My mom doesn’t understand fantasy baseball at all. But when she heard that I was going to begin writing for a fantasy baseball website, she was so excited for me. She read the first column I published for Pitcher List, a column highlighting players that were being under-drafted based on their injury histories, and despite having no real understanding of what it meant from a fantasy baseball standpoint, ranted and raved about it.
Entering this March, I’m not sure my mother had ever listened to a podcast before in her life. After I told her I was going to be featured on On The Wire, not only did she tune in, she told every single person who cared enough to listen that I was making my podcast debut talking about baseball. The woman listened to the entire two-hour podcast from start to finish, maybe more than once. She called me the next day and said, “I didn’t really understand most of what you were talking about, but I could tell how much time and effort you put into it.” Honestly, I was a little embarrassed that she — a woman with baseball knowledge based solely on the Orioles’ broadcasts that she watches and absolutely no fantasy baseball experience — had spent so much time listening to me babble about relatively high-level fantasy baseball concepts.
After listing all the people she told about my first pieces of work for Pitcher List, she told me something else that stuck with me: “I’m proud of you for pursuing something you love.”
Moms are the best, man. Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there.
This week eight teams have a full seven-game slate while the Detroit Tigers and Pittsburgh Pirates have two off days throughout the week. Take a look at who fantasy managers should be focusing on with their FAAB bids.
SEVEN GAMES: BAL, LAA, LAD, NYM, NYY, STL, TOR, WAS
FIVE GAMES: DET, PIT
Investment Rating System
Christopher Morel ($$$): After starting the season in AAA Iowa, Morel was finally called up to the big leagues this past week. He posted a combo meal in his first major league game of the season, showing off his five-category potential. With Nico Hoerner due to come back from a minor injury in the very near future, Morel could be stuck competing for at-bats with Eric Hosmer and Nick Madrigal as a fourth outfielder and middle infield option for the Cubs. If he becomes a regular in the Cubs’ lineup, he could swing the fates of fantasy managers bold enough to scoop him.
JJ Bleday ($$$): Talk about a post-hype sleeper. Bleday has been seeing regular at-bats in the cleanup spot for Oakland and has performed much better than he did during his cameo appearance last season in Miami. Batting .344 with a 1.099 OPS, Bleday is making hard contact at a 32.4% rate while improving his strikeout rate from a season ago to just 20.6%. If Bleday can consider thriving in Oakland, just wait until he arrives in Las Vegas. You know that town will love a player whose first name is a pocket pair.
Tyrone Taylor ($$): With Garrett Mitchell heading to the IL, Taylor has taken over right field on an everyday basis for the Brewers. In just 30 plate appearances across nine games, Taylor has already popped a home run and swiped three bases, making him a premium speed option. His contact metrics aren’t the best in what has been a small sample size, but if he can settle in near his career averages, he’ll be a solid addition to speed-needy teams.
Jesús Sánchez ($$): Sanchez was featured in this article last week and rewarded those bold enough to grab him with a very nice performance through three games in Arizona. If Sanchez is going to continue posting a .556 slugging percentage with a near 30% hard contact rate, he’ll continue to be in the Marlins’ lineup. The bat plays, but for how long? Take advantage of the hot streak now, but don’t be afraid to dump him as soon as things turn cold.
Chas McCormick ($$): Likely unavailable in deeper leagues, McCormick is finally back from an IL stint but has been displaced at the top of the lineup. If he works his way back to the leadoff spot, McCormick could make an impact in speed categories. With an 11.5% walk rate, McCormick is markedly more valuable in OBP leagues and deeper points leagues.
Brett Wisely ($): There’s not much there as far as hitting metrics go, but Wisely has recorded at least one hit in each of his last six games entering the weekend. He swipes a base every now and then and offers positional flexibility with outfield and second base eligibility. He’s like a poor man’s version of Ji Hwan Bae.
Joey Wendle ($) – Despite struggling from the plate so far this season, Wendle could still manage to be an asset for a fantasy team. He’s making hard contact at a very respectable 33.3% but has very little to show for it with a .100 batting average entering the weekend. Wendle could be had for next to nothing, and could eventually show some signs of positive regression.
