Buy Low Opportunities

Brad Johnson
Rotoworld

It’s been a busy week. Josh Hader has now allowed at least one run in five straight outings and six of his last seven. Going back to the start of July, he has a 6.19 ERA in 16 innings. That he’s also recorded 16.31 K/9 and 2.81 BB/9 over the span is an indication he remains highly effective. Now is a good time to sniff around with a buy-low trade offer. There’s a decent chance he’ll regain his mojo and a steady closer job. You might also consider stashing Matt Albers and Drew Pomeranz as handcuffs. They’re both quite unreliable.

Sean Doolittle was complaining of fatigue when we last met. Now he’s on the injured list with right knee tendinitis. He’s not expected to be out for long. On the plus side, it’s good news this isn’t an arm injury. He has a long history of shoulder issues. Unfortunately, a lower body injury can quickly lead to arm trouble – undoubtedly why the Nationals sent him to the injured list rather than rehabbing him while on the active roster. Recent struggled play a role too. In his absence, Daniel Hudson, Hunter Strickland, and Fernando Rodney are expected to form an unpleasant (for fantasy owners) committee. As with Hader, this could be just the time to buy low on Doolittle.

That’s not all. We’ve mostly steered clear of Wade Davis and Scott Oberg – at least that’s been my steady advice. Oberg is out for the season, and Davis is showing no signs of supplying passable relief. The door is open for one of Carlos Estevez or Jairo Diaz to step through. Both have appeared in this column in past seasons although neither is a closer-quality reliever. Especially not at Coors Field.

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The pecking order for the Mets remains relatively opaque. Seth Lugo coughed up five runs last Wednesday. Edwin Diaz nabbed a one-out save the following day. Two days later, Lugo received the save on a day when Diaz might have been unavailable. Neither has pitched since the weekend.

Now, shall we go to the tiers?

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Tier 1: The Upper Elite (4)

Kirby Yates, San Diego Padres

Felipe Vazquez, Pittsburgh Pirates

Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees

Will Smith, San Francisco Giants

Smith had a bumpy week, allowing two home runs in a five-out appearance. It was his only outing of the week. The Giants offense bailed him out. He supplied his lucky fantasy owners with a vulture win.

Tier 2: The Lower Elite (4)

Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers

Liam Hendriks, Oakland Athletics

Roberto Osuna, Houston Astros

Brad Hand, Cleveland Indians

Osuna has tossed clean frames in four of the last five days. If there’s a save opportunity, look for Ryan Pressly to finish off tonight’s game. Hand is in a bit of a slump recently. He’s allowed five runs over his last three innings. The Indians bullpen isn’t the sharpest collection of hurlers so his job is pretty safe. Still, there isn’t much separating him from Hader as a guy with good skills and poor recent results.

Tier 3: Core Performers (5)

Josh Hader, Milwaukee Brewers

Craig Kimbrel, Chicago Cubs

Ken Giles, Derek Law, Toronto Blue Jays

Ian Kennedy, Kansas City Royals

Raisel Iglesias, Cincinnati Reds

Here’s a piece of good news. Kimbrel returned from his brief hiatus. He allowed a home run in his first game back from injury. Overall, he’s coughed up 3.14 HR/9 in 14.1 innings. The homers are accompanied by an elevated walk rate. Without his reputation as a much better pitcher, he would rank towards the bottom of the fourth tier.

Tier 4: The Red Flag Club (8)

Hector Neris, Philadelphia Phillies

Hansel Robles, Los Angeles Angels

Mark Melancon, Atlanta Braves

Carlos Martinez, St. Louis Cardinals

Seth Lugo, Edwin Diaz, New York Mets

Emilio Pagan, Jose Alvarado, Nick Anderson, Tampa Bay Rays

Taylor Rogers, Sergio Romo, Minnesota Twins

Archie Bradley, Arizona Diamondbacks

Pagan blew a save this afternoon which could be all the space Alvarado needs to regain the top stopper role in the Rays bullpen. Regardless of who sits atop the pile, the Rays will continue to play the matchup game.

Bradley has pitched on three straight days – and allowed a run on two of them. If you’re prospecting for a save, freshly minted setup man Kevin Ginkel might be the guy for you. Ginkel soared through three levels of the Diamondbacks farm system while posting absurd strikeout rates. Thus far, he’s recorded 12 strikeouts in nine major league innings.

Tier 5: Bland (4)

Alex Colome, Chicago White Sox

Jose Leclerc, Texas Rangers

Brandon Workman, Boston Red Sox

Joe Jimenez, Detroit Tigers

Leclerc pitched around three walks on Monday then blew a save via solo home run on Tuesday. Consider claiming Shawn Kelley. Jimenez took the loss on Sunday, his first since taking over as the Tigers closer.

Tier 6: The Forgotten (5)

Ryne Stanek, Miami Marlins

Matt Magill, Anthony Bass, Seattle Mariners

Carlos Estevez, Jairo Diaz, Colorado Rockies

Daniel Hudson, Hunter Strickland, Fernando Rodney, Washington Nationals

Shawn Armstrong, Paul Fry, Mychal Givens, Baltimore Orioles

The Mariners keep throwing relievers at the wall. Thus far, none have stuck. Magill blew a save earlier today. It was his third attempt in the last week. The fly ball pitcher looks to be slightly homer prone, although he does have nice strikeout and walk rates built upon a 95 mph heater and two frequently used breaking balls. There’s some potential for mid-tier value.

