Fantasy Baseball Depth Chart Review: Week 16
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 16, including some deep-dive analytics, to evaluate how they affect the fantasy baseball landscape.
Cubs acquire Martín Maldonado from the Royals for Mike Montgomery; place Willson Contreras (right foot strain) on 10-day IL.
Maldonado will serve purely as coverage for Contreras and has no fantasy value. Montgomery will pitch in middle relief for Kansas City. For what it’s worth, the Cubs do not expect Contreras to miss more than the minimum.
Red Sox recall Ryan Weber and Sam Travis from Triple-A; option Hector Velázquez to Triple-A and designate Eduardo Núñez for assignment
Núñez finds himself DFA’d despite stealing 24 bases as recently as 2017 (and 40 in 2016). Defensively challenged with poor plate discipline, he has lived off contact skills and speed with a modest dose of power mixed in for good measure. However, his .243 OBP and .548 OPS across 60 games made him expendable on a playoff-bound Boston team. It’s likely that Núñez latches on somewhere as a utility bat, but he’s unlikely to have any fantasy value this season. Weber and Travis are off the fantasy radar for now as well.
Tigers select the contract of Trevor Rosenthal from Triple-A
Last month, the Nationals released Rosenthal due to an inability to throw strikes. Since signing with Tigers at end of June, the mercurial former closer allowed six runs on eight hits in 5.1 innings at Triple-A. He walked six, struck out nine, and hit a batter. He’s touching 99 mph with his heater, but there probably isn’t much fantasy value here given Rosenthal’s wildness. It’s worth noting that he debuted for the Tigers with a scoreless inning that featured two strikeouts. Keep an eye on Rosenthal. If he can figure out how to throw strikes consistently and the Tigers move most of their high-leverage arms at the deadline, he could find himself getting looks in the ninth inning.
Giants place Evan Longoria (left foot plantar fasciitis) on 10-day IL; recall Tyler Beede from Double-A Richmond; option Ray Black to Triple-A
Longoria had been putting up some of the best Statcast metrics in years before hitting the IL, so the timing could not have been worse for the veteran or fantasy owners who picked him up hoping to ride a hot run. The former All-Star third baseman will miss between two weeks to a month with plantar fasciitis in his left foot. The lightly owned Longoria can safely be dropped in all leagues at this point.
Beede, on the other hand, has made eight starts for the Giants, posting a 3-2 record with a 4.23 ERA and 40 strikeouts over 44 2/3 innings. Most notable is the fact he’s won his last two outings with quality starts in which he did not walk a single batter. Much of his success can be attributed to increased slider usage, which Alex Fast reported on Twitter has risen from 3.6% to 21.4% over that short span. Beede has quickly moved from potential streamer to possible add even in 12-team redraft leagues.
Red Sox acquire Andrew Cashner and cash from Orioles for Elio Prado, Noelberth Romero
Cashner had been outperforming his peripherals in Baltimore, but he was pitching well as an innings-eater and offers some stability to the Red Sox rotation. Unfortunately, he allowed six runs in just five innings during his Boston debut. While the 4.09 ERA and 1.23 WHIP do not seem all that concerning on the surface, the 5.10 SIERA and paltry 6.04 K/9 don’t inspire much confidence. For those believing Cashner would see an increase in value due to a perceived uptick in run support, know that the Orioles scored six or more runs in 11 of Cashner’s 17 starts. With the run-support argument neutralized and regression on the horizon, it’s unlikely Cashner enjoys the kind of success that Nathan Eovaldi did last year after coming over to Boston via trade.
Athletics acquire Homer Bailey from Royals for Kevin Merrell
It’s been six years since Homer Bailey played for a team that finished the season over .500. That alone should give him the energy boost needed to continue succeeding this season. Bailey’s 8.10 K/9 is the highest it has been over a half-season since 2013, and he’s getting ground balls as a 45.8% clip. The 4.80 ERA isn’t as unsightly as it would be before the era of the rabbit ball, and a 4.63 xFIP actually says he’s been a tad unlucky. Most importantly, Bailey should provide meaningful innings with decent ratios and a chance for quality starts and wins moving forward with Oakland. He makes for an excellent streamer or suitable final back-end starter in deeper 12 and 15-team leagues.
Angels reinstate Matt Harvey from IL; designate Jarrett Parker for assignment
Harvey’s mention has more to do with name value than performance. Sporting a 6.88 ERA and lowly 6.37 K/9, he is not fantasy relevant.
Nationals place Max Scherzer (mid-back strain) on 10-day IL, retroactive to 7/10
Although Scherzer is already playing catch, his next start has yet to be determined. The ability to stash him on IL will at least make it easier to add a useful piece to your roster in the interim.
Rockies recall Kyle Freeland from Triple-A; option Pat Valaika to Triple-A
Freeland has a 7.39 ERA and, coincidentally, a 7.39 K/9 to go along with two wins on the year. All of that says 2018 was an outlier, and Freeland can safely be ignored in all leagues.
