The talk of the town this week among catchers is Alex Avila. With Wilson Contreras out for the foreseeable future, Avila is drawing most of the starts for the North Siders. He’s hitting .269 with 13 HRs and 36 RBIs and now, with all of the starts he’s drawing, this sounds like an automatic add on its face. But let’s scratch past the surface to see if there’s an add here. Here is his xStats data by month:
April: .417/.521/.904 (178 xOBA+)
May: .261/.389/.602 (128 xOBA+)
June: .298/.411/.583 (130 xOBA+)
Jul: .186/.313/.259 (83 xOBA+)
Aug: .210/.336/.457 (103 xOBA+)
It looks like he started off red hot and has cooled over the course of the season. It’s important to keep in mind that there are issues with the Statcast data out of Detroit, so those numbers from April through June might be slightly inflated. Read more about it here (http://www.fangraphs.com/community/detroits-batted-ball-readings-are-hot/). Thanks to Reddit users dtpolitt and imnotdoingtheprogram who put together much of the information above. Avila has proven himself to be slightly above league average over the course of his career (108 wRC+). He’s over 50% owned in Yahoo! so I can’t use him on this list. Still, if he’s still available in your league, he deserves consideration. If you’re in a points league, Avila will get consistent starts and could put up decent production for you. However, if you play categories, he’s not going to help your ratios too much. He’s got a great week ahead though, playing all 7 at home vs Cincy (Asher Wojciechowski, Luis Castillo, Homer Bailey, and Scott Feldman) and then Toronto (J.A. Happ, Nick Tepesch, and Marco Estrada), so he’s worth rolling with. Just don’t think he’ll be your savior at the position.
Let’s look back at last week:
Mike Zunino (Seattle Mariners) – 2 for 13, 2 R, HR, 2 RBIs, 6 Ks. It might be time to retire Zunino from these ranks. The HR is helpful, but he likely killed your ratios. He’s been catastrophically bad since June and I need more proof of a turnaround before recommending him to anyone ever again. Even your worst enemy? Nobody deserves Zunino right now.
Wellington Castillo (Baltimore Orioles) – 4 for 15, HR, 2 RBIs, 3 R. I’m very happy with this production from Castillo. I caught some flak for recommending him because of his timeshare with Caleb Joseph. That’s why you’ve gotta pick and choose your spots. He’s not gonna be a season long fantasy catcher as long as he’s giving up about 40% of games to Caleb Joseph, but he can be a very serviceable streamer.
Matt Wieters (Washington Nationals) – 3 for 17, RBI. This is a bad week for Wieters, but the good news is, it won’t really get too much worse than this. If you want to roll with him consistently, I can’t blame you, but I would still look for higher upside catchers on a weekly basis. Unfortunately, he’s now at 54% owned and I can no longer recommend him. It’s been a good run, sweet child.
Manny Pina (Milwaukee Brewers) – 7 for 24, 3 R, 3 2B, HR, 3 RBIs, 7 Ks. Atta boy. Pina is really doing his best to take advantage of his opportunity with Stephen Vogt out, and I’m a big fan. I’m not totally on board this week though with 2 off days limiting his possible impact. He could definitely prove me wrong with 3 games in the hitter’s heaven that is Coors though.
And now onto this week’s recommendations:
Tyler Flowers (Atlanta Braves) – He’s been a very popular topic of discussion as of late, even being featured in Ben’s Buy & Sell article. He’s hitting .298 on the year and his numbers are on the rise. He’s got a great week ahead with 4 games in Coors (Chad Bettis, Kyle Freeland, Jon Gray, and Jeff Hoffman), then 3 games at home vs the Reds (Sal Romano, Asher Wojciechowski, and Luis Castillo). He sat 2 games on Friday and Saturday last week, so he shouldn’t have a problem getting enough playing time. Fire him up and let’s see what he can accomplish.
Wellington Castillo (Baltimore Orioles) – Huh. Fancy seeing you here, Castillo. I could’ve sworn I just finished talking about you. He’s a good hitter and when he plays, he performs. The O’s are in Seattle to face Yovani Gallardo, Andrew Moore, and Marco Gonzales, followed by an off day, then they host the Angels in the form of Ricky Nolasco, JC Ramirez, and Parker Bridwell. None of those matchups are particularly difficult, and hopefully the off day helps get him an extra start. He sat on Sunday the 13th, so he should draw the first start of the week.
Unfortunately, I can only recommend these two this week. Yan Gomes and Wilson Ramos have great matchups this week, but have been just….so bad. If you need a Hail Mary, you can try one of them, but I advise strongly against it.