Fantasy Baseball Depth Chart Review: Week 2
Welcome to our weekly Depth Chart Review! We’ll be breaking down all the major (and sometimes minor) transactions, injuries, and notable lineup changes around the league to evaluate how they affect the fantasy baseball landscape.
White Sox purchase the contract of Ervin Santana from Triple-A
Santana has multiple seasons of 200 or more innings to his ledger, but at age 36, he is no longer that pitcher. Nonetheless, the White Sox hope he can re-establish a fraction of his former value. Projections forecast a K/9 under 6.5 and a mid-4s ERA. It’s conceivable Santana will have value as a back end starter or streaming option in good matchups. Expecting anything more could be a fool’s errand.
You knew this was coming. The Dodgers have rotation depth because none of their starters figure to get through a season healthy, even with limited innings. Ryu tore the same groin muscle last May and missed three months. The Dodgers may figure to be even more careful with their other starters now. Ryu had been pitching fairly well, so he’s worth a stash until the extent of the injury is revealed. Expect significant time missed for Ryu, with Ross Stripling or Julio Urias remaining in the rotation. Los Angeles wants to be careful with Urias, pitching in his first season since a major injury of his own, so Stripling may be the biggest beneficiary here. Stripling’s ownership has hovered around 80%, so if he’s on the wire, add him immediately. If you can swing a deal for Stripling, he’s a prime target in a trade right now.
Clevinger should be out six to eight weeks before he can even pick up a ball, let alone pitch. It’s a crushing blow to his owners and the Indians. If you have a vacant IL spot, he’s an obvious stash as a top-20 caliber starter, even if you’ll only get half a season’s worth of production. Wittgren should make some appearances in low-leverage relief, keeping him off the fantasy radar for now.
Dahl tweaked something on a swing, and fantasy owners immediately panicked and feared the worst. Expecting news that he would miss four to six weeks, everyone breathed a sigh of relief when Dahl told reporters he could have returned in five days rather than 10, but the team couldn’t be down a man that long. In the meantime, Raimel Tapia should start in left field with Daza providing some depth in right. Tapia has long been a fantasy darling thanks to his power/speed combo and ability to hit over .300 in the minors, but he has yet to get an extended look in the Majors except for 171 plate appearances in 2017, where he acquitted himself well by hitting .288/.329/.425. He’s worth an add in case he catches fire and forces the Rockies to consider keeping him in the lineup even after Dahl returns. Plus, Dahl has hardly been the picture of health in his career.
McMahon won the starting second base job out of Spring Training, and this injury has Garrett Hampson owners salivating at the opportunity. However, the Rockies intend to keep Ian Desmond, Pat Valaika, and Mark Reynolds involved, capping the potential upside that could come with everyday playing time for Hampson. Clearly, they still see Hampson as a role player, but a hot bat could change things. If Hampson was dropped, he’s worth the add despite showing nothing with the bat thus far. McMahon is worth holding for now, but he opened the season hitting .200 with an 8:4 K/BB ratio and only two extra-base hits. The hope here is that Hampson can establish a more regular role here, as his speed and hit tool are hard to find on the waiver wire.
Luis Severino diagnosed with a Grade 2 lat strain and will be shut down from throwing for six weeks
This is devastating news for the Yankees and Severino owners, especially for anyone who waited on pitching and thought they landed an ace late in drafts. If you have an IL spot open to stash him, it’s prudent to do so. However, lat strains have not been kind to pitchers, so if you need to make room on the IL due to a roster crunch, it’s not unthinkable to drop Severino on the belief that this is shaping up to be a lost season for him.
Edwards was a premier option in Saves and Holds leagues as recently as 2017, but he’s seen his K/9 drop each year since then, from 12.75 (2017) to 11.60 last year and only 10.80 this season so far in just 1.2 innings. Small sample size? Yes, but the K-rate had less to do with Edwards’ demotion than the five walks, two home runs, and six earned runs did. Put him on your watch list since the beleaguered Cubs’ bullpen will need him once he’s recalled, and he should regain his share of high-leverage work once he gets right in the minors.
