The hottest free agent catcher in 12-team leagues over his last seven games is Chris Iannetta. He has a six-game hitting streak (7-for-17 with five runs, two HRs, and five RBI), but he’s started only four of the last ten games for the Diamondbacks. His hot bat should lead to more starts. Jason Castro is the free agent catcher who’s getting the most at bats. Headed into Saturday, he only had three hits over 25 at bats with no runs and RBI. Jason did have a pinch-hit home run on Saturday possibly pointing to a possible uptick in value. On the year, Castro has two HRs and seven RBI over 43 at bats which project well over 450 at bats. Sometimes you should ignore the batting average in these situations and take the at bats.
Josh Bell has a five-game hitting streak (6-for-18 with two HRs and three RBI). The loss of Starling Marte should give him a chance at hitting near the top of the batting order. Bell is worth a buy-and-hold in 12-team leagues while being a short-term starter in 15-team leagues. Yulieski Gurriel saw his four-game hitting streak (7-for-12 with three runs and a RBI) end on Saturday night when he went 0-4. His bat has sneaky upside if he can get in the lineup every day plus move up in the batting order. I know he won’t keep up his pace (27 HRs and 90 RBI) based on his projected at bats (396), but Yonder Alonso is clearly on the uptick. Over his last 33 at bats, Yonder has three home runs and eight RBI.
With Jhonny Peralta placed on the DL, Kolten Wong will have a better path to at bats. He’s started the last six games leading to five hits over 19 at bats with three runs, a HR, and four RBI. His skill set does offer upside if he hits well. Kansas City sent down Raul Mondesi, which I expected based on my preseason research. This gives Whit Merrifield a chance to be in the lineup on many nights. He hit .412 over 34 at bats at AAA with three HRs, nine RBI, and a SB. Merrifield has a possible 10/30 skill set with starting at bats.
Trevor Plouffe has yet to have over one hit in a game in 2017, but he does have a hit in nine of his last ten games with eight runs, four HRs, and eight RBI. He should be started in a 12-team league or higher. If somehow Jedd Gyorko slipped through the cracks, he should be picked up in almost all formats. The Cardinals hit him cleanup on Saturday night, and he has six hits in his last 12 at bats with four runs, a homerun, and two RBI. Jedd will still have to battle Jhonny Peralta for playing time when he returns from the DL.
The A’s look content on playing Adam Rosales on most days after losing Marcus Semien for a couple of months. He’s started nine of the last ten games with a five-game hitting streak (6-for-17 with two HRs and five RBI). Oakland will give him plenty of rope plus a top of the order opportunity. The window for Taylor Motter to start at short will end on Tuesday when Jean Segura returns from the DL. Over 13 games as a starter, Motter has 11 hits over 46 at bats with four HRs, eight RBI, and a SB. His production may lead to some at bats in left field. Tim Beckham is 10-for-27 over his last with six runs, two HRs, and five RBI. For him to be production long term, Tim needs to move up in the batting order. I view him more of a short-term injury cover.
With Howie Kendrick on the DL, Aaron Altherr will get full time at bats. Over six games (five starting), Aaron is 8-for-20 with seven runs and three RBI. He’s done a nice job controlling the strikeouts as well (six over 28 at bats), which was a problem in 2016 (69 in 198 at bats). Altherr needs a lot to go right to keep the job over the long haul when Kendrick returns. The Mets placed Lucas Duda on the DL, which will shift Jay Bruce to first base some nights creating at bats for Michael Conforto. He’s started the last three games (4-for-11 with an HR and a RBI). Last year Conforto only hit .104 against lefties over 48 at bats, and he doesn’t have an at bat against them in 2017. He has talent, but he has no value in 12-team leagues or smaller due to lack of playing time. The Starling Marte suspension will create more at bats for Adam Frazier, but he’s a tough start as an outfielder. Over 45 at bats in 2017, Adam is hitting .289 with one HR and four RBI. Austin Meadows make more sense, but he doesn’t look ready for the majors after struggling at AAA in 2016 (.214 with six HRs, 24 RBI, and eight SBs over 126 at bats) and in 2017 (.192 over 52 at bats with a HR, six RBI, and a SB).
I don’t know what to make with Wade Miley after two straight solid starts (four runs and seven hits over 14 innings with 19 Ks). His average fastball (92.3) is back in line with his 2012 to 2014 success (92.1, 92.1, and 92.3). His next three starts come against TB, @NYY, and CWS, so he seems worthy of a short term buy and hold. The Giants will give Ty Blach the first shot at starting with Madison Bumgarner out for a couple of months. Last season at AAA, Ty had a 3.43 ERA with 113 Ks over 162.2 innings. His resume in the majors in 2017 looks to have risk (three runs over 5.2 innings with three walks and two Ks). To me, he’s only a short-term flier this week due to two starts at home (LA and SD). Trevor Cahill looks improved as a starter in 2017. He has 21 Ks over 18.1 innings with batters hitting .182 against him (lefties - .121). His next two starts don’t look attractive (@ARI and COL) so I would temper your expectations.