Fantasy Baseball Depth Chart Review: Week 9
Welcome to another 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 9 to evaluate how they affect the fantasy baseball landscape.
Rangers place Willie Calhoun on the 10-day IL with a quad strain
Calhoun’s injury comes at a terrible time considering he was hot with the bat after his call-up, hitting .435 in his first 23 at-bats with a couple of home runs. Hunter Pence figures to be the biggest beneficiary during Calhoun’s absence, and the veteran continues to rake. Pence is hitting .333 and filling the stat sheet with two homers, a stolen base, and seven RBIs since his younger teammate went down. He’s hitting .308 on the year (in 130 ABs) with solid counting stats thanks to a rejuvenated swing change. The Rangers won’t want to burn him out, so Calhoun should continue to get some playing time, but it may not be enough to warrant a roster spot moving forward as the Rangers shuffle their outfield and DH.
Orioles acquire Keon Broxton from the Mets for international bonus pool space and transfer Alex Cobb to the 60-day IL
Broxton debuted for Baltimore with a bang, hitting a home run in his first at-bat. He has since stolen a base, but he hasn’t hit higher than sixth in one of baseball’s worst lineups, limiting his fantasy appeal. He’s only worth considering in the deepest of AL-only leagues for now.
Rockies recall Jairo Diaz from Triple-A and place Wade Davis on the 10-day IL with an oblique strain
Davis might be out a while, and Scott Oberg is supposed to take over as the primary closer. Oberg’s 1.69 ERA and 1.13 WHIP look good, but the 4.45 FIP screams regression. He also doesn’t miss bats (6.3 K/9) and allows too many baserunners (4.6 BB/9, 5.5 H/9). Davis has begun to play catch, and Oberg blew his only save chance so far. It’s likely he gets another opportunity, but if he falters again, the Rockies also have Bryan Shaw and Carlos Estevez as alternatives.
Mets place Brandon Nimmo on the 10-day IL with a stiff neck and purchase the contract of Rajai Davis
Nimmo is having a dreadful season after running into a wall in April, and there is no timetable for his return. He can be safely dropped in all but the deepest of NL-only leagues.
Yankees place CC Sabathia on the 10-day IL with knee inflammation
Sabathia might start for the Yankees this Sunday against Boston, but there’s not much to get excited about here. While he’s sporting a respectable 3.48 ERA and 1.26 WHIP, he has gone over five innings just once in eight starts this year and struck out more than five only once as well. He can be largely ignored for fantasy purposes unless you’re streaming him in an easy matchup and hoping for a win.
Mets place Robinson Cano (quad strain) and Jeff McNeil (hamstring strain) on the 10-day IL
Cano still has no timetable, but he is making progress and should be back soon. If you need to hold the declining veteran (.287 OBP, three home runs), he’s worth a stash if there are no better alternatives on the wire. However, he’s no longer a “must-own” at this stage of his career. McNeil is in the midst of a fine season despite the “empty” but high batting average. He’s worth holding if you have space.
Cardinals option Ryan Helsley to Triple-A and transfer Alex Reyes to Single-A
Reyes seems poised to rejoin the Cardinals rotation at some point this summer, and he looked sharp in his most recent rehab start (six Ks and a fastball that touched 99 mph). If you have a deep bench, the top prospect is worth stashing now to avoid the FAAB rush that could ensue once he’s called back up.
Rays place Yandy Diaz on the 10-day IL and recall Ryan Yarbrough from Triple-A
Diaz has already begun to take batting practice, and he should be picked up in any leagues where he was dropped (37% ownership on Yahoo). Eligible at both 1B and 3B, he was on pace for 30+ home runs despite batting .256, and his hard-hit %, xwOBA, and xSLG are all near-elite. The .263 BABIP should rise, and his batting average will rise with it. Diaz was in the middle of a breakout, often hitting leadoff or cleanup on one of the American League’s best teams. Yarbrough’s 1.08 WHIP shows his potential as a starter/opener for the Rays, and he won 16 games last year in this hybrid role. He’s worth an add in all leagues that award wins.
Blue Jays select the contract of Cavan Biggio from Triple-A and recall Lourdes Gurriel Jr. from Triple-A
Biggio was on a 20/20 pace in Triple-A with a .949 OPS, and he’s worth an add if you need middle-infield help. He has three hits (including a home run) in his first 13 at-bats, but this is still a young player who had a higher BB% than K% before his call-up. It’s unlikely he’ll provide many steals, though, given the Blue Jays have the lowest team total for stolen bases (11) in the entire league. Nonetheless, Biggio has nothing left to prove in the minors and should be given a long leash to prove he belongs as part of Toronto’s youth renaissance. Gurriel is capable of some steals and power, and he has three home runs and three doubles in his first five games back with Toronto. He’s a streaky player who hits the ball hard, and he makes for a fine add if you need middle-infield help.
Diamondbacks recall Kevin Cron from Triple-A and place David Peralta on the 10-day IL with AC joint inflammation
The brother of C.J. Cron, Kevin Cron has hit over 20 home runs in five consecutive seasons down in the minors. That makes him a legitimate power threat, but also a 26-year-old rookie. His contact skills are decent and his power is off the charts, but he doesn’t walk much, and playing time could be an issue. While they profile as similar hitters, there’s a chance he could replace fellow minor league vet Christian Walker at first base due to his struggles (.262 OBP with one home run in the last month). Cron has only started one of five games since his call-up, so it appears he’s being used as a depth piece and power bench bat who can come up and tie the game with one swing. Unless he earns more playing time, he’ll be hard to roster in most fantasy leagues. As for Peralta, he’s an obvious hold, though there is no clear timetable for his return.
