Fantasy Baseball Depth Chart Review: Week 5
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 5 to evaluate how they affect the fantasy baseball landscape.
Blue Jays recall Vladimir Guerrero Jr. from Triple-A
At long last, he has arrived. The question now becomes what to do with Guerrero. An argument can be made to sell high on him now, targetting a second-round player or more established threat like Manny Machado, Paul Goldschmidt, or Javier Baez. Conversely, one can easily see cause to pay the price to acquire the star newcomer as well, given that projections seem to support a young player capable of a Ronald Acuña-like breakout in his first year. The most prudent thing to do is to hold Guerrero if you have him and just enjoy the ride.
Padres place Fernando Tatis Jr. on the 10-day IL with a hamstring strain and recall Phil Maton from Triple-A
Tatis suffered a cringe-worthy hamstring strain when he inadvertently did the splits stretching for an out at second base. The extent of his injury remains unclear, and he did walk off the field on his own power. The hope, of course, is that Tatis can return once his 10-day stay on the IL is complete, but owners will have to monitor this situation closely. For now, expect to be without the young superstar for at least two weeks. He’s an obvious stash and hold.
Nationals place Anthony Rendon on the 10-day IL with an elbow contusion, retroactive to 4/27, and select the contract of Dan Jennings from Double-A
The worst part of this situation is how poorly the Nationals handled Rendon’s injury, waiting 10 days after his injury to finally place him on the IL. This ultimately costs Washington, and Rendon’s fantasy owners, more than a week of lost production while everyone checked daily to see if he would be in the lineup. Rendon had been sporting a 1.182 OPS in 20 games, but he won’t be eligible to return until May 7 at the earliest. Jennings comes up to provide some depth for a struggling bullpen and isn’t currently on the fantasy radar.
Rockies reinstate Kyle Freeland (blister) from the 10-day IL and option DJ Johnson to Triple-A
Freeland is off to a rough start this year. Many expected regression to hit after the luck he enjoyed last year, but he has improved his strikeout rate (22.8%) and WHIP (1.22) despite a nearly two-run rise in ERA. While he remains a suitable backend starter on most fantasy rosters, he’s probably best left on the bench until he can establish some consistency and find his groove.
Athletics place Mark Canha on the 10-day IL with a sprained wrist and recall Ryan Buchter from Triple-A
More than anything, the hope with Canha’s injury is that it will open everyday playing time for Chad Pinder. Pinder is quietly enjoying a breakout year of sorts (.281/.316/.449 with 11 RBIs), and his defensive versatility — he’s eligible at second, third, and outfielder in most fantasy formats — could lead to a regular role even when Matt Olson returns. Pinder should be added by anyone looking for a utility bat or injury replacement with upside.
Cardinals activate Michael Wacha from the 10-day IL and option Ryan Helsley to Triple-A
While Wacha’s 4.78 ERA isn’t pretty, 29 strikeouts through 26.1 innings certainly looks nice. You’ll have to pick your spots, but there is some solid streaming potential as well.
Dodgers activate Rich Hill from the 10-day IL and place Caleb Ferguson on the 10-day IL
Hill is back, but who knows for how long? Hill dominated the Pirates over six innings in his return, and he’s worth an add in any leagues where he may have been dropped. Expectations should be kept in check, but Hill plays for a potent Dodgers team capable of earning him double-digit wins with solid ratios across the board.
Twins place Willians Astudillo on the 10-day IL with a hamstring strain and recall Jake Cave from Triple-A
It’s a shame to lose one of baseball’s most interesting players, but Astudillo’s injury may open up more time behind the plate for Mitch Garver. It’s true that, according to Statcast data, Garver has been the luckiest hitter in baseball (.481 wOBA vs .303 xwOBA), but so long as Lady Luck continues to ride his bat, more playing time could mean more production in the interim.
