MLB Week 4 FAAB Insights

Still rolling with a conservative approach to early season FAAB.

Welcome back to the 5th edition of our weekly FAAB insights. Yes, 5th edition, 5th of 27. We’re closing out week four of the 2021 MLB season, the first of which was half a week. It’s day 25 of 186. Remember the magic number “2.7” we heard about all last season and throughout the offseason? Most teams haven’t completed half of the “point seven”. Basically, it’s still really early!

That fact is fortunate for many of us who have not gotten off to the starts we would have liked. We have time. There’s a long way to go. Let’s dive into some players that may be available this week to improve our rosters. Whether we’re looking for improvement at a position or in a category, there are possibilities. As usual, I’ll use TGFBI roster rates for our 15-team league reference and Yahoo for 12-teamers and below.

 

Injuries

 

As will be the case each week, injuries have wreaked havoc on many of our teams once again. One of the most concerning is the continued absence of Christian Yelich from the Brewers’ lineup. A couple of weeks ago many of us had Yelich in our lineups as he was originally classified day to day with his lower back issue. This wasn’t surprising as it was something he’s dealt with in the past, and we knew it was a possibility coming into the season.

The Brewers did us a favor this past week by actually placing Yelich on the IL before us having to set our fantasy lineups for the week, but as the week has progressed his return any time soon has been becoming more of a question each day. Two full weeks since he played his most recent game, he has been sent back to Milwaukee for further testing including an MRI.

With missed time for some players comes an opportunity for others, and in the case of Yelich’s absence, Billy Mckinney (0% TGFBI, 1% Yahoo) has been fun to watch this week. However, I was disappointed when I pulled up his game log. A .244 BA with 3 HR, 5 RBI, and 6 R in a couple of weeks seems like a nice fill in at first glance, but all three home runs came this week, they were his only hits, his only runs, the only runs he drove in, and he’s not a stolen base threat. I suspect he’ll be added in some deeper leagues this week, but my interest is limited to NL-only and the deepest of mixed leagues.

Another superstar outfielder, Juan Soto, was placed on the IL this week with a shoulder issue. It sounds as if his recovery is coming along smoothly, but the earliest he’s eligible to return is Friday, so Andrew Stevenson (2% TGFBI, 1% Yahoo) has been leading off for the Nationals. Again, I don’t have much interest. Washington has a five-game week and in between the Monday and Thursday off days, they will face a couple of lefty starters in Toronto – we may not see Stevenson until the weekend, and Soto may be back then as well.

Lewis Brinson (0% TGFBI, 0% Yahoo) was recalled from the alternate site by the Marlins to replace Starling Marte who has a cracked rib. Brinson got off to a nice start going 2-for-7 in his first two games but was already rested in just his 5th game up after going 0-for-6 in the next two. He’ll be the center fielder in Miami most days, but in 844 PA over portions of five MLB seasons, he hasn’t been able to produce even a fraction of what we were hoping for when he was a top prospect as recently as just three years ago.

 

Call-ups

 

While it doesn’t appear that any of the direct replacements of the injured superstar outfielders will be much help for our fantasy rosters, there is help on the way in other organizations. Alex Kirilloff (98% TGFBI, 32% Yahoo) and Adolis Garcia (29% TGFBI, 4% Yahoo), of the Twins and Rangers respectively, are two recent call-ups that will receive a lot of FAAB attention this week.

Kirilloff is off to an 0-for-10 start, but he has been in the middle of the Minnesota lineup the past couple of days and will hopefully be allowed to get things going. He is projected for a decent BA (.260 to .280 range) with 15 to 20 HR and close to double-digit SB potential over a full season with regular playing time. I’m in the one TGFBI league where he is available and I’m looking at a modest bid (8% to 10% of my FAAB) not expecting for him to be added to my roster. In shallower leagues, that range of bid may be enough to roster the potential five-category contributor.

I am kicking myself for being late to the party in most of my leagues when it comes to Garcia. Yes, he’s still available in spots, but I foresee him being one of the most sought-after players this evening. After starting with five hits in 25 PA (1 HR) in his first week with the Rangers, he exploded for 4 HR with 8 RBI hitting cleanup most days this week. He has taken over the center field position in Texas, and if he continues to produce at anything close to this level he’ll be great for the teams that were in early. He also has the potential to chip in a handful of SB, but he’s 0 for 2 in his attempts thus far. The K% is a concern and probably means the .267 BA is coming down, so as I stick with my conservatively aggressive approach to my bids at this point in the season, I’ll be in for 4% to 5% of my budget but don’t expect it to be enough.

