Deep League Risers and Fallers Week 15

We get out of the Frying pan and throw hot fire in week 15 of DLR&F.

Usually, I do not enjoy writing the Fallers section of these articles as much as I do the Risers section. It brings me no joy to focus on players who are struggling or not performing up to their expectations. Sure, I don’t mind it when I think the player is just slumping, and I expect them to rebound; I love getting guys I like at discounted prices thanks to those slumps. But I’m not just a fantasy baseball writer—I’m also a player. Sometimes a player I recommend and roster myself completely torches my pitching ratios in a single inning during an important matchup against my league’s current leader and reigning champion. That’s when the fallers section is not just about whether a player is slumping—it’s about catharsis.




Cade Povich, Starting Pitcher, Baltimore Orioles

8% Rostered


Povich was featured right here as a Riser just two weeks ago. I pointed out how effective he had been at limiting hard contact, and his surface stats (2.20 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP with 13 strikeouts and 6 walks over 16.1 innings) since his debut were excellent as well. He also had the dual benefits of playing for MLB’s highest-scoring team and pitching in a home park that tended to help suppress offense.

He was even pretty good against the Rangers on June 29th. He earned a win while striking out three batters and walking none over five innings. In his only other start since his DLRF appearance, however, Povich allowed eight runs while recording just three outs this past Saturday in Oakland. He allowed a three-run dinger to Brent Rooker in the first inning, and then another three-run bomb to Max Schuemann in the second. He allowed the next two batters to reach via a single and a walk (both would score) before being mercifully pulled from the game. My ERA and WHIP received no such clemency.

After that disastrous outing, Povich is carrying a 6.51 ERA, a 1.48 WHIP, and a K/BB ratio of 18/13 through his first six MLB starts, covering 27.1 innings. Not great. He’s still doing a great job limiting hard contact, with an 86.9 MPH average exit velocity against and just a 30.4% hard-hit rate, which sits in the league’s top 10 percent. However, his chase, whiff, and strikeout rates all sit in the bottom 10 percent, and his walk rate is in the bottom quartile. His four-seamer has been very good, but hitters are slugging at least .500 against his curveball, cutter, sweeper, and changeup.

I speculated that Povich might be headed back to the minors with the return of Dean Kremer, but also posited that the Orioles could elect to move Albert Suarez back into the bullpen instead. Suarez cruised to a victory a day prior to Povich’s debacle and has now gone six innings in back-to-back starts, recording two wins and an 8/1 K/BB ratio.

I don’t want to overreact to one game, especially since Povich is a rookie and these things happen to everyone eventually.  Chris Sale allowed eight runs to Oakland back on June 1st, although it took him four innings. I still like Povich as a target for teams out of contention this year that could keep him for next season, but I simply don’t trust him enough to roster on a team competing for a championship this year.

I do feel a little better now.


David Fry, Catcher, First Base, and Outfield, Cleveland Guardians

65% Rostered


Fry has an excellent .305/.412/.508 line with eight homers and four steals in just 226 plate appearances on the season. Those 3/4/5 guys are very difficult to find, especially with the drop in batting average league-wide. However, almost all of that damage came in May, when Fry torched the league with a .383/.513/.750 line with seven of those eight homers. Since the beginning of June, he is slashing just .244/. 289/.365. His OPS for June and July is 100 points lower than his slugging percentage from May.

Fry drew 13 walks while striking out 11 times over 76 plate appearances in May. He has walked just six times while striking out 21 times over 90 plate appearances since June 1st. All of his eight dingers and his four steals came before June 1st. Fry still has an excellent 12.8% walk rate on the season, but really, everything positive about his season line looks like a lingering after-effect from his ludicrous May performance.

Fry was a solid but not spectacular hitter in the minors, with a .817 OPS and 62 homers over 5 MiLB seasons. His hot streak was a scorcher, especially for a player with catcher eligibility, but he’s done roughly nothing for over a month, and there is not really any reason to expect a return to the form he showed in May. I do love his unusual eligibility, but he’s not even been worth using as a catcher for a while. It’s time to move on, possibly to a player coming up later in this article.


Wilyer Abreu, Outfield, Boston Red Sox

21% Rostered


Wilyer is another player who started hot enough that his season line still looks strong despite a prolonged stretch of poor production. He carries a .256/.320/.444 line on the year, but his OPS has dropped from .917 in April to .751 in May, .702 in June, and all the way to .125 so far in July. His most recent home run came on May 28th. I will also take the time to point out that Abreu’s torrid April was accompanied by a .407 BABIP

Abreu did miss time thanks to an ankle sprain he suffered in early June, so those numbers from June and July represent just 47 plate appearances. He’s also still carrying a very nice 90.4 MPH average exit velocity and a hard hit in the league’s top fifth. He walks enough with an 8.8 BB%, but his 28.9% strikeout rate is right around the league’s bottom ten percent.

