Depth Chart Review: Avisaíl García, Wilson Ramos, Zach McKinstry (2021 Fantasy Baseball)
It seems that most of the relevant real-life MLB transactions have more implications for deeper 15-team leagues. With the standard-sized league (10-12 team) transactions, I scoured several players off to hot starts that should have a higher roster percentage. That doesn’t mean cut any struggling players for any or all of these guys, but rather consider rostering these players if you have any fringey players eating up a roster spot.
Then for the deep-league transactions relevant in 15-team leagues, we’re discussing injury updates and role changes that could impact playing time for the likes of Kendall Graveman, Rafael Dolis, and Zach McKinstry. We’ll also touch on who replaces Starling Marte with the recent call-up of Lewis Brinson.
Depth Chart Review (10-12 Team Leagues)
Jed Lowrie (2B – OAK)
Veteran Jed Lowrie looks like he’s back in 2018 form, where he hit 23 home runs, 78 runs, and 99 RBI with a .267 batting average. So far, through 61 plate appearances, Lowrie totaled two home runs, ten runs, and 12 RBI with a .333 batting average. He’s hitting in the heart of the Athletics lineup and crushing the baseball. Lowrie boasts a 13.6% barrel rate, 50% hard-hit rate, and a 95.5 mph average exit velocity on FB/LD. In deep leagues, Lowrie is likely rostered and should end up that way in standard 10-12 team leagues, especially in OBP formats.
Wilson Ramos (C – DET)
In two-catcher leagues, Wilson Ramos isn’t hanging around in 10-12 team leagues. However, in one catcher leagues, don’t sleep on Ramos since he’s raking. Through 57 plate appearances, Ramos totaled six home runs, seven runs, and eight RBI with a .235 batting average. Although the batting average isn’t great, the home run total stands out since Ramos surpassed his 2020 home run total in about 30% of the plate appearances. Even in 2018 and 2019, Ramos totaled 15 and 14 home runs, respectively, and he projects to smash those totals.
One main difference for Wilson Ramos involves the ground ball and fly ball rate flipped in 2021 compared to his career norms. Ramos typically held ground ball rates above 50% and hovered in the 25% range in fly ball rates. However, in the table above, we notice that has drastically changed. To go along with that, his batted ball data via Baseball Savant also changed, and it translated into positive results so far. In summary, Ramos needs to be rostered in all leagues at this point.
Kyle Lewis (OF – SEA)
If you find Kyle Lewis hanging around on waivers in 10-12 team leagues, scoop him up. Lewis projects to make his 2021 debut on Tuesday after dealing with a knee injury. In 317 career plate appearances, Kyle Lewis holds a .264 batting average with 17 home runs, 47 runs, 41 RBI, and five steals. In 2020, Lewis lowered his strikeout rate and increased his walk rate from 2019. Of course, his home run rate came down, but the positive note involves his plate discipline changes.
We notice Lewis lowered his chase rate and swinging-strike rate with a slight increase in his contact rates. Outside of Mitch Haniger, the Mariners’ outfielders have struggled a bit, meaning Lewis should slot right into the heart of their lineup. Although Lewis may hurt in batting average, he should provide 15-20 home run power with a handful of steals if healthy.
Alex Cobb (SP – LAA)
Similar to the Jed Lowrie comment, we’re seeing a resurgence for veteran Alex Cobb. Through two starts, Cobb holds a 4.63 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 34.7% strikeout rate, and 4.1% walk rate in 11.2 innings pitched. For reference, Cobb hasn’t recorded a strikeout rate above 23% since 2013 with a career 18.9% strikeout rate. What changed so far? Well, probably a small sample alert, but he’s rocking a 19.1% swinging-strike rate and a 45.7% O-Swing% overall. Both the swinging-strike and O-Swing% rank as career highs early on.
