Happy Monday, Fantasy Baseballers, it's Chris Towers here again, filling in for Dan Schneier yet again on the Fantasy Baseball Today Newsletter. Let's not dilly-dally, we've got a lot of stuff from this weekend to catch up on, so we're jumping right in -- and once you're done reading this, make sure you check out the full episode of Fantasy Baseball Today from Sunday night where Frank Stampfl, Scott White, and I went deep on everything from the weekend. The YouTube link is right here!
Angels earning their wings -- if not wins
In every episode of the Fantasy Baseball Today podcast, each of the analysts picks our "Oh My Goodness Gracious" player of the day to highlight, and it says something about the state of the Angels that I picked one of their starters from this weekend and nearly picked another in a series where they were swept by the Orioles. This remains the most incisive baseball tweet of the last few years.
Still, Reid Detmers and Patrick Sandoval looked legitimately great this weekend, and both gave us some reason to believe it could continue. In Detmers' case, he returned from a brief banishment to the minors with a six shutout innings where he struck out seven, walked one and allowed just two hits. He threw his slider a whopping 40% of the time (more than double his usage before the demotion) and he threw it 3.2 mph harder on average, than he had been. It racked up weak contact, and it potentially gives Detmers an approach that could work. His fastball hasn't been great, but his slider and curveball both looked like put-away pitches last season. If he has the feel for the slider back and can pick his spots with his fastball, there's still top 40 SP upside here. I'd be looking to pick Detmers up where available.
Sandoval might have been even more impressive, striking out 10 in 6.1 innings with one earned run allowed. And he also had a tweaked arsenal in this one, swapping out his four-seam fastball for a sinker, a switch he made in his previous start and one I think he probably needs to stick with moving forward. Because Sandoval's four-seamer is a pretty awful pitch, with the worst whiff rate of any four-seam fastball in the league and a .484 expected wOBA allowed with the pitch. His sinker isn't great, but he at least keeps it low in the zone and doesn't give up many homers with it, allowing his truly excellent secondary pitchers to do most of the heavy lifting. Sandoval has been a disappointment despite a superficially impressive 2.95 ERA, but I still believe he has top-15 upside. Maybe this change will allow him to get there.
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Welcome, Nolan Jones
Jones' prospect star has dimmed in recent years, but he reminded us this weekend what made him an intriguing young player in his first taste of the majors. Called up Friday, Jones was in the lineup for all three games, racking up five hits, including a massive 457-foot homer Saturday. Jones has always had plus raw power -- see, said 457-foot homer -- but he has just 16 homers in 122 career games at Triple-A because he typically hits the ball on the ground too often. He also tends to strike out a bunch, though that's less because of massive holes in his swing than because he's an exceedingly patient hitter -- sometimes to his own detriment. Which is all to say, Jones is a flawed prospect who very well could be exposed at the major-league level, but he also has real skills that make a Max Muncy-esque outcome within the range of possibilities. He's worth adding if you need a third baseman or corner infielder.
Waiver-wire pitchers to target
- Alex Wood (71%) -- Wood shut the Padres out over seven innings in his best start of the season. He struck out eight with 14 swinging strikes on just 83 pitches, and he's now sporting a 3.20 xFIP compared to his 4.43 ERA. Better days are coming for Wood.
- Reid Detmers (26%) -- I still have questions about whether Detmers' fastball will ever be good enough, but he showed enough that I'm interested to see how his next few starts go. The breaking ball usage will be the key thing to watch, I think.
- Jake Odorizzi (27%) -- Odorizzi is probably just an average pitcher, maybe even a tad below that. But he has an excellent supporting cast in Houston and gets the A's this week. He just shut the A's out over seven innings with seven strikeouts, and I'll trust him again against Oakland.
- Zack Greinke (48%) -- Greinke's fastball velocity was up 1.3 mph in his start this weekend against the Guardians, and it's been up since his return from the IL. He's also had three pretty good starts in four since coming off the IL, with a 3.27 ERA and 14 K in 22 innings of work. Greinke is no longer an ace, but I still think he can be useful against the right matchups -- for what it's worth, I don't think that includes Toronto this week, so don't add him if you need immediate help.
- Mackenzie Gore -- Gore made it through just 3.1 innings, allowing eight runs against the Giants Sunday. His fastball velocity remains down and he's just been a mess over his past five starts, with 16 walks to 13 strikeouts in 20.1 innings. I'm assuming there's some kind of mechanical issue going on with Gore, which might just be an ongoing issue for him, as it was as a prospect. My preference would be to not drop a pitcher with his upside, but I can't say I'm terribly optimistic about his near-term prospects.
- Martin Perez -- I've been quite skeptical of Perez's strong performance to open the season, and it seems like my skepticism is starting to be justified. Perez was tagged for six runs in six innings against the Twins on Friday, and he's allowed two home runs in consecutive starts, after allowing just two in his first 15. Perez is still getting a bunch of ground balls, but I think we're already starting to see the league catch up to his new sinker-heavy approach, and I just don't think he has the skills to make up for it. He's not a must-drop, but I think you'll reach the point where you want to drop him at some point soon. I might rather have Wood than him anyway.
- Jameson Taillon -- I would drop Taillon for at least Wood and Detmers, and I think he's droppable for just about any pitcher with any amount of potential. He has a 6.90 ERA over his past seven starts, and I just don't think his contact-friendly approach is going to provide much value moving forward. You won't miss him, I think.