I have mostly given up on Abreu in 12 teamers, but nothing larger than that. He is still usually slotted third for the Sox (although he was in the seventh spot last game) and is playing almost every day. The Sox have a top-10 offense by OPS, and are closer to the median in runs scored, but are still an offense in which you want to invest. If the injury has anything to do with his recent struggles, he is a prime bounce-back candidate for the second half.




Luis Ortiz, Starting Pitcher, Pittsburgh Pirates

10% Rostered


The Pirates have a very fun group of young pitchers these days and a few of them are even healthy. Ortiz has a 4-2 record, a 2.95 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and a 52/18 K/BB ratio over 61 innings this season. He has appeared 22 times as a reliever/opener and has started two games, with both of those starts coming in the last two weeks. In those two starts, (@CIN and vs NYM) Ortiz combined for 12 innings, 12 strikeouts, no walks, and just one run allowed.

Ortiz offers a four-pitch mix. He incorporates a four-seamer, cutter, sinker, and slider, and has used each of those pitches at least 20% of the time, but no more than 30% (his slider). It’s not often you see a pitcher use so many pitches fairly equally, but I love to see it since an even mix usually means a pitcher has something to go to if their primary pitch isn’t effective. Other than that though, nothing really stands out about his underlying rates. He is below average in terms of exit velocity allowed, hard hit rate, chase rate, whiff rate, and of course, strikeout rate. He is a bit above average at limiting walks but gets barreled a ton at 9.5%

Still, all four of the pitches I mentioned earlier are plus offerings so far, and with Bailey Falter, Jared Jones, and Marco Gonzales all on the IL, I think Ortiz gets a little more run in the rotation and would line up to face the White Sox later this week. I would be willing to roll the dice on that start and give Ortiz a little run in my own rotation if all goes well.


Sean Manaea, Starting Pitcher, New York Mets

39% Rostered


Manea has a pretty strong 3.43 ERA, an alright 1.24 WHIP, and an 87/39 K/BB ratio this season. He would probably be rostered at a higher rate if he didn’t struggle to a 5.40 ERA through June. July has been much kinder to the veteran lefty though, as Manaea has won both of his starts this month, allowing just one earned run over 13 innings while striking out eleven and walking five batters.

Manaea throws five different pitches at least 10% of the time but does rely on his sinker most of all with a 40% usage rate. And that’s a good thing in this case, as Manaea’s sinker grades as the best sinker in the majors in terms of run value. Other than that, his strikeout and barrel rates are his only above-average underlying metrics, and both of those just barely sit above the major league average.

Manaea also benefits from the second-best pitcher’s park in the majors, as only Safeco Field in Seattle does a better job of dampening offenses than Citi Field. His great July starts came against Washington and Pittsburgh, neither of which are great offenses (The Nats are getting pretty fun with Abrams and Wood though), but he gets the Rockies at Citi Field next, and you don’t need me to tell you that looks like a good one to target if possible.

He won’t be someone you’d use for every single outing, but Manaea could definitely be a useful player for contending teams down the stretch.


Kyle Higashioka, Catcher, San Diego Padres

14% Rostered


A 34-year-old catcher with a career .663 OPS may not seem like the kind of player that should anchor this article, but Higashioka has been just fantastic since taking over behind the dish for the injured Luis Campusano. Higashioka hit .275/.327/.804 with eight dingers over just 55 plate appearances in June and has kept raking with a .313/.313/.500 line and one more dinger through 16 plate appearances in July.

That pace is almost certainly not sustainable. Higashioka is generating below-average exit velocity and hard-hit rates. He strikes out an absolute ton with a 31.1% strikeout rate and barely walks with just a 4.2% BB rate. Campusano however, had just a .640 OPS with five homers before his injury and appears to have been Wally Pipped by Higashioka’s hot streak. Campusano was activated on Friday, but Higashioka started both Friday and Saturday, with Campusano behind the dish on Sunday.

The bar for a fantasy catcher is much lower than for any other position, so if maybe five minutes ago you had the epiphany that David Fry was not your guy, Kyle Higashioka is likely out there on the wire, ready to help.

Thanks for reading, enjoy the upcoming All-Star Game and Draft. Congratulations to Bryan Reynolds and Paul Skenes on representing my hometown Buccos (I’m sure Skenes at least reads these) and good luck out there Deep Leaguers!


Sam Lutz

A Pittsburgh native and long suffering Pirate fan, Sam turned to fantasy baseball to give him a reason to follow the sport after July.

One response to “Deep League Risers and Fallers Week 15”

  1. Joseph Mulvey says:

    Thanks. Good job.

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