Follow me on Twitter @fantasybbguru
Welcome to another weekend and another chance to hit the wire and improve your squad. The march to a championship continues!! Over the course of this season, I’ve made early recommendations on guys like Nestor Cortes, Taylor Ward, Clay Holmes, Josh Naylor, Jhoan Duran, Jose Miranda, Edward Cabrera, William Contreras and many, many others. Who will it be this week? Take a close look at the guys below and see where you can make room for them. As always, the recommendations are divided between shallower (10/12 team) and deeper (15 team+ and AL/NL only) leagues. Good luck and keep hitting me up on Twitter with fantasy questions – I’ll answer them all as soon as I can!
Shallow Leagues – 10/12 team mixed leagues:
Garrett Cooper, 1B/OF, Miami Marlins:
Garrett Cooper remains substantially under-rostered even after a strong showing in 2021 and an excellent start this season. So far, Cooper is slashing .319/.386/.478 with 4 HR, 20 R, and 27 RBI in 207 PAs. He is a line drive hitter that can swing the stick – Cooper is in the top 15% of all MLB hitters in average exit velocity, max exit velocity, wOBA, and xBA and top 25% in hard hit %, xSLG, and Barrel % . . . how can this guy still be out there on the wire, you ask? He shouldn’t be, so scoop him up. Cooper’s numbers would be far more impressive if he hit fewer ground balls and some of those line drives went for home runs, but he is 4th in batting average among qualified 1B and is 5th in doubles, demonstrating his pop. In addition, Cooper has batted 2nd, 3rd, or 4th in that Marlins lineup in each of the last 23 games. He’s been very consistent and is a solid add, especially if your team could use a batting average boost.
Bryson Stott, 2B/SS, Philadelphia Phillies:
Injuries to Jean Segura and Johan Carmargo have opened the door for Bryson Stott to obtain more regular playing time with the Phillies. And although Stott’s 2022 major league debut was rough (.123/.179 with 4 runs and 7 RBI in his first 24 games), Stott is showing signs of fulfilling his potential. Since the calendar flipped to June, Stott has been on fire: .333/.394/.667 with 3 HR, 11 R, 9 RBI, and 1 SB in 8 games. And notably, his strikeout rate has dropped from 32% over those first 24 games to just 15% during this hot streak. Stott was always a guy that showed good plate discipline and walk rates in the minors and his 9% BB% over these past 8 games is more in line with his minor league numbers. The injuries have opened the door, but if he can build on these gains, Stott will be making a play for more regular PT going forward.
Corey Kluber, SP, Tampa Bay Rays:
Wait around long enough, and things always come back into fashion . . . Don’t look now, but the Klubot is once again a serviceable fantasy pitcher for the Rays. Although not the Kluber of old, he has had only one truly bad start this year and in his last 5 starts, Kluber has 2 wins, a 3.12 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and 24 strikeouts in 26 innings. And if you remove a 3 inning, 8 earned run blowup at the Angels over a month ago (yes, fun with statistics), Kluber’s 2022 line would be: 3-1, 53 innings, 44 hits, 9 walks, 2.71 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 49 Ks. In other words, beyond that one land mine, Kluber has been remarkably consistent for the Rays and definitely worthy of a spot at the back end of your rotation, even in shallower leagues. He’s a strong SP with very good ratios (especially WHIP, which is often forgotten) on a good team for win potential.
Tanner Houck, SP/RP, Boston Red Sox:
It’s no secret that the Red Sox bullpen has been a disaster this season and was desperately in need of a boost. After trying out Houck as a starter earlier this season, it now appears clear that Houck will be used by the Red Sox as a "high-leverage reliever" and he earned his first save of the year on Friday night. Houck is someone that I have been high on for the past two seasons and someone I touted early in the season as a sleeper SP. He has absolutely electric stuff and is well suited for a high-leverage bullpen role (love that wipeout slider with a 38% whiff rate). In his last 7 relief appearances, Houck has pitched 18 innings, allowing just 12 hits, 1 earned run, 5 walks, and with 17 strikeouts, a 0.50 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP. He won’t continue to pitch to those numbers, of course, but I have faith that Houck can be a valuable contributor on any staff and it likely won’t be long until he is racking up some saves for your squad.
Paul Sewald, RP, Seattle Mariners:
I know, I know . . . not the Mariners bullpen again – I get it, but hear me out! In these messy bullpen situations, the best you can do is to bet on the talent and, so far this year, Sewald has been the best relief pitcher on that team (yes, Castillo has been much better of late). In his past three appearances, Sewald has two saves and one hold and he has been excellent over the past month: 14 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 11 Ks, 1.26 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 4 SVs, 3 HLDs. While Castillo has also saved a couple of games recently, Sewald has been the more consistent of the two over the full season and consistency typically wins the hearts of managers. The Mariners may never be a team that relies on one guy to consistently close out games, but Sewald will continue to get significant opportunities given his ability to avoid blowups (of which Castillo has had a couple in 2022). If you need saves, Sewald is still very available and should be rostered in shallower leagues.
