Stephen Piscotty Offers Late Season Jolt
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Sit down, NL-only and deeper league owners of Matt Adams. We need to talk (because we all know that phrase rarely has a happy ending...).
Adams isn’t coming back this season. I know many of you (including myself) stashed him on your DL in anticipation of his return in late August or early September. We all invested in Adams with the notion this would be his breakout season, and held hope even during his brutal May when he batted .187, which was indeed pure murder on our Fantasy average. When Adams yanked his right quad on May 26 and was then tossed on the 60-day DL, we clung to foolish aspirations of a return, yet we now have to come to grips: he’s gone, he’s gone, and now we have to learn how to face it.
He’s gone, he’s gone, but you now don’t have to pay the devil to replace him now that Stephen Piscotty has arrived to the Cardinals.
(Thank you, Hall and Oates. Never imagined I’d be able to spin one of your greatest songs into a Fantasy column.)
The Cards brought up Piscotty on Tuesday, and the franchise’s top prospect went 1 for 4 in his debut against the White Sox. While the potential for a host of waiver wire-level talent becoming more Fantasy significant as the trade deadline nears (spoiler alert: next week’s column will be dedicated to said talent), grabbing Piscotty would be the equal to the rebound player that begins to heal your heart and batting average. He’s not up for a cup of coffee, nor is he a pinch-hit weapon. Piscotty will play daily, with most of his time spent at first base, where the Cards have received just 0.2 WAR at the position since Adams’ injury.
[caption id="attachment_95392" align="alignright" width="300"] Cardinals rookie Stephen Piscotty is nice sleeper in deeper leagues. Photo Credit: Bryan Green[/caption]
Piscotty is currently owned in 14 percent of polled leagues, a number which has steadily climbed from the less than one percent of owners who had him on their rosters prior to Tuesday. Although he hit 11 homers in 372 ABs in Triple-A, the upside is there for more power once he becomes comfortable with big league pitching. What makes him an immediate draw is the .272 batting average and .366 OBP he amassed in Memphis, two numbers that can instantly jolt a Fantasy team heading down the stretch. Oh, did we mention he will soon have OF eligibility in most leagues (while there are some sites that list Piscotty as a 3B).
What impressed me most about Piscotty are his walk and strikeout rates, both of which are solid for a player considered to be a potential power hitter. He had a 12.7 percent walk rate and a 16.7 percent strikeout rate. There’s also traces of speed in his game, as Piscotty recorded 11 steals last year and had five swipes this season. With the Cards’ philosophy of baserunning, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Piscotty take the occasional bag.
Even if Piscotty doesn’t evolve into the power hitter that some felt he would become, I can at least see him hitting 5-7 homers while batting in the .260-.270 range for the remainder of the season. The Cardinals needed an offensive spark, one that Piscotty is capable of providing.
We have shed our tears for Adams, and while the pain of scouring through the waiver wire for a reasonable alternative delivered a brief fling, Piscotty is now here to ease the pain and heartache. It’s OK to again love your 1B slot. After all, even our dormant rosters deserve a second chance at love.
With the MLB trade deadline approaching and most Fantasy leagues slowly cruising toward a similar conclusion to improve your team, we now dedicate the rest of our column to you owners stuck between going all-in for a postseason/top four run or surrendering your soul towards better days (and beginning your Fantasy football preparations). We still believe, as well:
Jonathan Schoop, 2B, Orioles: He’s had a loud 63 ABs since returning from the 60-day DL earlier this month, hitting .286 while nine of his 18 hits have gone for extra bases (six homers, three doubles) en route to a .937 OPS. Schoop recently had a six-game stretch during which he recorded at least two hits in five of the contests, which largely contributed to boosting his average up from the .225 he was hitting on July 8. Owned in 16 percent of polled leagues, Schoop’s power potential is evident, and at just 23, he’s got a very intriguing upside once he learns some plate discipline.
Jed Lowrie, SS, Astros: On pace for a career-year, Lowrie went on the 60-day DL in mid-April (finger) and is a rehab assignment away from giving H-Town some needed offensive firepower. He’s on the verge of becoming a Ben Zobrist-like position eligibility monster since All-Star Jose Altuve and Next Big Thing Carlos Correa are manning the middle infield spots, but his ability to play all four infield positions will allow Lowrie (owned in eight percent of polled leagues) to become a valuable hitter with slightly above-average pop for owners in need of middle infield production. Don’t be too surprised if he sees extensive time at first base, especially since the Astros have struggled to find consistency from either Chris Carter or Jon Singleton.
Rafael Soriano, P, Cubs: Imagine how much tighter the NL Central race could’ve been if the Cubbies didn’t treat the ninth inning like a host of gleeful pyromaniacs. Chicago has blown 13 of its 35 save opportunities, as Hector Rodon begat Pedro Strop, who begat Jason Motte. Whether Soriano is the next to begat remains in question, but the Cubs did bring up he of the 207 career saves earlier this week. The plan is to let him regain his footing in middle relief, but if Motte tosses a match into another ninth inning gas can, Joe Maddon won’t wait long to give Soriano (owned in ten percent of polled leagues) an opportunity to extinguish the late frame fires.
Tony Cingrani, P, Reds: Shoulder woes put him on the DL in mid-June, but Cingrani returned to pitch the second game of Wednesday’s twin-bill with the Cubs. He had been relegated to middle relief work prior to being shipped to dry dock, but with both Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake sporting huge trade targets on their respective backs, Cingrani, owned in five percent of polled leagues, will become a fixture in the Reds’ rotation for the rest of the season. Prospectors of Cingrani will be skeptical about whether he can return to his 2013 form (7-4, 2.92 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 120 Ks) as a starter, a question that which could be solved by deeper league owners in search of post-deadline bargains.
Vincent Velasquez, Astros: We touched on him prior to his big league debut last month, and for the most part, he’s made us look good. The early issues with control are gone, as Velasquez has averaged just over one walk in his last four starts. He earned his first big league win on Tuesday and is now entrenched in the back end of the rotation. Velasquez, owned in ten percent of polled leagues, is a low-end bargain for owners in need of strikeouts, as he delivers whiffs at a rate of one per inning. His value could be strengthened by what the Astros do at the trade deadline, as the team has been linked to the likes of Cueto, Cole Hamels and David Price.
Eddie Rosario 2B/OF, Twins: His average peaked at .288 last week, but a dry spell dipped him to .273 entering Wednesday’s play. Like Jed Lowrie in Houston, Rosario is the odd man out of the lineup with the presence of All-Star Brian Dozier, yet offers value to deeper league owners because of his speed (eight steals) and occasional pop. The drawback with Rosario is his 24.1 percent strikeout rate, which is nearly eight times larger than his walk rate (3.6). Shouldn’t it be Joe Mauer’s job to pull this kid aside and tell him how wonderful his life would be if simply took the advice of the lead character in the heartwarming movie, Mr. Rosario Takes a Walk?
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