White Sox place Eloy Jimenez (high right ankle sprain) and Nate Jones (elbow inflammation) on the 10-day IL and recall Thyago Vieira and Aaron Bummer from Triple-A
Jimenez likely will miss multiple weeks with this injury, but the contact skills and power that made him one of the game’s best prospects remain unchanged. If he was dropped and you have an open IL slot, he’s worth an immediate add. It’s not unwise to target him in a deal either, as his pedestrian start and injury may have owners thinking they invested a year too early. Jimenez is still likely to hit .270-.280 with 20 or so home runs, and you won’t find that kind of talent floating on the wire very often. Nate Jones, once a promising dark horse candidate for saves in the Chicago bullpen, is not worth a roster spot at this time. Vieira is a 6’2″, 210-pound Brazilian flamethrower who can touch 104 on the radar gun. Before you get excited, know that his 4.34 BB/9 likely keeps him from being fantasy relevant this year unless he can fix his command woes.
Phillies reinstate Jean Segura from the IL and option Dylan Cozens to Triple-A
Segura is a welcome sight for the Phillies, who averaged more than three runs less per game when he was gone than in the 16 games they played with him to begin the year. Segura remains a great source of batting average, runs, and 20+ steals.
Brewers sign Gio Gonzalez to a one-year deal
Gonzalez was barely roster-worthy heading into the season as a free agent, and heading to a hitter’s ballpark in Milwaukee won’t help matters. Barring an unexpected turnaround, he’s barely even worth streamer consideration.
Rangers activate Rougned Odor from the 10-day IL and option Patrick Wisdom to Triple-A
Odor continues to disappoint after last year’s down year, and many owners who were banking on a return to form — or even a step forward — have dropped him (40% availability across most formats). It’s hard to justify rostering him right now, but those in AL-Only or deep leagues (15 teamers) can certainly take a chance and hope to ride a hot streak where he collects a bevy of homers and some steals.
Angels reinstate Tyler Skaggs from the 10-day IL and place Cody Allen on the 10-day IL with a lumbar strain
Skaggs was never a good bet to stay healthy, but hopefully, his yearly stint on the injury list is now behind him. The 9.00+ K/9 potential makes him worth an add if dropped. Allen had been demoted from the closer’s role, and the IL stint will obviously keep him out of save situations even longer. Allen had served up 10 walks and six runs in just nine innings of relief to open the season. The Angels figure to mix and match in the ninth innings going forward, with Ty Buttrey, Hansel Robles, Luis Garcia, Justin Anderson, and Cam Bedrosian all factoring in when needed. It’s a situation to avoid if possible.
Mets activate Jacob deGrom from the 10-day IL
The good news is that the MRI on deGrom’s elbow came back clean. The terrible news is he has not regained his form, giving up five earned runs in just four innings. His ERA has ballooned to 4.85. It remains dumbfounding how none of the Mets’ frontline starters (deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Zack Wheeler) has an ERA under that number, but at least deGrom is not alone in his struggles. If you’re looking for reasons to buy (or keep) deGrom, then note that his BABIP against is an astronomically high .389, more than 100 points higher than last year’s average. He’s also due for some serious positive regression in his GB% and HR/FB%, both of which are way off career norms.
Cardinals activate Harrison Bader from the 10-day IL and option Daniel Ponce de Leon to Triple-A
Bader’s speed and defense in the outfield should guarantee him regular playing time now that he’s healthy. He hasn’t been great with the stick so far this year (.222/.397/.444), but hitting eighth in front of the pitcher has at least propped up his on-base percentage. This should improve his chances of getting on base and accruing double-digit steals, but the lack of quality pitches will likely dampen his counting stats and power numbers.
Cardinals activate Tyler O’Neill from the 10-day IL
With Bader also back and Jose Martinez swinging a hot bat with a team-best .364 average, O’Neill is not returning to regular playing time. “It’s going to be fluid,” manager Mike Shildt said, per We’ve got five regulars for three spots, but the reality is they’re playing every day and they’re contributing.” Feel free to put O’Neill on a watchlist for now, but he figures to get the least amount of playing time so long as Bader is healthy and Martinez keeps hitting.
