Big Kid Adds (6/14/22) by Jeff Zimmerman June 14, 2022 While the NFBC Main Event garners most of the attention, there are a handful of leagues with even a larger entry fee ($2.5K to $15K). They get originally named “High Stakes Leagues” and this year there are nine of them. With so much money on the line, these fantasy managers are going to try to gain any advantage. Most of the time, these managers will be a week or two ahead of everyone else on their adds. Here are the players and some information on the ones added in five or more of these leagues. Jake Burger (9): Burger has started eight straight games and is hitting .277/.326/.515 with 8 HR. He was been on fire (1.097 OPS) since being recalled on May 25th. The power aspect of his game is legit as seen from his StatCast snapshot. The above graphic also points out his biggest weakness, poor plate discipline (30% K%, 6% BB%). An interesting note is that he may have tailored his swing to hit four-seam fastballs. While he misses four-seamers quite often (15% SwStr%), the contact he makes is loud (.400 vsISO). Against sinkers, he doesn’t swing-and-miss as much (9% SwStr%) but has yet to get one extra-base hit against them (72% GB%). I like Burger’s talent but I do worry that he might start losing playing time in about a week. Currently, he is the DH and he’s splitting time at third base with a struggling Yoán Moncada (.386). I’m not sure the White Sox are at the point of sitting Moncada every day. Also, Eloy Jiménez is expected off the IL in about a week and he could start taking some of those DH at-bats. I could easily see a scenario where Burger is playing halftime. There was more than the normal amount of catcher movement with the demotion of Joey Bart and injuries to Tyler Stephenson, Mike Zunino, and Danny Jansen. While Moreno’s promotion was going to garner some attention, I think the other two were added because they were the best available options. Gabriel Moreno (9): The 22-year-old Moreno is a top-10 prospect but didn’t receive as much attention as similarly ranked prospects. While he was hitting great in AAA (.324/.380/.404), he had two forces working against him. First, Alejandro Kirk, the other Toronto catcher, has been great (.318/.401/.471 with 5 HR). Second, the struggles of other top-catching prospects, in particular, Joey Bart (.596 OPS) and Adley Rutschman (.525 OPS), might have tempered some bids. Moreno has only 8 PAr, but the one trend I find interesting is that he has only seen 39% fastballs so far. It seems like pitchers have a plan on getting him out, now he needs to prove them wrong. I expect Christian Vazquez-type production this season for Moreno. A decent batting average and just a bit of power and speed. That has value, but it’s not game-changing. Jason Adam (8): The 30-year-old Adam has cut down on his fastball usage (57% to 38%) and is having a prideful season so far (10.8 K/9, 0.64 WHIP, 0.72 ERA, 3.34 xFIP). Additionally, he was the last Rays pitcher to record a Save after Andrew Kittredge went back on the IL (Tommy John surgery). It’s always tough/time-consuming to go through all the game logs to analyze a pitcher’s game situation and usage. Two quick checks point to him being used in high-leverage situations (i.e. chances for a Win, Hold, or Save). First, his Leverage Index (gmLI) is over 1.1 (1.26) meaning he’s been used in tight games. Additionally, here are the gmLI values from the last five games. 2.36 1.49 1.70 3.22 2.73 The Rays are using him in the game’s most important situations so the fantasy-relevant stats will soon come. Carson Kelly (7): Kelly is off the IL after an oblique injury sidelined him for over a month. He’s struggled so far this season (.098/.167/.115, 0 HR) but is usually good for a .230 AVG and double-digit home runs. One of the best available catchers in 15-team, two-catcher leagues. Diego Castillo (7): Castillo has been on fire over the last few weeks. Since May 23rd he has 0 ER, 15 K, and 1 BB in 9 IP. Additionally, over the last three appearances, he has two Saves. It is tough to know for sure if Castillo is the full-time closer since Paul Sewald has been fine over the same time frame (3.86 ERA, 9.7 K/9, 3 SV, 1 W). In leagues where every Saves source is rostered (see Jason Adam), Castillo is a must roster. Rony García (7): Garcia was added since he had a two-start week (vs CWS, vs TEX). The first start did not go as planned (4 IP, 4 ER, 3 K, and 2 BB). By looking at his stats going into the game, I could see why he was being considered with a 10.6 K/9, 1.00 WHIP, 4.50 ERA, ad 3.15 xFIP. The deal is that he’s been a reliever most of the season and hasn’t dominated in the starting role. In his previous starts, he had a combined 9.0 K/9, 1.30 WHIP, 7.20 ERA, and 3.58 xFIP. He should be rosterable with that strikeout and walk numbers but he gives up too many home runs. Since his debut in 2020, he has a 32% GB% leading to a 2.2 HR/9. The other issue is that he’s predictable with 89% of his pitches being either a fastball (93 mph, 7 SwStr%, 21% GB%) or a slider (13% SwStr%, 31% GB%). The fastball is the one he can throw for strikes (63% Zone% vs 31%), so if he falls behind in the count hitters can sit on it. Garcia seemed like a bad option from the start but ended up as one of the best