Injuries and demotions are a deep league owner’s best friends, as long as they don’t occur to your players. But really, it’s one of the few ways to improve your roster since trading seems like an impossibility in such leagues. Both players in this week’s waiver wire are the beneficiaries of these two events.
Brandon Workman | SP BOS | CBS 4% Owned
Felix Doubront’s shoulder injury opened the door for Brandon Workman to return to the Majors and make his first start of the season. He opened the year in relief, but was demoted early in April. While Workman posted an uninspiring 5.12 ERA at Triple-A in seven starts, it seems to have been the result of a HR/FB ratio, judging by his ridiculous 1.86 HR/9 mark. His strikeout and walk rates were solid, though nothing to get too excited about.
Workman’s fastball averages in the low 90s and he has used his cutter significantly more often this year, albeit over a small sample size. That increased cutter usage looks like a good decision as it has generated a bunch of swings and misses so far. His fastball has also generated swings and misses at an above average clip, while his curve has been effective as well. One would think with three above average pitches, his overall SwStk% would be higher. It’s not because the pitches that PITCHf/x have classified as changeups have generated zero swings and misses, and his two-seam fastball has had the same result.
While it doesn’t seem like Doubront is going to miss any sort of significant amount of time, the Red Sox may boot the struggling Clay Buchholz from the rotation. That would give Workman some additional security as the team would have to dip into their minor league depth to find a replacement. Workman has some strikeout ability, acceptable control and is supported by a good offense. That’s enough to give him an opportunity on your deep league team.
Robbie Grossman | OF HOU | 4% Owned
During the second week in April, I recommended Grossman for the first time. Then, his ultra disciplined approach led to too many strikeouts and he simply didn’t swing enough. And even when he did swing and make contact, the BABIP monsters conspired against him to ensure he wouldn’t be up with the big club for much longer. He was demoted in the middle of the month, at which point he did what he typically did in the minors — take walks, strike out at an average clip, show a bit of pop, and run much more frequently than advised given a poor success rate.
Well now he’s back again as the Astros outfield carousel continues to turn. L.J. Hoes has been demoted after functioning as Alex Presley’s platoon partner in left field. Grossman got the call, and word is that he’ll take over the starting left field job, presumably moving Presley into a fourth outfielder role. Since Grossman has started in left field in both of his first two games he’s been up, it would seem to indicate that the speculation was correct — Grossman is the new everyday starting left fielder.
Grossman was just four for 11 in stolen base attempts during his minor league stay, which is a terrible success rate. But it is a good sign, nonetheless, that he’s willing to keep running. It’s likely that Bo Porter won’t continue to give him the green light if he keeps getting caught, but seeing attempts, even if they are failures, is better than seeing no attempts.
Since Grossman doesn’t swing and miss at an outrageous clip, a more aggressive plate approach would improve his strikeout rate considerably, and probably help his batting average. Of course, his walk rate would decline, but his overall offensive package could perhaps benefit. We’ll just have to see if the minor league time changed him at all. For now though, he’s starting, and that makes him more than worthy of a pickup in deep leagues.
Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.