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Depth Chart Review: Jared Walsh, Yimi García, Zack McKinstry (2021 Fantasy Baseball)

by Corbin Young
Apr 14, 2021

Another day, another week full of baseball and fantasy-relevant transactions in Major League Baseball. It’s a love/hate relationship when players land on the injured list, closer committees, and prospect callups. Like other aspects of life, we need to react, respond, and project what to do moving forward. No longer can we wait and see what happens, especially with so much news and sharp fantasy managers. As always, we’ll look at notable transactions for standard-sized and deep leagues with a few minor league notes. Let’s dive in and swim into the Week 3 depth chart review.

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Depth Chart Review (10-12 Team Leagues)

Diego Castillo (RP – TB)
Rays reliever Peter Fairbanks landed on the 10-day injured list due to a rotator cuff strain on his throwing arm. Not that Fairbanks figured into save chances yet, but it subtracts a reliever from the Rays’ saves mix. Diego Castillo already earned three saves in four chances, which indicates he’s the reliever to target in the Rays bullpen, for now. The two other Rays relievers that blew save chances – Jeffrey Springs and Ryan Sherriff, and I trust Castillo’s skills a bit more. Make sure Castillo isn’t hanging on the waiver wire in standard 10-12 team leagues.

Alex Reyes (RP – STL)
After Alex Reyes projected to pitch in a long relief role, he’s taken the closer role early in the season. So far, Reyes recorded his third save of the season. Reyes boasts that electric mid 90’s fastball with the filthy slider, but his issues involve command, control, and injuries. Roles seem to change quickly for these relievers, so hopefully, you landed Reyes in the Cardinals bullpen. The question remains – how long do we hold onto Jordan Hicks? Keep holding on since we know Alex Reyes’ injury history, and Hicks could slide right in to save chances.

Jared Walsh (1B – LAA)
Admittedly, I considered fading Jared Walsh given his ADP. However, Walsh keeps shoving in my face to start the season, especially after his two home run game with the walk-off game-winner last Sunday night. Through 12 games in 2020, Walsh recorded only two hits but, granted that he pinch-ran or hit in several of those games. From September 4th, Walsh then smacked all nine home runs in his final 20 games. Walsh improved his contact rate and zone contact rate in 2020 and 2021 compared to 2019. Walsh even improved his O-Swing% or chase rate as well, which tells us he’s probably making positive adjustments. 

According to Roster Resource, Jared Walsh projects to platoon with veteran Albert Pujols, yet Walsh appears in line for a strong side platoon as a lefty bat. If you need a first baseman or corner infielder in 10-12 team leagues, make sure to pick up and check on Walsh since he’s crushing the ball with his 16.7% barrel rate and .499 wOBA. Through 35 plate appearances, Walsh totaled three home runs, seven runs, and nine RBI with a .367 batting average. Walsh should keep earning playing time with the Angels.

Yermin Mercedes (UT – CWS)
Last week, Yermín Mercedes fell into the minor leaguers group. However, Mercedes just keeps hitting, which moves him up into 10-12 team relevancy. The swaggy homie boasts a .500 batting average with two home runs, five runs, and seven RBI in 36 plate appearances. His strongest tools involve his above-average hit tool and raw power, which shows up in his 86.1% Z-Contact%, 86.2% Contact%, and 113.3 mph maximum exit velocity. Outside of his maximum exit velocity, Mercedes isn’t crushing the ball. However, he’s still making tons of quality contact with a .567 wOBA and .721 xSLG. 

Unfortunately, outside of ESPN leagues, Yermín Mercedes is only eligible at a utility spot since he hasn’t played any other spot than a designated hitter. That said, Mercedes keeps hitting and producing, which means he’s relevant in 10-12 team leagues to plug into a utility spot. The downside or concern with Mercedes – he’s a prototypical DH and can’t play the field or throw very well. 

Yimi Garcia (RP – MIA) & Dylan Floro (RP – MIA)
After many, including myself, had confidence in Anthony Bass as the Marlins closer, he struggled so far in 2021. Insert that small sample alert, but Bass has an 18.00 ERA, 3.00 WHIP, and two blown saves in 3.0 innings pitched. A recent report via Christina De Nicola of MLB.com noted that Marlins manager Don Mattingly plans to stick with Bass as their closer.