White Sox designate Ervin Santana for assignment
Chicago signed Santana to a minor league deal in the hopes he’d eventually eat some innings for the big league club and offer a veteran presence to its young staff. It was a low-risk deal, but Santana got lit up for 14 runs and six home runs in 13.1 innings (9.45 ERA) and lasted five innings in only one of his starts for the White Sox. He may latch on with another club, but it’s unlikely he offers any fantasy relevance this year.
Nationals select the contract of Carter Kieboom from Triple-A
Kieboom is a top prospect who finally got his call-up, and he smoked a home run for his first big league hit. With Trea Turner still on the IL in Washington, Kieboom should command ample playing time thanks to a phenomenal hit tool and elite plate discipline (.373 OBP across four seasons in the minors) to go with 15+ home run potential. It’s not out of the question that he takes over for a floundering Brian Dozier (.184/.297/.333) at second base once Turner returns. Currently, Kieboom is only 37% owned in Yahoo leagues (18% in ESPN), so he’s worth a speculative add in the event he sticks around for the parent club.
Angels place Zack Cozart on the 10-day IL with a neck strain and recall Luis Rengifo from Triple-A
Cozart can’t seem to stay healthy, and Rengifo doesn’t offer much more than speed. Luckily, that’s still a valuable commodity in today’s game. If you need middle infield help, Rengifo is less than 2% owned, and he could provide some steals batting at the end of the Angels’ lineup. He did steal 41 bases across three minor league levels in just 127 games last season.
Yankees place Clint Frazier on the 10-day IL, retroactive to 4/23, with an ankle sprain and recall Joseph Harvey from Triple-A
Frazier was truly starting to deliver on his promise before going down with an ankle sprain, but there’s still a good chance he’ll continue to get an extended look if he can make it back to the lineup soon. The rest of the Yankees’ outfield remains sidelined still, and Frazier hit well during his call-up (.398 wOBA). If he was dropped in your league, he’s worth an add and stash if you have space.
Yankees reinstate Gary Sanchez from the 10-day IL and option Chad Green to Triple-A
Sanchez finally returned and, despite his .233 average, has 18 RBIs in 16 games in a depleted Yankees lineup. In his first four games back from the IL, he has already hit two home runs (including a grand slam), so expect Sanchez to continue mashing. The Yankees need him in the lineup more than ever now that injuries have hit their roster like the plague. Green had become one of the better relievers in baseball in recent years, but he just hasn’t had it this season. He can safely be dropped while he figures things out at Triple-A.
Rockies reinstate Daniel Murphy from the 10-day IL and option Jeff Hoffman to Triple-A
Those who waited for Murphy to return have already been rewarded, as the veteran has already scored six runs, knocked in five RBIs, and smashed two home runs in his first six games off the IL. He hasn’t even enjoyed a series back at Coors yet, so the best is likely yet to come. It wouldn’t hurt to see if his owner wants to sell now, fearing another extended absence due to injury. If so, remember that Murphy played at least 142 games in both 2016 and 2017 before last year’s injury-riddled year in Washington, and playing first base should preserve his body a bit more than second did. He still possesses elite upside with multi-positional eligibility.
Rays activate Blake Snell from the IL and promote Nate Lowe from Triple-A
Nate Lowe‘s stay in the majors may depend on how long fellow left-handed bats, Austin Meadows (sprained thumb) and Joey Wendle (fractured wrist), remain out. He possesses light-tower power and strong plate discipline, and he hit .330 with 27 HRs, 102 RBIs, and a .985 OPS in the minors last year. Meadows and Wendle won’t be back for a few more weeks, and the Rays are lined up to face a bevy of right-handers, so Lowe will get a chance to prove himself. Consider Lowe an immediate, high-priority add given his mature approach and power, with the caveat that he may get sent back down once Meadows and/or Wendle return. Of course, there’s also a chance he sticks and tears the cover off the ball, forcing Ji-Man Choi out of the 1B/DH rotation.