Gray Matter

·11 min read


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It’s good to be back. I used last week’s All-Star break as an opportunity to unplug and refresh for the stretch run, but Jorge Montanez (@Roto_Nino) did an awesome job filling in on Waiver Wired with a bunch of useful recommendations. He’s been a great addition to the staff this year and his weekly “Holding It Down” column is one of the reasons you should subscribe to our EDGE+ premium product.

This is a very important time in fantasy leagues, with the MLB Trade Deadline going down next Friday at 4 p.m. ET. We’re likely to see a bunch of big names being moved, which we’ll discuss in our live Circling the Bases broadcast tonight (Thursday) at 8 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports EDGE YouTube and Twitch pages. From those deals will come opportunity, perhaps for young players or those who are next in line on the depth chart for save chances or at-bats. It makes sense to anticipate how these situations play out, but hopefully we’ll have some noteworthy moves to discuss when we reconvene here next week.

In the meantime, make sure to keep the NBC Sports EDGE player news page on lock, as well as download our new app. You can be a step ahead of the game, especially during what promises to be an interesting week.

Have specific questions about your roster? Ask @djshort on Twitter.

MIXED LEAGUES

(Players rostered in under 50 percent of Yahoo leagues)

Note: Percentages are from the morning of Thursday, July 22nd

Josiah Gray SP, Dodgers (Yahoo: 12 percent rostered)

There’s opportunity in the Dodgers’ rotation right now and Gray might be able to take advantage of it. Regarded as the top pitching prospect in the organization, the 23-year-old missed a couple of months this season due to a right shoulder impingement, but he pitched well upon his return in Triple-A before making his major league debut against the Giants on Tuesday. While he allowed four runs in four innings, he struck out seven out of the 17 batters he faced. He struck out four batters in a row at one point and induced 15 whiffs in his 77 pitches, including eight on his slider alone. Things could change depending on Clayton Kershaw’s timeline or a possible trade acquisition, but Gray has a spot in the Dodgers’ rotation for now. He’ll get the Rockies at home on Sunday, which is a nice bonus for a pitcher with his exciting potential.

Austin Gomber SP/RP, Rockies (Yahoo: 41 percent rostered)

Welcome back, Mr. Gomber. After missing a month with left forearm tightness, he allowed three runs (all on solo homers) over six innings for the win in his return Wednesday against the Mariners. He struck out three batters and continued to show his excellent control with just one walk. That gives him a ridiculous 45/4 K/BB ratio to go along with a 1.54 ERA over his last nine starts. His next start comes against the Angels on the road, but he’s actually pitched just fine at Coors Field this season. Either way, it’s safe to pick him up again in leagues where he was dropped.

Joey Votto 1B, Reds (Yahoo: 32 percent rostered)

Votto might be 37 years old, but his game is aging gracefully. While his overall numbers don’t really stand out, he’s slashing .286/395/.496 with seven homers, 25 RBIs, and 20 runs scored over 38 games since returning from a fractured thumb in early June. While he’s sacrificed some contact this year, he’s hitting the ball extremely hard. Votto finds himself in a great home park for hitters with some fun tablesetters in front of him, so he absolutely should be rostered as a corner infielder in most formats.

Brandon Marsh OF, Angels (Yahoo: 21 percent rostered)

Marsh, and not Jo Adell, got the call from the minors over the weekend with Mike Trout and Justin Upton still sidelined. While Adell is the bigger name, Marsh is a promising prospect in his own right, though part of the reason he’s rated so highly in prospect lists is due to his defensive ability. That doesn’t mean he can’t be useful in mixed leagues, though. He can. Marsh brings plus-speed to the table and holds a .288/.371/.440 batting line over 295 games in the minors. We likely would have seen him in the majors by now if it wasn’t for injuries. The power has been a bit inconsistent in his pro career, but he’s worth grabbing in deeper leagues on the chance that he sticks even when Trout and Upton return.

Enrique Hernandez 2B/SS/OF, Red Sox (Yahoo: 36 percent rostered)

Hernandez is a flawed hitter who ideally wouldn’t be hitting leadoff, but you can’t argue with the results right now. He went deep again on Wednesday and is now hitting .292/.420/.708 with eight homers, 15 RBI, and 13 runs scored over his last 19 games. He’s actually put up more walks (12) than strikeouts (10) during that time, so he’s obviously seeing the ball extremely well during this power surge. Can he keep it up? His track record suggests not, but he’s had a 20-homer season before and qualifies at multiple positions atop one of the best lineups in baseball. It’s not too complicated.

Collin McHugh SP/RP, Rays (Yahoo: 17 percent rostered)

McHugh doesn’t fit into a nice box as far as fantasy value goes, but his incredible success can’t be ignored. After throwing two scoreless innings against the Orioles for the win on Wednesday, he has now allowed just one run in his last 36 1/3 innings since returning from the injured list in early May. He’s put up an incredible 54/7 K/BB ratio during that time. Leaning into his slider and cutter usage, McHugh is generating weak contact while collecting swinging strikes at a higher clip than ever before. The veteran right-hander is a great option for those in need of help in ratios and much like Wednesday, he’s capable of vulturing some wins as well.

Mitch Garver C, Twins (Yahoo: 36 percent rostered)

Garver was on a nice run at the plate before going down with a groin injury which required surgery at the start of June, but he didn’t need any time at all to get back into the swing of things this week. The 30-year-old slugged a pair of homers in his return to the Twins on Monday against the White Sox. After a brutal start to the year, Garver actually has eight home runs and a 1.147 OPS over 26 games dating back to late April. His 23-game sample from 2020 was a disaster, but he’s back to being a commended option in all formats.

