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April 16, 2014

Deep Impact

Week Two

by Ben Carsley

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Injuries suck, and baseball has been an especially cruel mistress this season, depriving us of many of the game’s most exciting pitchers and some dynamic hitters, too. There’s been some bad news for just about every deep league owner this season —trust me, I own Mat Latos in two of them—but out of these injuries come opportunities for savvy owners to make some important waiver-wire pickups and trades.

Plus, as much as Jon Stewart feeds off of Fox News, this column needs injuries to remain fresh and topical, so I shall stop biting the hand that feeds.

Unless Taijuan Walker’s injury is serious. In that case, next week’s column might just be a collection of crying GIFs.

Roenis Elias, SP, Mariners
Thanks to injuries to Taijuan Walker, Hisashi Iwakuma, and James Paxton, Elias finds himself with some job security in the back of the Mariners rotation. He’s performed pretty well to this point, posting a 2.16 ERA and grabbing a one in three starts. He’s not striking anyone out, but his walk rate is a respectable, if not good 9.5% percent, and he’s inducing ground balls at a good clip. Is the sub-2.50 ERA sustainable? No. But there’s enough to work with here to consider using Elias in certain scenarios moving forward.

At the bottom of this column every week, I include a random player namedrop based on two criteria: I aim for an aesthetically pleasing name, or a name I’m pretty sure 90 percent of fantasy owners will have forgotten. Odds are, Elias will check off both of these boxes if I’m still writing in two seasons. But for now, there’s enough here to stream him at home against poor offenses, and, really, that’s what deep leagues are all about.

Craig Gentry, OF, Athletics
Gentry missed all of spring training and the start of the season due to back problems after being acquired in the Michael Choice trade this offseason, but he was activated from the DL on Saturday and will now function as the Athletics’ fourth outfielder. A plus-plus runner with decent contact skills and no power, Gentry’s defensive ability, prowess on the basepaths and lack of a dramatic platoon split mean he should see more playing time than a standard “backup” player.

Last year, it took Gentry just 287 PA to steal 24 bases and score 39 runs, which are two significant numbers in deeper leagues. With Coco Crisp always a threat to miss time and Josh Reddick’s struggles against left-handers, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Gentry finish with that much playing time again in 2014, despite missing the early weeks of the season. I know he’ll be owned in some deep leagues—spare me the comments—but if he’s available in yours, he’s worth using about $10 FAAB to obtain, and potentially a bit more if you truly need steals.

Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B, Rangers
After a two-year absence from the majors, the Kouz is getting another shot in 2014, manning third base for the Rangers while Adrian Beltre sits on the DL. At this point, we should all be well acquainted with Kouzmanoff’s skillset: He hits for power and doesn’t strike out a ton, but he doesn’t hit for a decent average or take many walks. It’s not a terribly sexy profile, but put his pop in Texas for a few games in a lineup that should be above average, and he’s a reasonable add in 20-team leagues.

Beltre’s DL stint is supposed to last only until the 25th of April, so don’t count on Kouzmanoff as any sort of long-term fix here. But if it’s Beltre himself who left a void in your lineup or if you’re hurting for a 3B replacement in the wake of the Will Middlebrooks/Ryan Zimmerman injuries, Kouz is a decent alternative.

Scott Sizemore, 2B/3B, Yankees
The Yankees, knowing they would field an old, injury-prone team, decided to take a flier on the comparatively young but equally brittle Sizemore this offseason, stashing him away in Triple-A as he attempts to revive a once-promising MLB career. Injury and roster attrition kept Sizemore in the minors for all of two weeks, as the Yankees now find themselves in need of yet another backup infielder thanks to the recent injury to Francisco Cervelli and the circumspect health of Derek Jeter and Brian Roberts.

I know that many Yankees fans have a love affair with Yangervis Solarte right now, who does have a plus-plus name, and I’ve had it pointed out to me many times that Dean Anna crushed the PCL last year, so, like, how could he not be successful in the majors? Yet despite those shining attributes, the bet here is that Sizemore sees a good amount of time at both third and second base in the coming weeks for the Yankees, and he has the offensive skills to contribute meaningfully to deep leagues during that time. His inability to play shortstop makes his hold on a roster spot tenuous, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him up at least until Mark Teixeira returns.

Deep League Streamer of the Week: Dustin McGowan, SP, Blue Jays
McGowan has been so-so this season, going 1-1 with a 4.00 ERA with five strikeouts through nine innings in two starts. The issue with McGowan has always been health, not talent, and he’s the worst bet to stay healthy this side of Josh Johnson. That being said, his Thursday night matchup against the Twins should be of interest to deep league owners, as he’ll be pitching in a homer-killing ballpark against one of the league’s weaker offenses. There’s no way to ensure that McGowan’s limb will all still be attached come Thursday, but if they appear to be, you may start him.

Twitter Question of the Week:

I love this question, but at the same time, damn this question to hell. The answer should be, “Ubaldo,” without hesitation, yet is that really anyone’s first impulse when they read this? Jimenez is 0-3 in three starts so far this year, giving up 13 earned runs in 16 innings with 13 strikeouts to 10 walks. Bauer was dominant in his lone MLB start, but currently resides in Triple-A. Small sample sizes, etc.

While it’s been an inauspicious start for Jimenez and a good one for Bauer, Jimenez is still the safe bet here, given that he, ya know, actually has an MLB job and history of some MLB success. But honestly, these guys are both flip-of-the-coin-types. If you told me Bauer finishes the year with more fantasy value than Jimenez, I wouldn’t be surprised. Except I would kind of be? But not really.

Player Namedrop of the Week: Hiram Bocachica
Random RP Who Will Earn a Win: Justin Grimm, Cubs
Random Backup Who Will Homer: Zach Walters, UT, Nationals
Xander Bogaerts Adjective of the Week: Provocative

Ben Carsley is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Ben's other articles. You can contact Ben by clicking here

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