Orioles place Dylan Bundy (right knee tendinitis) on 10-day IL; recall Taylor Scott from Triple-A
Bundy is already scheduled for a bullpen session, which is fortunate since a trade out of Baltimore is likely needed for the young hurler to realize his potential on the mound. With a K/9 over 9.40 the last two years, he certainly has the aptitude to miss bats. Bundy’s biggest issue has been a HR/9 over 2.0 both years. He’s been somewhat unlucky (4.76 xFIP vs 5.28 ERA), but he’s simply too volatile to trust on a regular basis.
Yankees reinstate Luke Voit from 10-day IL
Voit returns to a Yankees squad that has since added Edwin Encarnacion to mash. With Giancarlo Stanton missing extended time and leaving a hole in the run-producing part of New York’s lineup, Voit should continue to receive regular playing time at 1B and DH. He is projected to threaten close to 30 total home runs with an average above .260 the rest of the season, making him an excellent trade target for those in need of power.
Cardinals place Yadier Molina (right thumb tendon strain) on 10-day IL, retroactive to 7/8; recall Andrew Knizner from Triple-A
The thumb injury could cost Molina up to three weeks, so Matt Wieters and rookie Andrew Knizner should fill in behind the dish while he recovers. Batting only .260 with four home runs and 36 RBIs, Molina has been a disappointment in a surprisingly productive year for catchers.
Rays reinstate Diego Castillo from 10-day IL
With Jose Alvarado scheduled to miss up to two months, Castillo should move into the late-inning saves rotation for Tampa Bay with Emilio Pagan. He’s a solid add if you’re desperate for saves, and while he checks off most of the boxes (10.06 K/9, 54.3 GB%, high velocity) for a dominant closer, there are control concerns (4.17 BB/9) that will likely keep him from seizing the role for himself.
Braves reinstate Anthony Swarzak from 10-day IL; place Grant Dayton (fractured right toe) on 10-day IL
Swarzak has arguably been the best arm in the Braves’ bullpen since Atlanta acquired him from Seattle, allowing just one home run and eight hits in 19.1 IP with an elite 0.47 ERA. He’s an excellent option in leagues that value holds, and he could easily find himself in the closer’s role should Luke Jackson falter.
Angels place Jonathan Lucroy (concussion and nose fracture) on 7-day concussion IL; reinstate Kevan Smith from IL
The brutal collision at the plate that sent Lucroy to the IL was somewhat of a bush-league play, and it will likely cost Lucroy a month of action. He can safely be dropped in all but deep two-catcher leagues with available IL spots.
Rays reinstate Ji-Man Choi from 10-day IL; option Ian Gibaut to Triple-A; recall Nate Lowe and Mike Brosseau from Triple-A
It remains to be seen whether the Rays will platoon Choi and Lowe at first, but Lowe has come on hot since his promotion, hitting five home runs in his last seven games. Although Choi (.261 average, nine home runs) has been a serviceable utility player, Lowe is the superior talent. The Rays have asked Lowe to take grounders at third base, further increasing the chances they keep his bat in the lineup on a regular basis. Hitting only .200 against left-handers, Lowe will always be a platoon risk, but that’s unlikely to stop owners from spending FAAB to acquire him. A big power bat with positional flexibility makes Lowe a priority add.
Like Lowe, Brosseau brings power to the plate. He was hitting .317 with 15 home runs and a .998 OPS at Triple-A in 292 at-bats. Since his call-up, he has continued to stay hot, hitting .375 with four home runs for Tampa Bay. With middle and corner infield eligibility, he’s the kind of under-the-radar add that could provide massive dividends down the stretch. His ISO (.348) and hard-hit rate (50.0%) are both elite — albeit in a small sample size covering 48 plate appearances — and he’s batting near the top of the Rays’ lineup as well.
Rangers activate DH Hunter Pence from IL; option OF Willie Calhoun to Triple-A
Pence (.288/.347/.598 with 15 home runs and 48 RBIs) is having a renaissance in Texas, and he should hit in the heart of the lineup whenever he’s active. The Rangers will want to be careful not to overwork him lest he end up back on the IL with another soft tissue injury, but Pence should play regularly enough to produce so long as his new swing continues to yield results. If he was dropped in your league, the All-Star is worth an immediate add.
Calhoun looked ready to take advantage of the opportunity when injuries decimated the Rangers’ outfield, but he hit just .214 with one home run and three RBIs in the last two weeks. He can safely be dropped in all but dynasty leagues.
Red Sox recall Darwinzon Hernandez from Triple-A; option RHP Ryan Brasier to Triple-A
Brasier, a popular saves candidate during draft season, never grabbed hold of the closer’s job in Boston. The move signifies that Eovaldi will indeed become a late-inning fixture moving forward. If he remains unclaimed in your league, now is the time to pounce as he could soon be closing out games for one of baseball’s best teams.
Cardinals place Matt Carpenter (right foot contusion) on 10-day IL; recall Edmundo Sosa from Triple-A
Details surrounding how long Carpenter will ultimately need to heal remain vague. International prospect Edmundo Sosa, St. Louis’ 10th-ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline, profiles as a utility player with solid contact skills. However, he may not have the speed, power, or plate discipline to provide much, if any, fantasy value.