Fantasy Baseball Depth Chart Review: Week 3
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 from Week 3 to evaluate how they affect the fantasy baseball landscape.
Cubs place Jon Lester on the 10-day IL and recall Tim Collins from Triple-A
Lester should miss a start or two here, but he’s 35 and saw his peripherals decline last year with an xFIP that suggested his ERA should have 4.43 not 3.32 and his lowest K/9 since 2012. He remains serviceable and should always be a reliable source of wins while backed by a potent Cubs’ offense, but it will be hard to bank on consistent health, let alone a resurgence. Collins will provide some depth for a beleaguered bullpen, but likely nothing more.
Angels place Tyler Skaggs on the 10-day IL retroactive to 4/13 with an ankle sprain and option Taylor Ward to Triple-A; recall Jaime Barria and John Curtiss from Triple-A
It was probably only a matter of time before Skaggs hit the IL. In deeper leagues, he’s worth a hold given the fact he was a popular breakout candidate heading into this year. He wasn’t off to a great start (7 ER and 4 HR in just 15 innings), but it’s hard to find back-of-the-rotation starters with the upside of a K/9 over 9.00. Barria lacks velocity and doesn’t strike anybody out, but he also doesn’t get hit particularly hard either (16.9% soft contact rate, 36.6% hard-hit rate). He’s squarely on the streaming radar in good matchups.
Diamondbacks option Jon Duplantier to Triple-A
Dynasty leagues rejoiced to see top prospect Duplantier get a taste of the Majors. In four innings of relief, he gave up two hits, walked two, and struck out three while earning a save. However, Arizona does not project him as its closer of the future, but rather a start at the big league level. For that reason, Duplantier was sent back down to further his development as a starter. It’s possible we may see him back up again later in the year, but he’s not a hold outside of dynasty leagues.
Yankees option Jonathan Loaisiga to Triple-A and recall Joe Harvey from Triple-A
Loaisiga only lasted three innings in a 6-3 loss to Houston in his last appearance on the bump, and he was unable to get past the fourth inning in either of his starts. He’ll get a longer leash at Triple-A, while Harvey brings some temporary depth for an ailing bullpen until CC Sabathia is activated. Keep an eye on Harvey (68 strikeouts in less than 60 innings with a 1.43 ERA in 2018) to see if he’s able to stick in the pen.
Yankees place Gary Sanchez on the 10-day IL with a left calf strain, retroactive to 4/11
If ever a team was snake-bit in 2019, it would appear to be the Yankees. They currently have 12 players on IL, and Sanchez’ injury couldn’t have come at a worse time, especially given that he had just smashed three home runs in a 15-3 bashing of the Orioles. Calf strains can linger, so hopefully, this ailment won’t derail what is shaping up to be a return to form for the young, slugging catcher looking to rebound from last year’s disappointing season. Sanchez is obviously a hold.
Phillies recall Victor Arano from Triple-A and option Edubray Ramos to Triple-A
The Phillies’ relief core can’t seem to find itself, and Ramos blew a save chance in what has become a wide-open bullpen. Ramos had not been sharp to begin the year (5 ER in 4 IP), while Arano boasts greater strikeout upside (seven strikeouts and no runs allowed in four innings pitched so far this year with a K/9 over 9.00 in 59 innings last season). Arano definitely has value in leagues that reward holds, and he possesses the K/9 upside to boost strikeouts without killing your ratios.
Yankees reinstate CC Sabathia from the 10-day IL
In his first start since offseason heart surgery, Sabathia was limited to 62 pitches across five innings of one-hit ball. It was a nice performance from the veteran lefty. With so many injuries, Sabathia will help to fill the leadership void in New York. Consider Sabathia a viable streamer and potential hold in deeper leagues where quality starts are rewarded once he’s able to build up his arm strength.