Mets sign Matt Kemp to a minor league deal and claim Aaron Altherr off waivers from the Giants
Altherr, who was given a single at-bat with the Giants before getting released, hit a home run in his first at-bat with the Mets. Neither Kemp nor Altherr figure to hold any fantasy relevance this season.
Phillies place Pat Neshek on the 10-day IL with a right shoulder strain and select J.D. Hammer from Triple-A
Hammer was dominating in Triple-A (1.61 ERA), and his power fastball/slider combo has high K upside. He will most likely serve in middle relief, but there’s a chance he will see some high leverage innings and earn some fantasy relevance in deeper holds leagues.
Mariners reinstate Kyle Seager from the 60-day IL and option Dylan Moore to Triple-A
Seager is no longer the third base commodity he once was, but he’s still capable of producing double-digit home runs with a league-average BA rest of season. His swinging-strike rate has climbed at the same time his contact and walk rates dipped over the last few seasons, so it’s clear his bat is slowing down some as he ages. He’s worth an add if you need power in deeper mixed leagues and AL-only leagues.
Athletics designate Fernando Rodney for assignment and select Wei-Chung Wang from Triple-A
The Fernando Rodney Experiment is over in Oakland. Although he can still throw gas, the 42-year-old was sporting a 9.42 ERA and is not fantasy relevant.
Dodgers activate Kenta Maeda from the 10-day IL and option Kyle Garlick to Triple-A
Maeda had been on an absolute roll before fouling a ball off his leg, and he returned to throw five innings against the Pirates. He earned the win, striking out four while giving up three earned runs. There remains top-30 starting pitcher potential here, so consider him a prime trade target and scoop him up if he’s on the waiver wire (78% owned in Yahoo leagues, 74% on ESPN). With a 3.67 ERA and 1.17 WHIP, Maeda only figures to get better.
Mets activate Michael Conforto from the 7-day IL and designate Rajai Davis for assignment
Conforto has resumed mashing with a double and a home run in his last two games since returning to the lineup. He won’t run, but there’s a chance he hits 30+ home runs. He’s one of the better trade targets in all of baseball. Davis, who hit a three-run homer in his first plate appearance, was outrighted to Triple-A after clearing waivers.
Angels reinstate Andrew Heaney from the IL and option Jaime Barria to Triple-A
Heaney struck out eight in his return to the rotation, and he’s a prime target for anyone needing strikeouts. Struggles through the order a third time and lingering injury woes will most likely cap innings and keep him from logging too many quality starts, but a quality pitch mix with swing-and-miss stuff (9.0 K/9 last season) make him an excellent addition to the back end of your fantasy rotation.
Rockies place Charlie Blackmon on the 10-day IL with a calf strain and recall Yonathan Daza from Triple-A
Blackmon should be fine, and Daza offers some speed potential (31 stolen bases for High A in 2017). Daza’s speed allows him to run high BABIPs, and he’s hit over .300 at every stop in the minors where he’s received extensive playing time. He’s worth an add for those desperate for speed.
Diamondback place Luke Weaver on the 10-day IL and select Stefan Crichton from Triple-A
Weaver hopes to avoid Tommy John surgery, but his loss is already a devastating blow to Arizona and fantasy owners alike. Weaver had been enjoying a bounce-back year (3.03 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 9.82 K/9), so everyone will hold a collective breath as he seeks out a second opinion on his forearm strain. If he can avoid surgery, he should be able to come back later this season, but he figures to be on the shelf for a while. If you can stash him on the IL until more news is revealed, it’s worth doing so. He can be dropped if you’re facing a roster crunch.
Dodgers select catcher Will Smith and place Austin Barnes on the 10-day with a groin strain
Smith is an intriguing catcher prospect with strong plate discipline (11.9% minor league walk rate and emerging power (19 home runs in 307 PA at Double-A last season). He boasts stellar defensive skills, so he could quickly become relevant in two-catcher leagues if he can hit big league pitching. He’s worth a speculative add in such leagues in the event he swings a hot bat out of the gate.
Twins place Michael Pineda on the 10-day IL with knee tendinitis and select Devin Smeltzer from Triple-A
Pineda didn’t appear injured, but the fact that it’s a knee issue is not encouraging when you consider he lost time to a torn meniscus last year. He had been on a quality start run, pitching at least six innings in his last four starts and winning two of them. If you own him, he’s worth stashing so long as he gets to start for a red hot Twins team in a weak division. Smeltzer was acquired by the Twins from the Dodgers in the Brian Dozier trade, and he had a 30% strikeout rate in 30 Double-A innings earlier this year. He’s a deep prospect with strong K/BB ratios in the minors, so he’s definitely one to watch moving forward.
Pirates option Mitch Keller to Triple-A and recall Richard Rodriguez from Triple-A
Keller isn’t ready for the majors yet, but injuries forced Pittsburgh’s hand. He struck out seven in his debut against the Reds, but he was also shelled for seven hits and six earned runs. Keller can be safely dropped in all redraft leagues until another call-up is imminent, which is possible after Jordan Lyles exited Tuesday’s game early with left hamstring tightness.