If somebody emerged from the trio of Nationals relievers with a steady ninth inning job and Doolittle was forced to miss a decent chunk of time, then they would rank adjacent to Melancon. Since these are very short-term assets, there is minimal scope for them to return much value.

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Injured

Brandon Morrow, Chicago Cubs (elbow)

Corey Knebel, Milwaukee Brewers (partial UCL tear – out for season)

Arodys Vizcaino, Seattle Mariners (shoulder inflammation – out for season)

David Robertson, Philadelphia Phillies (flexor strain, out for season)

Jordan Hicks, St. Louis Cardinals (torn UCL, out for season)

Sean Doolittle, Washington Nationals (knee tendinitis)

Scott Oberg, Colorado Rockies (blood clot, out for season)

Doolittle should return in short order. Oberg has a scarier road to recovery.

The Deposed

Cody Allen, Los Angeles Angels

A.J. Minter, Atlanta Braves

Anthony Swarzak, Atlanta Braves (deposed with Mariners)

Ryan Brasier, Boston Red Sox

Chris Martin, Texas Rangers

Matt Barnes, Boston Red Sox

Pedro Strop, Chicago Cubs

Greg Holland, Washington Nationals (deposed with Diamondbacks)

Luke Jackson, Atlanta Braves

Sergio Romo, Minnesota Twins (traded)

Roenis Elias, Washington Nationals (traded)

Chris Martin, Atlanta Braves (traded)

Wade Davis, Colorado Rockies

Mychal Givens, Baltimore Orioles

Shane Greene, Atlanta Braves

Edwin Diaz, New York Mets

Jose Alvarado, Tampa Bay Rays

Hunter Strickland, Washington Nationals (traded)

Romo, Davis, Givens, Diaz, Alvarado, and Strickland all have a tangible chance to escape this ignominious section.

The Steals Department

Delino DeShields is on the move. He’s nabbed four bags in the last week and seven in over the most recent two-week span. Starling Marte is the only other base thief to reach three steals since we last convened. Mallex Smith leads the season with 34 steals followed by injured Adalberto Mondesi (31), Ronald Acuna (29), Jonathan Villar (28), and Jarrod Dyson (27). Sadly, Fernando Tatis Jr. will miss the remainder of the season with an injury.

Tier 1: The World Beaters (3)

Mallex Smith, Seattle Mariners

Trea Turner, Washington Nationals

Ronald Acuna, Atlanta Braves

No change in our top runners. Turner may be three steals behind Acuna, but he’s also taken 182 fewer plate appearances. Those lost opportunities add up. Turner would likely lead the league had he not missed time to injury.

Tier 2: Consistent Thieves (6)

Jarrod Dyson, Arizona Diamondbacks

Jonathan Villar, Baltimore Orioles

Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians

Christian Yelich, Milwaukee Brewers

Starling Marte, Pittsburgh Pirates

Elvis Andrus, Texas Rangers

Marte had a weird stolen base drought through the middle months of the season. Lately, he’s turned on the jets, leading to a promotion back into the second tier. The interplay between Dyson and Villar mirrors the commentary from Tier 1. Yes, Villar is ahead of Dyson overall, but he’s also taken nearly 200 more plate appearances. Dyson doesn’t always play so there is more scope for preferring others over him.

Tier 3: Assorted Rabbits (7)

Victor Robles, Washington Nationals

Delino DeShields, Texas Rangers

Tim Anderson, Chicago White Sox

Dee Gordon, Seattle Mariners

Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians

Trevor Story, Colorado Rockies

Whit Merrifield, Kansas City Royals

DeShields continues to demonstrate a tantalizing set of skills without showing any signs of maximizing them. He obviously has plus speed, and he can work walks despite a fairly punchless bat. The issue is a 25 percent strikeout rate that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere despite an above average contact rate. In short, DeShields is passive which leads him to fall behind in the count. A little more channeled aggression could potentially help – either to hit for a little more power or at least cut down on the strikeouts. As it stands, he’s just an injury replacement. Since Joey Gallo and Nomar Mazara are injured, he’ll play regularly.

Tier 4: Names to Watch (10)

Kevin Kiermaier, Tampa Bay Rays

Manuel Margot, San Diego Padres

Keston Hiura, Milwaukee Brewers

Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox

Amed Rosario, New York Mets

Oscar Mercado, Cleveland Indians

Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs

Scott Kingery, Philadelphia Phillies

Adalberto Mondesi, Kansas City Royals, injured

For a second straight season, Rosario is having a tidy second half. Since mid-June, he’s hitting .359/.394/.515 (.414 BABIP) with four home runs and nine steals (five caught stealing). There’s obviously some muck in that performance – particularly the high BABIP and caught stealing rates. The underlying skill set is unchanged. He’s relatively punchless, impatient, and has enough speed to make a difference.

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