The stunning Jonathan Lucroy comeback

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<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/mlb/players/8609/" data-ylk="slk:Jonathan Lucroy">Jonathan Lucroy</a> is back in our fantasy lives for 2019 (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Jonathan Lucroy is back in our fantasy lives for 2019 (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

I don’t know exactly when this happened, but catcher has become a depressing fantasy position. The waiver wire is generally barren, and a chunk of our presumable starters — especially in two-start leagues — are doing next to nothing. The only good news about catcher is that your rival is probably just as screwed as you are, save for a few safe harbors.

With that in mind, I wonder if we’re collectively underselling the return of Jonathan Lucroy.

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Not long ago, Lucroy was fantasy royalty, a destination. Heck, he was fourth in the NL MVP voting back in 2014, posting a zippy .301/.373/.465 slash with 53 doubles. When Milwaukee put Lucroy on the market at the 2016 trading deadline, bidding was spirited. Lucroy was headed to Cleveland but couldn’t get the extension he wanted; instead he went to Texas and the journeyman portion of his career kicked in.

Lucroy’s bat stopped working in 2017 (OPS+ of 82), even with a late-season kick in Colorado. Last year was a .241/.291/.325 slog in Oakland, with four piddly homers. Lucroy’s ADP was outside 230 before the year, and it probably shouldn’t have been that optimistic.

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But maybe something is coming back to him at age 32. Lucroy homered in Wednesday’s loss to Detroit, his fourth dinger over his last 22 at-bats. His slash is a respectable .276/.327/.448, and he has the lowest strikeout rate of his career. He’s playing about 80 percent of the time.

I like that Lucroy’s pull rate is up eight percent, especially as it’s come without a strikeout problem. And contact is half the battle in today’s game, the parade of Three True Outcomes. Why is Lucroy carrying lower fantasy ownership than Austin Barnes, Francisco Cervelli, and Francisco Mejia? You’re not allowed to abandon your team in May; I won’t allow it.

Get busy adding, or get busy dying. Lucroy awaits your call in 75 percent of Yahoo leagues.

Dots connecting for Kyle Gibson

I’ve fallen for Kyle Gibson in the past — often to my eventual detriment — so take this recco with a grain of salt. But I want shares in that Twins juggernaut, and Gibson’s shutdown at Toronto was too good not to mention.

The Jays are a strikeout giveaway these days, I grant you that. But Gibson still deserves props for his six-inning gem Wednesday (2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 11 K). Anytime I see that many strikeouts in the right column — especially when the walks are tidy — I want to make a move. And Gibson has been in fine form most of the year — better than a strikeout per inning, just 11 walks over 38.2 innings.

No, a 4.19 ERA isn’t ideal, but he also has a 1.19 WHIP — and when ERA and WHIP disagree, I tend to trust the WHIP. The AL Central is full of soft landings. Keep Gibson away from the nasty matchups, and wait for some of those divisional foes to come calling. He’s still unclaimed in about 80 percent of Yahoo leagues.

The book on Luke Jackson

Maybe the Braves will eventually do the dance with Craig Kimbrel, but that’s not happening anytime soon. And the way the bullpen looks right now, I can’t imagine Luke Jackson not getting an extended look in the closing chair.

Jackson’s 2019’s stats are excellent: 2.25 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, two walks against 19 strikeouts. And presumed closer A.J. Minter simply can’t get out of his own way (eight walks, ERA of nine, WHIP over two). Minter was given a stay-fresh appearance at Chavez Ravine on Wednesday and it was another flameout — three hits, two walks, just one man retired. No game situation is Minter-safe.

Back to Jackson, he’s worth owning simply for the quality innings, the strong K/BB rate. If handshakes come with the deal, all the better. He’s under-owned in Yahoo, free to add in about 75 percent of leagues.

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