Fantasy Baseball Depth Chart Review: Week 19
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 19, including some deep-dive analytics, to evaluate how they affect the fantasy baseball landscape. With the trade deadline behind us, there were a plethora of transactions, almost too many to count, so we’re just going to focus on the most relevant for fantasy purposes for this week.
Cubs place Craig Kimbrel (knee inflammation), Brandon Kintzler, and catcher Willson Contreras (right hamstring strain) on 10-day IL
Kimbrel’s remains confident that he will only need the 10 days, but the team is preparing for a longer stay given they need him for the stretch run and playoffs. With Kintzler down, recently activated Pedro Strop will likely get the bulk of saves chances with David Phelps and Steve Cishek worked in when needed. Contreras, unfortunately, will miss closer to four weeks with his hamstring strain. Catcher has been surprisingly stronger than usual as a fantasy position this year, but Contreras should be held as a top-three option once he returns.
Rays place Yonny Chirinos (right middle finger inflammation) on 10-day IL and recall Austin Pruitt
Chirinos has been a solid source of wins (nine) as both a starter and bulk inning reliever who follows an opener for the Rays. Unfortunately, he appears slated to miss a minimum of four weeks, meaning he’s unlikely to see the mound again until September. He should be dropped in all but the deepest of mixed or AL-only leagues where starting pitching is thin. Pruitt will look to improve on his disastrous 5.66 ERA as he gives the Rays a fresh arm out of the bullpen.
Marlins reinstate Ryne Stanek from IL; recall Lewis Brinson and Isan Díaz from Triple-A; option Kyle Keller to Triple-A; place Cesar Puello and Neil Walker on 10-day IL
Brinson’s prospect luster has worn off considerably, and he probably won’t be that fantasy relevant moving forward despite hitting .270/.361/.510 with a 16 home runs and 16 stolen bases. However, if he gets hot, he could be worth an add in category leagues for the power and speed potential, so keep him on watch for now. Diaz brings an intriguing power profile, hitting .305 with 26 home runs, 70 RBIs, and even chipping in five stolen bases for good measure. He homered in his major league debut as well. However, his platoon splits at Triple-A (.460 SLG vs LHP and .637 vs RHP) suggest he could struggle despite the power. Consider Diaz a strong add for now if you need middle infield help.
Braves recall Mike Foltynewicz from Triple-A; place Kevin Gausman on waivers
After the Braves demoted Foltynewicz, he proceeded to go 4-0 with a 2.67 ERA ( 2.60 FIP), 8.29 K/9, 2.14 BB/9, and a 1.19 WHIP. A .248 BABIP against suggests he was a bit lucky, but the important stat to know is that he didn’t allow any home runs in his time in Triple-A. The Braves are hoping he can recapture the form that made him an All-Star. Previously a drop candidate, Folty is worth a look if you are desperate for pitching. Gausman was Atlanta’s big deadline acquisition last season, but he allowed a combined 11 runs in his last two starts, and the Braves can’t afford to be patient with a pitcher sporting a 6.19 ERA and 1.49 WHIP.
Reds claim Kevin Gausman off waivers from Braves
Well, that was quick. The Reds have some incentive here, given that Gausman has shown flashes of dominance before and owned a 9.56 K/9 with the Braves this season. They can also be more patient than Atlanta can. The Reds can control Gausman through 2020, so this is a free flier to see if he can be a usable arm for them as they give themselves options heading into the winter.
Mets place Robinson Canó (left hamstring strain) on 10-day IL and recall Luis Guillorme from Triple-A
Reports indicate Cano’s hamstring is torn, so his injury-plagued season almost certainly over. He can safely be dropped in all leagues at this point.
Yankees place Aaron Hicks (right flexor strain) on 10-day IL and return J.A. Happ from the paternity list
There was an initial concern that Hicks would need Tommy John surgery, so the strain is positive news, though Hicks’ return has no timetable right now. He’s worth a stash until more clarity comes, but he is not a necessary hold in most leagues. Happ picked up his ninth win on Sunday, but the 5.24 ERA and 1.34 WHIP have made him barely worth a roster spot in most leagues. With 91 strikeouts over 115 innings this season, he’s probably best left on the waiver wire as his only value would be in securing a win, and the Yankees will have to score five or six runs to achieve that for him most times out.
