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NFBC Hitting Guide Week 20: Elehuris Montero, Vaughn Grissom, Jake McCarthy (2022)

by Heath Capps | Featured Writer
Aug 14, 2022
Elehuris Montero

Week 20 of fantasy baseball at the NFBC is here. I can feel the season slipping through my fingers. It is equal parts saddening and liberating. It is the best fantasy game out there, after all. But it can feel like a grind at times, too. Now is the time to dig in and finish strong, gamers.

We still have eight full weeks of grinding to go, followed by a partial week to finish things off. Is anyone else doing surgery on their top teams right now? In my best DC, I’m averaging nearly 10 homers per week, with a low point of five and a high point of 20. And that high point was two weeks ago, without Mike Trout. More weeks like that, please. Anyway, I’m in dire need of some help in more than a few places, so let’s see which players are percolating heading into the 20th week of baseball.

You’ll want to mostly think about 15-team viability with the players who follow, but some of them can help you in a pinch in shallower formats, too.

Catcher

Brian Serven (C – COL)

Elias Diaz is on the 10-day IL with a left wrist sprain, so it’s Serven and the recently recalled Dom Nunez handling catching duties for Colorado at the moment. Serven started two games in a row before Nunez got the call on Saturday, and Serven is the incumbent. He is hitting .244/.308/.412 on the season, with a tolerable 7.7% walk rate and 21.5% strikeout rate. The .168 ISO here is entirely average, but the home environs of Colorado plus the likelihood of the lion’s share of playing time make him worth considering as a second catcher. The quality of contact metrics for Serven are not good, so you’re hoping the ability to walk a little and not strike out a ton pays dividends at Coors Field. The Rockies travel to St. Louis for three games in the first half of the week, but they host the Giants at home this upcoming weekend. As for Nunez, he slashed an anemic .235/.354/.396 at Triple-A. He’ll weave into the lineup against right-handers, but overall, the playing-time split will probably favor Serven. Colorado is projected to face three lefties in the coming week.

Austin Nola (C – SD)

Jorge Alfaro left this Monday’s game with “recurring right knee inflammation”, so it’s Nola’s catching gig in San Diego until further notice. Heading into Sunday, Nola has hits in five straight contests, including his third homer of the season on Wednesday. He also has a pair of steals this year and a .246 batting average, which is supported by a .257 xBA and above-average quality of contact metrics. He doesn’t chase (92nd percentile) or whiff (92nd percentile), and his average EV of 90.2 MPH is in the 76th percentile. The season-long numbers aren’t stellar, but the .284 BABIP is the lowest mark of his career, and I could see his average creeping more towards the .250 range prior to the year’s end. The Padres have a full seven games for the week ahead. They’ll have to endure the Miami pitching staff for the first three, but the schedule lightens considerably with the Nationals in the second half of the week. I mentioned the pair of steals because you may get another one or two from him. Remember, Nola is a converted middle infielder. While the sprint speed won’t surprise you, I think he can pick his spots. I also think his quality of contact tells a different story than just his statistics at face value. Nola’s bat isn’t dead, and hopefully, for the coming week, he can continue proving that fact.

Last week’s plays: Max Stassi, Jose Trevino

Corner Infield

Vinnie Pasquantino (1B – KC)

The 24-year-old first baseman is blistering the baseball. A 49.6% hard-hit rate and very good marks in exit velocity pair nicely with a 14.5% strikeout rate and a 10.2% walk rate. Those marks jive with his minor league numbers, too. Vinnie’s .263 xBA is more indicative of his past production than his current .247 BA. Pasquantino isn’t just a power guy. His hit tool is legitimate. His 6.0% swinging strike rate at the big-league level is even better than his excellent MiLB marks, and would be tied for 12th best in the big leagues if he qualified. He’s currently in unique Alex Bregman and Jose Ramirez territory, given that he is a corner infielder with power who makes a lot of contact. The Royals get a full seven games for Week 20. If you were wondering about whether or not to get him into lineups, I think you can stop wondering.

Elehuris Montero (3B – COL)

Montero is 23 years old, and the Rockies are actually giving him playing time. I don’t know what makes Montero special over all the prospects the Rockies have yanked around, but for now, we have to ride the wave. He profiles as a solid power bat at the big-league level. Imagine 20+ homers and loads of doubles, especially at spacious Coors Field. Plate discipline is of some concern long term, especially if he reverts back to previous minor-league levels. That said, Montero has nothing left to prove at Triple-A, so hopefully the Rockies continue letting him rake for the rest of the season.

