Two of my leagues now have Thursday night FAAB deadlines instead of Sunday night deadlines – one AL (Amici – the league that started RotoWire) and one NL (Midnight Madness – another home league that also has RotoWire President Peter Schoenke in it, as well as Jeff Buchbinder, who introduced me both to Pete and to my wife – separately). We moved to Thursday nights to lessen the flow of Sunday night bids, plus there’s the added benefit of everyone playing nearly every Friday, in most cases at the start of a series. Why does that matter? If a player is day-to-day, more often than not there’s clarification of his injury status before games begin at the start of our scoring period, and minor league promotions also usually happen before games begin on Friday. All of that makes it a little easier to have a fully active roster at the start of the scoring period. Whereas in traditional leagues, many teams are off on Monday and will wait until Tuesday to make their transactions, making it harder for us to optimize our lineups – witness Anthony Rendon going on the IL this week on Tuesday.
Due to how long this went just with AL players, I’m going to restrict this week to AL players (with one exception for Nick Senzel) and then tackle NL players next week.
With all that in mind, here are a few players I’m looking at for my respective leagues. This blog won’t be as robust as our weekly AL FAAB and NL FAAB articles, but it’ll give you some ideas on the player pool hopefully.
Jalen Beeks – I’m listing Beeks as a starter, even though he’s a Rays long-reliever in the Yonny Chirinos, Ryan Yarbrough mode. Beeks had a rough outing against the Orioles a few weeks ago, but otherwise he’s pitching pretty well, turning in a 2.45 ERA, 1.21 WHIP with 26 strikeouts in 25.2 innings. The only problem for him is trying to time when he’s going to pitch. He threw Wednesday against the Royals, but prior to that hadn’t pitched since April 23. If the Rays go through a stretch with off-days, he could miss out a week. But I like his upside.
Griffin Canning – The Angels are still on the periphery of the AL Wild Card race, but they’re also beginning to call up their top prospects like Canning and Luis Rengifo, now we’ll see how committed they are to keeping them up. Canning wasn’t very efficient in his first big league start, needing 82 pitches to get through 4.1 innings, but he also generated 18 swinging strikes, striking out six in the process. He’ll get at least one more start, and caught a break by facing the Tigers next week rather than Houston, in Mexico, over the weekend. Be wary though – there’s rain in the forecast in Monterrey for the Angels’ two games against the Astros, and that could throw the rotation into chaos if there’s a cancellation.
Dylan Cease – With Carlos Rodon down, possibly for a long time, the White Sox have another vacancy in the rotation, and Cease is their best healthy pitching prospect. In the short-term, Dylan Covey is going to fill in the rotation, and it’s an open question whether the White Sox want to start Cease’s service time clock. Hopefully they’ll turn to Cease and desist using Covey.
Danny Duffy – Duffy is back from the injured list, and his second start on Thursday was better than his first, despite losing a mile per hour on his average fastball. Against the Rays he was able to strike out six and generate 18 swings and misses. Can he do the same against Houston next week? I wouldn’t bet on it.
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John Means – Did you know that the Orioles have already allowed 74 homers? It’s true! Means drew some FA attention this week with his two starts and good early numbers. Means is a great source of puns, which is good for a talking head like me, but I’m not sure his success early this season is sustainable. His minor league numbers weren’t great, he doesn’t have much of a draft pedigree (11th round pick in 2014), and only throws in the low-90’s.
Martin Perez – After a great start this week against the Astros, maybe it’s time to revisit Perez. He threw eight shutout innings to improve to 4-0, lowering his ERA to 3.41. The strongest point in his favor is his improved velocity, which jumped from 92.7 to 94.7 mph this season. The strongest argument against him is his 1.40 WHIP, and his walk rate hasn’t really improved. That the Twins appear to be a pretty good team works well in his favor.
Jefry Rodriguez / Cody Anderson – The Indians sent Rodriguez down following his most recent start against the Marlins last week, but that was because they had multiple off-days and he was the replacement for Mike Clevinger. With Cory Kluber also down now, the Indians need to find two replacements, and I think Rodriguez is the most likely to get one spot, and Anderson would get the fifth starter’s treatment. Reading the tea leaves from the waiver wire, I don’t think that they take the plunge on Dallas Keuchel, having previously stated that Gio Gonzalez and his $2 million contract was out of their price range. Other potential options include Asher Wojciechowski, who is pitching the best of their options but isn’t on the 40-man roster, and Chih-Wei Hu, who is really struggling. Adam Plutko is hurt, and Danny Salazar isn’t close.
