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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

 

Lewis Brinson, OF, Brewers

 

The much-anticipated arrival of Brinson came this weekend after Jonathan Villar was placed on the DL. With Ryan Braun still sidelined, Brinson is set to see regular at-bats but wasn’t in the lineup on Saturday. It remains to be seen where Brinson will hit in the lineup, but he does have leadoff skills. The former first-round pick hit .312-6-25 with seven steals in 45 games at hitter-friendly Triple-A Colorado Springs and swiped 17 bases between Double- and Triple-A last season. His batting average has been mostly inconsistent during his minor league career, but Brinson is a .283 career hitter. Showing 20-plus home run power in the minors, Brinson’s skillset should translate well to Miller Park.

Helpful for: All leagues

Worth Breaking the Bank? Possibly. Brinson is a very good prospect who could start for the rest of the season if he performs for the next couple weeks while Braun is out. Given how poorly Keon Broxton has played, Brinson also does have some margin for error if he doesn’t hit the ground running. There is 15/15 upside for 2017.

 

 

Felipe Rivero, RP, Pirates

After blown saves in consecutive days for Tony Watson, the Pirates finally made a move at closer this week. Manager Clint Hurdle said that Rivero and Juan Nicasio would replace Watson. It was Rivero who got the first chance on Saturday, while Nicasio served as the setup man. As he’s done in the setup role, Rivero was dominant. The lefty has been one of the best relievers in baseball this season after completely fixing the control issues he had last year, posting a 10.3 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9, resulting in a 0.56 ERA in 32.1 innings. He’s gained serious velocity this year, with a fastball that’s up two mph and averaging nearly 98 mph, along with an elite groundball rate near 65 percent. In essence, Rivero has been Pittsburgh’s version of Zach Britton.

Helpful for: All leagues

Worth Breaking the Bank? Yes. The only risk here is that Hurdle sticks to his word and uses Nicasio in some save situations. Rivero has become a truly elite reliever, and has a chance to be a top five closer the rest of the way if he does take sole possession of the role. If you need saves, Rivero is worth splurging.

 

 

Mallex Smith, OF, Rays

 

Smith started the season with the Rays, but he was sent down to Durham to maintain regular at-bats following a short DL stint. With Kevin Kiermaier out at least two months due to a fractured hip, Smith is back to serve as Tampa Bay’s center fielder. He’s been spectacular in his first three games back, after hitting .311-3-8 with 16 stolen bases in 30 games at Triple-A Durham. One of the truly elite base stealing prospects in the game, Smith swiped 56 bases in 2015, 88 in 2014, and 64 in 2013. He’s also a career .297 minor league hitter, showing young Michael Bourn-like upside.

Helpful for: All leagues

Worth Breaking the Bank? Absolutely, if you need steals. Smith could easily swipe 30-plus bases the rest of the way while also helping with batting average and runs scored. Simply put, there won’t be a better base stealer called up this season.

 

 

AL-only Players

 

Jacob Faria, SP, Rays

 

The minor league leader in strikeouts, Faria made his major league debut this week while filling in for Matt Andriese. After Andriese had a recurrence of his groin injury on Saturday, it looks like Faria could be back. He was as good as advertised, albeit against an awful White Sox lineup against right-handers, allowing one run in 6.1 innings with five strikeouts. Faria doesn’t have an elite fastball, which is likely why he’s been under the radar on prospect lists, but he has a career 9.4 K/9 that has been 10.5 in 24 starts at Triple-A during his career. Walks remain a big concern, with a career 3.8 at that level, but the strikeouts are quite attractive.

Helpful for: All AL-only leagues

Worth Breaking the Bank? Possibly, as there is big strikeout upside. The control issues still make Faria somewhat risky in the short term, and he has limited margin for error with a loaded Triple-A rotation.

 

 

Buck Farmer, SP, Tigers

 

Making major league appearances for the fourth straight season, Farmer is finally seeing some success. He’s throw 13 scoreless innings over two starts, showing much improved control. Prior to his promotion, Farmer had a 1.8 BB/9 at Triple-A Toledo, by far the best of his career. The control improvement has come at the expense of Farmer’s velocity, with a decline of two mph compared to last season. It should be noted that Farmer had a 3.86 ERA at Triple-A and has a 4.17 ERA at that level for his career, so the upside certainly isn’t as great as what he’s shown with the Tigers thus far.

Helpful for: 10-team AL-only leagues

Worth Breaking the Bank? Probably not. Farmer is likely getting mixed league consideration after two consecutive scoreless outings, but the upside seems very limited given his track record and stuff. The bids he will get after two great starts will likely exceed his potential.

 

 

Nik Turley, SP, Twins

 

A truly great story, Turley is making his major league debut today as a former 50th round pick who revitalized his career last year in the Independent Leagues. After posting a 12.1 K/9 for Somerset, he’s carried his success to the Twins farm system this year with a 12.4 K/9 in 49 innings between Double- and Triple-A at age 27. He attributes his improvement to a new slider grip and better velocity, and the minor league dominance has been enough for fantasy owners to give him a long look.

Helpful for: All AL-only leagues

Worth Breaking the Bank? Possibly. It’s worth taking a wait-and-see approach with today’s debut coming.

 

 

NL-only Players

 

Scooter Gennett, 2B/3B/OF, Reds

 

Serving as a utilityman for the Reds this season, Gennett has had quite the week. The big headlines came on Tuesday when he went 5-for-5 with four home runs and 10 RBI against the Cardinals. However, he’s started three more games since then, going 4-for-12 and continuing his hot hitting. The Reds are riding Gennett’s hot bat, giving him regular at-bats all over the diamond. His overall numbers now look impressive due to just one game (.305-7-31), though we saw enough of Gennett over three seasons in Milwaukee to know his complete skillset. Last year’s 14 home runs was the first time he hit double-digit homers in his career, and his stolen bases have been consistently inconsistent in the single digits.

Helpful for: All NL-only leagues

Worth Breaking the Bank? No. Gennett has never shown big upside, but the Reds are riding the hot hand. He can be somewhat helpful, especially with several positions of eligibility this year.

 

 

Jose Pirela, 2B, Padres

 

Pirela was called up this week and has already seen four starts, playing three different positions for San Diego. A complete lack of outfield depth and Ryan Schimpf’s demotion have allowed Pirela to find the field regularly, at least for now. He’s taken full advantage with three multi-hit games after hitting .331-13-42 with eight steals in only 201 plate appearances at Triple-A El Paso. He really struggled in the minors last season, but the 27-year-old Pirela is a career .306 hitter at Triple-A and has swiped double-digit bases multiple times in the minors

Helpful for: 12-team NL-only leagues

Worth Breaking the Bank? No, there is very limited upside for Pirela, and he will likely be pushed to the bench or minors when San Diego’s outfield gets healthy. Still, he has enough ability to help while he’s playing.

 

 

Raimel Tapia, OF, Rockies

 

With Gerardo Parra going on the DL due to a quad injury and David Dahl’s return still not close, Tapia is set to see more playing time in Colorado. Tapia is a strong prospect who has been great at Triple-A Albuquerque this season, hitting .359-1-23 with 11 steals. Batting average and steals have been his two best offensive talents for fantasy owners, as a career .320 hitter with double-digit steals during every season of his minor league career. Despite only one start since Parra’s injury, Tapia should continue to pick up some playing time until either Parra or Dahl return.

Helpful for: 12-team NL-only leagues

Worth Breaking the Bank? No. Tapia’s playing time will be short-lived, though he could help at least over the next couple weeks.