5 Things to Know for Week 16 (Fantasy Baseball)
The trade deadline is quickly approaching which means major shakeups on the way and plenty more rookie call-ups right following shortly after. Today, my primary focus will be on players who may see major changes in their fantasy impact. Next week, I’ll be out of the office but I’ll be back with you in August for the championship stretch!
#1 You may want to scoop up Kyle Tucker
In the last few weeks, it has been Nate Lowe, Keston Hiura and Yordan Alvarez who I’ve hyped up before they were called (back) up. Friends, I follow minor league baseball closer than is healthy for any human being and Tucker is ready. He has been ready for a full year and it’s time for the Astros to act. After starting the season slow, Tucker is now up to 24 homers, 21 steals, 66 RBIs and 66 runs scored on the year. He may not hit for average right away, but that might not be far behind either. The fact of the matter is, from the moment he begins playing every day, we are looking at a top-20 fantasy outfielder. Whether with the Astros, or more likely, whoever they trade him to (Tigers? Blue Jays?), Tucker should be playing sooner than later.
#2 Tucker might not be the best young trade chip
Don’t hear me wrong, Tucker is a superior prospect, but in terms of immediate impact, I’m not convinced he is as polished as Gavin Lux. The Dodgers’ Triple-A middle infielder is batting .356/.414/.628/1.043 this year and that includes a .531 average with 18 extra-base-hits in 15 games since his promotion to Triple-A. That wasn’t a typo. Chances are high that Lux won’t be traded, as he fits in nicely as an upgrade over Chris Taylor at second base. If a team comes calling with the right piece, however, he would likely be the ask. Regardless of where he ends up, Lux will be an impact asset in fantasy baseball leagues before long so it doesn’t hurt to acquire him now before he costs you a fortune in FAAB.
#3 A great bat may finally join the everyday lineup
The Cardinals clearly aren’t aware of this, but you can bet other MLB teams do: Tyler O’Neill is #good. Sure, he strikes out nearly every other at-bat, but he also has an .840 career OPS and 14 homers in just 220 at-bats. That isn’t a small sample size and it isn’t as though this is a surprise, considering how he has always raked in the minors as well. O’Neill is playing for now because Marcel Ozuna is on the IL, but the speculation is that this is a showcase for the trade market. St. Louis has outfielders galore (and had more before they dealt Tommy Pham, Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk for peanuts last year), so they are expected to use that depth to acquire pitching or a second baseman like Whit Merrifield. Wherever he goes, you can bet it will be for a team who wants to use him.
#4 Marcus Stroman is the buy-low of the week
“How can that be when the dude is rocking a 3.25 ERA already?” Well, he’s doing that in a pitcher’s park, against the best division in baseball and versus only team’s who use a DH. Plus, he has virtually no run-support so fantasy owners have only been given 5 wins. There is a chance we are looking at a top 15 fantasy starter over the second half if a team like the Nationals or Dodgers do what it takes to acquire him. What’s more, is that underlying metrics suggest he has actually been unlucky this season in the batted ball department so those ratios may dip even further into the gold. Perhaps most importantly, Stroman is durable and pitches deep into games so not only are his ratios great, but they will count for more.
#5 Something is happening with Yu Darvish
The Cubs have wasted an unbelievable amount of money on both Jason Heyward and Darvish while also dealing away major pieces like Gleybar Torres and Eloy Jimenez. For a World Series, it was surely worth it, but also, WOOF! With that said, Darvish might not be a total waste quite yet. Just recently, he said “I’m 110% now” then he proceeded to rattle off 12 scoreless innings with 15 Ks and just 5 baserunners allowed. The raw data shows that this isn’t a fluke either; Darvish knows his stuff is back. Brooks Baseball shows that his average velocity has somehow improved an incredible 2.81 MPH during the season and the vertical movement on his cutter has suddenly skyrocketed to over 4 inches per pitch, up from ZERO last month. Whatever Darvish changed, I’m here for it and you should be too. He might be on your waivers, but if not, you might be able to acquire 100 second half strikeouts for cheap.