Twins place Sam Dyson (right biceps tendinitis) on 10-day IL and recall Devin Smeltzer from Triple-A
The Twins opted to forego acquiring a shutdown closer at the deadline, instead trading for Sam Dyson to pair with Taylor Rogers. Dyson had been battered for runs in both appearances for Minnesota before landing on the IL, so time will tell if this course of action will come back to haunt the team’s playoff aspirations.
Cardinals activate Matt Carpenter from IL and recall Ryan Helsley from Triple-A
Carpenter has been abysmal for St. Louis this season, slashing .215/.321/.372 while burning owners who held onto him hoping for another extended hot streak like he provided last season. It’s becoming a lost season for the veteran, and there are probably better fantasy options out there.
Yankees place Edwin Encarnación (right wrist fracture) on 10-day IL and recall 1B Mike Ford from Triple-A; reinstate Brett Gardner from 10-day IL and option Tyler Wade to Triple-A
Encarnacion hopes to return in about a month’s time, but wrist injuries are notorious for sapping power. He’s worth a hold in most leagues, as he has clubbed 30 home runs this year despite a .240 average. Gardner’s return was much needed after Aaron Hicks landed on the IL. Gardner has responded by going 7-for-15 with six runs scored, a home run, a stolen base, and three RBIs. He’s worth an add if you’re looking to ride a hot streak.
Rockies recall Yonathan Daza from Triple-A and place David Dahl (high right ankle sprain) on 10-day IL
Daza won’t have much fantasy relevance, and Dahl should miss several weeks at least with the ankle sprain. As productive as Dahl has been, it’s hard to imagine his .386 BABIP was going to be sustainable much longer. The injury may have spared fantasy owners what likely would have been a brutal period of regression. The hope is that Dahl’s recovery is speedy and the young outfielder can return to doing what he loves, but fantasy owners should not feel the need to wait on him if you’re facing a roster crunch. For those that can wait, Dahl has been productive hitting .302 with 15 home runs and scoring 67 runs while knocking in 61 RBIs.
Twins place Byron Buxton (left shoulder subluxation), Michael Pineda (right triceps strain) on 10-day IL; reinstate C.J. Cron from IL; recall Jake Cave, Zack Littell from Triple-A; option Lewis Thorpe to Triple-A
This represents a flurry of moves for Minnesota, but Pineda and Buxton are the notable ones here. Buxton is scheduled to miss multiple weeks before he can even resume baseball activities, so he may be close to drop-worthy at this point in the season with fantasy playoffs approaching. If so, he will finish with a .262/.314/.513 slash line, 10 home runs, and 14 stolen bases this season, which amounts to marked improvement for the young outfielder. Pineda had quietly been putting together a solid stretch where he allowed three runs or fewer in 14 of 15 starts while going at least six innings in six of his last nine starts. Depending on the specifics, it should be anywhere from two-to-four weeks for Pineda, though he remains optimistic he will be able to return after the 10 days are up. Bet on him missing more than the minimum.
Cardinals activate Marcell Ozuna from the IL and place Tyler O’Neill (left wrist strain) on 10-day IL, retro to 8/1
Ozuna returns to a .255/.330/.512 slash line with 20 home runs and 62 RBIs. The nine stolen bases are a nice added bonus after stealing only three last year. Expect solid, if unspectacular production from Ozuna moving forward. O’Neill has not been able to seamlessly transfer his minor league power over to the big league level, and he can safely be dropped in any leagues where he was owned other than dynasty formats.
Cubs activate Cole Hamels from IL and designate Brad Brach for assignment
Hamels’ strained oblique cost him more than a month of time after beginning the year with a sterling 2.98 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and six wins for the Cubs. He returned to toss five runs of shutout ball against Milwaukee on Saturday with six strikeouts. Consider him a solid starting option moving forward, health permitting.
