Fantasy Baseball Depth Chart Review: Week 11
Welcome to another Depth Chart Review! I’ll break down all the major (and sometimes minor) transactions, injuries, and notable lineup changes around the league from Week 11 to evaluate how they affect the fantasy baseball landscape.
Indians place Carlos Carrasco (non-baseball, medical condition) on 10-day IL, retroactive to 6/2; option Greg Allen to Triple-A; recall Nick Goody and Jon Edwards from Triple-A
Carrasco steps away from baseball due to a recently discovered blood condition. There is no timetable for his return. The news is devastating to both Carrasco and fantasy owners alike. As they are still in the process of investigating the ailment, treatment and recovery options have yet to be explored. Expect a lengthy absence, but don’t drop Carrasco until more information comes to light.
Padres option Brad Wieck to Triple-A and place Matt Strahm (left rib strain) on the 10-day IL; reinstate Miguel Diaz from 60-day IL and recall Cal Quantrill from Triple-A
Strahm’s stay on the IL will hopefully be a minimum one, but Quantrill represents an interesting rotation piece. He doesn’t throw enough first-pitch strikes or stay in the zone as often as he should, but his O-swing rate (34%) is better than the league average. Additionally, his SwStr% and K/BB rate are both better than league average as well, suggesting he’s better than your average streamer. Quantrill’s 9.0 K/9 makes him an intriguing add while he’s up for those looking for strikeout potential and decent ratios at the backend of a fantasy rotation.
Brewers recall Jimmy Nelson from Triple-A and option Taylor Williams to Triple-A
Nelson has not fared as well in his return to the big leagues as he did in 2017, when he pitched like an emerging ace. That tantalizing finish to his 2017 campaign cut short by a torn ACL had many fantasy owners stashing Nelson. However, his velocity is down a couple of ticks, and it will take some time to build up his stamina before he can go more than four or five innings consistently after being out of baseball so long. There are no guarantees Nelson’s velocity rises, and before becoming a borderline ace with a 10.21 K/9 in 2017, Nelson struck out far fewer than a batter per inning with ERAs between 4.10 and 4.95 in three previous seasons. Some will point to 2017 as an outlier, but others maintain that he added a split-change while improving his curveball and relying more on his sinker. Added velocity and better command contributed to the breakout as well. Moving forward, watch Nelson’s velocity and BB/9.
Giants place Buster Posey (right hamstring strain) on the 10-day IL, retroactive to 6/2, and reinstate Trevor Gott from 10-day IL
Posey is still on track to return from his hamstring injury Wednesday. He is boasting a strong hard-hit% (76th percentile), but his xwOBA (.340) is right in line with last year (.341), suggesting he remains roughly the same player. While he should end up with more home runs than 2018’s middling three, his days as an elite option at a weak position might be over. His counting-stat production also figures to be somewhat pedestrian going forward on an abysmal Giants team. Still, THE BAT projects a .282 average and five more home runs to go along with a .768 OPS for the rest of the season, with a .332 wOBA making him a top-10 option. Gott won’t get many chances to accrue holds on a struggling team and remains off the fantasy radar.
Dodgers activate catcher Austin Barnes from the 10-day IL and option Will Smith to Triple-A
The Will Smith dream (and accompanying walk-up music) are dead … for now. Barnes is having a brutal season (.284 xwOBA), so Smith may yet receive another chance. However, temper expectations for both Barnes and Smith so long as Russell Martin also remains in the mix for starts thanks to his superior pitch framing.
Padres activate Fernando Tatis Jr. from the 10-day IL and option Ty France to Triple-A
France didn’t do much with a larger share of playing time during Tatis’ absence (.235/.290/.357). In five games back, Tatis is already 7-for-16 with a double, two home runs, and a stolen base, supplying fantasy owners with the multi-category juice that makes him such a desirable asset. He remains arguably the top prospect in all of baseball and an all-around stud.
Yankees reinstate Didi Gregorius from the 60-day IL
Gregorius went 6-for-14 with a homer and two RBIs in the first four games back from the IL after being shelved for months with an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. Per George A. King III of the New York Post, manager Aaron Boone has a plan to ease Gregorius into the lineup that suggests he won’t be an everyday player for a while.
“… He will play a couple of days and then an off day,” Boone said. “Then we start to build him up more and more. I think it’s a wise progression considering where he is coming from.”
With all the injuries facing the Yankees, Gregorius brings a sorely needed impact bat back into the lineup. He flashed big upside in 2018 (27 home runs, .829 OPS), but much of that production came on the heels of a scorching-hot May in which he hit 10 home runs with a 1.156 OPS. Nonetheless, he was still highly effective throughout last year’s campaign despite performing much better at home than on the road (.944 OPS in Yankee Stadium vs. a paltry .700 OPS on the road). Gregorius is only owned in 63% of Yahoo leagues and 32% of ESPN leagues, so even with shortstop being arguably the deepest position in baseball, he’s is worth an add given the ability and opportunity to drive in runs.
Cubs sign Craig Kimbrel to a three-year contract with vesting/club option for 2022
Kimbrel is the youngest ever to 300 saves and as far as closers go, undoubtedly one of the best to ever do it. His 42 saves and 13.9 K/9 should have had teams chomping to acquire him this offseason after Boston opted not to tender him a contract. Fears over Kimbrel’s high contract demands and the qualifying offer that would result in a forfeited draft pick kept teams at bay, but once the calendar turned to June, contenders in need of bullpen help made him their primary target. Ultimately, the Cubs won the bidding.
