It’s another FAABulous Sunday Funday in what has been an absolutely amazing 2021 MLB season so far! A lot is going on affecting our fantasy teams and resulting roster needs, so let’s get right to it!
Anthony Rendon, Christian Yelich, and Cody Bellinger, are all on the IL with injuries more significant than their original day-to-day statuses led us to believe. While the production we were expecting from any of the three when we were constructing our teams is not directly replaceable, there are a couple of intriguing options that should see more consistent playing time, or just become more appealing to fantasy managers, while these guys and others are on the mend.
In Milwaukee, Avisail Garcia (98% rostered in TGFBI, but only 9% at Yahoo) has been slotted into the middle of the Brewers’ lineup regularly for most of the season. A career .271 hitter, Garcia is off to a nice start with a .255 BA, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 8 R, and 1 SB in his first 52 PA of the season. That SB is not a fluke either as he’d be projected by most projection systems for near double digits over a full season. He’ll contribute in each counting stat category while not dragging down your team’s BA and could even give that BA a bit of a boost. He’s been available (in 12-team and below leagues) and playing every day all season, so it shouldn’t take much FAAB to roster him. I’m looking at 2% or so where he’s available.
Another career .271 hitter not as readily available is Pittsburgh Pirates clean-up hitter Colin Moran (95% TGFBI, 39% Yahoo). Moran has shown flashes in the past when given regular PA opportunities and is off to a fine start as well (.288 BA, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 7 R). Yes, the Pirates lineup will struggle to score runs at times, but extrapolated to full-time opportunities over a full season, Moran is projected to hit well over 20 HR while driving in close to 90 runs and scoring over 80. He’s probably more of a .250 range hitter and won’t steal bases, but the run production is nice and affordable. As with Garcia, I’m looking at 2%-3% as the Pirates’ lineup will keep many away.
Adam Duvall (81% TGFBI, 32% Yahoo) is another power hitter whose team may be what is keeping some away and is actually available in a few deeper leagues. He’s a bit more of a BA risk than the others mentioned thus far but has come out of the gate hitting .239 with 4 HR, 11 RBI, and 8 R in his first 49 PA. Duvall has exhibited 30+ HR production multiple times in the past and was on pace for over 40 in the shortened 2020 season. His career .233 BA is probably about what we can expect, but if the rest of our rosters are stable in that category we’re looking at those 30+ HR and 160+ combined RBI and R available on the wire.
There a couple of guys whose availability is still a bit surprising to me. Jurickson Profar (100% TGFBI, 22% Yahoo) and Zach McKinstry (54% TGFBI, 33% Yahoo) should be rostered in most leagues in my opinion. Profar, A once-upon-a-time top Texas Rangers prospect (still just 28 years old), is in the potent Padres lineup on a daily basis and is off to a fine start to 2021, hitting .286 with 0 HR, 5 RBI, 7 R, and 3 SB in 64 PA. He’s always had nice plate discipline and has greatly improved upon his career .240 BA over the shortened 2020 (.278) and so far this season. He has also received 11 free passes leading to an OBP over .400 and increasing his SB and run-scoring opportunities. The HR will come as well as he has hit 20+ in recent seasons.
McKinstry’s playing time has benefitted from Bellinger’s injury, among others in LA, and he has absolutely taken advantage with a .304 BA, 3 HR, 13 RBI, and 7 R in 50 PA. The worry that he’ll lose playing time when Bellinger returns and A. J. Pollock and Gavin Lux are completely healthy is not warranted in my mind. The Dodgers lineup is full of guys with injury histories and players such as Chris Taylor and Enrique Hernandez have thrived in LA the past couple of seasons. I don’t see him sitting often if he maintains anything close to his current production. I’ve repeatedly mentioned being conservative in my FAAB bid amounts (in most cases) so far this season, but where still available I’ve seen enough to be comfortable with a 10%-12% shot for McKinstry’s services this evening.
As has been the case each and every week this season the closer carousel continues to revolve. Kendall Graveman (49% TGFBI, 36% Yahoo), Rafael Dolis (5% TGFBI – I’m not the only one who dropped him in a league or two, 16% Yahoo), and Lou Trivino (95% TGFBI, 50% Yahoo) will receive the triple-digit bids we’ve seen in some of the $1,000 FAAB leagues where they’re available this week. I’m still sticking with the strategy of bidding 2%-3% not expecting to win those bids with speculative minimum or slightly higher bids on guys like Hansel Robles (22% TGFBI, 8% Yahoo) and Lucas Sims (90% TGFBI, 19% Yahoo). There may come a point when I have to deviate from this plan, but at the moment three or four saves is still mid-pack in some leagues, and I’m still comfortable holding out.
There are some starting pitchers I have a genuine interest in this week that may not just be streamers or two-start darts. A couple that may have two starts this week, but may remain on some of my rosters are Danny Duffy (20% TGFBI, 21% Yahoo) of the Royals and Michael Fulmer (15% TGFBI, 7% Yahoo) in Detroit.
