It’s Memorial Day Weekend already? That’s right, friends. It’s time to take the cover off the pool, mow the lawn, refill that propane tank and fire up the grill because the dog days of summer are coming. This time of year, fantasy baseball can become a little bit of a grind for some players. Sample sizes for hitters and pitchers are finally large enough to begin making judgments on performance, and it is a great time to find buy-low or sell-high candidates among fantasy squads.
It’s also a great time to cut bait with those guys that just haven’t been up to snuff. You know, the ones you drafted… and they underperformed. And you said to yourself, “This is just a little slump, things will get better,” and they underperformed. And then you held them and held them, waiting for the breakthrough to finally occur… and they underperformed. Yeah, cut those guys. Rip the band-aid off and start anew! Maybe this article can help you find a replacement.
As far as the schedule goes this week, the Arizona Diamondbacks, Cleveland Guardians, Colorado Rockies, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Angels and Minnesota Twins all play seven games while the Kansas City Royals and St. Louis Cardinals each have two days off (and it’s a weird break with back-to-back days off on Wednesday and Thursday), so be wary of Cardinals and Royals’ bats.
SEVEN GAMES: ARZ, CLE, COL, HOU, LAA, MIN
FIVE GAMES: KC, STL
Investment Rating System
Seth Brown ($$$): Finally back from a six-week IL stint, Seth Brown continues to do Seth Brown things: strike out and hit home runs. If his fantasy managers ran out of room on the bench and dropped him, he makes a great add for power numbers, especially for teams who can take on his projected .230 batting average.
Jake McCarthy ($$): Back in Arizona after spending a few weeks in AAA Reno, McCarthy will need to improve upon some paltry offensive numbers in order to crack the Diamondbacks lineup on a regular basis. Competing for playing time in the already crowded Arizona outfield, McCarthy will have just a few weeks to prove himself before Kyle Lewis returns from an injury. Though he has elite speed, which he put on display late last season, fantasy managers should keep in mind the old adage, “You can’t steal first base.”
Clint Frazier ($$): How long does the “post-hype” label last on players? Clint Frazier is testing the statute of limitations, attempting to revive his major league career with a third team since he was the “next big prospect” of the Yankees years ago. Since being called up by the White Sox, Frazier has started four out of five games, recording five hits and two stolen bases. The prospect pedigree is there, but he’s never lived up to it before. Then again, it’s not like Chicago is flush with options. Consistent playing time and some minor changes in stance and approach could make a difference. Fantasy managers will have to wait and see.
Greg Allen ($): Bye, bye Aaron Hicks. Hello, Greg Allen. Used primarily as a pinch runner so far, Allen has speed for days and plays high-level outfield defense, enough that he may crack the lineup in New York eventually. Right now, he’s probably limited to AL-only leagues but he’s a name to watch moving forward.
Akil Baddoo ($): Remember when Baddoo lit the league on fire for like two weeks? His production fell off a cliff pretty quickly afterwards, but that stretch was impressive. Well, we might be seeing one of those hot streaks coming on again soon. With five hits in his last five games, Baddoo has shown signs of life. With right-handed starters projected in five of the six Tigers’ games next week against the Rangers and White Sox, Baddoo will have ample opportunity to stay hot.
Willi Castro ($): Castro appears to be a cheap source of speed and average, but it’s hard to imagine he’ll be fantasy relevant once the Twins get healthy. For now with Nick Gordon, Max Kepler and Trevor Larnach all on the IL, Castro is a decent streaming option for a relatively shallow position group.
Nolan Jones ($$$): It’s finally time for Nolan Jones to get his chance in Colorado. Recalled from AAA Albuquerque before Friday’s game, Jones was batting .356 in the minors so far this year, including 12 home runs in 39 games. If he can carry over those power skills with him into the majors, Jones could reach 20 home runs relatively easily, especially with half of his games played in Coors. With a career strikeout rate just below 30.0% and a career BABIP of .341, Jones is a risk but still has a plenty high ceiling.
Spencer Torkelson ($$$): Signs of life from a post-hype prospect this season? Stop me if you’ve heard this one before! Though his numbers may not be what fantasy managers are looking for quite yet, the metrics are promising. Torkelson has a 32.8% hard contact rate and a 9.2% barrel rate so far this season, both marks well above league average and is batting in the middle of a Tigers lineup that is no longer a laughing stock. As the weather warms up, Torkelson’s bat might warm up too.
Jose Caballero ($$): Caballero is a legit speed option and has shown a little pop at the bottom of the Seattle order as well. He’ll continue to compete for playing time with Kolten Wong, but with how much Wong has struggled in May the Mariners could elect to keep Caballero on top of the depth chart.
Jared Walsh ($$): With seven games this week and only one projected to be against a left-handed starter, Walsh should receive the lion’s share of playing time at first base for the Angels. So far, Walsh is still shaking off the rust with just two hits over 18 plate appearances entering Saturday’s slate, but with upcoming matchups against the White Sox less-than-intimidating pitching staff and the hitter-friendly park in Chicago, he’ll have a decent opportunity to get going.
Donovan Solano ($): Solano has batted in the top third of the Minnesota lineup in each of the Twins’ last three games entering Saturday. Without much power and even less speed, Solano is serving the Twins in a poor-man’s-Luis Arraez role. It’s just that his batting average isn’t close to where Arraez was a year ago. That said, he’s getting the opportunity and could serve as an injury fill-in at corner infield.
