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Impact Report: Week 4

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

 

Reds bullpen

 

We knew Cincinnati’s bullpen was a mess before the season started, but this is ridiculous. J.J. Hoover has failed in his attempt to close for the second time in three years, and has now allowed 13 earned runs in six innings. Former Triple-A closer Jumbo Diaz was demoted to Triple-A last week, so he’s out of the picture. That leaves a committee of Caleb Cotham, Blake Wood, Tony Cingrani, and Ross Ohlendorf to fight it out for saves, but we really can’t rule out Keyvius Sampson or JC Ramirez, either. None of these pitchers have significant experience closing games, and Ohlendorf (7.88 ERA) is the only pitcher with a K/BB ratio of better than 2.00. I’d vote for Diaz is the frontrunner if he were still in the majors. After his demotion, no one in this situation has a clear lead. The pen’s ERA this season is up to 6.72, worst in baseball.

Helpful for: All leagues

Worth Breaking the Bank? No, the winner is anyone’s guess, and this is a very bad team anyway.

 

 

Justin Smoak, 1B, Blue Jays

 

Chris Colabello’s 80-game suspension for PEDs opens the door for Smoak to play regularly at first base. Smoak entered last season in the same situation until he was unseated by Colabello. At this point in his career, we certainly know what Smoak is with 15-plus home runs in three of the last four seasons. He’s also just a career .224 hitter, including .226 last season. The power surge we saw out of Smoak last season (18 homers in only 296 at-bats) does make him very intriguing in a world where Mike Napoli, Pedro Alvarez, Chris Carter, and Mark Reynolds are valuable in mixed leagues. The RBI opportunities should also be aplenty, hitting sixth in Toronto’s high-powered batting order most of the time when he’s played this season.

Helpful for: 12-team leagues

Worth Breaking the Bank? No, Smoak will hurt your batting average, but the power has value while he’s playing regularly.

 

 

Blake Snell, SP, Rays

 

Snell was already sent down following his great debut vs. the Yankees on Saturday. This is still an opportunity to stash him if he wasn’t rostered in your league on draft day. The lefty is arguably baseball’s best pitching prospect after posting a 1.41 ERA between three levels last season with a 10.9 K/9. This year he’s posted a 2.51 ERA with 21 strikeouts in only 14.1 innings at Triple-A Durham. Snell averaged 94 mph on his fastball yesterday, great velocity for a southpaw, and didn’t allow his past control issues to hinder him. The control is the only immediate concern, with a career 4.5 BB/9 and 3.6 BB/9 last season. Snell is probably already one of Tampa Bay’s five best starters, which is saying something in a loaded rotation. Don’t be surprised if he’s up for good within the next couple weeks.

Helpful for: All leagues (when called up again)

Worth Breaking the Bank? Yes, he has potential to be game changer and should be back soon.

 

 

AL-only Players

 

Rafael Ortega, OF, Angels

 

Ortega is seeing semi-regular playing time with Daniel Nava sidelined, which is worth something. So far, he’s hitting just .238-0-1 in six games but is a career .289 minor league hitter who has swiped 30-plus bases multiple times. While he hasn’t done enough to replace Nava permanently, a couple good days could be all he needs this week. Nava (knee) is just starting to swing a bat, and won’t be back for at least another week.

Helpful for: 12-team AL-only leagues

Worth Breaking the Bank? No

 

 

Henry Owens, SP, Red Sox

 

After losing Joe Kelly to a shoulder injury this week, Owens is getting the call to replace him. Owens is off to a blazing start at Triple-A Pawtucket after losing the fifth starter competition in spring training, with a 1.00 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 18 innings. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the lefty’s control continues to haunt him, with 10 walks in that time. The lack of control has been an ongoing storyline for Owens, though he did manage a decent 3.4 BB/9 in 11 starts with Boston last year. For Owens to have prolonged value, he needs to outpitch knuckleballer Steven Wright, who has arguably been Boston’s best starter this season, as Eduardo Rodriguez is on the comeback trail from a knee injury.

Helpful for: 12-team AL-only leagues

Worth Breaking the Bank? No, his spot in the rotation is probably just temporary.

 

 

NL-only Players

 

Alex Presley, OF, Brewers

 

The Brewers center field merry-go-round continues. They sent down Keon Broxton last week, and have called up veteran center fielder Alex Presley to join Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Ramon Flores. Presley has significant major league experience, and his numbers aren’t terrible with a career .690 OPS and .258 batting average. He hasn’t shown much power or speed in the majors, but the Brewers are hoping he can contribute while they wait on top prospect Brett Phillips, currently at Double-A.

Helpful for: Deep NL-only leagues

Worth Breaking the Bank? No

 

 

Cesar Vargas, SP, Padres

 

Vargas is the replacement to the replacement, taking the fifth start job after Erlin went on the DL. He fared well in his major league debut vs. St. Louis, allowing one run in five innings, which isn’t a shock given his strong control. Vargas allowed only one walk in 12.2 innings at Double-A San Antonio, and has a career 2.7 BB/9 in the minors. Vargas lives on a cutter that averaged 89 mph in his first start, and also threw his curveball more than 30 percent of the time. He’s seen consistent success in the minors, and certainly has the ability to stick around, even while lacking velocity.

Helpful for: 12-team NL-only leagues

Worth Breaking the Bank? No

 

 

Jemile Weeks, 2B, Padres

 

Cory Spangenberg went to the DL with a quad injury earlier this week, opening up second base for Rickie Weeks’ younger brother. Jemile Weeks hit .303 with 22 steals in his rookie season with Oakland back in 2011, but has been struggling since then. Now with his fourth organization, Weeks is getting a look after a fast start at Triple-A El Paso. He hit only .204 at Triple-A Pawtucket last season, and the speed that he showed earlier in his career has clearly withered away. Still, it’s not as if the Padres are dead set on their regular infield combo, and Weeks has the versatility to be a utilityman if he can perform well in his chance.

Helpful for: Deep NL-only leagues

Worth Breaking the Bank? No