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Impact Report

by Seth Trachtman
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

They say fantasy baseball leagues are won in-season. If you actually believe that’s the case and your league uses free agent acquisition budget (FAAB) for weekly pickups, then this weekly article is for you.

 

Even if your league uses another free agent system like waivers or first-come, first-served, hopefully you can use the tips and analysis for guidance to help win your fantasy baseball league this season.

 

The difficulty in writing this article is catering to as many types of leagues as possible. Rotoworld Season Pass readers play in everything from 8-team mixed leagues to 20-team AL- and NL-only leagues. With that being the case, I’ve included headings and notes that will hopefully help you browse quickly to the players that are most pertinent to your league.

 

The two notes are “Helpful for” and “Worth Breaking the Bank?” Definitions:

 

Helpful For: The minimum league size where the player is better than a typical replacement-level player. For example, “12-team leagues” in the Mixed League Players section indicates the player can help in a 12-team mixed league or larger.

 

Worth Breaking the Bank?  Is this player worth a significant portion of your FAAB budget or a high waiver priority? Since I don’t know what positions and categories you need or your FAAB budget after this week, it’s difficult to be more specific. However, I will try to provide some guidance, if possible.

 

Overall, keep in mind these recommendations are for 5x5 leagues with standard rosters (14 hitters and 9 pitchers).

 

Just remember, I’m here to help you. If you have a suggestion about the format early this season, please don’t hesitate to email me or Tweet @sethroto.

 

This week we’re looking at players who have gained value within the last seven days.

 

 

Mixed League Players

 

Joaquin Benoit, RP, Phillies

 

Well, that didn’t take long. Jeanmar Gomez converted only one save before being removed from the closer role. Instead of turning to setup man Hector Neris, the Phillies promoted experienced veteran Joaquin Benoit to be their new closer. Benoit has yet to allow a run in five appearances this season, and he was strong in his first save opportunity this week. The veteran finished last season in a similar fashion with Toronto, allowing only one run in 23.2 innings. As is always the concern with a 39-year-old pitcher, Benoit’s velocity has also looked very strong this season, with his fastball standing near 95 mph. Now with 52 saves in his career, Benoit looks like he has a solid hold on the job.

Helpful For: All leagues

Worth Breaking the Bank? If you’re desperate for saves, Benoit has a chance to be a solid solution at least until the trade deadline. The Phils are still in rebuild mode, so he’s a candidate to be traded at that time.

 

 

Jason Vargas, SP, Royals

 

Vargas returned from Tommy John surgery late last season, and solidified his rotation spot this spring. Through two starts, he’s been spectacular for the Royals, going 2-0 with 14/2 K/BB and one earned run allowed in 13.2 innings. His ERA with the Royals is down to 3.52 over 44 starts with a 2.0 BB/9 over that time. Still, we have to question this year’s strikeouts for a soft-tossing lefty whose velocity has dropped even more this year. The lefty’s average fastball has been sub-87 mph since returning from Tommy John surgery, about one mph below where it was before the injury. In essence, he’s the new Jamie Moyer, which can be useful, but expecting a high strikeout rate isn’t realistic.

Helpful for: 12-team leagues

Worth Breaking the Bank? No. Without many strikeouts, Vargas is very replaceable. He’s not much more than a matchup play.

 

 

AL-only Players

 

Mike Clevinger, SP, Indians

 

Clevinger is still in the minors, and Cleveland doesn’t plan to call him up yet. That could change if Josh Tomlin has another poor outing. Tomlin has been awful, to say the least, during his first two starts of the season, allowing 13 earned runs in 6.1 innings. He gets an easy matchup against Minnesota on Tuesday, which could be his last opportunity if things don’t improve. Clevinger is clearly the next pitcher in line, and he’s off to an incredible start at Triple-A Columbus with one run allowed and 17/4 K/BB in 13 innings. It’s no surprise he’s dominated after going 11-1 with a 3.00 ERA in 93 innings at that level last season. While he did have his share of struggles in 53 major league innings last season, Clevinger also had nearly one strikeout per inning. There is big upside if he can carry over his minor league control to the majors.

Helpful for: All AL-only leagues

Worth Breaking the Bank? No. The recommendation is coming now so you won’t have to break the bank. Clevinger remains in the minors, but could be up by next weekend if Tomlin bombs again.

 

 

Matt Davidson, 3B, White Sox

 

Remember me? Once a top power prospect in Arizona traded straight up for Addison Reed, Davidson seemingly forgot how to hit after joining the White Sox organization in 2014. After hitting .280-17-74 at Triple-A Reno in 2013, Davidson moved to the less hitter-friendly International League the following year and hit just .199-20-55. He wasn’t much better in 2015, hitting .203-23-74. High strikeout numbers finally caught up with Davidson, though he did make progress last season at age 25, hitting .268-10-46 in 284 at-bats. This season he’s off to a terrific start in Chicago, hitting .348-3-9 over his first 24 plate appearances. The strikeouts remain a major concern, however, as Davidson has already fanned 12 times. Still, there’s no doubt he will pick up at-bats as the DH over Cody Asche if the power continues to shine.

