Fantasy Baseball Depth Chart Review: Week 14
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 14, including some deep dive analytics, to evaluate how they affect the fantasy baseball landscape.
Yankees place Giancarlo Stanton (right knee sprain) on 10-day IL and recall Mike Tauchman from Triple-A
Stanton will likely be out until August with his knee sprain. In what has quickly become a lost season for the Yankees’ slugger, he has suited up for just nine games. It’s a crushing blow for those who have stashed him this long. It’s not absurd to drop him or try and deal him if you’re in a roster crunch, especially in roto leagues where you can’t wait until August to make a run in the standings. For now, consider stashing one of the game’s premier power hitters if you have space.
Twins place Willians Astudillo (left oblique strain) on 10-day IL and recall LaMonte Wade Jr. from Triple-A
Astudillo is a cult favorite among baseball fans, but a .263/.282/.383 slash line doesn’t cut it on a team with playoff aspirations. So long as Mitch Garver and Jason Castro keep providing average or better production behind the dish, Astudillo probably won’t get the playing time necessary to make a fantasy impact. He is not a must-hold unless you play in two-catcher leagues.
Cubs recall Craig Kimbrel from Triple-A and option Tony Barnette to Triple-A
The mercurial closer returns, this time in a Cubs uniform. Kimbrel has pitched in two games since his recall, earning a save in one and giving up three runs in one inning of work in the other. Expect bumps in the road considering he has no spring training under his belt after missing nearly half the season, though he should be fresh if nothing else. What we do know is that Pedro Strop is no longer a candidate for saves, and Kimbrel will be the unquestioned closer on a playoff-caliber team for the rest of the season.
Orioles reinstate John Means from 10-day IL
Means has been one of few bright spots for a struggling Baltimore team. The All-Star rookie boasts seven wins to go along with a 2.50 ERA, but the underlying metrics suggest much of this success is a mirage. Means sports a concerning 5.14 xFIP and middling 7.61 K/9. He also walks a fair amount of batters (2.62 BB/9). Much of his strong start can be attributed to the 82% LOB rate. So long as luck remains on his side, Means has value in AL-only and deeper 14-team or larger leagues. Just expect regression.
Reds activate Scooter Gennett from 60-day IL and place catcher Tucker Barnhart on 10-day IL
Gennett returns from a groin injury that took three months to heal. To say he remains a re-injury risk would be an understatement. Nonetheless, he’s one of the best hitters the Reds have, and he returns just in time for the summer heat to turn Great American Ball Park into a bandbox. Gennett is only owned in 62% of Yahoo leagues and 50% of ESPN leagues. After a torrid 2017, he proved his breakout was not a fluke by hitting .310/.357/.490 with 23 home runs and a 3% drop in K rate. He’s one of the better options available at second base, and we’re still talking about a top-100 pick before his injury. If he’s available on the wire, add him immediately.
Rockies reinstate Trevor Story from 10-day IL and option Chi Chi González to Triple-A
Story was expected to miss multiple weeks according to various reports, but he comes back after less than two. Before his injury, he was tied for first in home runs (17) and ranked first in RBIs (48), first in stolen bases (12), second in OPS (.909), and second in average (.294) among NL shortstops. Hopefully, the sprained thumb won’t be a lingering issue that saps his power and contact ability. For now, we can all be grateful his injury stay was a brief one.
Cubs activate Kyle Hendricks from 10-day IL and option Adbert Alzolay to Triple-A
Alzolay couldn’t get through two innings in his last start, giving up seven runs to the Pirates in the process. The talent remains apparent, as he held a 12.94 K/9 in Triple-A (46 Ks in 32 IP) and struck out more than a batter per inning in his brief MLB stint. He flashed enough to warrant holding in dynasty leagues, but he can safely be dropped now that Hendricks has returned.
Royals reinstate Adalberto Mondesi from 10-day IL and option Humberto Arteaga to Triple-A
Mondesi returned from his hamstring strain and promptly homered in his first game back. Keep monitoring his stolen base attempts to verify whether he’s confident that he’s fully healed. The power output is encouraging because Mondesi was sporting a .269/.302/.441 slash line before getting injured, and he had struggled in his last 15 games (.203/.215/.281.). The K% will always be a negative, but as long as he’s hitting for power and running the bases, he’s a top shortstop in all leagues.
Yankees place Luke Voit (abdominal strain) on 10-day IL, retroactive to 6/30
Despite the All-Star snub, Voit is having an All-Star caliber season (.902 OPS, .382 wOBA). It looked like he’d rejoin the team this week, only to find himself headed to the IL. Owners can only hope this doesn’t turn into a lengthy absence. This is the 2019 Yankees, after all.
