The baseball season is a long one, which is normally a glorious thing, but can make things mildly excruciating if you have a fantasy team or two that hit the skids months ago, especially in deeper leagues. It’s hard enough to replace injured studs or underperforming pitchers (thanks for destroying my dreams of fantasy glory in multiple leagues, Sean Manaea and Jose Berrios!) in standard leagues, but when you can’t count on your supposed mainstays in deep leagues it often, unfortunately, means the end of your season. This week we’ll branch out a bit to see who’s been performing well of late and might be available to help in slightly shallower leagues (and with the way owners tune out at this time of year, may even be hanging around a deeper league or two).
Jake McCarthy. I’ve gotten a little obsessed with McCarthy since I grabbed him a week and a half ago in a couple mixed leagues where I needed some speed, and he rewarded me with 4 steals over that time while keeping his batting average in the not-bad-enough-to-hurt mid .260s. Granted, he’s had a very soft schedule lately, facing a ton of right-handers (he’s a lefty) including the lackluster Pirates staff followed by a series in Colorado, but I’m going to keep playing him in those leagues until I see a reason not to. He’s established himself as the strong side of a platoon in the Arizona outfield at worst, so hopefully, there will be more stolen bases (not to mention a handful of runs/RBI) in the weeks to come.
Drew Smyly. Smyly’s ownership in CBS leagues has doubled from 8 to 16% in the last week, certainly fueled in part by his solid performance and win in the Field of Dreams game last week. He’s allowed only 2 runs over his last three starts combined and has 17 strikeouts in 17 innings during that stretch. His recent success has come against weak opponents, though (Marlins, Reds, and Nats), so I’m going to be cautious — I’m still only playing him regularly in NL only but can see streaming him in a mixed league or two between now and season’s end when the time is right.
Alexis Diaz. As I mention fairly often, I generally like to avoid the Reds bullpen at all costs, but it feels like the right time to give Diaz a shout out (and he’s up to 25% owned in CBS leagues, so whether it’s the pitching or the split-team “Meds” jerseys that his family has been sporting to support both Alexis and his bro Edwin, folks are indeed taking notice of him). He’s finally establishing himself at the back end of the pen, as he’s up to 5 saves on the year including one of the 5-out varieties earlier this week. His overall numbers on the year are suddenly looking mighty impressive as well, with a 1.83 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and 60 Ks in 44.1 innings. Obviously, the Reds are not a fantasy owner’s dream team when it comes to speculating for saves, but I see no reason not to at least keep an eye on Diaz both for the remainder of the season and heading into 2023. (Now he’s added even more to the resume since I started writing this, with 2 scoreless innings, 3 Ks, and a win against the Phillies on Wednesday… I suspect by the time you read this, that 25% ownership number will have jumped yet again).
Jose Suarez. Suarez is up to 27% owned in CBS leagues, so he’s certainly risen out of the ranks of true deep league players and beginning to make a broader fantasy impact. His numbers on the year are still unimpressive, but he’s put four good starts together and has been one of the few recent bright spots for the dumpster fire that the Angels have been for much of the summer. Like Smyly, he’s had weak opponents (Oakland twice and the Royals), so proceed with caution regardless of league size. We’ll see soon enough if it was inferior competition, or if the changes that those covering the Angels have said he’s made since the All-Star Break – namely improving his changeup and throwing his slider more often – have legitimately helped him turn a corner.
Michael Massey. I have to admit that Massey, who’s now 19% owned in CBS leagues, flew completely under my radar after he was called up by the Royals a couple of weeks ago, as he was already owned in my AL-only keeper league but not contributing enough to make my mixed-league list of guys to potentially add. The second baseman originally joined the team when they had to place a whopping ten players on the Covid restricted list to play in Toronto, and of course, with Whit Merrifield gone to the Rays, the opportunity for Massey continues to be there. He’s not putting up flashy numbers yet but is holding his own and then some so far on the season, hitting .341 in 44 at bats, with 3 walks and 6 Ks. He’s 24 and his minor league numbers this year actually were pretty flashy (16 homers and 13 steals on the season) so we’ll see if some of that power and speed starts to translate at the major league level.
Nick Allen. Okay, now we’re back to the deep league world, as Allen is a 1% owned player in CBS leagues. Not surprising, seeing as he’s hitting .215 in 158 at bats on the year (though he did hit his third homer Monday). The A’s middle infielder gets a mention, though, after the team’s complete teardown continued this week with Elvis Andrus being relieved of his duties, cementing Allen’s status as an everyday player for the time being. His minor league average this year isn’t much to see either (.266), and those three MLB homers he has are already more than the two he’s had in the minors this year (though he does have 10 MILB stolen bases). Be wary of the potential average drain, but the at bats should be there for the rest of the season.