(Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire)
Every Tuesday from now until the end of the season, we will be taking a look at players with under 15% ownership that should be on your radar in deep leagues. The majority of fantasy baseball leagues are mixed leagues with 10-12 teams, however we know many of you play in 18-20 team leagues and/or AL/NL only formats. This column is for you all.
I went pitching heavy this week, with a trio of interesting starting pitchers and a potential closer to take a look at in deeper formats.
Ryan Borucki, SP, TOR (5.2% owned)
With Jaime Garcia and Aaron Sanchez both on the disabled list, Ryan Borucki has made three starts with the Blue Jays. He’s posted a quality start in all three of them, with a 2.25 ERA, a 1.25 WHIP and a 16/6 K/BB ratio. Sanchez and Garcia are likely going to be out through the All-Star break, so Borucki could get a few more opportunities.
Borucki has done most of his damage with his nasty changeup, which qualifies as a Money Pitch: 40.8% o-swing rate, 40.2% zone rate and a 19.5% swinging strike rate. Those are nasty ratios, and should keep Borucki at least somewhat productive as long as he is sticking in the rotation. He has the ceiling of a Toby, but is definitely worth a look in deeper formats.
Mark Canha, OF, OAK (3.8% owned)
Since June 1, Mark Canha has slashed .322/.406/.540 with a 10.9% walk rate and a 19.8% strikeout rate. That’s pretty good. His four home runs is kinda meh, and his .375 BABIP is a bit misleading. However, a 44.1% hard-hit rate is very stellar, and being surrounded by a surprisingly excellent A’s lineup isn’t hurting. I wouldn’t be fighting over Canha on the waiver wire in too many formats, but I wouldn’t mind owning him in 16-20 team leagues, or any AL-only formats.
Niko Goodrum, 2B/1B/OF, DET (7.7% owned)
The Tigers finally cut bait on Dixon Machado, their opening day second baseman who slashed an abysmal .206/.263/.290. Goodrum, previously Detroit’s utility infielder, will absorb the starting duties at the keystone for the time being. Since July 1, Goodrum has hit a blistering .438 with one home run, four RBI and one stolen base. While that’s obviously not sustainable, it’s worth pointing out that Goodrum does have eight home runs and seven stolen bases on the year, and with full-time duty coming his way he could be on the way to a 15/15 season. With second, first and outfield eligibility, Goodrum is worth a look in 14-16 team leagues.
Nick Kingham, SP, PIT (9.4% owned)
Many of you ran to scoop up Kingham after Nick’s RotoGraphs article back on June 28. He had one disastrous start on July 2, mostly to drive Nick bonkers. He followed that up with a stellar start against the Phillies on Sunday, cruising through six innings with one run, four hits, one walk and five strikeouts.
Kingham has earned a quality start in four of his eight starts this season, and was one out away from a fifth. His 4.26 ERA isn’t anything special, but he has a 22.2% strikeout rate and a 1.15 WHIP. I have to agree with Nick, not just for the bonus* we all get when we back him up, but instead because Kingham is a guy who will have more quality starts than not going forward. I’d want him in 14-team leagues and beyond, and would keep him on the radar in 12-teamers as well.
*There’s not a bonus for agreeing with Nick. As far as I am aware.
A.J. Minter, RP, ATL (10.4% owned)
Minter took over the closing role while Arodys Vizcaino was on the disabled list. He only earned two saves in that time, but he didn’t allow an earned run and had just a 0.55 WHIP. That was enough to prompt the Braves to announce that they are slowly bring Vizcaino back into the closing role, allowing Minter a few more chances in the ninth inning. Ultimately, Vizcaino will probably get his job back. After all, he has a 1.71 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP.
However, in a league where saves are scarce, Minter is worth an add. He may only get a few more saves before Vizcaino takes back over, but his superb ratios are at least worth owning in deeper leagues. There are very few eighth inning options I’d want more than Minter at this moment.
Andrew Suarez, SP, SFG (11.0% owned)
Andrew Suarez has continued to impress. Starts against the Rockies and Cubs were both considered dangerous, but he escaped with just two combined earned runs in 13 innings, with four walks and 11 strikeouts. Suarez’s 3.92 ERA comes with a 3.56 FIP and a 3.42 SIERA, so there’s some legitimacy here. He doesn’t generate a ton of swings and misses, but his rotation spot is secure and his performance to date merits consideration in 12-teamers and beyond.
Jesse Winker, OF, CIN (15.4% owned)
I cheated a tiny bit this week, since Winker is technically owned in more than 15% of leagues. Sue me. (Please don’t, I own very little). Winker has continued to be a part of the Reds outfield carousel this season, although he has started four of the last five games. Winker has been as advertised, with a 14.7% walk rate and a 14.0% strikeout rate. In OBP leagues, Winker is a must own, with a .387 OBP.
Unfortunately, he provides little else. His six home runs are fine, although his 8.8% HR/FB rate is likely going to come up, especially since he is hitting the ball a lot harder (43.5%) than he did in his rookie season (35.7%) when he hit seven home runs in 47 games. Still, relying on Winker for power or speed (one career steal) is foolish. If you need to boost your OBP, he’s your guy. Don’t count on much else.