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April 17, 2014

Free Agent Watch

Week Three

by Mike Gianella

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12-Team Mixed Hitter
Jason Kubel, OF, Minnesota Twins

A return to the Twin Cities seems to have done Kubel a world of good, and injuries to Josh Willingham and Oswaldo Arcia have converted Kubel from a platoon player into a full-timer. The fun isn’t going to last forever, but as long as Kubel is swinging a hot bat he is fine as a mixed league play in the outfield. Your best bet is to try to make sure that the Twins are facing a right-handed heavy group of pitchers before setting your line-up for the week; losing Kubel two or more times a week or having Ron Gardenhire stick Kubel in there against a lefty isn’t the best use of a roster spot in mixed.

Comparable Player: Cody Ross

12-Team Mixed Pitcher
Robbie Erlin, LHP, San Diego Padres

The bad news on Josh Johnson means that Erlin could stick long term for the Padres, but Erlin probably should have been on your radar by now anyway. The short lefthander is anything but dominant, but increased usage of his slider so far has produced some extremely positive results that may not be merely the usual Petco bounce. Reserve slots in standard mixed are usually very tight, so Erlin might not be worth hanging onto if you’re just going to spot start him, but at the very least I’d monitor Erlin to see if he keeps up with the increased slider usage. It’s a formula that has worked before with Darren Balsley projects like Tyson Ross; there might be more upside with Erlin than previously anticipated.

Comparable Player: Jake Odorizzi

Deep Mixed Hitter
Derek Dietrich, 2B, Miami Marlins

He’s probably not worth a pick-up with Rafael Furcal due back soon, but given Furcal’s age, Furcal’s perpetually bad health history, and the Marlins lack of internal options, Dietrich is a good guy to stash. He won’t keep up this ridiculously good start and there’s a possibility that he would be stretched too much as a regular, but Dietrich is an intriguing power bat in the middle infield. Fifteen home runs with a subpar batting average wouldn’t—or shouldn’t—surprise anyone if Dietrich did get the opportunity to play in more than a brief looksee.

Comparable Player: Alex Liddi

Deep Mixed Pitcher
Alfredo Simon, RHP, Cincinnati Reds

Thus far, Simon has pitched well enough to soften the Reds’ blow of losing Mat Latos to injury. However, I’m not sure how much longer the positive results will last. His repertoire is mostly a hard, two-seam fastball, and while this works for some pitchers, Simon will be hard pressed to succeed all season long without higher quality secondary offerings. He might work out—and in a 15-team mixed it is certainly worth taking a shot on Simon, but temper your expectations

Comparable Player: Eric Stults

AL-Only Hitter
Ryan Roberts, 2B, Boston Red Sox

Will Middlebrooks is eligible to come off of the DL on April 20, but there is a good chance that it will be at least another week after that before we see him. Roberts and Jonathan Herrera have been splitting time at the position, but for fantasy purposes I like Roberts a lot better. He has a little bit of power and speed and his 19 HR/18 SB season in 2011 is still visible in the rearview mirror. Roberts won’t do that again, but he could put up a handful of home runs and steals off of the Sox bench even after Middlebrooks returns. As your third middle infielder, you could do worse.

Comparable Player: Logan Forsythe

AL-Only Pitcher
Dallas Keuchel, LHP, Houston Astros

Keuchel continues to tantalize with flashes of brilliance, and he is off to a solid start in 2014. There is nothing complicated about Keuchel: he gets by with an assortment of average offerings and solid command. He’s an example of a pitcher who shouldn’t be overrated simply because he gets groundballs; his HR:FB ratio is high simply because when he doesn’t keep the ball down he’s very easy to hit. Keuchel is worth owning in AL-only, but I like him in better in leagues with reserve lists where you can stream pitchers.

Comparable Player: Scott Diamond

NL-Only Hitter
Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF, New York Mets

Like Dietrich, Nieuwenhuis might not be up long as an injury fill-in, but Nieuwenhuis offers enough power and speed to add in any format. It looks like Nieuwenhius’ future is as a fourth outfielder, but a move to a starting role wouldn’t be an incredible stretch. Watch Curtis Granderson and particularly Chris Young’s health status this week carefully before splashing down any kind of significant FAAB investment.

Comparable Player: Brandon Boggs

NL-Only Pitcher
Jordan Lyles, RHP, Colorado Rockies

With Brett Anderson on the DL, Lyles should stick in the Rockies rotation for the next month or so. He isn’t an option I would trust in mixed leagues, but in only formats he can be used at your own risk. Lyles isn’t a big strikeout guy, so even if he manages to generate a lot of groundballs I still don’t trust him at home. He is going to produce some value in NL-only and there is possibly some room for growth, but Colorado makes Lyles a so-so fantasy option at best even in the deepest of formats.

Comparable Player: Henderson Alvarez

Mike Gianella is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Rec... (04/17)
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Fantasy Article Free Agent Watch: Week... (04/10)
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