Red Sox reinstate Dustin Pedroia from the 10-day IL
Pedroia is no longer the 20/20/.300 hitter he once was, but he appears to finally be healthy after battling numerous complications from cartilage restoration surgery in 2018 to his left knee. It’s unlikely that we’ll see him run on the bases much, if at all. Those in deeper leagues needing a batting average lift and some runs scored could find he’s worth an add.
Minter will share closer responsibilities with Arodys Vizcaino. If he was dropped in your league when injury kept him from making the Opening Day roster, he’s worth adding if you need of saves. Minter should post a K/9 over 10.0 with double-digit saves the rest of the way, assuming health. If Vizcaino were to get injured or dealt somewhere, Minter’s value would only increase.
The bats just keep dropping for the Yankees. He was batting just .182/.308/.545 with one home run in 13 at-bats before going down with a calf injury. There is no timetable for his return, and it’s unlikely he brings enough value to stash in an IL spot.
Ward is only up to provide some depth behind the banged-up Zack Cozart. However, Ward did pop six home runs in just 135 plate appearances last season, so if Cozart has any setbacks, Ward could be a sneaky add for those desperately seeking some power. Ward’s plate discipline has been horrendous at the Major League level (31% K-rate), but he’s always been a patient hitter in the minors. Ward was hitting .375 in 22 plate appearances for Triple-A before this call-up.
Urías has elite plate discipline and an above-average hit tool, making him an intriguing flier in fantasy. It’s unlikely that the Padres relegate Ian Kinsler to purely a bench role, but Urías may well get the lion’s share of playing time at second base moving forward as part of the youth movement in San Diego. Scouts say Urías has speed, but he’s never stolen more than 10 bases in the minors, and that was back in 2014. Those missing out on Ketel Marte on the waiver wire may find similar production with Urías who figures to hit over .270 and swat close to 10 home runs and steal five to seven bases if he remains in the Majors for good. Lastly, you’ve probably never heard of Wieck before, but know that he sports a 13.50 K/9, and all projections have him maintaining a K/9 rate above 11 with a mid-threes ERA. Wieck is one to watch in a potent San Diego bullpen.
Sparkman is a middling prospect who will most likely serve in a middle-relief role, but the news here has to with Spring Training darling, Kyle Zimmer. The hope had been the great story of redemption would continue, and Zimmer would perhaps emerge as a dominant late-inning weapon for Kansas City, potentially even becoming the closer down the road. Five walks in three appearances did not help his cause. If he can find his command in Triple-A, he may get another shot soon. For now, he’s not worth rostering in anything but a dynasty league.
Austin has 60+ grade power, but his plate discipline is horrendous. He belted 17 home runs in less than 270 plate appearances last year, but a .287 OBP with a 35% K-rate makes him a liability in OBP leagues. Austin figures to serve as a role player and bench bat for a San Francisco team starved for power. Just know that the Giants seem to be turning over the back of their roster with regularity in their search for offensive production, so it’s unclear how long Austin will even be on the team. In daily leagues where he draws a start, he’s not a bad lottery ticket for a home run.
Braves recall Alex Jackson from Triple-A
The Braves are banged up at catcher, so Jackson is only up for depth. Even if he was able to find himself as the regular catcher, projections have him barely hitting over .200 as a sub-replacement level option that most likely won’t be roster-worthy even in two-catcher leagues. Jackson was the sixth-overall pick in the 2014 draft, but his minor league slash line across six seasons, .234/.317/.410, hasn’t lived up to his draft pedigree.
Gyorko brings positional versatility in most leagues, but he’s mostly a platoon option at this stage of his career, especially with Kolten Wong firmly cemented at second base. Barring injury, he’s not a fantasy option at the moment.
Orioles place Alex Cobb on the 10-day IL with a lumbar strain, retroactive to 4/6
After a groin strain to begin the year, this is Cobb’s second trip to the IL already this season, and we’re not even through the first two weeks. No timetable has been given for his return, but it’s possible this will be an extended absence similar to what Clevinger is facing.