Blue Jays reinstate Clay Buchholz from the 10-day IL and option Richard Ureña to Triple-A
Buchholz posted a 2.01 ERA with Arizona last season in just 16 starts, and while the K/9 may underwhelm (7.16), he went at least six innings in 11 of those starts and allowed more than two earned runs only twice. In his first start for Toronto, he allowed just one run to the Rays and continued the quality start trend, making him a sneaky good add for leagues that reward that stat. However, Buchholz averaged only 88 mph on his fastball in his most recent start and didn’t touch 90 once after averaging 90.1 last season. He also got hit relatively hard and only induced seven swinging strikes, so it remains to be seen whether or not Buchholtz will be able to sustain his success from last year pitching to contact like that. He’s probably best watched from afar to see if his velocity increases with his pitch count, but he could be worth an add for teams needing starting pitching given his recent track record; just don’t be afraid to jump ship at the first signs of trouble.
Braves recall Touki Toussaint from Triple-A and option Kyle Wright to Triple-A
Wright remains a hold in dynasty leagues despite the rookie issuing ten walks in just three games started. Toussaint has electric stuff, but he has battled control issues of his own (career 4.4 BB/9 in the minors). The strikeout upside (10.03 K/9 in 35 MLB innings) is great enough to make Toussaint an immediate add for those needing starting pitching help or seeking upside.
Rangers place Rougned Odor on the 10-day IL with a right knee sprain and select the contract of Danny Santana
Odor’s injury hurts those relying on him for his speed and power combo. Santana won’t replicate the power, but he can help fill the speed void. Santana stole 41 bases across parts of three seasons with Minnesota from 2014-2017 and 12 SB and 16 home runs in 82 games for Atlanta’s Triple-A affiliate last year. The 16 home runs were a high for Santana at any professional level, but he’s capable of at least lifting the ball better now than earlier in his career. In his first big league action for the Rangers this week, Santana went 3-6 with 2 stolen bases and three runs scored.
Indians select the contract of Carlos Gonzalez from Triple-A and option Jefry Rodriguez to Triple-A
CarGo, as he was affectionately known in Colorado during his prime years, hit .348 in six games for Cleveland’s Triple-A affiliate, and he could offer some pop in a rather listless Indians’ lineup. While he’s no longer the 20-20 All-Star threat he once was, Gonzalez can still pop double-digit home runs and steal a handful of bases if he’s given an extended look and remains healthy. Consider him a viable fifth outfielder who won’t necessarily hurt you anywhere.
Braves recall Dan Winkler from Triple-A and place Arodys Vizcaíno on the 10-day IL with shoulder inflammation, retroactive to 4/11; Braves also option Sean Newcomb to Triple-A
During a beginning stretch last year, Winker was one of the best relievers in baseball, posting a .207 expected wOBA against a minimum of 50 batters faced and 34 strikeouts in under 24 innings through the end of May. Unfortunately, he couldn’t sustain that pace and finished with a 5.11 ERA across the rest of the season. Winker could have value in holds leagues if the Braves insert him back into high leverage situations and he’s able to generate the kind of swing and miss stuff he showed early last year. Vizcaíno should be held if you have an open IL slot, but there’s a good chance he loses the closer gig entirely this season if A.J. Minter can take the job and run with it. Newcomb can safely be dropped in redraft leagues at this point while he tries to work out his command issues in the minors.
Padres recall Phil Maton and Luis Perdomo from Triple-A and option Robert Stock and Gerardo Reyes to Triple-A
Maton possesses an elite spin rate on his four-seam fastball and a notable K/9 rate, but with San Diego contending, it’s unlikely that we see closer Kirby Yates dealt and Maton given a chance. Put Maton on watch to see if he can stick in the bullpen moving forward and keep tabs on his progress as he could have value in holds leagues.