We initially expected Bass to have a few more chances to turn it around, but scoop up Yimi García in 10-12 team leagues if he’s still available, though by now, he’s likely on someone’s roster. In 2019 and 2020, García recorded a 3.03 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 27.7% strikeout rate, and 6.2% walk rate. Overall, pretty solid numbers for García, and he already converted his first save chance on April 10th. 

Update: Yimi García came into Saturday’s game in the ninth with a three-run lead to nail down his first save of the 2021 season. After writing the blurb up above on Friday night, Craig Mish of Sports Grid noted that Yimi García and Dylan Floro could figure into some save chances. It’s not a bad idea to speculative pickup Floro in deeper leagues, who boasts a career of 3.26 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 20.4% strikeout rate, and 7% walk rate.

Renato Nunez (1B – DET)
After starting at the Tigers’ alternate site, Renato Núñez received the call-up after veteran Miguel Cabrera hit the injured list. In 15-team leagues, Núñez is probably on rosters, but he could have relevancy in 10-12 team leagues at a corner infield spot. So far, in nine plate appearances, Núñez has one home run with a .250 batting average.

He showed solid power numbers with 31 home runs in 2019 and 12 home runs in 2020 yet in a much friendlier ballpark for hitters. Núñez went from the 6th best park for home runs to the 9th worst according to EV Analytics Park Factors. We’ll see how that plays in Detroit, but Núñez uses a pull-heavy (44.5%) flyball (46.1%) approach to tap into his above-average raw power.

Depth Chart Review Deep Leaguers (15+ Teams)

Zach McKinstry (UT – LAD)
Since the Dodgers have so much depth, it’s difficult to find an easy one-for-one replacement for Cody Bellinger, who hit the injured list with a calf injury. Max Muncy moves over the first, and Gavin Lux locks into second base for now. However, regardless, Lux deserves more playing time and he’s earning it. In deeper leagues of 15-teams or more, Zack McKinstry is a guy to monitor.

Zach McKinstry played almost every game with a .321 batting average, two home runs, five runs, and ten RBI in 31 plate appearances. Although he typically bats eighth or ninth, McKinstry could earn more playing time in Bellinger’s absence. Although McKinstry currently holds utility eligibility in most leagues, he played a few games at second and outfielder already, meaning look for him to gain those spots on most sites soon. Edwin Rios could also eat into the mix, but his playing time looks sporadic so far in the small sample. It’s a short-term pickup for McKinstry or Rios, but they’re worth speculating on in Bellinger’s absence, particularly McKinstry, who is forcing his way into the Dodgers lineup. 

Mike Mayers (RP – LAA)
Last week, we mentioned Mike Mayers as a speculative pickup or watch list guy in the Depth Chart Review. However, since then, Raisel Iglesias struck out the side and recorded a save against the Blue Jays in the 11th inning. Meanwhile, Mike Mayers pitched a scoreless inning in relief in the 8th inning of that same game. In 15-team leagues, I’d still speculate on Mayers in case Iglesias keeps faltering. Best case scenario – Mayers takes over the closer role or records some saves, while the worst case involves him providing strikeouts, ratios, and the occasional reliever win. 

Corey Knebel (RP – LAD)
Like we do in fantasy football, it’s important to find the backup for a “locked-in” closer. Every year, we wonder when the wheels fall off for Kenley Jansen, and he keeps adjusting and adapting over the years. Jansen recorded two saves in three chances. However, Corey Knebel of all people also notched two saves. When Knebel came in a save situation, it appeared like a rest day for Jansen since he pitched on April 6th and 7th, so Knebel locked down the one-run save against the Nationals on Friday. There is no need to panic on Jansen, but put Knebel on the watch list or add him as a low-priority waiver wire pickup, especially since the knuckle curve is looking filthy. 