— Jack Harris (@Jack_A_Harris) April 4, 2021
On a per-pitch basis, Alex Cobb boasts a higher swinging-strike and chase rate on his splitter (his best pitch), which helps boost his overall rates. In 15-team leagues, fantasy managers likely scooped up Cobb on waivers given his roster percentage of 98% that jumped up from 54% in NFBC leagues. However, don’t forget about Cobb in 10-12 leagues as a streamer. If Cobb continues his success, then fantasy managers could hold onto Cobb past his streaming matchup. One final note with Cobb – the Angels, use a six-man rotation so far, meaning Cobb likely won’t factor into a two-start week until further notice.
Avisail García (OF – MIL)
With Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich hitting the injured list, all of a sudden, the Brewers’ outfield depth is diminishing. Thankfully, Avisaíl García is heating up with a hit in eight out of his past nine games. So far, García looks like he’s crushing the ball back to his 2019 form with a 16.3% barrel rate, 55.8% hard-hit rate, and his expected stats ranking in the 94th percentile and above. In standard 10-12 team leagues, García could serve as a source of power and speed as a 4th or 5th outfielder.
Colin Moran (1B – PIT)
Before the season, I stated that Colin Moran would have a breakout season. I stand by those comments. In Yahoo leagues, Moran holds triple eligibility with 1B/2B/3B, and that makes him uber valuable. In 65 plate appearances, Moran has four home runs, eight runs, and 13 RBI with a .298 batting average. Sneakily, the Pirates hitters have a .316 team wOBA (No. 11), meaning they’re hitting better than most think. For Moran, his batted ball looks similar to 2020, with a 16.2% barrel rate and 43.2% hard-hit rate. Particularly in 12-team leagues, fantasy managers should roster Moran or consider our next guy in Phillip Evans.
Depth Chart Review Deep Leaguers (15+ Teams)
Phillip Evans (3B – PIT)
Don’t sleep on Pirates hitters. That continues to ring true to start the season, especially with Phillip Evans. On the season, Evans has a .275 batting average with three home runs, nine runs, and five RBI. This dude hardly strikes out with solid on-base skills, evidenced by his 8.5% walk rate and 18.6% strikeout rate. Evans plate discipline also backs up the solid OBP skills with a 90.2% Z-Contact%, 26.6% O-Swing%, and 80% Contact%. Not only is Evans making contact, but he’s also making relatively loud contact with a 10% barrel rate and 52.5% hard-hit rate. Meanwhile, Evans’ expected stats also rank highly, which makes sense given his quality of contact.
Even when Ke’Bryan Hayes returns from the injured list, Evans can play in the outfield, and his bat should keep him in the lineup. We’ll briefly note, Evans has struggled a bit in his past handful of games, with one hit in his past 24 plate appearances that lowered his batting average to .275 down from .406. At that point, Evans also displayed a 5.7% walk rate and 8.6% strikeout rate, and the strikeout rate rose with his recent struggles. A healthy bat in 15-team leagues provides value given the recent injuries to key players, and hopefully, Evans turns it around soon.
Logan Webb (SP – SF)
With Johnny Cueto hitting the 10-day injured list, it looks like Logan Webb should step back into the Giants rotation. Shortly before Cueto landed on the injured list, Webb expected to move to the bullpen. Well, plans changed with Cueto’s injury, and Webb enters the streaming pitcher conversation. In 2021, Webb pitched decently in two starts with three earned runs in each though he didn’t surpass 5.1 innings. According to an MLB.com article by Maria Guardado, Webb pitched well in Spring Training after he worked on improving command and offspeed pitches, particularly his changeup.
Logan Webb's a new part of the Codify team but he's already established himself as a fun guy to work with. ????
— Codify, Inc. (@CodifyBaseball) March 23, 2021
Unfortunately, Webb’s changeup hasn’t elicited a ton of whiffs, evidenced by his 9.5% swinging-strike rate and 21.1% whiff rate in 2021. However, Webb’s changeup added three inches of vertical movement compared to 2020. Over the weekend, Webb landed on the COVID-19 injured list after the effects of his second COVID-19 vaccine. However, Webb expects to start on Tuesday. Add Tuesday’s start??? Regardless, Webb should slot back into the Giants lineup with Cueto hitting the injured list, meaning pick him up if he was dropped.
