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In the midst of a most exciting trade deadline to date, Fantasy owners are attempting to stay one step ahead of the deals. Whether its picking up a new closer after yours has been dealt or unloading FAAB in mono leagues, Fantasy owners have been just as busy as GMs this week. While it is great to watch big names change teams, there is also value in their replacements. That is where The Watch List comes in.
One player who has been no stranger to trades this year is Diamondbacks’ catcher, Wellington Castillo. Castillo started the season with the Cubs and made a stop in Seattle before ultimately ending up with the D’Backs, with whom he has raked. Since debuting with Arizona on June 5, Castillo has eight homers, 19 RBIs, 17 runs, seven doubles and a slash line of .279/.375/.559. Those are easily starting catcher numbers over that stretch, yet he is still owned in only 11 percent of CBS Sports leagues and three percent of ESPN leagues. That number needs to increase, as Castillo is absolutely scorching the ball as of late.
There is another veteran who has been overlooked despite putting up strong numbers, especially of late. His name is Ben Paulsen. Hopefully, you get the reference, but even if you don’t, he is worth keeping an eye on. Paulsen, who is sporting a .287 average and .202 Isolated Power (ISO) has quietly put together a solid season. Paulsen has hit .288 with all seven of his home runs against righties, compared to just .267 against southpaws. He is especially valuable when going up against a righty at home. Paulsen’s numbers may not attract the average Fantasy owner, but he holds value in deeper daily lineup leagues, and in DFS.
The White Sox have caught fire as of late and it has rubbed off on second baseman Carlos Sanchez. Over the past week, D.J. LeMahieu and Brandon Phillips are the only second baseman to put up more Fantasy points. Sanchez’s numbers this season do not jump off the screen by any means, but since July 7, he has slashed .365/.382/.541. While he has not stolen a base yet this year, he has displayed the ability to steal 15-plus bases in the minors. If he can get the stolen bases going, he would hold value in deep roto leagues.
While every fan wants their team to land the big prize, sometimes providing a change of scenery to a veteran can be a very effective move. That is exactly what is happening with Conor Gillaspie in Los Angeles. It is an extremely small sample size, but Gillaspie has hit in all four games with the Angels, including two doubles and a triple. He has also driven in four and scored three runs. The third baseman has the ability to hit .280 the rest of the season, while providing a handful of home runs. His runs scored and RBIs could also increase as he is now in a better lineup.
While some teams are adding veterans, the Twins are giving some of their younger players an opportunity and have to be pleased with the results. I wrote about Aaron Hicks two weeks ago and he continues to mash the ball. But his teammate, Eddie Rosario, has been just as hot, hitting .448/.448/.931 with a home run, five doubles and three triples in the past week. While his .500 BABIP and .483 ISO during this stretch are unsustainable, it displays the great power and speed combo that Rosario has. Rosario has the ability to hit 15 homers and steal 15 bases in a season, and at just 23 years old, he could be an interesting target for those in dynasty formats.
The Reds have been busy trading Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake this past week, opening two spots in their rotation. LHP David Holmberg filled the first last night, going six innings allowing two runs on five hits and three walks, and striking out four while picking up the win. Despite the solid performance last night, Holmberg is a limited talent, posting a 4.40 ERA and a 4.75 Fielding Independent Pitching. Add in that he only has a 5.07 K/9 and a 3.16 BB/9 and there isn’t a ton to like here. I am hopeful that the Reds will call up their top prospect, Robert Stephenson, who has posted a K/9 of 9.1 or better at every level in the minor leagues. This season in Triple-A, he’s put up a 2.40 ERA and a 2.65 FIP and could be ready to take the majors by storm before reaching his likely innings limit. Other options for the Reds include John Lamb, who they obtained in the Cueto deal, and Donn Roach.
Every year, Fantasy owners are left searching the waiver wire for a closer after their guy is traded and put in a setup role. So far, we have seen Jim Johnson go to the Dodgers and Joakim Soria go to the Pirates, both losing their closer gig in the process. If owners of these respective closers missed out on Ken Giles, the next best thing to do is pick up their closer’s replacement. For the Braves it will be Arodys Vizcaino, who has posted a 1.00 ERA, 2.63 FIP and 4.82 Expected Fielding Independent Pitching (xFIP). He has the ability to miss bats, evident in his 8.00 K/9 and his 10.5 percent swinging strike rate. However, the 24-year-old’s issue is with his command, as he allows 4.00 BB/9. He will not come without blemishes but the youngster can be useful to teams needing to pick up saves and strike outs. The Tigers will use Alex Wilson as the closer going forward, as he picked up his first save last night. Wilson does not miss bats often, as he only puts up 5.37 K/9 and a below average 7.1 percent swinging strike rate, but he has good command of his stuff and keeps the ball in the park. Wilson has pitched to a 1.79 ERA, 2.90 FIP and a 3.88 xFIP on the season. Other names to keep an eye on are Joaquin Benoit and J.J. Hoover if the Padres and Reds deal their closers. I would rank these four, Benoit, Vizcaino, Wilson and Hoover going forward.
If you have any additional questions, feel free to follow me on Twitter, @MichaelFFlorio.