Diego Castillo – Castillo picked up another save Thursday against the Royals, and looked great doing it, mowing down two batters while pitching a 1-2-3 ninth inning. He’s going to be part of the mix for the Rays going forward, but I don’t think that they’ll ever settle on just one closer. Emilio Pagan will still get his chances too, as will Jose Alvarado, though some of that depends on whether the opponent has a left-handed hitter to begin the inning. You’re probably looking at 15-20 saves over the course of the season for Castillo, of course with great ratios. That plays really well in an AL-only league, and is still useful in a 15-team mixer. It gets harder to start him in smaller mixed leagues.
Marcus Walden – Who leads the Red Sox in wins? If you weren’t reading this very blog (both of you), under this section, you’d probably guess David Price or another starter, but you’d be egregiously wrong. Of course, it’s all been in long relief for Walden, and he has been sent down once so his job security isn’t great, but his supporting numbers have been strong (19 Ks, 5 walks in 16.1 innings) and he was credible in a brief big league trial last year. I know we don’t chase wins, but Walden could pitch himself into a more valuable role if this keeps up.
Jason Castro – Willians Astudillo is on the IL with a hamstring injury, so Castro will get a larger share of the time behind the plate while he’s out. Castro won’t often run into one with power, but he sports a good batting eye and is in a good lineup, in a good park when the weather heats up. You could do worse than him as a second catcher.
James McCann – In AL-only leagues McCann is long gone, but in 12-team mixed leagues you might still see him available. McCann hit his third homer of the season Thursday and is hitting far better than the slumping Welington Castillo. It’s a pure time share right now, but it could evolve into McCann being the primary catcher.
Kevan Smith – Smith also fits into the “can’t hurt you” category of second catchers, though his playing time has dipped a little this week, after he got some time at DH last week.
Nate Lowe – Nick Senzel is the top prospect getting the call this week, but Lowe isn’t very far behind. The #17 prospect in James Anderson’s rankings, Lowe was on fire at Triple-A Durham before his promotion this week, slashing .300/.438/.543 in 89 plate appearances. This comes on the heels of his breakout 2018 minor league season. Joey Wendle is out for a good chunk of time, and it’s possible that Lowe could push his way into playing every day even after Wendle returns. I have a big bid pending on him in Amici.
Cavan Biggio – Lourdes Gurriel has already been sent down, and while Eric Sogard is threatening to take over the free world for a two-week period, neither he nor Allen Hanson project to be long-term solutions at second base for the Jays. Brandon Drury might have some staying power at second base, but he’s not really a good defender there. Meanwhile, Biggio is raking for Triple-A Buffalo, hitting .361/.491/.625. As with Jorge Mateo below, I’m looking to stash him where I can – and thanks to James Anderson for the suggestion!
Jorge Mateo – Jurickson Profar has the yips throwing the ball, but at least he also can’t hit so far! One hot week could turn things around, but it’s been really frustrating for him so far, and he sat out the last two games to get a “reboot.” If the A’s hope to go on a run to get back into the AL West race, they may have a short leash for Profar, and Mateo is raking at Triple-A while waiting in the wings. He’s hitting .339/.383/.527 in 120 plate appearances, plus he’s already stolen seven bases. The giant asterisk is that he is doing this in the PCL, which is even crazier than usual this season now that they’re using the same “livelier” balls that MLB is using. If you can stash players, he’s worth your attention.
Nick Senzel – I’m listing Senzel here because he probably qualifies at second base in your league, having played more games there in the minors last season. Check with your league rules, however – often the league provider can list a player at a position where he no longer qualifies. Senzel should be up to stay with the Reds, and he should play nearly every day. Scott Schebler fortunately (for us, not for him or the Reds) paved the way by struggling so badly, and he’s not the only one. It might not hurt Yasiel Puig to get a day off here-and-there. Senzel brings some speed and a solid hit tool to the equation, even if he wasn’t fully showing it at Triple-A Louisville.
Nicky Delmonico – Thursday night’s hero, Delmonico hit a walk-off homer for the White Sox after nearly being retired on the previous pitch on a foul pop-up that landed just out of the reach of Mitch Moreland, in the White Sox dugout. Delmonico struggled in his brief time with the Sox before Thursday, however, and his time up could be short if Eloy Jimenez stays on the IL for just a short time.