You know you have a loaded lineup when the No. 67 outfielder on the ESPN Player Rater for the season (and No. 46 over the past 30 days) gets demoted to the minor leagues because there simply isn't enough room. Alas, the loss of Clint Frazier is not going to destroy fantasy rosters -- or the Yankees -- but with designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion coming in via trade this weekend from the Seattle Mariners, as well as the pending returns of sluggers Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge, well, you do the math.
Encarnacion leads the American League in home runs, and there's little reason for concern as he leaves a last-place team for one in first place. Sure, Encarnacion could move down a few spots in the new lineup, but oh, there will be a ton of run-producing opportunities, so it's a non-issue. Don't expect a batting average rise from Encarnacion, but his career bests in home runs (42), RBIs (127) and runs scored (99) each seemed within reach before the trade, and that hasn't changed.
For those who might have wondered about Luke Voit losing playing time, fear not. Voit will handle first base, and while the return of others could push him down in the lineup (in his case out of the coveted No. 2 spot), moving on from him in fantasy seems unwise. Encarnacion is the No. 12 first baseman on the Player Rater. Voit is No. 13. For perspective, Philadelphia Phillies thumper Rhys Hoskins is next, with St. Louis Cardinals star Paul Goldschmidt lower down. The Yankees will soon be able to run with the following lineup:
That is just crazy. For all we know, any single person on that list could bat in any spot in the order after LeMahieu. Manager Aaron Boone has choices. The lineup is so deep that in this case, while we often automatically ignore hitters in the bottom third for DFS and daily purposes, that seems unwise here. What we do know is that the Yankees will score a ton of runs. They are already eighth in the league in runs scored and 10th in OPS. Everyone should contribute -- well, except for Frazier.
After seeing how the Milwaukee Brewers and Colorado Rockies handled rookie infielders Keston Hiura and Brendan Rodgers recently, it is tough to feel too much sympathy for Frazier. What should the Yankees do, not bring back Stanton? Come on. Should they not trade a middling prospect for the current AL leader in homers?
Frazier has hit .283 -- and with power -- despite dubious plate discipline and indifferent defense. For many teams (perhaps even half of the all-or-nothing AL), the 24-year-old would be a regular. Perhaps the Yankees will ultimately send him packing in a move for much-needed rotation help. He might hit cleanup for the Giants or Indians today!
Frazier is rostered in less than 30 percent of ESPN standard leagues. Move on before the trade deadline and add the likes of Houston Astros rookie Yordan Alvarez (he homers every day!), Tampa Bay's Avisail Garcia, Miami's Garrett Cooper, Pittsburgh's Bryan Reynolds or Royals slugger Jorge Soler, who has 18 home runs despite shoddy peripherals.
Rockies OF Charlie Blackmon had a pretty decent weekend against the San Diego Padres, notching a trio of four-hit games before settling for "only" three hits in Sunday's stupefying loss. Blackmon tied a record with 15 hits in a four-game series. Including the Chicago Cubs series earlier in the week at Coors Field, he hit .568 with six home runs, 15 RBIs and 12 runs scored. Yeah, that works. He did not steal a base. Boo! Look, the golf balls the players are bashing over the wall are bad enough in pitcher-friendly parks, but 92 runs scored in one weekend series is just crazy. If this continues, we may have to re-evaluate fantasy baseball, because teams should not score double-digit runs each and every night. Pitchers have no chance. Blackmon raised his batting average from .295 to .336 in just one week -- in mid-June. What might be just as interesting is his oft-underachieving teammate Ian Desmond ranking as the No. 2 option on the seven-day Player Rater. Desmond is available in myriad leagues, though this week the Rockies hit the road and nobody will hit.
Padres OF Franmil Reyes contributed nothing to the offensive show this weekend because of neck stiffness. Frankly, there could not have been a worse time for it. Hunter Renfroe picked up the slack with five blasts and now is second in baseball behind Christian Yelich. I like Renfroe and Reyes and think both gentlemen are capable of hitting 40 home runs this season, especially if the baseballs continue to be built this way. I understand ignoring one-dimensional sluggers to a point, but combined Renfroe and Reyes are rostered in barely 100 percent of ESPN leagues. That seems wrong.