Waiver-wire hitters to target
- Jon Berti (68%) -- I went to the Mets-Marlins game Sunday and, when Berti got on base after a single to lead off the seventh inning, I told my wife to watch Berti, because there was a "90% chance" he was going to try to steal second. He took his MLB-best 27th base on the next pitch. That's what he does. He's a fringe-y start in points leagues, but let's just make sure Berti is rostered in all leagues where steals matter.
- Josh Rojas (49%) -- Rojas is hitting .284/.349/.438 with a 15-homer, 21-steal pace, and while I'm not sure he'll keep that up, eligibility at outfield, second, third, and shortstop make him worth having around.
- Carlos Santana (9%) -- Santana was hitting .150/.287/.242 at the end of May and basically looked finished. Since, he's sporting a .315/.438/.478 line and he's still playing everyday since being traded to the Mariners. He's a viable corner infielder in Roto and could even be worth starting in H2H points leagues, even with those shallower rosters.
- Alec Bohm (45%) -- Bohm hit two homers Friday, but on the whole still isn't hitting for the kind of power it seems like he should be. To wit, he has a .112 isolated slugging percentage compared to a .177 expected ISO. He's hitting the ball in the air more and still hitting the ball reasonably hard while making a decent amount of contact, and I still think there's room for him to figure this out and be a productive hitter.
- Harold Ramírez (25%) -- I've always been interested in Ramírez. He makes a lot of contact, hits a lot of line drives, and hits the ball hard consistently. I'm not sure he'll hit for much power, but he really does profile as a high-end source of batting average, so his .324 mark might not be entirely unsustainable.
Injuries, news and notes
The following players were placed on the IL this weekend:
- Yordan Alvarez (right hand inflammation) -- A timetable isn't available yet, so let's hope it isn't too serious. If Michael Harris, Alex Kirilloff or Jarren Duran are available, go add them. If not, try for Eddie Rosario, Garrett Cooper, or Ramon Laureano.
- Wander Franco (hamate injury in right wrist) -- This injury could require surgery, but we're probably looking at at least a month-long absence either way. It's going to be interesting to see how Franco is valued next season amid a disappointing first full season with injuries as a built-in excuse/explanation.
- James McCann (oblique) -- For what it's worth, reporters indicated that the Mets did not consider calling up hot-shot prospect Francisco Alvarez from Triple-A. The 20-year-old has played just five games there but is probably a unanimous top-10 prospect in baseball, with massive power potential, so keep an eye out in case the Mets change their mind.
- Jeffrey Springs (leg) -- Springs was scheduled to start Monday, so it's not clear when this injury came up. He's worth stashing even if you don't have an IL spot.
- Jurickson Profar (concussion) -- C.J. Abrams started just one of three games this weekend, and while he did go 2 for 3, he probably needs another injury to really have a chance to play everyday.
- Ken Giles (shoulder) -- Not that Giles was much competition (yet), but this only solidifies Paul Sewald's seeming grip on the closer job.
- Michael Wacha (shoulder) -- With Wacha on the IL, this should help Brayan Bello stay in the rotation even with Chris Sale returning Tuesday. What happens when Nathan Eovaldi returns remains to be seen.
And the following players enter Week 15 with some injury concerns:
- Rafael Devers missed the last two games with lower back pain. It doesn't sound too serious, so I'd start him.
- Whit Merrifield left Sunday's game with right toe discomfort. X-rays were negative and they're awaiting MRI results. I would be hesitant to start Merrifield unless I was desperate.
- CJ Cron has missed two straight with a wrist injury. He has a full week at Coors and it doesn't sound like he's expected to go on the IL, so I'm hesitantly recommending Cron.
- Starling Marte was out Sunday with a left groin injury and is going for an MRI. The Mets didn't place him on the IL immediately after the injury, but it sounds like it is still possible. I would avoid if I could, especially in points leagues.
- Josh Naylor returned from his back injury Saturday but then was scratched again on Sunday. I would try to avoid him this week.
- Joey Votto has missed seven straight with back tightness. I would try to avoid using him.
Here's the rest of the news you need to know about:
- Jacob deGrom will make another rehab start either Wednesday or Thursday at Triple-A. He threw 36 pitches in his most recent rehab start, with seven of them reaching triple digits, in case you thought he might be dialing it back. Let's just hope he can stay healthy.
- Fernando Tatis will talk with the doctor who did his surgery this week and he could gain clearance to start taking batting practice without restrictions. I would expect Tatis will push to return shortly after that, but I'm still expecting an August return.
- Chris Sale will return Tuesday and start against the Rays, which means he should have two starts this week. I'm trusting him in all leagues.
- George Kirby was optioned to Triple-A Saturday, but it sounds like this is more about managing his workload with the All-Star break coming. He should be back shortly after.
- Christian Bethancourt was traded to the Rays for Cal Stevenson and Christian Fernandez. He's 15% rostered if you need a second catcher and is hitting .248 with four HRs and four SBs.
- Tyler Stephenson was reinstated from the IL Saturday and promptly picked up five hits including a homer over the past two games. He's a must-start catcher.
- Mitch Garver will undergo season-ending surgery to repair his injured flexor tendon on Monday. That should lead to more playing time for Jonah Heim, who has been one of the best surprises at the position. He's a must-start catcher in two-catcher formats.
- Joe Barlow has been removed from the Rangers closer role. Lefty Brett Martin picked up saves on Friday and Saturday. He's 4% rostered, but I'm only really looking for him if I need saves, and saves only. And even then, he's not a massive priority.
- Andrew Heaney responded well to a bullpen session and is nearing a rehab assignment. He's on the IL with a shoulder injury.