Kendall Graveman (RP – SEA)
This one hurts my soul a bit since I heavily targeted Rafael Montero as a second closer in several leagues. However, Montero struggled so far with three blown saves in five opportunities. Although it’s a small reliever sample, having more blown saves than actual saves isn’t a good sign. That said, Kendall Graveman notched clean saves in back-to-back games against the Orioles. Graveman hasn’t allowed an earned run so far with six strikeouts and two walks in six innings pitched. In 15-team leagues, make sure to nab Graveman off waivers even if the Mariners bullpen could end up as a committee between Montero and Graveman. However, Graveman looks legit so far in 2021.
Rafael Dolis (RP – TOR)
Maybe we shouldn’t recommend or target any Blue Jays relievers after Kirby Yates, Julian Merryweather, and Jordan Romano suffered injuries. Next man up – Rafael Dolis, who isn’t pitching great, but he’s the next best bet. Through seven innings, Dolis has a 3.86 ERA with six walks and eight strikeouts. However, in 2020, Dolis had a 1.50 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 31% strikeout rate, and 14% walk rate in 24 innings pitched. Last season, Dolis also saved five games in six chances. In deeper formats, fantasy managers should roster Dolis, but even his best season in 2020 still came with blemishes. The walks scare us with Dolis, and I hesitate to push the chips all in on Dolis in FAAB leagues.
Josh Harrison (2B/3B – WAS)
What year is this? In 2021, we have Jed Lowrie raking and Josh Harrison hitting well so far. Through 28 plate appearances, Harrison holds a .440 batting average with one home run, three runs, and five RBI. Since returning from the COVID-19 injured list, Harrison started every game, and that’s a positive sign, especially with a hit in six out of seven games played. He doesn’t light up the Baseball Savant data, but Harrison hardly strikes out.
Granted, it’s a super small sample, but Harrison lowered his O-Swing% to 27.3% compared to a career of 37.8%. Meanwhile, Harrison boosted his zone contact rate at 93.8% compared to a career 85.2% Z-Contact%. Good signs so far, and put Harrison on your watch list or pick him up in 15-team leagues as a bench bat.
Update: Josh Harrison wasn’t in Saturday’s lineup with back stiffness. It seemed precautionary since Harrison played in Sunday’s game.
Zach McKinstry (UT – LAD)
According to Juan Toribio of MLB.com, Cody Bellinger underwent a test that revealed he has a hairline fracture in his leg. Though we don’t have an injury timeline, the news doesn’t sound promising. On Monday, Bellinger reportedly participated in light workouts such as jogging and some swings.
#Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Cody Bellinger had a scan and it revealed a hairline fracture in his leg.
— Juan Toribio (@juanctoribio) April 16, 2021
Max Muncy usually slides over to first while Zach McKinstry fills second base or other spots when Gavin Lux holds down that spot. McKinstry has played at second and outfield, so he should gain positional eligibility soon, if not already. A solid batting average plus counting stats holds value in 15-team leagues. However, it’s worth considering McKinstry in 10-12 team leagues as well. Furthermore, Gavin Lux sat out of Saturday’s lineup with a wrist injury, then landed on the injured list on Sunday. Stock up for McKinstry at this point since he keeps producing with three home runs, seven runs, and 13 RBI with a .313 batting average in 52 plate appearances.
Who Replaces Starling Marte?
Per Craig Mish, Lewis Brinson replaced Starling Marte in the lineup on Tuesday since Marte landed on the injured list. However, Mish also noted that the Marlins likely platoon Brinson with Magneuris Sierra while utility player Jon Berti could sprinkle in as well.
Lewis Brinson will start in CF with Marte out says Manager Don Mattingly.
— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) April 20, 2021
Berti is the most fantasy-relevant player, given his speed in previous seasons. Although Berti played sporadically across 2019 and 2020, Berti stole 26 bases in 31 attempts in 436 plate appearances. However, that came with only eight home runs yet a decent triple slash of .269/.362/388. In 2021, Berti has played relatively consistently either in the field or as a pinch hitter, so his playing time may tick up about one game a week but not full-time playing time.