Duffy is scheduled to face the Rays in his home ballpark of Kauffman Stadium and the Tigers at Detroit, who are hitting .235 and .182 vs lefties respectively. He’s begun the season with two six-inning wins vs Cleveland and the Angels and struck out 11 in the 12 IP. His velocity is up about a tick and a half and he just looks comfortable on the mound. Going forward, he looks to have a tough matchup at Minnesota, but then possibly back home vs Cleveland and at Detroit again.
We all remember the promising career many thought was ahead for Fulmer prior to Tommy John surgery keeping him sidelined for all of 2019. He notched his first win since 2018 last week vs the Astros and is in line for an enticing start vs the Pirates on Tuesday and possibly the Royals next Sunday, both at home in Detroit. Spencer Turnbull may return from injury this week, so his schedule is a bit murky; but if he can build on the respectable five innings in his win at Houston and the previous seven innings of relief (10 K, 2 ER) he may very well stick in the Tigers’ rotation.
Unfortunately, with the enticing possible two-steps for Duffy and Fulmer comes interest from fellow fantasy managers looking to stream vs those matchups. I’m not going overboard, 2%-3% in leagues where they’re available and I could use a starter. Looking ahead to try to avoid that competition in FAAB bidding, the matchup at Philadelphia this week and disappointing 2020 may temper the bids for Anthony DeSclafani (100% TGFBI, 36% Yahoo) in leagues where he’s available despite his three starts combining 17 IP with 16 K and a 1.06 ERA. He should line up to face the Rockies at home in San Francisco in his next start, and after a couple of tough matchups at home and on the road vs San Diego, possibly the Pirates after that.
Yes, the newest New York Yankee regular, Rougned Odor (10% TGFBI, 2% Yahoo), gets his own section this week. Many will scoff at the mere mention of Odor, but let’s take a look at what he brings to the table that is our fantasy rosters. At 27 years old he has played seven MLB seasons before 2021 and accumulated well over 3,000 PA hitting .237, better than over half of entire MLB rosters so far this season. We’ll come back to the batting average in a moment.
From 2016 to 2019, Odor hit 30 or more HR three times (18 HR in 129 games the fourth) and stole 11 or more bases in each of the four seasons. Yes, he hit .204 and .205 in two of those seasons, but once again, we’ll get back to that. He hit 10 HR in 38 games played in 2020, well ahead of the pace necessary for another 30+ HR season. I don’t think anyone denies his power or the notion that given full-time ABs he’ll continue to pace for 30+ HR seasons.
Unfortunately, I do not expect the double-digit SB seasons to continue. Odor has never been efficient at successfully stealing bags. In fact, since 2018 he has been caught 22 times(!) while successfully taking 23. The Yankees are not likely to turn him loose often, but I do think they’ll choose his spots and a handful of SB are possible. I’m counting on zero, and any he chips in for my roster will be a bonus.
Now, about that batting average. It would surprise many to realize that prior to 2020 Odor hit .253 or higher in four of his five MLB seasons and had a K% below 25% in each of the five. Yes, 2019 and 2020 happened, but we’ve been discounting an extremely abnormal 2020 for many players for months, so I’m looking at 2019 as the one season in six that strikeouts were a big issue for him. In the extremely small sample that is Odor’s 2021 season (22 PA), he has been more patient at the plate and struck out less than 10% of the time.
Odor has started every game since April 11, and with Luke Voit set to miss about another month and Jay Bruce’s retirement announcement this morning (Congratulations on a nice career!), it seems likely that he’ll continue to see regular PAs for the next few weeks as one of the only left-handed bats available for the Yankees. And all of this goes without even mentioning the non-zero possibility that the change of scenery or a tweak or two from hitting coaches Marcus Thames and P.J. Pilittere could actually improve his potential production in the Yankees lineup that has underperformed in their first 14 games of the season.
I am not attempting to talk anyone into rostering a player they have no interest in; however, in 15-team mixed leagues and deeper, it is unlikely that another bat with 30+ full-season HR potential and in the lineup daily is readily available, especially at the near-zero FAAB price of Odor due to the stigma that follows his name. He’ll be my fallback option in leagues I’m after the other hitters mentioned above.
League Specific Questions
While in previous weeks there has been a ton of overlap in players in this article and those mentioned by Adam Howe (@EightyGrade) and myself on the On the Wire (@OnTheWirePod) podcast released early each Sunday morning, I do believe we at least mentioned each of the above players on this morning’s episode with Shelly Verougstraete (@ShellyV_643). As always, hit us up on Twitter, in the comments below, or in the PL+ Discord with any specific league, team, or player questions. Obviously, so many of our decisions, and therefore opinions, are greatly influenced by those and many other factors.
As always, good luck tonight, and most of all enjoy the games!
Photo from Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire | Design by Quincey Dong (@threerundong on Twitter)