Jon Gray SP, Rockies (Yahoo: 40 percent rostered)

This week you get two Grays for the price of one. As far as the Rockies right-hander goes, his value should get a healthy boost assuming he’s traded by the July 30th deadline. It would be a real shocker if that didn’t happen. He’s had a nice year even in his current situation, posting a 3.68 ERA through 17 starts. He had a brief stint on the injured list in June due to a flexor strain, but he’s bounced back with an exceptional 2.40 ERA and 37/10 K/BB ratio in 30 innings across five starts. He’s amassed at least 12 swinging strikes in all of them. Get proactive with this one.

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Deeper Dandies

(Players rostered in under 10 percent of Yahoo leagues)

David Bednar RP, Pirates (Yahoo: 4 percent rostered)

Adam Frazier and Tyler Anderson are notable trade possibilities for the Pirates, but don’t overlook the possibility that closer Richard Rodriguez could be dealt, as well. It just doesn’t make much sense to keep him around on a team that isn’t going anywhere for the next couple of years. With that in mind, make sure to stash Bednar away in competitive formats. The 26-year-old has been locked in as the bridge to Rodriguez in his first year with the Pirates, posting a 2.84 ERA and 47/14 K/BB ratio over 38 innings. As far as speculating on potential role changes post-trade deadline, this feels like an obvious one to think ahead on.

Luis Torrens C, Mariners (Yahoo: 7 percent rostered)

Now, this one I don’t really understand. Torrens took fellow Waiver Wired mention Austin Gomber yard on Wednesday and now boasts a .280/.379/.680 batting line with nine homers, 17 RBI, and 15 runs scored over 23 games since returning from the minors in June. Only Shohei Ohtani, Joey Gallo, Jose Altuve, Fernando Tatis Jr., Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Mike Yastrzemski have hit more home runs during that time. While it’s true that Cal Raleigh is up in the majors now, Torrens made the start at first base on Wednesday and should see more time there down the stretch assuming he isn’t traded over the next week. It’s a tricky call in single catcher formats given the question about consistent playing time, but there’s no reason he should be available in two-catcher formats.

Weekend Warriors

Alex Cobb SP, Angels (Yahoo: 29 percent rostered)

This is somewhat of a tough weekend for matchups, but there’s still some decent options out there depending upon the depth of your league. Cobb gets the Twins on Friday opposite J.A. Happ, who allowed seven runs in his last start and has served up 14 homers over his last eight starts. There’s a good chance at a win here, especially with Cobb rolling of late. He’s posted a 2.45 ERA over his last five starts, allowing one earned run or fewer in four of them.

Merrill Kelly SP, Diamondbacks (Yahoo: 23 percent rostered)

Kelly will go up against the Cubs this weekend, which is going to be very interesting. The roster they have right now might not be the one Kelly ends up seeing. But even if Bryant and Baez are still around, Kelly is worth rolling with in most leagues. The 32-year-old holds a stingy 2.56 ERA and 27/3 K/BB ratio in 38 2/3 innings over his last six starts, which has actually put him on the radar as a possible trade target for contenders. He could get a nice boost in overall value depending on how the next week plays out.

AL ONLY

Estevan Florial OF, Yankees (Yahoo: 2 percent rostered)

Just as we expected, the Yankees beat the Phillies on Wednesday behind the likes of Florial, Greg Allen, Brooks Kriske, and Ryan LaMarre. These are weird times for the Bombers as they attempt to stay in contention amid another COVID-19 outbreak, but Florial has provided a spark this week, including his first major league homer on Tuesday. The 23-year-old didn’t have great overall numbers in the minors this season, but he swung the bat better over the past month and brings some fun pop and speed to the mix. Worth a shot in a league-only format.

Spencer Patton RP, Rangers (Yahoo: 0 percent rostered)

As mentioned with Richard Rodriguez, it’s time to start thinking ahead with how roles could change with the upcoming trade deadline. Ian Kennedy is one of the most obvious candidates to be moved and there’s no clear favorite for who could replace him in the closer role. That’s where Patton steps in. Signed to a minor league deal after a four-year stint in Japan, he’s posted a 2.70 ERA and 19/3 K/BB ratio in 13 1/3 innings since his call-up last month. The 33-year-old has upped his velocity since his last stint in the majors and relies more on a slider which has been basically untouchable so far. It’s fun to speculate.

NL ONLY

Luis Guillorme 2B/3B/SS, Mets (Yahoo: 0 percent rostered)

It looks like Guillorme is going to get a real shot as the starting shortstop job with Francisco Lindor sidelined due to a Grade 2 oblique strain. While he had an ugly game defensively on Monday night, he usually quite sure-handed in the field. While there’s limited power and speed in his game, he brings a strong approach at the plate, slashing .309/.422/.369 over 181 plate appearances dating back to the start of last season. Only Buster Posey and Juan Soto have a higher OBP (min. 150 PA) during that time. He should be a useful plug-and-play as long as the playing time is there.

Jay Jackson RP, Giants (Yahoo: 0 percent rostered)

A former ninth-round pick of Cubs in 2008, Jackson has had a spotty track record in the majors until now, but he might be the latest reclamation success story for the Giants. Now 33 years old, the well-traveled right-hander has struck out eight out of the 14 batters he’s faced since his call-up from the minors last week. Dramatically increasing his slider usage, he fired 11 scoreless innings with an 18/1 K/BB ratio during his time with Triple-A Sacramento this season. Chase the small sample if you need help with ratios and strikeouts.