Lou Trivino (RP – OAK) & J.B. Wendelken (RP – OAK)
In the depth chart review last week, I discussed Jake Diekman and Sergio Romo. However, recent reports surfaced that Lou Trivino could receive save chances as well. Who doesn’t love a potential closer committee with two to three relievers? It’s just like targeting the Patriots running back group. We could have multiple running backs in the mix that makes it messy. In 5.2 innings pitched, Trivino holds a 1.17 ERA, 0.65 WHIP, nine strikeouts, and three walks. This closer situation for the Athletics looks quite messy. 

In Saturday’s game against the Astros, Sergio Romo came in the seventh, Jake Diekman nailed down the last out of the seventh and finished the eighth, and then J.B. Wendelken finished out the ninth inning. Until the eighth inning, the Athletics held a three-run lead, but then Seth Brown smoked a homer to make it a four-run lead.

On Monday, Trivino planned to enter the game with a 7-5 lead. Then the A’s racked up two more runs to make it 9-5. Thus Trivino didn’t record a save. However, Trivino continues to pitch well with a scoreless ninth and one strikeout. Many fantasy managers already blew some dollars of their free-agent acquisition budget (FAAB), but it seems like the A’s may still have other relievers mix in too. Overall, I wouldn’t invest too heavily in this bullpen unless you’re desperate.

Update: Lou Trivino earned his first save of the season on Tuesday. It’s an early indication Trivino could have the closer role for now.

Depth Chart Review for Minor Leaguers

Brent Honeywell Jr. (P – TB)
Since the Rays placed Chris Archer on the 10-day injured list after leaving Saturday’s game with a forearm injury, they called up pitching prospect Brent Honeywell Jr. He last pitched in 2017 at Triple-A with a 3.64 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 29.1% strikeout rate, and 5.9% walk rate in 123.2 innings pitched. Honeywell battled through injury after injury and is well known for his screwball.

Honeywell opened for the Rays on Sunday in front of Michael Wacha and finished with two clean innings and two strikeouts where he allowed zero hits, walks, and earned runs. He primarily used three pitches (four-seam, changeup, and cutter) and threw his screwball once. However, I imagine that some of his screwballs may have fallen under the changeup category.

Honeywell pitched well in the small sample with a 44% whiff rate and 38% CSW% in 21 pitches. Unfortunately, the Rays optioned Honeywell after he made a spot start for them. In most 15-team redraft leagues, don’t pick him up quite yet, but put him on the watch list though the Rays will likely limit his workload. 

Logan Gilbert (P – SEA)
With James Paxton’s elbow injury requiring Tommy John surgery, do the Mariners stick with a five-man rotation? Or would they consider calling up Logan Gilbert when the time presents itself? In 15-team redraft leagues, some fantasy managers already stashed Gilbert as one of their last-round picks. Gilbert stands at 6-foot-6 with a tall and thin frame, who uses a four-pitch mix. According to Prospects Live, Gilbert boasts above-average command and control with elite extension, which can help his fastball play up. In deeper leagues, stash Gilbert away for a week or two if you can with his massive upside. Remember how Zac Gallen came up in 2019 and felt like a potential league winner? That’s the type of upside Gilbert presents. 

Daulton Jefferies (P – OAK)
Last week, we mentioned A.J. Puk in the minor league section. However, unfortunately, Puk only made one scoreless appearance of 3.1 innings, then landed on the injured list with a biceps injury. Reports via the A’s beat writer Matt Kawahara indicate that Puk will stay on the injured list longer than the minimum ten days. 

That said, keep an eye on Daulton Jefferies. I noted Jefferies as a pitching prospect to stash in redraft leagues in a recent FantasyPros collaboration piece. He pitched well in Spring Training with 24 strikeouts and six walks in 18 innings. Like Brent Honeywell Jr., Jefferies battled injuries throughout his minor league career yet pitched well when healthy. He’s known for his command and control with a decent fastball/changeup combination. When combining his minor league and brief major league career, Jefferies has 122 strikeouts and 14 walks. Put Jefferies on the watch list in 15-team leagues or deeper. 

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Corbin Young is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Corbin, check out his archive and follow him @corbin_young21.