Nick Pratto ($$) – Pratto just keeps hitting despite being part of a Royals lineup that hasn’t done much around him. Posting a .347 batting average with a .970 OPS, Pratto has justified a pickup in deeper leagues. His multi-position eligibility is just a bonus.
Michael Massey ($$) – After looking rather listless at the plate to begin the year, Massey has recorded at least one hit in each of his last seven contests entering the weekend. In a seven-game span, Massey has batted .357 (1o-for-28) to raise his season average to .225. If he can sustain this improvement, Massey could make an impact at a shallow second base position.
Ezequiel Tovar ($) – An extremely slow start to the season may have warranted a drop from Tovar’s fantasy managers, but the 21-year-old shortstop may be finding his footing after a month of play. With the potential to steal bags and even show off some middling power (especially in Coors), Tovar could make sense to managers seeking upside at a heavy discount.
Ryan Noda ($) – Noda is more valuable for managers competing in an OBP league, where his .423 OBP ranks 11th among qualifying hitters. Though he strikes out at 32.5%, he’s earning free passes at an absurd 22.0%. Though the Oakland offense isn’t one to target, Noda could be one of the bright spots.
Travis d’Arnaud ($$$) – More of a shallow-league add unless his fantasy manager got impatient, D’Arnaud is back from an IL stint and firmly entrenched in the middle of the dangerous Atlanta Braves lineup. He won’t outperform Sean Murphy, but he could beat out Marcell Ozuna and/or Eddie Rosario for some DH plate appearances.
Freddy Fermin ($$) – Fermin has arrived in Kansas City as the backup catcher to Salvador Perez as it looks like MJ Melendez will be stuck strictly in the outfield moving forward. Fermin has recorded at least one hit in five of his seven starts, including a pair of home runs, and looks like a decent option in two-catcher leagues.
Eury Pérez ($$$$) – For those who haven’t seen Perez’s call-up video, make sure you watch it. These kinds of videos will never not be awesome. Now onto the baseball part — even if Perez gets blown up on Friday night against Cincinnati, he should still be a top waiver priority. He’s making his debut as the youngest player in Marlins’ franchise history, and easily the most hyped pitching prospect in the organization since the late Jose Fernandez debuted in 2013 at 20 years old. Perez has posted a 35.9% strikeout rate through 31.1 innings for the AA Pensacola Blue Wahoos while allowing just a .148 opponent batting average and a 0.81 WHIP. Perez opens on Friday night with the Reds (at home) and then is scheduled to face the Nationals next week (also at home). The only concern that fantasy managers should harbor in their bidding for Perez is that he only threw 75 innings in 2022 and has already tossed 30 at AA this year. His cap for the rest of the season is somewhere around 100 innings, and that seems pretty optimistic.
NOTE: MAKE SURE TO BID ON THE CORRECT EURY PEREZ. The Marlins pitcher, NOT the Giants outfielder.
Luis Severino ($$$$) – Severino was drafted universally in all formats, but with the rash of injuries so far this season fantasy managers may have been forced to make a difficult decision and drop the Yankees’ starter. If by some stroke of pure luck Severino is available on your league’s waiver wire, make sure to scoop him. In the last year of his contract with the Yankees, Severino will be pitching for a new contract for the rest of the season.
Mike Soroka ($$$) – Is it finally time? How many more injuries will it take to finally see Soroka in a Braves uniform again? Fantasy managers are waiting patiently for Atlanta to turn to their former ace. If he’s still on the wire in your league, this is probably your last chance to grab him at any sort of discount.
Bobby Miller/Matthew Liberatore ($$) – Both seem to be on the verge of a call-up, and both have the potential to be high-impact arms as soon as they arrive. The Cardinals are struggling to get production out of their rotation while the Dodgers are still scraping for a fifth starter after Gavin Stone looked poor in his debut. Once either Miller or Liberatore arrives in the majors, the prices will likely increase significantly. Fantasy managers in a league format that allows a pick-up prior to their 2023 debut should be scooping them at a discount now.