Deeper Leagues (15 team or AL/NL Only)
Gabriel Moreno, C, Toronto Blue Jays:
The #4 rated prospect in all of baseball (per MLB.com) is getting the call to the show and will make his debut this weekend. Gabriel Moreno is a stud catching prospect with a big bat that looks ready for majors. Although the power has been curiously absent so far in 2022 (just 1 HR in 36 AAA games), Moreno has a mature approach at the plate and should hold his own in the majors given his low K% (17%) and good BB% (8%) in AAA. Overall in AAA in 2022, Moreno has hit .324/.380/.404 with 1 HR, 18 R, 23 RBI, and 3 SBs in 150 PAs, although he has been particularly hot of late, hitting .362 over the past 15 games. It is unclear how much playing time Moreno will get given that the Jays already have an exceptional hitting catcher in Alejandro Kirk, but they would not be calling up Moreno to ride the pine. I expect he will play about 4 times a week and is therefore worth an add in all 2 catcher leagues or deeper.
Ezequiel Duran, 3B, Texas Rangers:
The Rangers 3B situation has been a disaster ever since Josh Jung was injured prior to the season and Ezequiel Duran is the latest Rangers prospect to try and fill that hole. He was promoted from AA last weekend and has performed well in the small sample since his call-up: .273/.273/.409 with 1 HR, 3 R, 1 RBI. Noteworthy also is that he has started every game since his arrival from the minors. In AA this year, Duran had flourished – he was slashing .317/.365/.574 with 7 HR, 34 R, 31 RBI, and 7 SBs in 45 games, a true power/speed combo. Duran was also showing improved plate discipline, striking out less than 20% of the time for the first time in his career. It remains to be seen if he can carryover this plate discipline to the majors and sustain the momentum he has built, but he is a worthy gamble in deeper leagues at a thin 3B position.
Jack Suwinski, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates:
Suwinski has earned essentially a full-time lineup spot for the Pirates with the way he has played, especially of late. In the last 13 games, Suwinski has hit .318/.375/.636 with 4 HR, 9 R, 8 RBI, and 2 SBs (a 181 wRC+) and that combination of PT and a hot bat is valuable in deep and NL only leagues. Suwinski’s bat has steadily caused him to be moved up in the lineup from the bottom of the order to 3rd, where he has hit 3 of the past 5 games for the Pirates. Suwinski isn’t going to hit for a high average or have a high OBP, but he’ll provide enough pop to be valuable and, if he sticks toward the top of the order, he will accumulate enough runs and RBI to be a valuable contributor in deep leagues. Always ride the hot hand and Suwinski is currently hot.
Luis Garcia, 2B/SS, Washington Nationals:
So many Luis Garcias that we need to know! This Luis Garcia is a 22-year-old middle infielder for the Nationals that made his MLB debut in 2020 when he was just 20 years old. Since that time, Garcia has continued his development and was promoted this year following the injury to Alcides Escobar. In the nine games since that call-up, Garcia has looked very good and has been hitting the ball with authority (average EV of 92 mph and max of 113, very good numbers). He is hitting .314 with 1 HR, 3 R, and 7 RBI in just those handful of games, building upon a 2022 AAA campaign in which he hit .314/.368/.531 with 8 HR, 39 R, and 32 RBI in just 42 games . . . very impressive. If you are in need of a MI, I would give Garcia a shot. If he continues his rapid development, he could be a strong contributor for the Nationals and your fantasy team.
Graham Ashcraft, SP, Cincinnati Reds:
The Cincinnati Reds have found a new fireballer. Graham Ashcraft has burst on the major league scene and he is worthy of your attention. The young righty has a cutter and a sinker that each average over 97 mph and he touches 100 mph on the gun regularly. While you would imagine a guy with those numbers would have a lot of strikeouts, that isn’t the case and, in fact, Ashcraft is somehow averaging under 5 Ks per 9 innings. While I normally would not recommend a pitcher that gets so few strikeouts, Ashcraft has the kind of arsenal that typically yields strikeouts and his Statcast page demonstrates he has been exceptional at limiting hard contact. But Ashcraft is elite in another way that I love – he induces a ton of ground balls. Ashcraft currently has an over 60% ground ball rate and, although he has thrown just 23 innings this season, if he qualified, that would be 2nd in the majors behind only Framber Valdez, the undisputed ground ball king. Ashcraft cannot sustain his current 1.14 ERA, but the 3.36 FIP and 3.72 xFIP show that he has the skills to succeed despite a less than ideal team context.
Jason Adam, RP, Tampa Bay Rays:
Yes, I am going to recommend both a Mariners reliever and a Rays reliever in the same column and no I’m not drunk . . . yet. If you want to see a Statcast page that is absolutely dripping blood red, take a peek at Jason Adam’s page. He is in the top 2% of the league in 7 different categories . . . seven! And while the Rays are not going to anoint any one pitcher as their closer, it is fairly clear that Adam has been one of the best on the team – he has yielded just 8 hits so far this year in 25 innings! And he has a save and a hold in his last two outings. His current 2022 line is: 25 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 8 BB, 30 Ks, 0.72 ERA, and 0.64 WHIP. Even if he doesn’t pile up saves (and he will get his opportunities), Adam should be a good RP source for strikeouts and a ratio protector. Worthy of a roster spot in deeper leagues or if you are desperate for saves in a shallower format.