Helpful for: 12-team AL-only leagues

Worth Breaking the Bank? No. The power is intriguing, but the high strikeout rate still makes him a risk.

 

 

Jose Leclerc, RP, Rangers

 

A hard-thrower who showed dominant strikeout rates in the minors, Leclerc couldn’t find the plate in his major league debut last season. That’s not surprising for a pitcher who had a 5.0 BB/9 in the minors. With Keone Kela basically getting booted off the major league roster in spring training for his behavior, Leclerc found a bullpen spot and has been incredible in the first two weeks. The control looks fixed, as he’s yet to walk a batter in 6.1 innings with 10 strikeouts and only one earned run allowed. Leclerc brings a nasty fastball, averaging 96 mph so far this year, but he’s now thrown his slider nearly as often in the early going. With Sam Dyson and Jeremy Jeffress struggling early this season, along with a shoulder issue for Matt Bush, Leclerc is already finding himself in more high-leverage situations.

Helpful for: All AL-only leagues

Worth Breaking the Bank? No, but only because he still has too many pitchers ahead of him for save opportunities if Dyson continues to struggle. If the control improvement is real, Leclerc should be extremely helpful.

 

 

Jordan Montgomery, SP, Yankees

 

The Yankees didn’t announce it until last week, but Montgomery apparently beat out a whole host of starting candidates for the fifth job, including Chad Green, Adam Warren, and Bryan Mitchell. An extremely underrated prospect by the national publications, Montgomery has cruised since being drafted in the fourth round of the 2014 draft. He’s shown nearly identical peripherals over the last two seasons and only gotten better, with a 2.13 ERA and 134/45 K/BB in 139.1 innings between Double- and Triple-A last season. The lefty has a strong four-pitch repertoire that he trusts, throwing his fastball less than 40 percent of the time in his first major league start. The long ball will be a concern for the extreme flyball pitcher at Yankee Stadium, but he has the stuff and control to be a solid middle of the rotation starter.

Helpful for: All AL-only leagues

Worth Breaking the Bank? Possibly. There is nice upside for Montgomery, though his margin for error is also small in the early going with the Yankees having many other starting candidates.

 

 

 

NL-only Players

 

Zach Eflin, SP, Phillies

 

Eflin struggled with the Phillies in 11 starts last season while fighting through knee issues. After surgery on both knees, he pitched well in a rehab assignment to open this year and will now get a great opportunity to replace Clay Buchholz in the Philadelphia rotation. Despite being a former first-round pick, Eflin isn’t more than a fifth starter. His fastball averaged only 92 mph last season, and he has a pedestrian 6.1 K/9 for his minor league career. Still, Eflin has a chance to be a WHIP asset due to his great control, with a 1.7 BB/9 over 12 starts at Triple-A and a 2.4 BB/9 in the majors.

Helpful for: 12-team NL-only leagues

Worth Breaking the Bank? No, there is very limited upside for the relative soft-tosser, but he is capable of being a usable arm.

 

 

Sal Romano, SP, Reds

 

The rotation woes for the Reds continue. After losing Homer Bailey and Anthony DeSclafani before the season even started, Cincinnati also lost Rookie Davis and Brandon Finnegan this week. That opens more rotation spots for what’s actually a deep pitching roster in the upper minors. Romano is getting the chance to start today, and could certainly stick around if all goes well. It was somewhat surprising that he didn’t win a rotation spot after a great spring, and he’s carried his spring into Triple-A with only two runs and one walk allowed in 13 innings. 2016 was a breakout year for Romano, with a 3.52 ERA and 144/34 K/BB in 156 innings. He hasn’t shown great strikeout rates in the minors, though better than the aforementioned Eflin, and the recent improvement in Romano’s control makes him interesting as a back of the rotation starter.

Helpful for: 12-team NL-only leagues

Worth Breaking the Bank? No. You’ll likely know more about Romano by the time you need to claim him because he’s starting today, but in any case the upside is somewhat limited.

 

 

Miguel Rojas, SS/2B/1B, Marlins

 

Adeiny Hechavarria went down with an oblique injury this week, forcing the Marlins to play Rojas at shortstop. Rojas has been a common roster contributor as their utility infielder since 2014, but he’s hit only .245-3-42 with two steals in 566 plate appearances over that time. The minor league numbers don’t show much different, with a .244 batting average and .618 OPS, though Rojas has swiped double-digit bases four times. In other words, he’s a poor man’s Hechavarria.

Helpful for: 12-team NL-only leagues

Worth Breaking the Bank? No. There’s no upside here. You’re really just buying the at-bats until Hechavarria returns, which could be a while.