It’s worth pointing out that the final numbers last year don’t tell the whole story. Kimbrel was lights out in the first half (an astounding 30 saves in 40.2 IP with a 1.77 ERA) but stumbled through the second half (4.57 ERA in 21.2 IP) and was shaky at best during the Red Sox’s playoff run. Nonetheless, he will be the man to own in Chicago on a team that should provide him plenty of save opportunities. Stashed in most leagues, he should be universally owned. Yet he’s still available in 13% of Yahoo leagues and 32% of ESPN leagues. If he’s on the wire, consider him a priority add immediately even though he’ll probably need a few weeks to get back into game shape.
Orioles place OF Dwight Smith Jr. on the 7-day concussion list and recall Anthony Santander from Triple-A
Smith Jr. has been a pleasant surprise in an otherwise dismal season for the Orioles, knocking in 41 RBIs and slugging 11 home runs. His plate discipline leaves a lot to be desired (.296 OBP), but in AL-only and deeper leagues (15 teams or more), he warrants a hold and should be back as soon as he’s eligible.
Marlins place Caleb Smith (left hip inflammation) and Jose Urena on the 10-day IL and recall Elieser Hernandez from Triple-A and Jordan Yamamoto from Double-A
Smith wasn’t as sharp in May and June as he was in April, with each of his last six starts resulting in at least two earned runs. He still hasn’t resumed throwing, but he’s an obvious hold if you own him. Many were hoping for Zac Gallen when Smith went down, but the Marlins apparently would rather promote anyone else but him. Yamamoto has pitched fairly well in Double-A this season (3.79 xFIP with about one strikeout per inning), but it remains to be seen how good he can be against big league pitching. With a fastball that sits between 88 and 90 mph, he profiles more as a backend starter or long reliever. That said, he could be a streaming option thanks to plus command and quality secondary offerings. As for Hernandez, he was sporting a 12.94 K/9 through nine starts in Triple-A. He also pitched well Tuesday against St. Louis, giving up three runs in 5.2 IP while striking out seven and walking only one. He should be a reliable source of Ks so long as he’s in the majors.
Phillies place Seranthony Domínguez (right UCL injury) on the 10-day IL and option Yacksel Ríos to Triple-A; reinstate Zach Eflin from the 10-day IL and recall Ranger Suárez from Triple-A
Eflin was wild in his return from the IL (four BBs), but he did go 6.1 IP while allowing just two runs (one earned) against the Reds. He’s been the Phillies’ best starter so far this season (2.88 ERA), but his 4.84 xFIP portends regression. With a middling 7.13 K/9, Eflin’s upside remains limited, though it’s worth noting that he has struck out six or more batters in three of his last five starts.
Rockies reinstate Charlie Blackmon and Wade Davis from the 10-day IL; option Garrett Hampson to Triple-A and designate Chris Rusin for assignment
Blackmon has homered in his last two games to go along with five RBIs and three runs scored, so it appears he’s more than healthy. Davis also notched a save and should return as Colorado’s primary closer. He is currently owned in less than 85% of leagues, so if dropped in your league for some reason, he’s worth an immediate add despite the risk Coors Field poses to his ratios. Hampson continues to disappoint in what many had hoped would be a breakout campaign marked by a plethora of stolen bases.
Braves sign Dallas Keuchel to a one-year contract, place Kevin Gausman (plantar fasciitis) on 10-day IL
Keuchel will need a few starts in the minors before he’s ready to join the Braves’ rotation. Even if Gausman is back by then, he’ll likely be bounced to the bullpen to make room. Keuchel will be well-rested, but it’s fair to wonder how effective he’ll be without an extended spring training. Although his K/9 has plummeted over the years (6.73 in 2018), he’s probably still good for a mid-to-high-threes ERA and the chance for a decent win total with Atlanta’s potent offense and generous upcoming schedule.
Twins select Ryan Eades from Triple-A and option catcher Willians Astudillo to Triple-A
Astudillo had developed a bit of a cult-like following for his tremendous contact skills (4.1 K%), hard-nosed play, and bowling-ball appearance, but the 1.7 BB% and .357 SLG just wasn’t cutting it. Add in the breakout play of Jason Castro and Mitch Garver behind the dish, Marwin Gonzalez signing as a super-utility player, and Miguel Sano‘s return, and Astudillo’s chances for playing time had all but dried up.
Cardinals place Adam Wainwright (left hamstring strain) on the 10-day IL and recall Ryan Helsley from Triple-A
Wainwright has become a mid-fours ERA guy with a middling K/9. He’s still capable of a big outing when locked in, but he’s more a streamer than a must-roster starter. He can safely be dropped in all but the deepest of leagues.
Mariners reinstate Dee Gordon from 10-day IL
Gordon was having a fine season before his wrist injury cost him 19 games, but he returns to a floundering team beset by poor performance and injuries after a hot two weeks to open the season. Gordon should resume doing what he was drafted to do — provide steals and batting average. He’s no longer the 60-steal threat he once was, but THE BAT still projects 19 more stolen bases with a .279 batting average.
Cardinals activate Yadier Molina from 10-day IL and option catcher Andrew Knizner to Triple-A
Knizner couldn’t manage to get on base during his first big league stint, and Molina returns as the everyday catcher. Expect a .260 or better average with six or seven more home runs and some counting stats, making Molina a solid, if unspectacular, starting option at catcher.