Tucupita Marcano ($): He’s taken over as the Pirates’ everyday shortstop and performed admirably since inheriting regular at-bats. He notched a pair of combo meals last week, boosting his appeal. Eligible at SS, 2B and OF, Marcano make a nice roster flexibility piece as long as he stays in the Pirates’ lineup.
Gabriel Arias ($): With their offense struggling outside of perennial all-star José Ramírez, the Guardians have turned to … (checks notes) … Gabriel Arias. The highlight of his offensive profile is his opportunity, receiving starts for Cleveland in the outfield, shortstop and at third base. There’s not much else appealing about Arias’ bat, but if you need at-bats, bid away.
Patrick Bailey ($): Since Joey Bart was placed on the IL last weekend, Bailey has featured in four games, Bailey has started six games and recorded eight hits, including a home run and seven RBI. He’s an option as long as he’ll get at-bats for the Giants, and it appears Bart is still just “ramping up” this week.
Blake Sabol ($): A regular in the Giants’ lineup since Bart went down, he’s locked into more at-bats than Bailey, mostly because San Francisco is using him at designated hitter and in the outfield more than at catcher.
Ben Rortvedt ($): He has filled in for the Yankees while Jose Trevino remains on the injured list. Trevino went down to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre for a rehab assignment, so this is likely the last week that Rortvedt will be viable for a while, even in two-catcher leagues.
Tyler Glasnow ($$$$): Glasnow finally returned from his injury rehab on Saturday, making his season debut against the Dodgers. Fantasy managers who held him, rejoice! Fantasy managers who ran out of bench room and cut him, get out your wallets! Averaging more than a strikeout per inning over the course of his career, Glasnow is one of the few true difference makers returning to bolster fantasy pitching rotations. An inning limit is well within the range of possibilities, especially with the Rays, but he should still be looked at as a potential league-winner.
Jaime Barría ($$): The Angels never have two-start pitchers with their six-man rotation. Well, Barria is projected for two starts this week, one on Monday against the White Sox and a second one on Sunday at Houston. Barria’s arsenal has been extremely slider-heavy in each of the past two seasons, including a 42.2% clip in his last start against Boston. With Chicago trotting out an extremely right-handed heavy lineup, he may be worth a stream (even Nick thinks it’s an interesting spot), but his start later in the week against the Astros is a little scary.
Dylan Dodd & Jared Shuster ($$): The Atlanta Braves play the Oakland Athletics this week, with Dylan Dodd and Jared Shuster each projected for a start against the league’s worst squad. Both have shown signs of brilliance so far this season (Shuster flashing more recently with his one-hit outing against Seattle on May 21) but neither has been that impressive so far. Maybe it’s just that we hold Atlanta pitching prospects to a higher standard that the fantasy community has not been impressed by either. But let’s be real, I would stream my grandmother if she was pitching against the Oakland offense. And her fastball is even slower than Zack Greinke’s.
Adrian Morejon ($): Morejon was sent on a rehab assignment this week and could be joining the Padres’ rotation soon. Morejon showed signs of progress in 2022 but got pretty unlucky with a .273 BABIP inflating his ERA to 4.24, relative to his 3.41 xERA. He garnered a little bit of excitement in Spring Training as an upside arm, and with his fastball and slider both generating favorable numbers according to PLV and could help stabilize a shaky back end of the Padres’ rotation upon his return.
Hunter Gaddis ($): A Guardians starter not named Zach Plesac with a projected matchup with the Twins this coming week. Odds are there are better options on the waiver wire.
Chase Anderson ($): Smoke and mirrors have gotten Anderson this far with a 1.15 ERA and 0.96 WHIP, but it can’t possibly last, right? Well, he’ll get another chance to shine at Arizona this week, I think I prefer Anderson to Hunter Gaddis… but I’m not even sure about that.
Miguel Castro ($$$): Castro has recorded a win or save in five of his last seven appearances, capitalizing on the high-leverage situations that the Diamondbacks are inserting him into. Aside from saves and wins, Castro has been excellent for ratios as well. His strikeout numbers aren’t great (22.5%) but Castro has been an expert at limiting hard contact and ranks 14th in the MLB with just a 13.5% hard contact rate against him. Stuck in a closer-by-committee with Andrew Chafin, Castro may have to split save opportunities, but could take over if he continues his success.
Mark Leiter Jr. ($$$): He’s still not 100% owned in 15-team leagues, which is probably only because the Cubs have not had very many save opportunities recently. Leiter has pitched the ninth in two of the Cubs’ last three save opportunities, but the team has been so bad lately that fantasy managers have hardly noticed. What fantasy managers should be noticing, regardless of save chances, is the 38.3% strikeout rate, 17.5% swinging-strike rate and the 34.4% CSW. With a 1.77 ERA and 0.89 WHIP, Leiter has the potential to salvage some ratios while also snagging a couple of saves.
Nick Anderson ($): Anderson has consistently been one of the best relievers in the Atlanta bullpen, making himself comfortable in late-inning roles in front of closer Raisel Iglesias. Though AJ Minter is still in the mix, Anderson looks like the next in line for saves if Iglesias gets fatigued or injured.
Brusdar Graterol ($): Graterol is still a late-inning guy for the Dodgers, but Evan Phillips is clearly the defined closer. A speculative add for saves and a solid option for ratios, Graterol has maintained a 2.18 ERA and 1.16 WHIP so far this year.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)