2023 MLB Week 18 FAAB Insights

Which players should you spend your FAAB budget on?

How is it already August?

It feels like just yesterday that fantasy managers were gearing up for draft season, arguing over sleepers, busts, and league-winners, and taking victory laps after spring training injuries. They say time flies when you’re having fun, so surely for managers sitting atop the standings in their leagues the time has flown. And now we come to another landmark of the season, the trade deadline. As teams shuffle their assets, making way for young talent or accumulating reinforcements for a playoff run, roles change, opportunities change, and fantasy values change.

The fluidity of the market makes fantasy transactions that much more interesting. The trade deadline falls on Tuesday, so we have to do our best to anticipate some last-minute moves and try to take advantage of the most likely candidates to receive increased opportunity or higher-leverage roles. Let’s take a look at a few names that could benefit fantasy squads for the stretch run of the season.

The Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics each have only five games this week, while 12 total teams have a full seven-game slate scheduled.



Investment Rating System



Matt Wallner ($$$): The power is legit for Wallner, who hit 27 home runs across two minor league levels in 22. Wallner has blasted six major league home runs in two stints with the Twins, including three of them this past week. Batting well ahead of Joey Gallo in each of his last four games, the Twins have shown that they prefer Wallner to their other left-handed power bat option. He also “only” strikes out at a 28.4% rate, compared to Gallo at 42.3%.

Oscar Gonzalez ($$): The Guardians recalled Gonzalez from the minors this week, and gave him the start in right field on Friday night. Gonzalez has shown flashes of potential with 11 home runs and a .296 batting average in 2022, but struggled earlier this year. If Gonzalez could get back to form, he could be a potential difference-maker at the tail end of the season for both the Guardians and fantasy managers that scoop him.

Dylan Carlson ($$): One of the most likely position players to be traded at the deadline, Carlson could benefit greatly from a change in scenery. Every day playing time would make Carlson an appealing fifth outfielder option off the wire, especially if he moves to a hitter-friendly park like Philadelphia.

Billy McKinney ($$): McKinney appears to be the guy for the Yankees. With the return of Aaron Judge, managers may have thought that McKinney would lose playing time. That has yet to be seen as the left-handed batting outfielder has started alongside Harrison Bader and Giancarlo Stanton in the outfield and Judge at designated hitter. Jake Bauers and Franchy Cordero are also options for the Pinstripes, but so far they’ve elected to trot out McKinney.

Kiké Hernández ($$): It’s good to see Hernandez back in Dodger Blue after his struggles in Boston. The Dodgers face three-straight Oakland left-handed starters to begin the week… Let Kiké feast!

Dominic Canzone ($): Canzone has ascended to the major leagues, joining the Diamondbacks as they push toward the playoffs. The power-hitting lefty has started three of the Diamondbacks’ last four games against right-handed pitching, and boasts a 35.3% hard contact rate. He could be a cheap power boost for fantasy rosters down the stretch.

Cade Marlowe ($): In 15 major league plate appearances, Marlowe has posted a .467 on-base percentage and swiped two bags. He could be a cheap speed option as Seattle leans into its running game in the second half.




Marco Luciano ($$$): The most recent of the massive prospect call-ups, Luciano made his debut on Wednesday night. Though back issues have plagued him through the first half of the season, Luciano has done enough to garner a call-up for the Giants to see what they have in their top prospect. Luciano should be able to contribute to counting stats and batting average, but unlike most of this year’s big-name prospects, stolen bases are not in his profile.

Jeimer Candelario ($$$): With the Nationals likely to sell at the deadline, there are definitely teams out there looking for a switch-hitting corner infield bat. If Candelario ends up with a contender where he’ll get better lineup protection, more RBI opportunities, and maybe even a better hitter’s ballpark, he would be a top waiver candidate. The Yankees could be a player to acquire Candelario, giving him a nice park upgrade. But he could also head to Chavez Ravine or South Beach. Regardless of where he lands, his production this season warrants an add.

Ronny Mauricio ($$): Mauricio is one of the last big-name prospects remaining in the minors that could potentially be called up for the final stretch of the season. If the Mets decide to ship out everyday outfielders Tommy Pham, Mark Canha or even Starling Marte, Mauricio could be the corresponding call-up, taking over in either corner outfield position. He has played most of the minor league season at shortstop, but with Lindor blocking him there the Mets may need to get creative. His bat profiles as major-league ready, but his plate approach is still a question mark. I would rather be early with a cheap bid than wait and be battling with league mates who likely have more remaining budget than I do.

Ryan O’Hearn ($$): One of the best comeback stories from this season has been Ryan O’Hearn’s torrid summer with the Orioles. O’Hearn has played his way into the Baltimore starting lineup, beating out Ryan Mountcastle for playing time at first base as the strong side of the O’s first base platoon. Batting in the middle of one of the best lineups in baseball, O’Hearn has batted .302 with nine home runs and 33 RBI in less than 60 games this season. He’s still available in a number of leagues and should produce solid counting stats the rest of the way.

Chris Taylor ($$): See above (Kiké Hernández). Oakland is projected to trot out three-straight left-handed starters against the Dodgers. Despite the acquisition of Amed Rosario, Taylor should start in all of those games and should rake, like he has against lefties his entire career.

Wilmer Flores ($): Flores got hit this past week as the Giants faced four-consecutive left-handed starters. It was likely an outlier but just in case it wasn’t, put in a single-digit bid.

Elvis Andrus ($): Likely to take over as the starting shortstop as soon as the White Sox trade away Tim Anderson, Andrus has shown that he can still contribute in a meaningful way in fantasy. Regular playing time in Oakland a season ago led to 17 home runs and 18 stolen bases. Andrus could potentially replicate that success with regular playing time in Chicago, especially in a much more hitter-friendly home stadium.