Taj Bradley ($$) – Speaking of discounts… after struggling in his last couple of starts at AAA Durham, Bradley’s price has likely bottomed out. We’ve seen him be elite at the major league level. Don’t let the four-days-rest thing scare you off. He’s legit. And if his fantasy manager has dropped him, take advantage of the mistake.
Dane Dunning ($$) – Through two turns in the rotation, Dunning has performed admirably, allowing just two earned runs across 11.0 innings pitched. Though the strikeout numbers leave a lot to be desired, Dunning excels at limiting baserunners, posting a meager 0.86 WHIP to pair with a 1.72 ERA. He isn’t sexy, but he’ll likely improve ratios at a time when it seems like a lot of streaming options will blow them up.
Dean Kremer ($$) – Even as an Orioles fan, this feels gross. Kremer has exceeded expectations in each of his last two starts, posting quality starts (and utterly outstanding outings) against two of the elite lineups in baseball in Atlanta and Tampa Bay. He’s not missing bats (17.9% strikeout rate). He’s not limiting hard contact (35.2% hard contact rate). He’s not even limiting opposing batting metrics (.293 opposing batting average, .328 BABIP). I truly do not understand how Dean Kremer has been successful, but here we are. This is a results-oriented game right? Shrug.
James Paxton ($) – Remember when The Big Maple used to strike fear into the hearts of opposing hitters, way back in 2019? Well, he’s back. Though I’m not sure how much fear he will instill. Paxton made his debut for the Red Sox on Friday night opposite the Cardinals, returning from two years’ worth of injuries.
Michael King ($$$) – King appears to have surpassed Clay Holmes as the primary closer in the Yankees’ bullpen. Now that Aaron Judge is back in the lineup and the team is good again, King should have plenty of opportunities to claim saves for the rest of the year. King has been outstanding so far this season, with a 35.1% CSW lending itself to a 1.35 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. King has excelled at limiting hard contact this season, allowing just a 13.8% hard contact rate. A long-time favorite of Aaron Boone, King is finally getting a chance to claim saves for the pinstripes, even if it is as part of a committee.
Craig Kimbrel ($$) – With José Alvarado headed to the IL with left elbow inflammation, Kimbrel inherits what appears to be a largely uncontested closer role. He’s not the same guy he was way back when, but he can still get the job done in the ninth inning for a Phillies team that should be winning more than it has so far.
Mark Leiter Jr. ($$) – Leiter is still dealing, posting a 0.94 WHIP and 1.13 ERA while posting a 38.5% strikeout rate. Though he hasn’t been given the opportunity to close out too many games, he has the stuff for it. It’s not like the Cubs’ bullpen has been in a stable situation so far this season.
Adbert Alzolay ($$) – Speaking of the Cubs’ bullpen situation, here’s the team’s latest closer, or at least the guy with the latest opportunity to close games. Though Alzolay’s usage hasn’t been straightforward. On Saturday, May 6, Alzolay earned the save for the Cubs, tossing a flawless ninth inning. On Sunday, May 7, Alzolay was used a little differently, entering in the 12th and powering through three innings of work before taking the loss in the 14th. Though clearly, he was a late-inning option, having him go for three innings doesn’t necessarily lend itself to a typical closer role. Monitor the situation in Chicago moving forward.
Matt Moore ($) – With José Quijada going down, Moore immediately slides into the setup role for the Angels. He’s been solid so far this season, posting a 1.00 ERA and 0.67 WHIP over 18.0 innings pitched while recording a pair of wins and eight holds. If Carlos Estévez is unavailable for any reason, usage, or injury, Moore should be one of the Angels’ top options to replace him in the ninth.
Matt Strahm ($) – After a successful stretch in the Phillies’ rotation, Strahm has been bumped to the bullpen but could still remain valuable as a long reliever. So far this season, Strahm has posted a career-best 24.8% strikeout rate while posting a 0.94 WHIP and 3.14 ERA (with a 2.45 xERA to go with it). A PLV darling so far this season, Strahm provides the Phillies with versatility and reliability in the late innings.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)