10 Watchlist Guys: Vol. 5

Most platforms have a feature where you can click something by the player’s name to put them on a virtual watchlist. It is smart to use this feature before the season starts because once it starts you be sorting by stats and you could miss out on someone you really want about to get a new role because you sorted by PA and he just didn’t show very high.

Last week I said when Jesús Aguilar “starts to hit homers, he will be an all-formats play for sure” and he promptly reeled off five dingers in his next six games, taking his OPS from .739 to .921 in the process.

SHALLOW LEAGUES (mixed leagues – 10 or fewer teams)

Tyler O’Neill | OF, STL

On fire since returning from the IL, O’Neill is a power/speed profile whose lofty strikeout rate (39% this year; 35% career) often curbs his overall fantasy viability. He had just a .143/.172/.286 line in eight games before hitting the IL but has surged with a .273/.304/.682 line in seven games since his groin injury healed.

He has 3 HR and 1 SB over that time (23 PA), though his palatable 26% K rate might be the most important number behind this run. He will likely never be an AVG asset because of his swing-and-miss tendencies, but if he can get back to last year’s 27% K/10% BB then we could finally see a true breakout (something like a .245 AVG with 30 HR and 15 SB).

Chris Flexen 플렉센 | SP, SEA

Returning after a big 2020 in the KBO, Flexen has quietly been really solid in three of his four starts. Even with his 5 ER at Minnesota, he still has just a 2.74 ERA in 23 IP. His WHIP is tracking high at 1.35 thanks in large part to a 10-hit outing against Houston, though he still held them to just 1 run in 6 innings. Flexen has gone away from a fastball-heavy approach, dropping to just a 33% usage rate and funneling the extra pitches into his slider (up to a career-high 33%) and changeup (also at a career-high 19%).

Perhaps the most impressive part of his season has been the fact that he has put up that sparkling ERA while facing the Giants (16th in wRC+), Twins (9th), Astros (4th), and Red Sox (3rd). The Twins did get him as I mentioned earlier, but he rebounded with just 2 ER in 13 IP against the Astros and Red Sox. Might be time to at least stream him in shallow leagues, but at the very least he needs to be on your watchlist.

MEDIUM LEAGUES (mixed leagues – 12-14 teams)

Brandon Belt | 1B, SFG

The greater fantasy community didn’t exactly buy into Belt’s 2020 (1.015 OPS, 9 HR in 51 games) as he was a late round pick and then quickly turned up on waiver wires after a .556 OPS in his first 12 games. Over his last 12 games, he has flipped the script with a .939 OPS and should definitely garner at least watchlist attention in all formats. A gaudy 16% BB rate is covering for his ugly .219 AVG, though most leagues count AVG over OBP. If he can trim the K rate and get some more hits to start falling, his roster rate will jump quite a bit (currently 7% at ESPN leagues).

Tyler Anderson | P, PIT

Anderson is quietly having a great season and it’s time to take notice. He hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in any of his five outings thus far with a strong 24% K rate that is powered by a fantastic 14% SwStr rate. He’s had bouts of success in Colorado but has flown under the radar in his new, much more pitcher-friendly venue.

His 3.38 ERA is supported by a 3.89 SIERA and 3.50 FIP. The 31-year-old lefty gets a challenging two-step next week with trips to San Diego and Chicago (Cubs), but he is pitching well enough to entertain taking on the challenge in many formats.

DEEP LEAGUES (mixed leagues – 15+ teams)

Mike Tauchman | SFG, OF

With his trade to the Giants, it seems like we are firing up the Tauchman Hype Train again, but I’m not sure his playing time situation is that much better. He could be on the strong side of a centerfield platoon which would be enough to earn some attention given his power/speed potential (13 HR/14 SB in his last 427 PA).

Luis Garcia | HOU, SP

With Jake Odorizzi hitting the IL, Garcia has some runway in the rotation after filling a hybrid role to start the season. He got the start in two of his last three outings and looked great with just 3 ER in 10.7 IP, including a 5.7 IP/2 ER gem at Coors Field. He lost both that game and the 5 IP/1 ER gem against Seattle his last time out.

The 24-year-old righty has a deep arsenal that he commands well and misses plenty of bats with so despite making the jump from High-A to the majors last year, he looks like he can stick and be a strong piece for Houston.


Bobby Bradley | 1B, CLE

Bradley isn’t in the majors yet, but with the minor leagues starting up next week it is time to start keeping an eye on potential call-ups. There were calls for Bradley to break camp ahead of Jake Bauers, but Bauers was out of options so he got the nod. His 33 wRC+ isn’t cutting it and Bradley could be up quickly with a fast start in Triple-A which may spell the end of Bauers’ tenure in Cleveland unless he passes through waivers.

Matt Harvey | SP, BAL

Is the Dark Knight rising? The one-time superstar has quietly pitched capably for the Orioles this year. He opened with back-to-back starts against the Red Sox and only managed a 5.59 ERA but had nine strikeouts against just two walks in the 9.7 innings of work. In his last three starts, he has a 3.45 ERA/1.15 WHIP combo thanks in part to his first quality start of the year against the struggling Yankees (6 IP/1 ER/5 K).


Shogo Akiyama| OF, CIN

Akiyama is working his way back from a hamstring injury and could be ready within the next week to 10 days. Nick Senzel is off to a rough start (79 wRC+) which could open time for Akiyama upon returning. Even if they aren’t ready to move off Senzel completely because of his strong plate skills (14% K/11% BB), he could be moved into the infield to clear the way for Akiyama. The Reds gave Senzel a few innings on the infield recently so maybe he moves back there more often since Jonathan India hasn’t really done anything to solidify his spot (81 wRC+).

Erick Fedde | WAS, SP

Fedde was blasted in his season debut, allowing six runs (five of them earned) in just an inning and two-thirds against Atlanta and that was probably enough to take him off the radar of the few who were paying any attention to the former prospect. He has worked his way back on, though, thanks to a 4-start run with a 2.61 ERA/0.97 WHIP in 20.7 IP with 24 Ks. Like so many pitchers around the league, Fedde has undergone a major arsenal change by dropping his four-seamer usage 11 points to 44% and putting it all into his cutter which has been the 4th-best by Pitch Value at 3.6 so far.

Paul is the Editor of Rotographs and contributes to ESPN's Daily Notes. Follow Paul on Twitter @sporer and on Twitch at sporer.

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OddBall Herrera
1 year ago

Man, I so want to believe in O’Neill but that 22% SwStr and the < 2% walk rate are scary. Hopefully he can get his plate discipline back to last year's numbers while still hitting for power. Definitely watching for trends in that direction.

You are watching older guys this week, I am watching younger guys. Twins just cleared a couple 40 man roster spots and a spot on the active roster. If they had only done the latter, I would've thought it's just Sano coming back from IL, but clearing spots on the 40 man (Duran and Balazovic are already on it) makes me think it's Larnach time? Or maybe I'm just starved for movement on prospects 🙂

Also, what are your thoughts on Pavin Smith? You can squint at his statcast and profile and see Mark Canha type value in there.

1 year ago

I would think the Twins will want Kiriloff to get his bearings straight before bringing up Larnach?

OddBall Herrera
1 year ago
Reply to  MFG

Poo it was a backup catcher

1 year ago

Pavin as a Canha lite is probably a good call, I’ve been trying to think what I make of him and if I wanted to roster him. But you worded it well enough I’ll probably snag him.