The trading deadline has passed for most fantasy leagues, which means if you are seeking a boost, you’ll have to head on over to the waiver wire. At this point depending on your league size, the waiver wire may resemble a scrap heap filled with useless odds and ends with no apparent usefulness. As the saying goes though, beggars can’t be choosers, and at this point in the season, those scraps could be the difference between you finishing strong or fading down the stretch.
This means that from here on out, I am going to do my best to focus on players that are less than 30% owned on Fantrax. I know that league size will dictate how available some of these players are or are not, but my hope is that these Performance Reports will be helpful either way.
To say Connor Joe is a journeyman might be putting it a little too lightly. He has been with five different organizations since 2014. Usually, when I see a guy this age (29 years old) who has moved around this much there are alarm bells going off in my head. It’s hard to get too excited about a guy who is just now getting a real shot at playing time in the majors while bouncing from club to club. The odds of a guy like this actually hitting and sticking are historically not very high.
Is everything doom and gloom with Connor Joe? Actually, the deeper I looked the more my opinion of him began to shift. One of Joe’s best qualities is his eye at the plate. The guy simply knows how to take a walk while also hitting for average. His BB% regularly hovered at or above the 10% mark in the minors and so this year (in a very small sample size in the majors) Joe has a BB% of 10.1%. In 44 games with the Rockies, he has slashed .287/.357/.487 with a surprising six bombs. While Joe is not completely lacking in the power departments, I say it’s a surprise because in all of his stops in the minors he has never displayed power as a carrying tool.
I am not sure if he spent time intentionally working on making better contact for power heading into this year, but his statcast numbers point towards some sort of change happening. Joe is barreling balls up at 12.2% with a launch angle of 12.3 degrees. His average exit velocity is middling but his max exit velocity is sitting in the top 10% of the league right now. This means that while his contact might not be consistently hard, he has the capacity to get there.
As we all know, the Rockies are a pretty bad team this year. They don’t exactly have a plethora of options behind Joe, so he should get some serious run. Over the past week, they also saw fit to move him to the leadoff spot, which definitely speaks to their desire to see more from him and reward his good play. Joe might not be around in super deep leagues, but in 15 team leagues or less, he’s probably sitting on the waiver wire. At 20% owned, he’s a priority add and someone who could be a stat compiler in the outfield. You could do a lot worse.
Last week we talked about a Marlins OF who had been on a tiny heater and had the potential to be of some help for your team. Looking back, I wish I had taken a little bit of a stronger stand on buying into Lewis Brinson because he has gone from a tiny heater to being completely on fire.
At the risk of overdoing it on the Marlins outfield, this week I wanted to take a moment to highlight the recent call-up of Bryan De La Cruz. He came over via a trade from the Astros not even a month ago and has found himself getting full-time at-bats in right field, at least for now. Cruz profiled as someone with decent pop in the minors and has already hit two dongs since his call up two weeks ago. He has also hit for a .300 average and flashed good defensive ability in the outfield.
With Cruz starting to get a little buzz around fantasy circles, the question is what is his trajectory going forward? His 7% ownership will likely rise a little, but I am practicing caution with Cruz. He has two strikeouts in five of his last ten games and that strikeout rate is very nearly 33%. When you are looking at a player to fill a hole on your roster in a deep league, you can get by with a high strikeout guy, but only so long as they are still showing some other on-base skills and/or can hit for a ton of power. Cruz hasn’t shown an ability to do either of these things and a .419 BABIP signals that he has been lucky so far as well. Unless you are desperate for at-bats in a super deep league, let someone else take a chance on Cruz.
Here comes the starting pitcher portion of the Performance Report with a guy who has 17% ownership in Fantrax leagues right now. There isn’t too much to say about Bailey Ober that is overwhelmingly good, or bad for that matter. For a righty, he doesn’t throw particularly hard at a shade above 92 mph, but he also has exhibited pretty good control in his 57 major league innings with a 2.50 BB/9. That average velocity plays up a little because of how tall he is at 6’9″, but it’s always going to mean his margin for good results will be thin.
Minnesota has always seemed to be able to squeeze as much as they can out of their starting pitchers, which makes Ober’s appeal grow slightly for me. With a four-pitch arsenal, and a K/9 currently over a batter an inning, I see him as a guy to stream in favorable matchups right now, even in shallower leagues. It’s very possible if he is able to finish the year strong that he keeps a spot in the rotation next season. This means of course that in deeper dynasties, particularly for rebuilders, he might end up being a back-of-your rotation guy next season.
Verdict: BUY – streamer for now
Am I really talking about Matt Harvey? Well, his name has been getting floated around more and more since the All-Star Break because he has had a 3.19 ERA and three wins in that stretch. Visions of the Dark Knight returning are fueling a desire of pitching depleted fantasy teams to take a plunge with Matt Harvey. My advice… Don’t do it!
Let me speak to this practically first, Harvey just isn’t the same pitcher today he was for the Mets all those years ago. His fastball velocity is down, he can’t strike guys out and he gives up way too much contact. Even bad pitchers can have a few good weeks, but I am warning you, playing Matt Harvey is not going to end well for you.
In fact, do you know what this is like? It’s like when you are starving and so you go to the fridge and see those leftovers just sitting there calling for you. They are probably two weeks past when they were still good to eat, but you can feel your stomach lining eating itself! You can’t think straight because of your desperation, and the nostalgic memories of how incredible that meal was in its initial form flood back into your brain. So, you convince yourself things will be ok and you dive right in, ignoring your better judgment and likely your sense of smell. The next morning (or possibly even later that night) you pay for your mistake. You curse your lack of self-control and swear that you will never make that mistake again.
Matt Harvey is expired leftovers. No matter how famished you are for pitching categories, don’t allow yourself to be convinced that he can provide you with anything more than regret, pain, and an upset stomach.
Verdict: No… Just no
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