the Bronx any time soon barring an injury to one of the guys ahead of him on the depth chart, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t help in roto. In 8 2/3 innings with the Yankees, he has a 1.04 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP with 10 strikeouts and five walks. He’s a dollar pickup at best, even in deep AL-only leagues, but if you prefer betting on upside to certainty, the 24-year-old with the big fastball could be your guy.
NL-only position players
A shoulder injury landed Carlos Gonzalez on the DL alongside Gerardo Parra who has been sidelined with a quad injury. The Rockies called up Mike Tauchman from Triple A to fill out their outfield, although Raimel Tapia is expected to get the bulk of the starts for the time being. At 26 years old, Tauchman is a bit old for a rookie, but he definitely deserved a call-up considering the way he was hitting in Triple-A this year: a .313/.377/.529 line with 10 homers and 11 steals in 298 plate appearances over 70 games. Like Tapia, he bats left-handed, so a traditional platoon isn’t really an option. He probably won’t play all that much in the immediate future, but if you have a vacancy in the outfield and like to gamble, bid a dollar on Tauchman. He doesn’t dominate in any single category, but his moderate combination of power and speed and his above-average contact skills give him several paths to make an impact at the major-league level given sufficient playing time.
A hamstring injury to Eduardo Nuñez and the release of Aaron Hill paved the way for Ryder Jones to make his MLB debut with the Giants. The 23-year-old was putting up big numbers in Triple A prior to his call-up, hitting .299/.390/.553 with 10 homers and five steals in 53 games. His time as the starter at the hot corner in San Francisco is probably limited since Nuñez is expected to return from the DL shortly, so don’t bid more than a buck or two of your FAAB on Jones. If you’re in an OBP league, you could pad that bid by $1 since he was walking in 11 percent of his plate appearances at Sacramento. Keep in mind that Jones’ stat line in the minors this season significantly exceeded his career performance throughout the minors, casting some doubt on whether these improvements are sustainable. They might be, but it’s too early to tell one way or the other.
You’d be right if you said that all Luke Voit can do is hit. That sells him short, though, since being able to hit is more important and more rare than anything else a position player can do. Last season, he hit .297/.372/.477 with 19 homers in 546 plate appearances in Double A. This season, he hit .322/.406/.561 with 12 homers in 293 plate appearances in Triple A. Limited to first base defensively, Voit will have a hard time finding starts in St. Louis behind Matt Carpenter. That said, if he keeps doing that one thing he can do, the Cardinals will find a way to get him in the lineup. Bid $1 and hope that he gets the chance to do his thing.
No, not that Luis Castillo. This Luis Castillo is a 24-year-old starting pitcher who made his MLB debut June 23 against the Nationals, going five innings while allowing two earned runs on two homers while striking out five and walking five. Prior to his call-up, he had a 2.58 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP with 81 strikeouts and 13 walks in 14 starts spanning 80 1/3 innings at Double A, numbers good enough to allow him to skip Triple A entirely when a couple of spots opened up in the Cincinnati rotation due to injuries to Anthony DeSclafani and Bronson Arroyo. With Brandon Finnegan re-injuring his shoulder in his first start back from the DL, there should be plenty of room for Castillo and his 98 MPH fastball in the Reds’ rotation for the foreseeable future. Bid $4 -$6 in deep NL-only leagues, and feel free to bump that up if your rotation needs a lot of help.
This week’s Deep League Report is brought to you by the Cincinnati Reds rotation, apparently. Bailey is a completely different type of proposition than his teammate Luis Castillo. This is Bailey’s 11th season in the majors, all with the Reds. He hasn’t thrown much since 2014, though, as injuries limited the veteran starter to 11 1/3 innings in 2015 and 23 innings in 2016. The big Texan started the 2017 season on the DL while recovering from surgery to remove bone spurs from his throwing elbow, returning Saturday against the Nationals. Things did not go well for Bailey—he allowed eight earned runs with two strikeouts and three walks in only 1 2/3 innings. That’s not encouraging, but it’s only one start, and most of us can still picture the good version of Homer Bailey from earlier this decade in or mind’s eye. Bid $1 in deep NL-only leagues in case that version of Bailey shows up at some point this season.
The Mets had hoped that Zack Wheeler would be able to make his return to the rotation this coming Saturday, pushing Rafael Montero back into the bullpen. That seems unlikely now, which is good news for Montero since that start comes against the punchless Phillies. The 26-year-old swingman has not been great this season, posting a 5.63 ERA and a 1.94 WHIP with 35 strikeouts and 21 walks in 32 innings across three starts and 13 relief appearances. He won’t save your roto team’s rotation and he won’t be useful as anything more than a spot starter in weeks when he has a favorable matchup. This week, he has a favorable matchup. If you could use a spot start, bid the minimum on Montero and close your eyes until the game is over.