Colt Keith ($): If the Tigers sell at the deadline and deal away one of their starting infielders, Keith could be a potential call-up. With 17 combined home runs between Double-A and Triple-A this season, Keith, the Tigers’ only hitting prospect currently ranked in MLB’s Top 100, has a proven power bat that could take over at third base for Detroit as they look toward the future.



Luis Campusano/Gary Sánchez ($$): Both San Diego catchers have been featured in the lineup in each of the last three games, alternating between catching and designated hitter duties. With three games at Coors Field to start the week, both are solid options. Personally, I prefer Sánchez for the likelihood that he sticks in the lineup more often, but both work this week.

Endy Rodríguez ($): He hasn’t looked great from the plate since his call to the majors, batting just .200 with one home run, but Rodriguez could get regular playing time for the Pirates as they look toward the future. He’s got to be better than Austin Hedges, right?

Mitch Garver ($): With Jonah Heim heading to the IL with a wrist strain, Garver finds himself in a starting role — at least for this week. A lefty-masher with some pop, Garver could tank batting average, but might at least provide a couple of home runs from the catcher spot.




Starting Pitchers

Merrill Kelly ($$$$): Finally back from an early-season injury, Kelly could be a difference-maker down the stretch for savvy managers who can potentially scoop him off the waiver wire. Available in a handful of leagues, he should be rostered everywhere. Especially effective in points leagues, Kelly has been a quality start machine so far this season. He’s clearly the Diamondbacks’ number-two starter behind Gallen and is a prime buy-low candidate as well.

Michael Soroka ($$): I will go down with this ship. Soroka should be in the Atlanta rotation ahead of names like Allan Winans (who?) and Yonny Chirinos (ew), yet he hasn’t been announced to the major league roster after being demoted last week. He will have an impact on the Braves’ chase to the NL pennant. And I want him on my fantasy roster when he does. He’s not as good as he was back in his Rookie of the Year campaign, but he’s still really good.

Brandon Pfaadt ($$): Do you believe in second chances? Pfaadt was recalled from Triple-A last week and looked serviceable in his start against the Reds. He went six innings and allowed just three earned runs, a marked improvement from his previous stint in the bigs. Pfaadt’s start against Seattle on Saturday night will dictate his price on Sunday’s FAAB run. If he performs admirably once again, his price may go up. But fantasy managers may be scared off by his first-half woes. We’ve seen Grayson Rodriguez turn things around after some work in the minors. Perhaps Pfaadt could do it too.

Allan Winans ($): Winans looked really good in his major league debut as he struck out five over 4.1 innings and allowed just two earned runs against the Brewers. Winans could be called upon again as the Braves look for rotation fillers. With Max Fried still on the mend, Kolby Allard also injured, and Soroka not living up to his potential, Winans could capitalize on the opportunity. Basically, anyone pitching for the Braves (not you, Yonny Chirinos) is worthy of a roster spot.

Dinelson Lamet ($): A speculative add. Lamet signed with the Red Sox after being let go by the Rockies. Boston is in dire need of starting pitching. He could get the call-up as early as this week to eat some innings as Boston chases down a wild card spot. With the way the Red Sox lineup has been hitting recently, Lamet could be a solid add for win-needy teams if he’s given a few starts.

Hyun Jin Ryu ($): Ryu will make his first start of the season on August 2nd, returning from a nearly two-year absence after undergoing Tommy John surgery early last spring. In the six games before his injury in 2022, Ryu was not good. However, any starter backed by the Blue Jays’ lineup should at least be considered for win potential alone.

Andre Jackson ($): A former Dodgers prospect now waiting in the wings of the Pirates’ Triple-A rotation, Jackson was relatively effective in his brief MLB stint with Los Angeles last season. If the Pirates continue to expand their youth movement, they may move on from one of the older arms in their rotation (looking at you, Rich Hill) and see what they have in Jackson. A deep-league option only.


Relief Pitchers

Gregory Santos ($$$): With both Kendall Graveman and Joe Kelly being shipped up and out of the White Sox bullpen and both returning to teams they pitched with before (Graveman to the Houston Astros and Kelly to the Los Angeles Dodgers), Santos has become the ninth-inning heir apparent on the South Side. Santos earned his second save of the season on Friday night, allowing one hit and ringing up a pair of strikeouts to close out the Guardians, 3-0. Utilizing a filthy low-90s slider with a 37.3% CSW, Santos has the makings of a solid closer.

David Robertson ($$$): If Robertson’s fantasy managers dump him after his trade to Miami, scoop him immediately. Robertson should at the very least split time at closer with A.J. Puk but could overtake the lefty for the ninth-inning role. I could see Robertson’s save opportunities increasing with the Marlins.

Jose Cuas ($): A speculative add for saves assuming that the Royals ship out one or both of Scott Barlow and Carlos Hernández. I wrote up Hernández last week as the most likely to close for the Royals after the deadline, but his name has been linked to a handful of teams looking for bullpen help as well. So there may be a large vacancy in the Royals’ late-inning bullpen. With an 11.8 K/9 and a wipeout slider that owns a 33.7% CSW, Cuas would be a worthy candidate for what few save opportunities the Royals may have in the final months of the season.

Dauri Moreta/Colin Holderman ($): It would make sense for the Pirates to ship out David Bednar at the deadline, opening the door for either Moreta or Holderman in the ninth. Moreta has a more exciting closer profile, with a 33.2% strikeout rate and a 33.7% CSW, while Holderman leans more on his 53.9% ground ball rate. Both are cheap speculative adds that could potentially give you a couple of saves down the stretch.

Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

Brett Ford

Born and raised in #Birdland. Some days you win, Some days you lose, Some days it rains.

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