Dodgers select Dustin May and place Hyun-Jin Ryu (neck soreness) on 10-day IL
Ryu figures to return this Sunday in the hopes of delivering a win and further bolstering his 1.53, league-leading ERA. May should remain up in the rotation for the foreseeable future. He held a 9.76 K/9 across 15 starts at Double-A before a promotion to Triple-A. The K/BB ratio saw an increase in walks and decrease in strikeouts once he was promoted to Triple-A, but May cruised through five starts with a 2.30 ERA until injuries promoted his big league call up. He went 5.2 innings against San Diego in his debut, allowing three earned runs and nine hits while striking out only three. The numbers aren’t impressive yet, but MLB Pipeline’s 35th overall prospect features upper 90s heat and major vertical sink on his breaking pitches. He’s worth an add in all leagues given his pedigree and stuff.
Braves add Shane Greene, Chris Martin, Mark Melancon; option A.J. Minter, Chad Sobotka, Jeremy Walker to Triple-A
Atlanta made a flurry of moves to fortify their bullpen for a playoff run, and Greene should take over as the closer while Martin and Melancon figure to pitch in high leverage situations immediately. It’s worth noting that despite Greene’s success (2.20 ERA, 10.10 K/9), regression was coming with a 3.88 xFIP and 81.3% left on-base percentage. In his first two outings, Greene allowed seven hits and four runs, while striking out only one batter en route to a blown save. He rebounded with a scoreless inning on Tuesday, but expect more bumps in the road moving forward despite more ample save chances Atlanta should give him. Martin and Melancon wait in the wings should Greene falter, and both make for nice pickups in leagues that value holds.
Rays option Nate Lowe and José De León to Triple-A; add Jesús Aguilar and Nick Anderson
Tampa traded for Aguilar to give them the right-handed bat they needed, and they will hope he can recapture the form that led him to mash 35 home runs and drive in 108 RBIs last season. Aguilar hasn’t been the same hitter this year with Milwaukee (.694 OPS with just eight home runs), but he has gone 6-15 with a home run, four runs scored, and two driven in for Tampa since he was acquired. If Aguilar was dropped in your league, he’s worth adding if you need power just to see what Tampa Bay’s coaches can do with him. Nick Anderson had been one of Miami’s better relievers, sporting a 14.46 K/9 and 2.87 xFIP in 46.2 innings. There’s a chance the Rays will give him save opportunities down the stretch, so he’s worth a speculative add if you need relief pitching.
Cubs add Nicholas Castellanos and option Robel Garcia to Triple-A
The long wait is over as Detroit finally traded Castellanos. Since being acquired, he has gone 10-for-25 with one home run, five runs scored, and three RBIs while hitting in the two-hole. The overall numbers (.810 OPS, 12 home runs) aren’t all that impressive, but the 27-year-old should see an increase in counting stats and remain a fixture in Chicago’s lineup with Willson Contreras missing at least a month.
Indians add Yasiel Puig and Franmil Reyes; option Greg Allen and Jake Bauers to Triple-A
Cleveland revamped their outfield, trading for power and speed in Reyes and Puig. Puig is slashing .256/.307/.473 with 22 home runs and 16 stolen bases, and he seems poised to finish the year with a 20/20 season. Reyes already has 27 home runs, and he should hit in the middle of the lineup for Cleveland as they chase another pennant. Cleveland will likely slot Reyes into a DH role eventually given his defensive struggles. If he can become a more consistent hitter, there is massive upside here. Allen and Bauers can safely be dropped in all leagues.
White Sox place Yoán Moncada (strained right hamstring) on 10-day IL and recall Ryan Cordell from Triple-A
Moncada has a Grade 1 strain and will miss multiple weeks of the fantasy stretch run. He’s having a career year, batting .301/.358/.535 with 20 home runs and seven steals. Stash him on IL if you can.