Indians activate Jason Kipnis from the 10-day IL and designate Brad Miller for assignment
Miller hit 30 home runs in 2016 in what has increasingly become an outlier year for the versatile former Ray, though he did not take well to getting DFA’d by Cleveland. He may latch on somewhere and contribute soon, but it’s unlikely he becomes fantasy relevant this year. Kipnis has traded batting average and speed for fly balls and launch angle, but we’re still talking a home run total in the mid-teens range at best. He also doesn’t run much anymore, so Kipnis is only worth an add in deep or AL-only leagues at this point.
Dodgers activate Clayton Kershaw from the 10-day IL
Kershaw is back, but he was already a high-risk pitcher coming into the season and now may be the best time to deal him for anyone who thinks his best days are behind him. After all, his velocity in his first start back sat at 90 mph and never topped 91, though he did go seven innings against the Reds, allowing only two runs while striking out six and walking none. A productive start like this only enhances his trade value. Then again, a deeper look into the pitch mix reveals that Kershaw threw his curveball 18 times in just 84 pitches, a far higher rate than his career norm. The pitch remains his bread and butter, so it’s possible that Kershaw is trying to reinvent himself to extend his career. His days as the best starter in baseball are probably over, but just how good (or bad) he will be moving forward remains to be seen.
Blue Jays select the contract of Eric Sogard from Triple-A and option Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to Triple-A
Sogard has hit .238 with a grand total of 11 home runs across eight Major League seasons. There is nothing to see here. Gurriel Jr. is a Statcast darling, but he has not been able to show the plate discipline and contact skills necessary to translate his hard-hit rate and exit velocity to sustained success at the big league level. He can be safely dropped in redraft leagues. Dynasty owners may want to hold on a bit longer in case the 25-year-old figures it out.
Phillies recall David Robertson from on the 10-day IL and recall Drew Anderson from Triple-A
Robertson has largely been an unmitigated disaster for the Phillies, and now he heads to the IL with a flexor tendon strain. A 34-year-old with nine straight seasons of 60 or more appearances, Robertson couldn’t remain healthy forever. In his absence, Philadelphia will turn to Seranthony Dominguez, Pat Neshek, Hector Neris, Adam Morgan and Victor Arano for high-leverage work, while Anderson will provide some long relief depth. The Phillies no longer lean on one player for the bulk of save chances, but with Robertson out of the mix for now, Dominguez and Neris figure to see their value increase the most.
Cardinals place Tyler O’Neill (right elbow nerve subluxation) on the 10-day IL and recall Yair Muñoz from Triple-A
O’Neill’s injury could open up playing time for Jose Martinez in the outfield. Martinez hasn’t done much with his 30 plate appearances so far, but a longer look could allow him to make some noise. Martinez did hit .305/.364/.457 with 17 home runs last season, so he’s definitely worth an add with O’Neill nursing an injury.
Rays place Blake Snell on the 10-day IL with a fractured right toe, retroactive to 4/14
Snell pulled a Jeremy Affeldt, injuring himself while moving a decorative stand in his bathroom. It’s a shame, too, considering Snell was one of the aces actually pitching like an ace so far this year. Snell hopes to miss only one start, so we’ll have to monitor this situation and hope there are no setbacks. The Rays will likely fill Snell’s spot with a bullpen game.
Brewers reinstate Jeremy Jeffress from the 10-day IL and place Freddy Peralta on the 10-day IL with an SC joint injury
Peralta’s starts have been volatile, to say the least, and he couldn’t get through three innings in his last start. So far, he has produced a 7.13 ERA, 1.53 WHIP, and 22 strikeouts in 17 2/3 innings across three starts this season. Peralta can safely be dropped in all but the deepest of redraft and dynasty leagues. Jeffress will most likely soon be worked into high leverage spots, particularly in the 9th inning, in order to allow Josh Hader to be more available for the highest leverage situations where he typically thrives. People forget that Hader only had 12 saves last year in a season in which the Brewers nearly made the World Series, and the team seems to prefer using him in the game’s biggest moments, regardless of inning. Those in need of saves should add Jeffress immediately, as he saved 15 games for the Brewers last year.