Over the last week, two catching opportunities have changed due to injuries. Gary Sanchez landed on the DL due to a biceps issue in his right forearm. He’s expected to miss at least a month of the season. Austin Romine will be given the bulk of playing time even with a questionable resume in the majors (.223 over 346 at bats with five HRs and 38 RBI). His bats looked to offer more upside early in his minor-league career (33 HRs, 190 RBI, and 16 SBs over 1304 at bats between A and AA by the age of 21). Romine has spent part of the last five seasons at AAA (.251 with 17 HRs and 96 RBI over 746 at bats). He already had a home run this week so three more home runs with 12 combined RBI would be a nice cover for Sanchez if he played four full weeks.
Geovany Soto played well over the first week of the season (.267 with three HRs and five RBI), but he landed on the DL with a balky right elbow. The White Sox will give Omar Narvaez most at bats until Soto returns. His bat lacks pop based on his playing time in the minors (.277 with seven HRs, 170 RBI, and 16 SBs over 1543 at bats). Omar is more of a placeholder at C2 in deep leagues.
In the 12-team league that I am using for a reference for this write-up, Travis d’Arnaud was cut last week. He responded with seven hits over 13 at bats in his last three games with two HRs and seven RBI to put his name back on the radar for Fantasy owners.
Buster Posey took a pitch off the helmet last week leading to a 10-day trip to the DL. The reports have him making it back to the starting lineup when schedule. If he had a step back in his recovery, Nick Hundley would be his natural replacement (5-for-14 with four runs and two RBI headed into Saturday night’s game).
I know Lucas Duda was a forgotten man in the high-stakes market in March as he could be had in the reserve round of many drafts. Over his last seven games, Luca has nine hits in 27 at bats with four runs, four HRs, and four RBI. His swing has 30+ HR upside if he stays healthy. I’m sure he would be available in leagues with fewer than 12 teams. If Duda has a setback with his health, Wilmer Flores (.167 with two HRs and three RBI) would makes sense to replace him in the starting lineup. The Mets did play Jay Bruce at first base, which would be the create way to get Michael Conforto’s bat in the starting lineup.
David Freese has a four-game hitting streak (7-for-11 with two runs, a HR, and four RBI). He continues to hit in the middle of the Pirates batting order. The free agent player pool remains weak at first base, so Freese looks like the go-to guy in deeper leagues just based on opportunity.
The only other viable option at first base would be Yonder Alonzo who faded a bit over the last week (.231 with a HR and two RBI). Alonso tried to add more loft to his swing this spring training (.389 with four HRs and 12 RBI over 54 at bats). On the year, he’s hitting .296 with a HR and six RBI while sitting down in four of 11 games. His only HR came off a lefty (1-for-6), so he’ll have to hit his way into a full-time opportunity. Alonzo looks more like a short-term injury cover unless his power does make a huge step forward.
The Reds did a nice job picking up Scooter Gennett after he was cut in March. He doesn’t have a starting job and his only path to full time at bats would be if Jose Peraza was pushed to shortstop. Over 21 at bats in 2017, Gennett already has three home runs and eight RBI with one HR coming off a lefty (1-for-3). Scooter isn’t a player ready to be picked up unless you have room on your bench in a 15-team league or larger. I would just track his progress just in case a better opportunity came along.
The Pirates are trying to get Adam Frazier in the starting lineup on many nights even though he doesn’t have a starting position. So far this year, he’s played three games at second, one at third, and two in the outfield. His bat has been quiet (7-for-26 with no HRs and no RBI). Adam hit .299 in his minor-league career over 1354 at bats with minimal power (three HRs) and complementary speed (47 SBs). Overall, his skill set doesn’t look impactful, but he still drew some attention by some Fantasy owners in the high-stakes market this spring. More of a follow than a buy and hold.
Sitting in the free agent pool for the second straight week in 12-team leagues is Danny Espinoza, but he now has two home runs and seven RBI added to his resume (three HRs and 12 RBI on the year). Danny has 20+ HR power, but his downside is still tied to his high K rate (13 in 38 at bats in 2017). Tough dance in a ten league, but worthy of a short-term ride in 12 team leagues at long as he’ll hitting home runs.
In one 15-team league in the high-stakes market, I ended up with Jorge Polanco as my top middle infield option. The Twins have pushed him to third and fourth in the lineup a couple of times this week, which does invite more upside. Jorge has started eight straight games while delivering a HR and four RBI over 34 at bats. He hit .286 in his minor-league career over 2272 at bats with 34 HRs, 293 RBI, and 60 SBs. This paints him as a 10/15 type player with 550 at bats while his talent should offer even more upside with continued growth. He’s the best there is in the pool in a 15-team league and a worthy bench hold in a 12-team format. With Brian Dozier getting hurt on Saturday (not sure how bad), Polanco may end up batting leadoff while Dozier is out.
