Fantasy Baseball Depth Chart Review: Week 4
Welcome to our weekly Depth Chart Review! I’ll be breaking down all the major (and sometimes minor) transactions, injuries, and notable lineup changes around the league from Week 4 to evaluate how they affect the fantasy baseball landscape.
Athletics sign Khris Davis to a two-year extension
Davis has hit .247 for four straight seasons, and he’s currently hitting .242. He already has 10 home runs, tied with Eddie Rosario for most in the AL. The extension keeps him playing where he loves … likely hitting .247 with 40+ dingers in each of the next two years.
Red Sox place Dustin Pedroia on the 10-day IL with left knee irritation
Pedroia “felt a pop” in his surgically-repaired knee and has yet to resume baseball activities. He can be safely dropped, likely in all leagues at this point.
Braves option Touki Toussaint to Triple-A and recall Bryse Wilson from Triple-A
Braves recall Mike Soroka from Triple-A and option Shane Carle to Triple-A
Toussaint continues to be a tease with his K/9 upside but poor control. Giving up seven runs in a mere 1.1 innings during his last start was apparently all the Braves needed to convince them Wilson was a better option right now. It’s hard to tell which Braves starters are good bets to stick in the rotation all year, so it’s probably best not to invest too heavily in any of Toussaint, Wilson, or Kyle Wright until we get some clarity.
With Toussaint out of the fold, Soroka likely has the best chance to assert himself into the rotation. He pitched fairly well in his first start (5 IP, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K), so Atlanta figures to give him another start this week. Soroka should be given every chance to stick at the big league level, and his solid floor makes him a viable add everywhere.
Mike Foltynewicz should be back soon if he can stop giving up runs in rehab starts, and Soroka and Max Fried appear to have earned the other two spots alongside Kevin Gausman and Julio Teheran. Atlanta’s lineup is formidable enough to give all of its starters ample chances for wins, and the offseason’s projected rotation may finally be healthy.
Tigers place Christin Stewart on the 10-day IL with a right quad strain and recall Brandon Dixon from Triple-A
Stewart should miss close to two weeks or more, and it’s hard to call him a stash with a .222/.313/.519 slash line. However, the 25% strikeout rate, 10.9% walk rate, and low BABIP (.243) suggest he’s been unlucky. Those in deeper formats (15 teams or more) or AL-only leagues should consider holding if possible. In the meantime, Dustin Peterson should receive a longer look in the outfield. A former second-round pick by the Padres, Peterson projects to be a replacement-level player at best and likely won’t be relevant in fantasy leagues.
Athletics place Marco Estrada on the 10-day IL with a lumbar strain and recall Chris Bassitt from Triple-A
Estrada was not particularly good through five starts, and there is no timetable for his return. He can be safely dropped in all but the deepest of leagues. Bassitt’s fastball sits around 93 mph, but his curveball and cutter should make him competitive. He’s worth an add in AL-only leagues and could be a streaming option at home in standard leagues.
Braves reinstate Brian McCann from the 10-day Il and option Alex Jackson to Triple-A
McCann returned and promptly took Corey Kluber deep for his first home run of the year. The Braves feature a strong lineup batting in front of him, so he’ll get chances to knock in some RBIs. His best days are behind him, but McCann is a worthy add in two-catcher leagues for as long as he’s healthy and playing regularly.
Red Sox place Nathan Eovaldi on the 10-day IL with elbow pain, retroactive to 4/18, and recall Bobby Poyner from Triple-A
Eovaldi underwent elbow surgery to remove a loose body and won’t see the mound for another six weeks. After a brutal start to the year, he finally put together a quality start by silencing the Yankees through six innings, but he can be sent to waivers at this point unless you’re in a league with three or more IL spots and have ample room.
Indians activate Francisco Lindor from the 10-day IL and designate Hanley Ramirez for assignment
Finally, Lindor is playing baseball again. Cleveland’s listless offense sorely needed this, but it remains to be seen how effective the star shortstop will be this season after nursing calf and ankle injuries. Lower body injuries often affect a hitter’s ability to drive the ball, and it would not be surprising if he rarely attempts to steal. It’s not a bad idea to try and sell Lindor if someone thinks he’ll replicate last season’s career year now that he’s back, assuming you can get max value in return. Since his hips were unaffected, he should be able to maintain his power stroke, and if he’s a four-category player this season instead of a five-category one, that’s still a premium asset.
