Fantasy Baseball Depth Chart Review: Week 20
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 20, including some deep-dive analytics to evaluate how they affect the fantasy baseball landscape. With the trade deadline behind us, it’s been a fairly light week of notable fantasy-relevant transactions. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some major (and minor) moves that happened this week you need to know about to stay ahead of the competition.
Pirates recall Mitch Keller from Triple-A and place Richard Rodríguez (right shoulder inflammation) on 10-day IL
Keller had a 10.25 ERA with Pittsburgh following three disastrous starts, highlighted by an overreliance on his fastball that contributed to 14 earned runs in a mere 12 innings. In Triple-A, he rolled along with a 3.56 ERA and 123 strikeouts in 103.2 innings pitched. The Pirates provided a healthy lead against the Angels on Tuesday, allowing the young right-hander to settle down and cruise through five mostly uneventful innings. He did give up two runs and a pair of walks, but Keller nonetheless earned his first big league win.
With nothing left to prove in the minors and Jameson Taillon out for the year, Keller will likely remain in the rotation for the remainder of the season. His prospect pedigree and success in the minors make him an intriguing flier as a back-end fantasy starter, especially if he’s finally figured it out.
Diamondbacks select Joshua Rojas from Triple-A and designate Blake Swihart for assignment
Rojas could be one of those under-the-radar fantasy adds who proves to be a difference-maker down the stretch. A low K rate at Triple-A this year (12.3%) coupled with a high walk rate (15.0%) and OBP (.402) show the strong plate discipline isn’t just good fortune. Rojas also brought power (23 home runs) and speed (32 stolen bases) across 105 games in Double and Triple-A. He hits the ball hard (30.8% hard-hit rate) and spreads the ball all over the field with equal distribution (36.3 pull%, 35.2 center%, 28.5 oppo%).
Rojas can play all over in both the infield and outfield. He should serve in a utility role initially for Arizona, but don’t be surprised if he runs with a starting job and ends up helping your fantasy team in more ways than one with multi-positional eligibility down the stretch.
Cardinals select Randy Arozarena from Triple-A; place Jose Martinez (shoulder) on 10-day IL; option Andrew Knizner to Triple-A; activate Yadier Molina from IL
Arozarena showed strong contact skills by hitting .349 across both Double and Triple-A this year. He also displayed a nice blend of speed (16 stolen bases) and power (10 home runs) before his promotion. He’s worth an add in NL-only leagues, and watch him in deeper mixed leagues in case he goes on a hot streak and earns consistent playing time down the stretch. Although Molina remains off the fantasy radar as a viable catcher in standard mixed leagues, he still has some value in two catcher leagues.
Reds claim Freddy Galvis off waivers from the Blue Jays
Galvis has acquitted himself fairly well this season (.267/.299/.444 with 18 home runs), though the OBP leaves a lot to be desired. The Reds traded away Scooter Gennett, so Galvis offers them middle-infield depth. He could have some value in deeper mixed and NL-only leagues if he carves out regular playing time.
Dodgers activate Hyun-Jin Ryu from the 10-day IL
Most of us were just waiting for the injury bug to strike. Ryu hasn’t made more than 24 starts since 2014. That said, he’s having a career year (1.45 ERA, 12 wins) despite the 3.75 SIERA and 87.7% LOB rate portending possible struggles ahead. For now, Ryu is healthy again and should resume starting for one of the best teams in baseball and your fantasy squad.
Yankees reinstate Gary Sánchez from 10-day IL
Sánchez homered in his first game back against Toronto on Saturday, but he’s currently hitting .228 with a subpar .299 OBP. His production has been entirely tied to power at a relatively weak position, as Sánchez has 25 home runs with a .506 slugging percentage hitting in the middle of a loaded lineup that gives him ample run-scoring opportunities. Catcher isn’t the wasteland that it usually is this year, but Sánchez remains the position’s premier power threat.
Phillies place Jay Bruce (left flexor strain) on 10-day IL and recall Adam Haseley from Triple-A
Bruce continues to be a drain in OBP leagues. He also won’t help your average, but his 24 home runs and .540 slugging percentage still held some value for those desperate for power. Unfortunately, Bruce keeps landing on the IL, where he can’t help anyone anywhere. He’s a safe drop in all leagues except the deepest of NL-only formats.
Cubs sign Jonathan Lucroy to major league contract and option Taylor Davis to Triple-A
The Cubs needed insurance behind the injured Willson Contreras, and Lucroy brings a veteran presence behind the plate. After an initial hot start, Lucroy cooled off considerably while still with the Angels. A .686 OPS with seven home runs isn’t all that appealing with a deeper catching pool than in previous seasons. so Lucroy remains off the fantasy radar despite the big name.
Red Sox place David Price (left wrist injury) on the 10-day IL, retroactive to 8/5
Price is playing catch, but there is no clear timetable while he deals with a bothersome cyst in his left wrist. He gave up 20 earned runs in his last four starts, ballooning his ERA to 4.36 and WHIP up to 1.32. Keep Price stashed and hope the time off and treatment on his wrist will get him back on track.
Braves place Austin Riley (right knee sprain) on the 10-day IL, retroactive to 8/5, and recall Jeremy Walker from Triple-A
If you were lucky, you found a way to sell high on Riley when he set the league on fire following his promotion. An astronomical 35.3% K rate sank his value to the point where a demotion had to be near. Pitchers simply had no reason to throw him anything worth hitting when he was swinging at everything in sight. Nonetheless, 17 home runs in 66 games show Riley’s power potential. He’s an obvious hold in dynasty leagues, but he can be cut loose in redraft leagues at this point.
Diamondbacks reinstate Blake Swihart from 60-day IL and designate Greg Holland for assignment
Holland saved 41 games for Colorado in 2017 and didn’t allow a run through April. Arizona nevertheless cut him loose, allowing Washington to sign him to a minor league deal. This serves as a reminder that closers might be fantasy’s most volatile assets. Holland could resurface as a high-leverage option again soon based on pedigree and experience alone, but it’s unlikely he sees any more save chances for the Nationals with a 4.54 ERA, 6.06 BB/9, and 1.26 HR/9.
Orioles place DJ Stewart on 7-day concussion list and reinstate John Means from IL
Since returning on August 7, Baltimore’s All-Star representative has lasted just 3.2 innings in each of his two starts against the Yankees. Means allowed 10 combined runs, leading his ERA to rise from 3.12 to 3.76. His value has never been lower, and his upside is capped by playing on one of baseball’s worst teams while continuing to sport an alarming 5.02 SIERA. His ERA is catching up to the poor metrics with each start.
Rangers activate Shawn Kelley from IL and option Locke St. John to Triple-A
Although there’s an outside chance Kelley returns to closing games for Texas, it’s more than likely Jose Leclerc’s job to lose now. Those desperate for saves can feel free to speculate in case Leclerc blows his chance in the role again, but Kelley isn’t worth a roster spot otherwise.