Andrelton Simmons has been quiet over the last week (.261 with a HR and a RBI), but he’s shown some patience at the plate by taking four walks. On the year, Simmons is hitting .316 with only one extra-base hit and one stolen base. For him to be a viable starter in shallow formats, Andrelton must hit more home runs or make a huge step forward in speed. He swings hard so the power could come quickly with a winning thought process at the plate. I can’t see him being a long-term starter in a 12-team league or smaller at this point of the season while keeping an open upside mind to his upside.
Chase Headley is off to his best start since becoming a Yankee. He has a four-game hitting streak (7-for-14 with four runs, a HR, and a RBI) headed into to Saturday’s game. Overall, he’s hitting .400 with two HRs and three SBs. Chase has always had talent even with his underwhelming major league resume. Based on his start, a 20/10 season looks to be within reach.
Over 39 at bats, Trevor Plouffe has 13 strikeouts with one HR leading to a .194 batting average. He does have a hit in four of his last five games plus a home run, which may be a sign of him finding his rhythm. If/when he gets rolling, Trevor will push his way to the middle of the A’s starting lineup.
Avisail Garcia has been fire over his last eight games (14-for-31 with six runs, a HR, and eight RBI) after sitting on the bench in two of the first three games of the season. Garcia has been a mystery to Fantasy owners early in his career. His swing path delivered to many ground balls (over 55 percent in 2013, 2014, and 2016) leading to a short fly ball rate and weak home runs. This season his approach at the plate looks to be changed at least for now. His GB rate is 40.7 with a career high FB rate (33.3). His HR/FB rate (14.3) has been high enough to deliver 20+ HRs with more loft on his swing. The data suggests there’s something special going on in the Garcia neighborhood so attack him on the waiver wire while keeping in mind his injury risk from the previous season. Avisail looks poised for a breakout season.
The Astros bump Josh Reddick to second in the batting order, which tells me Houston’s coaching staff is seeing upside in his swing. On the year, he’s hitting .281 with no production (two RBI). Over his last ten at bats headed into Saturday, Josh has four hits, four runs, and two RBI. An interesting player in 12 team leagues if he keeps a favorable spot in the batting order.
The Indians activated Lonnie Chisenhall from the DL mid-week. He responded with two hits in six at bats leading to a HR and five RBI. It’s too early to tell if he’ll get enough at bats against lefties to warrant a start in 12-team leagues or smaller. Lonnie will have value as injury cover in 15-team leagues while getting at least two-thirds of the playing time.
It’s getting tough to ignore the start of Andrew Toles (.267 with three HRs and six RBI). The Dodgers placed Franklin Gutierrez on the DL this week with a hamstring issue. This should lead to more chances for at bats for Toles. His minor-league resume has plenty of speed (123 SBs over 1264 at bats), so Andrew could be a speed out for your team if he starts running.
Jason Vargas added another 7.2 shutout innings with eight Ks to his 2017 resume. He’s now allowed one run over 13.2 innings with 14 Ks. I don’t believe he’s as good as he’s pitched, but Jason looks to be on a path to be a viable backend starter in 12-team leagues or larger. I’d ride him while he’s pitching well. In 12-team leagues, Vargas probably makes more sense as a double starting option. His matchup against the Giants looks favorable this week with double starts next week (@CWS and MIN).
After struggling with his command in his first start (six walks over five innings), Chad Kuhl threw the ball well in a tough start on the road against the Red Sox (one run and five hits over six innings with six Ks). Over 83 starts in the minors covering 445 innings, he had a 33-17 record with 300 Ks. Viable in 15 team leagues as a seven or eight starters while offering double start value in 12-team leagues. His lack of upside in Ks could hurt his value over the long haul if pitched every week.
I own James Shields in a couple of leagues as I gambled on a bounce-back season. After two starts, James allowed four hits over 10.2 innings. This must be favorable, but James has issued seven walks. I watched his first start carefully, and his off-speed stuff still had swing and miss ability. Shields has enough of a fastball to regain his previous form if he’s throwing strikes. His AFB (91.3) is slight above 2016 (91.1) with more life in his second start (91.8). His resume is long enough where I would add him in 12-team leagues or larger, but I would reevaluate from start to start.