Cleveland Indians RHP Trevor Bauer shut out the Detroit Tigers on Sunday and vaulted back into the top 20 on the season-long Player Rater for starting pitchers. Bauer's next three scheduled outings before the All-Star break appear to be once vs. the Tigers and twice against the Royals. Sign me up! Bauer has a 3.41 ERA this season, which is more than a full run worse than last season -- and disappointing. Still, it seems to me if anyone is capable of dominating the next few months and dropping his ERA by a full run, it's him.
Watching Los Angeles Dodgers LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu dominate the Cubs on Sunday night (before an error opened the door for a couple of unearned runs), it's clear he has the ability to finish the season with a sub-2.00 ERA and perhaps a Cy Young award. What we don't know is if he has the ability to make 30 starts. He last made 25 starts back in 2014. The Dodgers have such a large divisional lead it would seem unlikely that even a healthy Ryu makes 30 starts for them, but I do hate to simply presume an injury is coming. I don't know what Ryu costs in trade in your league. It might be top-10 starter value, but it might still be a No. 30 SP value. I feel like taking the chance.
Several intriguing prospects are getting the call on Monday. The Cardinals have a first baseman, so if Rangel Ravelo is going to play, it will need to be in a corner outfield spot. This is not ideal. I think Ravelo, 27, can hit for both power and average, with strong plate discipline, and after the Cardinals misjudged Voit, well, they can't miss here. It will not be Goldschmidt sitting, though. He is just about the only Cardinal without a stolen base this season. The team has 14 players with at least one steal, but not the fellow who stole 32 bags in 2016 and 25 in two seasons afterward. Anyway, Ravelo might be up for just a few days, or he might be Austin Riley in left field, learning a new spot on the fly. I am skeptical. As for Chicago White Sox catcher Zack Collins, there is power and a nice walk rate but a low batting average lurking. When Welington Castillo is healthy, Collins likely heads back to Triple-A Charlotte, with a return looming in September. He can be a top-10 fantasy catcher soon, but I doubt that "soon" means 2019.
Texas Rangers OF duo Hunter Pence and Nomar Mazara have MRI appointments on Monday and it would hardly be surprising if each hits the injured list. What a shame for Pence (groin), who could have been an AL All-Star and the league's Comeback Player of the Year. He still might be. Pence appears to be rejuvenated. Mazara (hamstring) is the same old underachiever, in line for yet another 20-home run season that fails to capitalize on his potential. Willie Calhoun should see regular playing time from now on, and I think that is a good thing. I hate to cut Pence (and I guess Mazara too) in a standard league for Calhoun, but take the one playing for the next three weeks.
New York Mets RHP Noah Syndergaard left Saturday's outing with a hamstring injury and should miss at least one start -- and perhaps all of them leading to the All-Star break. The Mets surely lack reasonable replacements. Syndergaard has been one of the more unlucky pitchers this season, as his 4.55 ERA hardly matches the expected results, and he should remain rostered in all leagues, even if the absence looks like it will be more than a month, which I doubt.
Rockies closer Wade Davis has not lost the role, despite a rough weekend where he blew a pair of saves and permitted six earned runs while retiring just four hitters. Pitching with that baseball in the altitude of Denver is just not fair. Yes, I believe setup man Scott Oberg is a better pitcher, and he pitched well this weekend, but unless Davis is hurt, he is the closer.
Cleveland RHP Mike Clevinger comes off a long IL stint to face the Rangers in Texas. Clevinger might be on a pitch count, and facing a Rangers offense that is tops in terms of runs per game might be a problem, but I still go with one of the 200-strikeout options from 2018. In addition, the Rangers will be missing a few big bats, as mentioned above.
Justin Upton makes his 2019 debut for the Angels in Toronto against Edwin Jackson and his 10.22 ERA. I know the Blue Jays are not really trying to win baseball games, but are you serious? An ERA that high should knock a fellow out of the rotation, no? How high can it go? Anyway, Upton remains available in more than 30 percent of ESPN standard leagues and, in addition to being a nice option for his first game, he has hit 30 home runs in each of the past three seasons.
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