Rays place Austin Meadows on the 10-day IL with a right thumb strain and reinstate Joey Wendle from the 10-day IL
Meadows was in the midst of a breakout before this unfortunate injury, and he’s sure to miss at least a couple of weeks. Fortunately, he won’t require surgery. If you have room to stash him, you’d be wise to do so. Additionally, if he was dropped in your league or an owner is looking to sell, make an offer. The 23-year-old outfielder was among the AL leaders in batting WAR leading up to his injury, and he’s a former top prospect whom the Rays felt comfortable dealing Chris Archer for last year. Meadows’ injury should ensure Avisail Garcia continues to play, and Wendle will have a chance to assert himself in the top half of the Rays’ lineup.
Pirates place Starling Marte on the 10-day IL with an abdominal wall contusion and recall Cole Tucker from Triple-A
Marte has battled injuries more and more in recent years, and there is no clear timeline for his return after colliding with Erik Gonzalez. Gonzalez suffered a fractured collarbone and has already been placed on the 60-day IL. Expect Marte to miss a couple of weeks at least. He’s obviously worth stashing if you have room. Tucker has become an intriguing add, mostly because he’s a speed demon with solid on-base skills. He stole 82 bases across two levels in the minors during the last two seasons combined. Tucker should command the lion’s share of playing time at shortstop with Gonzalez out, and he’s a strong waiver add for those needing speed. Small sample sizes definitely apply here, but Tucker may also have added a bit of power to his game, as he’s already boasting two doubles, a home run, and four hard hits in his first 14 plate appearances.
Orioles reinstate Alex Cobb from the 10-day IL and option Josh Lucas to Triple-A
The Orioles might have the worst rotation in baseball, and with an offense that does little to inspire fear, Cobb may not be worth an add. His experience makes him a potential streaming candidate in plus matchups, but those will likely be few and far between.
Yankees place Aaron Judge on the 10-day IL with an oblique strain and recall Thairo Estrada from Triple-A
The Yankees just can’t catch a break. Judge heads to the IL with a severe oblique strain that should sideline him for a month or more. He’s the 13th Yankee to hit the IL, and this all but guarantees Clint Frazier will remain with the big league club, likely as the starting right fielder. If Frazier (69% owned in Yahoo leagues, 55% in ESPN) is somehow still available on your waiver wire, add him immediately, especially if you just lost Judge. Frazier is off to a blistering start with six home runs, 17 RBIs, and a .342 OBP. Judge owners will have to stash him and hope his ability to drive the ball isn’t too deflated by an injury notorious for sapping power even after a player returns.
Blue Jays place Matt Shoemaker on the 10-day IL with a left knee sprain (torn ACL) and recall Richard Ureña from Triple-A
Shoemaker had been off to a pretty good start to begin the season, but this injury will end his season. This likely opens up a rotation spot for Sean Reid-Foley.
Orioles option Cedric Mullins to Triple-A and select the contract of Steve Wilkerson from Triple-A
Mullins had been a late-round flier for some thanks to his speed potential, but a .094/.181/.156 slash line won’t cut it for a young player clearly scuffling at the major league level. Mullins’ K rate (18.9%) suggests he wasn’t entirely overmatched, so he still has intriguing value in dynasty leagues. Wilkerson doesn’t offer much of anything for fantasy purposes and should be ignored until proven otherwise.
Pirates reinstate Gregory Polanco from the 10-day IL and option Steven Brault to Triple-A
Polanco should give the Pirates’ offense a needed boost, settling in as a player likely to produce a 20-10 season with solid counting stats any season he’s healthy. He makes for a fine fourth or fifth outfielder, and he’s available in more than 50% of leagues. Expect Polanco to hit in the heart of the lineup while Marte and Corey Dickerson remain on the shelf.
Yankees release Gio Gonzalez from his minor league deal
This might be the end of the road for Gonzalez, who had a terrible time finding a job this offseason before the Yankees signed him to a minor league deal. If you are in a deep league and stashed him just in case, look elsewhere for upside.
Rockies reinstate Tyler Anderson from the 10-day IL and place Kyle Freeland on the 10-day IL with a blister
Anderson should figure into the streaming conversation when he isn’t pitching at Coors, and Freeland is already scheduled for bullpen sessions and could be cleared to return soon. Freeland isn’t enjoying the same luck he did last year when it comes to run suppression, but the WHIP (1.19) and improved 9.76 K/9 make him a viable stash and worthwhile pickup if dropped.
Mets activate Todd Frazier from the 10-day IL and place Justin Wilson on the 10-day IL with elbow soreness
Frazier already has a grand slam and a stolen base in his first two games back, and he should get fairly regular playing time at third base while Jed Lowrie remains on the IL for a few more weeks. Frazier was a low-average, high-power option who regularly produced double-digit steals earlier in his career, but he’s probably no more than a bat to stream at this stage of his career.