Marlins reinstate Jorge Alfaro from 7-day concussion IL and option Wilkin Castillo to Triple-A
Alfaro has acquitted himself well as J.T. Realmuto’s replacement in Miami, slugging 10 home runs while batting .256 behind the dish. The ghastly 33.9% K rate is actually down from last year, if you can believe that. However, don’t expect the .354 BABIP to hold in the second half.
Nationals reinstate Ryan Zimmerman from 10-day IL and option Michael A. Taylor to Double-A
Matt Adams, Howie Kendrick, and Brian Dozier have all been productive this season, so there was some question as to how the Nationals would handle playing time amidst this roster crunch with Zimmerman returning to the fold. Manager Dave Martinez made it clear that Zimmerman is the team’s first baseman. The veteran surprised everyone by having a career year in 2017 (.303 AVG, 36 home runs), but he’s only played more than 120 games three times since 2011. When healthy, Zimmerman continues to be a potent bat worthy of a roster spot in deeper leagues, but health will always be a question mark.
White Sox place Tim Anderson (sprained right ankle) on 10-day IL, retroactive to 6/26; designate Yonder Alonso for assignment; purchase Ross Detwiler from Triple-A and recall Daniel Palka from Triple-A
Alonso getting DFA’d may seem like a surprise on the surface for a rebuilding team like Chicago, but hitting .178/.275/.301 probably costs most players a locker by now. He hit 23 and 28 home runs over the last two years, respectively, so Alonso will probably find his way onto a team in short order as a left-handed platoon bat (career.266 AVG with 79 home runs vs. RHP) who can cover the corner infield spots. Tim Anderson was unable to put weight on his right foot and had to be carted off the field, so it’s rather astounding the White Sox waited so long to put him on the IL. In the midst of a breakout year (.317/.342/.491 with 11 home runs and 15 stolen bases), the shortstop is worth holding and stashing. Palka is an all-or-nothing hacker (27 home runs with a 34% K-rate in 2018) who has value only in deeper leagues where needing power.
Brewers recall Keston Hiura from Triple-A and option Travis Shaw to Triple-A; designate Hernan Perez for assignment
The Brewers’ patience with Shaw finally ran out. Hiura had been murdering Triple-A pitching (1.088 OPS with 19 home runs across 57 games and 243 PAs) and currently has six home runs for Milwaukee. He could easily make the same kind of impact as Yordan Alvarez and Austin Riley now that he should be up for good. Many dropped Hiura after his first demotion, which was understandable given how much leash the team wanted to give Shaw in his second chance. As it stands, Shaw did nothing with another opportunity, so make sure to grab Hiura if he hasn’t been picked up in your league yet (42% ownership in Yahoo leagues, 15% in ESPN leagues). Perez’s positional versatility should allow him to latch on somewhere soon.
Diamondbacks activate Alex Avila from 10-day IL and option Caleb Joseph to Triple-A
The biggest implication of Avila’s activation is how it will likely affect Carson Kelly’s playing time behind the dish. However, Avila was holding a .415 OBP and five home runs in 26 games before his injury, so there is value here in two-catcher leagues. For now, both Arizona backstops are worth rostering depending on league size and depth, with the edge in talent going to Kelly.
Indians activate Mike Clevinger from 10-day IL and option Jon Edwards to Triple-A
Clevinger’s return lasted just 1.2 innings while giving up seven runs to the cellar-dwelling Orioles. If his ankle still isn’t right, it’s possible it takes the Cleveland righty multiple starts to find his groove again and recapture his mechanics, similar to the way Blake Snell hasn’t been entirely the same since his return from a toe injury. There’s still top-20 upside here, so keep running Clevinger out there and hope for the best.
Twins place Eddie Rosario on 10-day IL and activate Ehire Adrianza from 10-day IL
Rosario is having yet another stellar first half (.282 AVG, 20 HRs, 60 RBIs), but he went from DTD to the IL despite the team’s optimism. While there has been no clear timetable given for his return, he’s an obvious hold and stash who isn’t expected to miss significant time beyond the All-Star break.
Mets activate Noah Syndergaard from 10-day IL and designate Carlos Gómez for assignment
Thor has yet to put it all together this season, but his owners can hope for better production and health in the second half. He does have the sixth lowest hard-hit rate allowed in all of baseball, though the career-low 8.76 K/9 is a bit worrisome. In the latest episode of friction with team officials, Syndergaard has abandoned Wilson Ramos and reportedly requested Tomas Nido be his personal catcher. There’s a possibility the Mets trade Syndergaard given their tumultuous partnership thus far, so don’t be surprised to see him on the move.