Nico Hoerner (46% TGFBI, 8% Yahoo), who Shelly Verougstraete (@ShellyV_643) predicted would get the call on last week’s episode of On the Wire (@OnTheWirePod) with myself and Adam Howe (@EightyGrade), has gotten off to a hot start for the Cubs going 4-for-7 including three doubles and adding 3 BB. His versatility playing all over the diamond and nice K% should keep him in the lineup most days and he could approach double-digits in HR and/or SB with that regular playing time. His bids tonight could be all over the place, so I’m including him with my typical conservative approach hoping to roster him in leagues where he may fall through the cracks.

On the pitching side, Shelly was also correct in mentioning we’d see Spencer Howard (44% TGFBI, 4% Yahoo) back with the Phillies soon. After six disappointing starts in 2020, Howard will begin his 2021 time with the Phillies in the bullpen. I’m hoping to roster him everywhere he’s available. It’s only been a couple of relief innings, but his fastball velocity is up two and a half ticks over last season. The fact that he’s in the bullpen could keep his bids on the low side this week. I’m looking at 3% to 4% in spots he’s available intending to start him as a multi-inning reliever and saving possibly hundreds of FAAB dollars over his cost if he makes one nice five-inning start.

 

Schedule

 

There are a couple of guys I like for the next couple of weeks based on their teams’ schedules. Six teams have back-to-back seven-game weeks coming up – Milwaukee, Oakland, Philadelphia, St Louis, Tampa, and Texas. Mitch Moreland (15% TGFBI, 2% Yahoo) will get plenty of PA over the next 14 days as the A’s primary DH, even if he sits vs lefties, giving us a nice boost in HR and RBI where we need it.

     Francisco Mejia (85% TGFBI, 2% Yahoo) has been playing right at half of Tampa’s games at catcher and has been showing glimpses of why he was such a highly ranked hitting catcher prospect in Cleveland. He’s off to a .286 start with 1 HR and 6 RBI in 39 PA. Half of 14 games in a couple of weeks isn’t bad for a catcher, and he may begin to receive a bit more playing time if he continues to hit.

I’m not thrilled with many of the available two-start pitchers that appear to line up for the next couple of weeks. I am intrigued by Austin Gomber (29% TGFBI, 4% Yahoo), as I would be with anyone heading to San Francisco and Arizona in the same week, but I am concerned with the BB% and am treading lightly.

Alex Wood (44% TGFBI, 24% Yahoo) has a two-step next week at Colorado and at home vs San Diego. I won’t have him in my starting lineup for those matchups, but will be attempting to roster him for this week at home vs the Rockies and two weeks from now at Pittsburgh. His first two starts (12 IP, 0.75 ERA, 0.42 WHIP, 11 K) were both vs Miami, but we’re talking the Rockies on the road and the Pirates here!

This may be the last time this season that I consider home games for St Louis beneficial to their pitching staff as the ball starts to fly out of Busch Stadium when it gets hot and humid. But over the next couple of weeks, John Gant (15% TGFBI, 4% Yahoo) possibly has three home starts vs the Phillies, Mets, and Rockies. Gant has built his way up to a six-inning outing yesterday, has 18 K in 20 IP, and I’m really hoping just averaging 5 IP per start and the Phillies coming to town keeps the bids low tonight.

 

Close

 

I left the ‘r’ off intentionally! The absolute craziness that is the save category in a world where MLB managers have come around to using their relievers the way many of us have actually thought they should for years is the most frustrating aspect of fantasy baseball. I’m still being patient in the leagues I need those saves. Yes, Josh Staumont (42% TGFBI, 13% Yahoo) got his first save yesterday, but he was the sixth Royal to record a save this season and none of those pitchers have recorded a second. I believe at season’s end Staumont will lead the team in saves, but I don’t think he’s the primary guy yet. The nice thing is he can be of value without the saves as the Royals use him often and he does strike hitters out.

I’ve been stashing Lucas Sims on teams for much of the season, but his most recent outing has me backing that up with Sean Doolittle (7% TGFBI, 10% Yahoo) where available if I have the room. As with many of the closing situations around the league, this has zero to do with any stats, only possible opportunity. In the mess that has been the Cincinnati bullpen, it’s worth a couple of bucks for the stab at a veteran with 111 career saves, 29 of them just two years ago.

As always, good luck tonight, but most importantly enjoy the games!

 

Photo from Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire | Design by Quincey Dong (@threerundong on Twitter)

 

Kevin Hasting

Kevin is a life-long KC Royals fan who resides with his amazing wife and daughter in Keaau, HI. He has been playing fantasy baseball for over 20 years, cohosts the On the Wire weekly FAAB podcast with Adam Howe on the PitcherList Podcast Network, and was the 2020 TGFBI overall champion.

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