available arms because the starting pitcher market has dried up. Braxton Garrett (6): As Sunday went along and I examined Garrett’s Saturday start, I quickly prioritized him. In 41 MLB innings before this season, Garrett posted a reasonable 8.6 K/9 but a 5.4 BB/9 crushed his fantasy value and helped push his ERA up to 5.18. This season, he seems to have found the strike zone with a 2.4 BB/9 in AAA and a 2.0 BB/9 in the majors. Additionally, his 48% Zone% and 79% First Strike rate are better than his career numbers. Finally, his fastball is up over 1 mph and he’s throwing it fewer times (49% usage to 43%). The results of his pitches are been a mixed bag. Pitch: Count, SwStr% Slider: 56, 16% Sinker: 34, 9% Four-seame: 32, 19% Curve: 19, 5% Change: 14, 15% First off, he’s violating the Yu Darvish Rule with the curve needing to go based on the small sample. Second, if he can maintain anything close to those numbers going forward, he’ll be playable in all formats. One final note, his current 19% K%-BB% is comparable to Pablo López, Max Fried, Kyle Wright, and Carlos Carrasco. Few starters pop up in-season and Garrett is someone to take a chance on. Christian Bethancourt 베탄코트 (6): The A’s have moved Seth Brown to the outfield and Bethancourt has started three games at first while hitting in the heart of the lineup. For someone qualified at catcher, he’s been pretty damn good by hitting .269/.310/.454 with 4 HR and 4 SB. The 30-year-old has made two major improvements. First, he’s hitting the ball harder as seen by career-highs in all his StatCast metrics (ignoring 2017 with just four batted balls) with the 47% HardHit rate being the most impressive. Second, his 20% K% is the lowest of his career. The combination makes him a productive catcher all formats. Anthony DeSclafani (5): He’s making his rehab starts (3 IP, 3 K, 0 BB, and 0 ER) and a few managers were hoping to roster him before his return. A .444 BABIP was inflating his 6.08 ERA and 1.80 WHIP when he got hurt, but his 8.8 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 were in line with his 2021 values (8.2 K/9, 2.3 BB/9) when he had a 3.17 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. For the fantasy managers needing a boost in pitching, he is a perfect addition at this point. Matt Strahm (5): Strahm has been decent this season (10.5 K/9, 1.17 WHIP, 4.00 ERA, 3.26 XFIP) and got two Saves last week. The problem is that Tanner Houck talled two Saves since Strahm got his two. In one of those games, Strahm was used before Houck. Manager Alex Cora has stated that he wants a structured bullpen. “You guys know I like structure,” said Cora. “We tried the whole ace reliever in [the first half of] 2019. It’s different than this, of course. The three lefties gives us an advantage on certain days. But I think it’s one of those where we would love somebody to step up and be consistent to throw strikes, go through three batters and turn the page. That’d be great so we could actually set up the sixth, the seventh, the eighth. But so far, we’ve been up and down with this.” With this knowledge, it seems like Strahm might not be the closer. Mitch Keller (5): I’ve written so much on Keller this year and now he goes and adds a sinker. In the four games since adding the pitch, he has a 2.75 ERA (4.22 xFIP), 7.3 K/9, 4.1 BB/9, and a 53% GB%. Some comparable pitchers with similar strikeout, walk, and groundball rates are: Ranger Suárez: 7.4 K/9, 3.9 BB/9, 53% GB% Justin Steele: 8.3 K/9, 4.3 BB/9, 51% GB% David Peterson: 8.0 K/9, 4.5 BB/9, 53% GB% If any three above are rostered, then Keller should be also. If they aren’t, neither should be Keller. Caleb Kilian (5): It’s been just one start for Kilian so far with 6 K, 2 BB, and 3 ER over 5 IP. That’s fine. In 43 AAA IP, he had a 2.51 ERA, 9.8 K/9, and 1.35 WHIP. Again, no red flags. In his start, he threw a 94-mph fastball 64% of the time with all the hits allowed coming off his sinker (66% GB%, 9% SwStr%). I’m interested in adding him with his Wednesday start being a major factor in determining if he’s a difference-maker or an also-ran. Yonathan Daza (5): Six home starts means any Rockies hitter will be in demand. Zach Davies (5): Davies gets a home start against the Reds today and he’s been OK on the season. A 4.21 ERA (with matching ERA estimators), 1.24 WHIP, and 7.3 K/9. I dug a little deeper and didn’t find any signs of a breakout. His fastball velocity is still under 90-mph. His pitch usages remain the same. His changeup (19% SwStr%) is the only one that grades as average or better. I don’t understand the add unless I’m missing something. Andre Pallante (5): One of the main reasons for adding Pallante was a projected start against Pittsburgh. That start is now gone with the return of Jack Flaherty and Pallante must now face the Red Sox. I looked into Pallante this weekend and stayed away because of the walks. He has a 4.2 BB/9 leading to an unrosterable 1.41 WHIP. The other issue is he’s like Garcia in that he’s just now being tried as a starter. In his two starts so far, he has a 0.96 ERA, 5.8 K/9, 5.8 BB/9, and 4.57 xFIP. The only trait allowing him to maintain some value is a 56% GB%. Part of the draw might be his 95-mph sinker that has gotten decent results (65% GB%, 7% SwStr%, 61% usage).