Reds add Trevor Bauer; select contract of Aristides Aquino from Triple-A
Bauer was Cincinnatti’s return for Yasiel Puig and top prospect Taylor Trammell, and pitching at Great American Ballpark won’t do his stats any favors like pitching in Cleveland did. Bauer continues to miss bats (10.54 K/9), but the 3.85 ERA highlights the inconsistency and struggle he’s dealt with on the mound when compared to last season (2.21 ERA). The Reds still boast a formidable enough offense, so Bauer retains much of his value. How long he will remain a Red is unclear, as the right-hander hits free agency after 2020. The Reds wouldn’t have made this deal if they weren’t set on competing for this year and next, so expect Bauer to continue to receive solid run support.
Astros acquire Zack Greinke and cash from the Diamondbacks for Seth Beer, J.B. Bukasuskas, Corbin Martin, Joshua Rojas
Houston has its sights set on another World Series, so adding another ace such as Greinke to pair with Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander makes sense. Greinke has pitched to a 3.08 ERA (3.99 SIERA) with a sterling 0.97 WHIP. He won’t offer much in the way of strikeouts (8.11 K/9), but Houston’s lineup should lead to more wins. Dynasty leagues might want to take note of Joshua Rojas and Seth Beer. Rojas is the second base prospect sent over to Arizona in return for Greinke. He was hitting .310 with a .988 OPS, 12 home runs and 19 stolen bases for the Astros Triple-A affiliate. He’s an intriguing power and speed combo and could be worth an add. Seth Beer is a 1B/DH hitter with loads of power. He’s currently hitting .299/.407/.543 at Double-A with 16 home runs, and he’s worth an add in dynasty leagues since he has hit well at every level so far.
Astros acquire Aaron Sanchez, Joe Biagini, and Cal Stevenson from the Blue Jays for Derek Fisher
Fisher was languishing in Triple-A as Houston attempted to sort out its crowded outfield. Across six minor league seasons, Fisher has 90 home runs and 111 stolen bases and a slash line of .279/.374/.486. He couldn’t put it together at the big league level whenever he earned a call up (.638 OPS), but Toronto will at least give him playing time and an everyday role in their outfield. Aaron Sanchez hasn’t bee the same pitcher since 2016 when he won 15 games behind a 3.00 ERA for the Blue Jays. Blisters, injuries, and poor performance has dogged him ever since (6.07 ERA with Toronto this year), but the Astros represent an interesting landing spot for the 27-year-old. The Astros are notorious for emphasizing breaking balls, so Sanchez figures to throw his curveball more with his new team. He threw six innings of no-hit ball in his debut for them with six strikeouts and only two walks, changing his pitch mix to feature a heavy dose of four-seamers and curveballs while fading his sinker. The results were outstanding, so it will be interesting to see where he goes from here. If he’s available in your league, add him for the potential upside.
Brewers acquire Drew Pomeranz and Ray Black from the Giants for Mauricio Dubon
This is more for those who play in dynasty leagues, as Dubon was one of Milwaukee’s top prospects. With Joe Panik recently DFA’d, Dubon figures to be the second baseman or shortstop of the future with the club. He brings a similar contact-oriented profile as Panik with more power and speed. He was slashing .297/.333/.475 with 16 home runs and nine stolen bases at Triple-A for the Brewers before the trade. He projects more as a low-end starter or utility bat moving forward, but that’s still better than the sub-.640 OPS Panik has delivered the last two years.
Reds trade Scooter Gennett and cash to the Giants for PTBN
Gennett lost much of this year to injury, making it all but a lost season. However, he did still hit over .290 with 20-plus home runs the last two seasons. The Giants tried to thread the needle and balance both a rebuild and last attempt at a playoff run in manager Bruce Bochy’s final season. Gennett gives them a tremendous upgrade over Panik at the keystone, which had arguably been their weakest link this season. Expect Gennett to continue to produce a solid batting average, but the left-handed power will probably play down at spacious Oracle Park.
Athletics place Ramon Laureano and catcher Josh Phegley on 10-day IL; recall Nick Martini and catcher Beau Taylor
Laureano has provided a dynamic presence in the outfield, catching everything in sight while sporting a .849 OPS, 21 home runs, and 12 stolen bases. Expect him to miss more than the minimum 10 days, while Mark Canha fills in at center until Laureano returns. He’s an obvious hold in leagues where he is owned.