Allow me to start this week by pleading with your sensibilities. If you are in need of a middle infielder in your fantasy league because you are decimated by injuries or perhaps just underperformance, then go get Nicky Lopez.
I have talked about him multiple times this offseason, but feel like he needs one more mention as he is only 27% owned on Fantrax. I really don’t understand how he is not at least hovering around the 40% mark yet. He is basically what we were hoping to get from Nick Madrigal this year with a good average and some speed. You could do a lot worse, and right now when every at bat counts, he is playing full-time and can pad those stats.
Similar to last week, going forward we are shifting our focus in the Performance Report towards players owned in 30% of leagues or less. This is due to the fact that most fantasy leagues are past their trade deadline. So, let’s scour the waiver wire for players that can make a difference.
Living in the Chicagoland area, I am hearing a lot right now from Cubs fans about the state of their team. Since their massive selloff a few weeks back, the lineup has been filled with a bunch of guys even some of the more diehard fans have a hard time recognizing. Name value doesn’t matter so much at this point in the season for the fantasy player because at bats are king.
Enter Quad-A journeyman Frank Schwindel.
Schwindel is a 29-year-old bat first player who’s spent the better part of the past eight years in the minors. After getting DFA’d by the Athletics in July, the Cubs scooped him up and gave him a chance on the major league roster.
Since joining the Cubs on July 30th, Schwindel has hit for a .365/.403/.683 line including four home runs. Most recently he has settled into the second slot in the batting order where it appears he will stay through the remainder of the season.
I wish I was making this up, but a friend of mine who is a huge Cubs fan compared Schwindel’s emergence to when José Bautista broke onto the scene and exploded in his age 30 season. Here’s the thing, not only did Bautista have prodigious power in his bat, but he knew how to take a walk.
Schwindel is walking at a 6% clip right now, but that’s a career-high for him. He just doesn’t have great patience at the plate. Not to mention, he is saddled with a .404 BABIP right now which would tend to indicate he has gotten lucky on some of these hits.
None of this is to say that I think Schwindel isn’t worth a pickup. Quite the contrary. In any deeper league where I need the at-bats, I’m going out and getting Schwindel right now. He won’t cost you anything besides the roster spot and he is hot. Go get him and ride the streak, and then if or when he cools off, drop him and pick up someone else.
Jorge Mateo is a guy who many in the fantasy community have been hoping would break out and become a thing the last few years. The speed with him is off the charts and he’s pretty consistently gotten preseason buzz as one of those “if only he got a shot” type of players. I must admit, when you have a 71 steal season under your belt in the minors, it’s easy to see why there is some hype.
So then why has he never gotten a real shot at starting? Well, the issue with Mateo has been that even in the minors he has been unable to get on base or keep his strikeouts in check as he advanced up the minor league development ladder.
That issue is what resulted in finding himself moving on from the Yankees to the Athletics to the Padres and now finally over to the Orioles. The only good thing about this move is that with the Orioles and their lack of major league depth, Mateo is being given a real shot to show what he can do as the season is winding down.
For the last two weeks, the Orioles have given Mateo consistent starts around the infield. He has accrued 54 plate appearances and slashed .340/.352/.491 with zero home runs, six doubles, and three stolen bases. At first glance, the average does look great, but let’s look a little deeper.
In this stretch of games, Mateo has zero walks, a 29.6% strikeout rate, two caught stealing, and worst of all a .486 BABIP. I am inclined to think that Mateo’s speed will always help him get on base and result in a higher BABIP, but that number is ridiculously unsustainable.
Yes, I know I just told you to ride the streak with Schwindel, but he at least is showing some plate skills. If you are desperate, like truly desperate, for steals then Mateo might be a decent option. Otherwise, I don’t think I can recommend him as a pickup. His 20% ownership might be too high.
Another week goes by and another slew of pitchers get shut down for one reason or another. Quality innings are becoming more and more scarce. So when you find a low-owned starter who has a chance to help your ratios, you need to jump on getting him.
This is where I find Eli Morgan and why I am recommending adding him. Morgan has had a pretty rocky rookie campaign so far in Cleveland, but he has shown a little life more recently. If we were to just look at his four August starts, he has pitched to a 3.52 ERA while striking out 21 batters in 23 innings. While he has given up seven walks (which isn’t bad, but isn’t great either), he has only had one home run hit against him in these starts.
At just 17% owned, it is extremely likely that Morgan is available in your league. He is definitely more of a deep league add, but he could even be a watch candidate in shallower leagues.
Cleveland always seems to get the best out of their pitchers, and maybe Morgan could be the next to come out of nowhere and surprise us. He isn’t as physically gifted as some of the previous Cleveland breakouts, but his name needs to be added to watchlists everywhere.
Verdict: BUY – in deep leagues Watchlist – in shallow leagues
This last guy is a little bit of a cheat because he is 36% owned on Fantrax as of this morning, but he’s someone who needs to get picked up wherever available. With the injury to George Springer, Dickerson should now have a cleared path to at-bats in the immediate future.
Dickerson isn’t going to “wow” anyone with his skills anymore, but he is a good ballplayer and helps in every category. Since being acquired by the Blue Jays at the beginning of the month, Dickerson has had a .282 average with two HR, one SB, while also only striking out 9.5 % of the time. He is the definition of a stat padder and may be hanging out on your waiver wire as a forgotten player. If he is, go and get him!
Photo by Mick Haupt/Unsplash | Feature Image by Justin Redler (@reldernitsuj on Twitter)