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Fantasy Baseball Takeaways: Last call on Tony Gonsolin

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You can never have too many friends. You can never have too much pizza. You can never have too many guitars.

You can never have enough pitching, either. That goes for real-life baseball and the fake-stat-grab baseball we love so much.

So count me in on Dodgers right-hander Tony Gonsolin, with a high level of excitement. He’s coming back from a shoulder injury and has been fine in three short rehab outings (10.1 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 9 K). The real selling point is what he’s done in 86.2 innings at the MLB level (2.91 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, a strikeout per inning).

Be realistic with the initial inning expectations, of course. The Dodgers might take their time stretching Gonsolin out. Then again, Gonsolin faces Pittsburgh and Texas next week in a juicy two-step; how can we look away from that?

I’m surprised Gonsolin is available in about half of Yahoo leagues. This is your last call in the shallower and medium formats. Gonsolin already has some credentials at the big-league level, and the Dodgers offer a perfect backdrop for support.

Arlington, Texas,  Tuesday, October 27, 2020 Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Tony Gonsolin (46) pitches the first inning in game six of  the World Series at Globe Life Field. (Robert Gauthier/ Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Tony Gonsolin is ready to fortify your fantasy baseball rotation next week. (Robert Gauthier/ Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Pavin Smith clicking in Arizona

Sticking around that 50-percent tag, let’s appreciate the nifty start Pavin Smith is off to. Arizona’s surprising lefty swinger is off to a .292/.345/.460 push, with five homers in 202 at-bats. Not monster numbers, but when you add in good run production (21 knocked in, 33 scored), this is a 5x5 bat that would play in any format.

Smith’s under-the-hood stats validate the basic numbers. He’s on the good side of hard-hit rate, and his strikeout rate is better than average. His expected average per the Statcast data is .298; this doesn’t look like a fluke to me.

Smith hasn’t been defenseless against left-handed pitching, though the better part of his game does come against the righties (.829 OPS). He qualifies at first base and outfield in the Yahoo game, and he’s usually in a good lineup spot — sometimes first, sometimes fifth. He’s bounced around some.

The Diamondbacks are league-average in OPS, and slightly ahead of the mean in runs scored. It’s not necessarily a destination offense, but you don’t have to run from it, either.

James McCann's bat wakes up 

James McCann didn’t validate his ADP over the first six weeks or so, but he’s finally perking up at the plate. He’s homered in the last two games, and in three of his last 20 at-bats. The injury-riddled Mets are content to ride the hot hand; McCann slotted third in the last two games.

McCann’s quality defense helps the club even when he’s not hitting, but the Mets certainly acquired McCann thinking he’d be an asset with bat and glove. Keep in mind he had a zesty .276/.334/.474 slash in his two Chicago seasons. He should be a Top 10 backstop the remainder of the season, with a shot at the Top 5.

Matt Chapman gets some fresh air

Maybe Matt Chapman is the next name player to perk up; I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I’ve fielded some unsolicited Chapman trade offers in the last few days. Chapman has messy seasonal stats and he’s in a .135 funk over the last two weeks, but he’s also walked 10 times over that span and hit into some bad luck. We have to see the big picture on a proven player like this.

Oakland hits Colorado this week, just what the doctor ordered. I’ll liberally be using Chapman and Jed Lowrie in DFS at modest salaries. Even the fringe Oakland bats like Seth Brown and Chad Pinder are worth a look. Gravity always wins.

Category juice buoys Randy Arozarena 

Randy Arozarena was one of the trickier calls of the spring. He had almost no MLB resume until the playoffs, but he was a monster in October, clocking 10 home runs in his final 18 games. He won the ALCS MVP, and surely would have been the World Series MVP had Tampa Bay beaten the Dodgers.

Arozarena’s 2021 season is more fantasy-friendly than it is real-life friendly. The seven homers and nine steals, that’s lovely; category juice for the win. The .254 average is actually an asset in today’s distressed hitting environment. But Arozarena is slugging just .397, and he’s already struck out 68 times. He’s a good player, but perhaps not a star.

But so long as he wants to run this aggressively — nine swipes on 11 tries — and he still hits the occasional homer despite the slugging drop, I’m thrilled to roster Arozarena. If I were in a redraft today, I’d have to view him as a Top 50 player at minimum, and perhaps in the 38-42 range. There simply aren’t that many power-speed guys left.