The catching pool remains full of emptiness with no heroes on the horizon. The next man up in St. Louis is Francisco Pena after Carson Kelly landed on the DL with a hamstring injury. Over his last three games, Pena has seven hits in 12 at-bats with four runs, one HR, and one RBI. He’s a career .241 hitter in the minors with 90 HRs, 393 RBI, and 11 SBs over 3,154 at-bats while showing a jump in power at AAA (27 HRs and 189 RBI over 1,273 at-bats. Francisco will have a three to four-week window to pride power to a Fantasy team.
Over his last four games, Tyler Flowers has five hits in 12 at-bats with two runs, one HR, and four RBI. Over this span, Flowers showed improvement in his approach by taking six walks with one K. Only a part-time player, but he may be the best short-term option in deep leagues.
With Ryan Braun on the DL with a back issue, Jesus Aguilar started the last nine games for the Brewers. He has ten hits over his last 35 at-bats with seven runs, three HRs, and seven RBI. His bat has very good against RH (.324 with four HRs and 13 RBI over 71 at-bats) and LH (.333 with one HR and four RBI over 24 at-bats). Aguilar will have a bump in playing time until Eric Thames returns for the DL.
The best cover for a player going on the DL over the short-term tends to be the person taking his job on the field. In this case, John Hicks has been an excellent option for the injured Miguel Cabrera. Over the last 16 games, Hicks has 21 hits in 61 at-bats with 12 runs, two HRs, and 11 RBI. John needs three games to qualify at catcher, which may lead to him being a much better option for many teams in deep leagues. Over 2,060 at-bats in the minors, Hicks hit .283 with 49 HRs, 298 RBI, and 62 SBs. The Tigers need to find a way to keep his bat in the lineup even when Cabrera returns from the DL.
The Pirates will activate Josh Harrison off the DL after missing about a month with a hand injury. He has two hits over 12 at-bats in the minors with two runs and one RBI. Harrison offers a balanced skill set with a top of an order opportunity. Pittsburgh will have him in the starting lineup next week at the latest.
Niko Goodrum has a seven-game hitting streak (11-for-27) with seven runs, three HRs, and seven RBI. He’s played at 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, and OF in 2018, which gives him plenty of chances to get at-bats. The Tigers have risk in multiple spots in their starting lineup. Goodrum had his best season in 2017 at AAA (.265 with 13 HRs, 66 RBI, and 11 SBs over 461 at-bats). The best value in his minor league career has been his speed (122 SBs over 2,454 at-bats). Only a short-term injury cover while getting starting at-bats. Nick does have downside in his batting average.
Over the last three games, Danny Valencia has seven hits in 11 at-bats with four runs, one HR, and four RBI. The injury Tim Beckham creates starting opportunity for Valencia over the next month at the minimum. His window for starting playing time should be at least a month while possibly sitting against some tough right-hand pitching when Pedro Alvarez slides over to third base. Danny has 20+ HR power with 450+ at-bats.
Jake Lamb returned for the DL on Friday night after missing six weeks with a shoulder injury. Lamb has 59 HRs and 196 RBI over the last two seasons while offering some risk in batting average. I like his upside heading into 2018, but the struggles of the Diamondbacks’ offense and Paul Goldschmidt may keep Fantasy owners away. Excellent addition in shallow leagues for teams that need a bump in power.
With Paul DeJong suffering a broken left hand this week, the path has been cleared for Jedd Gyorko to get regular at-bats for the Cardinals for a month or so. Over his last seven games, Gyorko hit .250 with two runs, one HR, and five RBI. Over the last two seasons, Jedd has 50 HRs and 126 RBI over 826 at-bats. Upside power out at a middle infield position.
Over the last 11 games, Jose Iglesias has 14 hits in 37 at-bats with seven runs, two HRs, eight RBI, and three SBs. By filling up the stat sheet in multiple categories, Iglesias becomes much more attractive as a Fantasy option. His career resume screams no Fantasy value, but a short-term ride won’t kill a Fantasy team especially if his power and speed continue to surprise.
I’ve been tracking Jake Bauers at AAA over the last couple of week due to owning him on an AL-only league. Over his last 28 games covering 111 at-bats, Bauers hit .315 with 20 runs, five HRs, 19 RBI, and six SBs. He played a full season at AAA in 2017 (.263 with 13 HRs, 63 RBI, and 20 SBs over 486 at-bats), which puts him on track to get to the majors in 2018 at age 22. His best asset tends to be his approach (11.2 percent walk rate). Nice balanced skill set and he should be in the majors in June.
The Pirates called up Austin Meadows to cover the injury of Starling Marte this week. Meadows doesn’t have a season of value in the minors even with upside talent. Over 126 at-bats in 2018 at AAA, Austin hit .294 with 20 runs, one HR, 15 RBI, and eight SBs. His best season in the minors came in 2015 at High A when Meadows hit .307 with 72 runs, seven HRs, 54 RBI, and 20 SBs over 508 at-bats. If I lost Marte or needed a speedy outfielder, I would be drawn toward Austin for a couple of weeks.
Melky Cabrera has a seven-game hitting streak (11-for-30) at AAA with four runs and four RBI. The Indians placed both Bradley Zimmer and Tyler Naquin on the DL over the last week, which is just enough of a window for Cabrera to get back to the majors.
The White Sox have to have a surrender clause for Carson Fulmer who allowed 17 runs and 24 baserunners over his last 7.1 innings. His demotion should create an opportunity for Michael Kopech. After struggling on May 11th (eight runs and nine baserunners over three innings), Kopech rebound with a great game in his next outing (seven shutout innings with two hits and nine Ks). Michael has 53 Ks over 40.1 innings at AAA in 2018 with a 4.02 ERA and 1.20 WHIP
Early in the year, I was intrigued by the start of Jordan Lyles in the Padres’ bullpen (1.46 ERA over 12.1 innings with 12 Ks) thanks to added velocity on his fastball (95.3). I backed off my idea of him adding starting value down the road after a poor outing in relief on April 29th (four runs and six baserunners over 1.2 innings). San Diego did indeed give him starting opportunity, and Jordan responded with a nice game at home against the Rockies this week (7.1 shutout innings with a hit and ten Ks). Over 32 innings in 2018, Lyles has a 2.53 ERA and 32 Ks. He’s been in the majors since 2011 at age 20, but he may have finally found his confidence. Worth look to see if he can repeat his early season success.
The A’s may turn to Frankie Montas next week after Brett Anderson went down with an injury. Montas has a 3.75 ERA and 30 Ks over his first 36 innings at AAA in 2018. Last season Frankie was a disaster in the majors (7.03 ERA and 1.84 WHIP), but he did show upside in 2015 at AA (2.97 ERA and 108 Ks over 112 innings. Montas has a live arm, but his command tends to be his downfall.
The Rays called up Anthony Banda this week after seven starts at AAA (3.50 ERA and 44 Ks over 36 innings). He allowed three runs and six hits over five innings with one K in his major league debut. Walks will be a problem and invite WHIP risk early in his career.