Let’s talk above the ever toolsy Lewis Brinson. At 26 years old, Brinson recorded 16 home runs, 62 runs, 72 RBI, and eight steals in 829 career major league plate appearances. Here’s the awful part, his slash line – .187/.240/.300. Not great.
Although it’s from 2018, his Baseball Savant data from 2018 where he logged his most MLB plate appearances at 406 PA give us a brief snippet into his profile. Even his career Baseball Savant data isn’t so hot with a career 7% barrel rate, 40% hard-hit rate, and .235 wOBA. We know the raw power exists, evidenced by his maximum exit velocity of 112-113 mph from 2018-2020. However, we need to see Brinson translate those tools into production before we buy into him for 15-team redraft leagues.
Depth Chart Review for Minor Leaguers
Ryan Weathers (P – SD)
Padres pitcher Ryan Weathers debuted in the majors during the 2020 postseason with 1.1 innings pitched. At Single-A in 2019, Weathers made 22 starts with a 3.84 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 22.8% strikeout rate, and 4.6% walk rate in 96 innings pitched. In 2021, Weathers pitched six total innings out of relief and 3.2 innings in a short start against the Dodgers. Through 9.2 innings, Weathers has a 0.93 ERA, 0.72 WHIP, four walks, and ten strikeouts. He even snuck in a three-inning save in his first appearance of 2021.
Weathers primarily uses two pitches in his four-seamer and slider while also sprinkles in a changeup and sinker. On Friday, that remained the case as he used those two pitches 95% of the time. However, in that game, Weathers only elicited a 20% whiff rate and 23% called strike plus whiff rate (CSW%) overall, which indicated he wasn’t too sharp against the Dodgers.
With Adrian Morejon heading for Tommy John surgery, Weathers could make spot starts until Dinelson Lamet ramps up to make his 2021 debut. However, on Monday, news broke that the Padres will activate Lamet on Tuesday or Wednesday. In 15-team redraft leagues, speculatively pick up Weathers for some wins and strikeouts even if he moves back to a relief role.
Anthony Kay (P – TOR)
One area of need for the Blue Jays involves their pitching as it continues to diminish due to injury. Ross Stripling landed on the injured list with a forearm injury, and thus the Blue Jays recalled Anthony Kay to make a start in his place. Kay pitched in 2020 as a reliever with 21 innings pitched, a 5.14 ERA, and 1.71 WHIP. His WHIP ended up high due to him allowing 22 hits and 14 walks with only 22 strikeouts. Kay mixes in three primary pitches (four-seamer, changeup, and curve) that all rate about average. Over the weekend, Kay pitched 3.1 innings with three strikeouts, but he allowed six hits, and four earned runs. We need to see more from Kay before recommending him as a deep-league streamer.
Drew Waters (OF – ATL)
On Friday, Ender Inciarte left the game with a hamstring injury, and the Braves placed him on the 10-day injured list on Saturday. Last week, Cristian Pache landed on the injured list with a groin injury, and the Braves called up Guillermo Heredia. Then, on Sunday, Ronald Acuña Jr. left the game with an abdominal issue later diagnosed as an abdominal strain. Acuña is listed as day-to-day and hasn’t landed on the injured list as of Tuesday afternoon, so monitor for more news. Mostly just speculating here on Drew Waters since the Braves could use Ehire Adrianza in the outfield as well with Heredia.
As one of the Braves’ top prospects, Waters totaled seven home runs, and 16 steals with a .309 batting average in 2019. Across Double-A and Triple-A, Waters held a 28.6% strikeout rate and a 6.8% walk rate. We’ll monitor the news throughout the week, but if they call up Waters, it’s unclear whether he would remain in the majors long term if Inciarte and Pache are healthy.
Beyond our fantasy baseball content, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Baseball Tools as you navigate your season. From our Trade Analyzer – which allows you to instantly find out if a trade offer benefits you or your opponent – to our Waiver Wire Assistant – that allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team, and by how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy baseball season.