Last week’s plays: Yuli Gurriel, Luke Voit, Jeimer Candelario

Middle Infield

Vaughn Grissom (2B – ATL)

Grissom announced his presence to the big leagues with authority on Wednesday, as he socked a home run over the Green Monster and stole a base in his MLB debut at Fenway Park. He homered again in the second game of yesterday’s doubleheader, and he has played all four games since receiving the call to the bigs. With Ozzie Albies shelved until sometime in September and Orlando Arcia dealing with a strained hamstring, Grissom will have every opportunity to pull a Michael Harris II and stick at the big-league level — despite never having played above Double-A. That may not be likely, but it’s a possibility. You’ll have to open up those wallets if you want to acquire his services off the waiver wire, as he’ll be one of the major targets Sunday night. Just don’t bank on the power continuing over the speed. Grissom should give us more in the steals category moving forward. In all, you have to take a shot if you have the FAAB dollars. The aforementioned Harris II is recent proof of the Braves handling their prospects really well. If Grissom sticks, he could help your team gain some valuable ground over the last few weeks of the season.

Paul DeJong (SS – STL)

It appears that a minor-league stint was just the tonic that Paul DeJong needed. The Cardinals lead the N.L. Central by just a half game over the Brewers, and DeJong’s bat has been helping recently. His season-long numbers look abysmal, but over the last two weeks, he is hitting .317 with three home runs. He also has a four-hit game to his credit. It wasn’t too long ago that we were drafting DeJong with 20+ homers, a .245+ BA, and some chip-in speed in mind. He essentially gave us that at the Triple-A level this year, batting .249 with 17 homers and a steal in just 51 games. His sprint speed is still tolerable, in the 56th percentile. And he has three bags on the big-league season, although no steals since the recent call-up. I’m just saying, he could give you a little bit of that, too. But in general, it’s power you’re chasing if you are using him at a MI spot. So long as he keeps hitting, I’d expect the Cardinals to leave him alone at shortstop, where he has played all 36 of his MLB games this year.

Michael Massey (2B – KC)

Massey is 24 years old and it looks like he may play out the rest of the year with Kansas City. He profiles as a 15/10 sort of hitter annually, with maybe enough power to push for 20 homers in a given season. The sprint speed thus far isn’t extraordinary, checking in at the 47th percentile. He will have to pick his spots well in the majors if he wants to keep up the double-digit thefts. That said, his success rate in the minors has always been excellent, and he’s 1-for-1 in the bigs, so I expect he will keep it going. The Royals catch a full seven games for the week ahead, so if you have the chance to add him from free agency, I think you have to do so. He could give you a little bit of everything.

Last week’s plays: Nick Gordon, Adam Frazier

Outfield

Jake McCarthy (OF – ARI)

McCarthy and the D-backs catch a full seven games this week, so you HAVE to get his 99th-percentile sprint speed into your lineup. Heading into Saturday, McCarthy had reached safely in 13 of his last 14 games and had a four-game hit streak. He went 0-for-4 on Saturday, but that doesn’t change the fact that over the last month of games, McCarthy has been Andrew Benintendi but with a much better batting average. If you need wheels, McCarthy is a great addition to your team.

Lars Nootbaar (OF – STL)

Nootbar’s hold on an everyday gig may depend on the status of Juan Yepez, who could be activated as soon as Tuesday of this coming week. That said, there are a lot of platoon candidates in the Cardinals’ lineup, and Yepez’s ability to play both outfield corners helps, as well as his time at first base and DH. As for Nootbar himself, he’s been better against right-handed pitching, against whom he has hit all five of his home runs. That said, he has a healthy enough 9.7% walk rate and just a 16.1% strikeout rate against southpaws, so he’s doing some things well in that split. He slots into the 78th percentile for max EV and has 73rd-percentile sprint speed. He also has a hint of playing-time concerns. He reminds me a bit of how we viewed Nick Gordon a couple of weeks ago. We knew there were tools; we just didn’t know about the playing time. Sometimes, these things have a way of just working themselves out. For now, I think you have to give Nootbar another week and see how things play out. A word of caution, though: If he misses Tuesday’s game against a lefty, be sure to check his status before locking him into your weekend lineups. The Cardinals are projected to see a pair of lefties on the weekend. These things can change in a hurry, so stay tuned and temper expectations if needed.

Oscar Gonzalez (OF – CLE)

All he does is hit. He also has a sparkling 90th-percentile sprint speed mark, though he doesn’t use said speed to steal much. It’s the 113.1 max EV (top 9% of MLB) that really tells part of the tale, though. That, and the robust .272 xBA. His .369 BABIP may not continue, but there’s plus batting average with power in this bat. Gonzalez swings a TON, but his contact rates are either right at average or a hair above average. Dent him a tad in OBP leagues given the 3.0% walk rate, but most of us aren’t playing in those if we are looking through an NFBC lens. The best part for Week 20 is that the Guardians get four games in the first half of the week, and against the Tigers! It should be a good week for Gonzalez and for Nolan Jones. The Guardians can play both of these guys between right field and the DH spot, so hopefully that’s how the everyday lineup shakes out moving forward.

Last week’s plays: Seth Brown, Willi Castro, Victor Robles

That’s it for me this week! I hope this helps at least one person. As always, if there are any questions or just a desire to talk fantasy baseball, you can find me on Twitter @HeathCapps. I’d love to make the connection.


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