Loading Up On Rockies

With just two weeks left in the season, it’s as good a time as any to play the schedules. The Rockies are embarking on a nine game homestand, which means it’s time to load up. Obviously, most (all) of the starters are going to be rostered, depending on the depth of your league. So let’s just discuss the names that might not be, but do have a chance to play enough to make an impact.

Raimel Tapia | OF

Tapia has only started in three of the Rockies’ last 10 games, including four of those 10 he sat on the bench against a right-hander. His sudden lack of playing time is odd, but it means he’s also likely available in a higher percentage of leagues right now as a result. I have no idea if he’ll play more during the upcoming homestand, but he has obvious fantasy appeal. His strikeout rate, SwStk%, and walk rate are all at career bests. It means there’s little batting average downside and playing at home could result in a .300+ batting average.

He owns a touch of power, but has turned on the running game this year, swiping 20 bases in 26 attempts. At the MLB level, he had never stolen double digit bases. At the moment, the Rockies are only set to face one lefty during this coming week, so it’s possible we see Tapia get more than one or two starts and make an impact in deeper leagues.

Dom Nuñez | C

Elias Diaz has earned the majority of the playing time behind the plate, but Nunez has gotten his fair share as well. He strikes out a lot, though that seems more a result of passivity, rather than an inability to make contact. He owns excellent power and hits lots of fly balls, which is exactly what you want for a Coors Field visit. As a left-hander, we know he won’t start against them, so perhaps he picks up three starts over the week since the team might only face one southpaw.

Colton Welker | 1B/3B

I discussed Welker last week as a bench bat to consider adding for keeper potential and nothing has changed. Since his recall, he has started in four of 10 games, but those starts have come in his first six games and he hasn’t started a game in four opportunities. Since his playing time is questionable and he doesn’t own a standout skill, he’s best kept to free agency.

Yonathan Daza | OF

Daza has earned starts here and there, but you never know exactly when those will be. As a righty, he’s not in a platoon, so he’s started against pitchers of both hands and that means we could get four starts this week or just one or two.

The 27-year-old has shown little power, homering just twice with a sub-.100 ISO. If he offset the lack of power with some speed like Tapia above, that would be okay. But he hasn’t. It’s odd that he hasn’t been willing to steal bases as he stole 31 in 2017, but that was mostly out of line with his history and later seasons.

Daza looks like just a batting average guy you hope knocks in some runs during a slugfest or is on base on a bunch of times and scores a couple. Without much power or speed, there’s not much to hope for, especially with the suspect playing time.

Sam Hilliard | OF

Hilliard has been playing a lot more recently, which means he might already be taken in your league. He has even started in two of the last three games against lefties, so it’s not a given that he’ll sit against one. Hilliard is exactly the type you gamble on during a Coors homestand.

He strikes out a lot, but he owns big power and could knock a couple out during a hot week. He used to also show stolen base potential, stealing as many as 37 bases back in 2017 in the minors, but he has only attempted three steals (all successful) this year. That’s not nothing, and it’s about a nine steal pace over a full season, but it’s not the level that made him an exciting potential power/speed combo several years ago. Still, he’s worth rostering this week if available.

Ryan Vilade | OF

Vilade was the team’s second ranked prospect heading into the year and he was just recalled on Saturday. He started that game against a lefty, but was on the bench against a righty yesterday. You can never guess what the Rockies are doing, so who knows how much he’ll play over the rest of the season.

Vilade was slapped with 55/60 Raw Power grades, which is one of the biggest mismatches I have seen compared to the stats. Since Single-A in 2018, Vilade has never mustered higher than a 7.1% HR/FB rate and his ISO at Triple-A this year was .134. So that’s a lot of optimistic projecting for a guy whose shown no power throughout his career! It’s always interesting to find guys who have the strength to hit for power, but can’t figure out how to actually do so. I wonder what the track record for Vilade types are — does the power surge finally come, justifying those high Raw Power grades, or do the stats tell it like it is, and they more often fail to hit for the type of power suggested by their Raw Power skills?

Vilade does have some speed to soften the blow if the power doesn’t develop. He stole 24 bases in 2019, but just 12 this year. On the positive side, he makes good contact, never posting a double digit SwStk% and his strikeout rates have been no higher than 18% since his Rookie league debut in 2017. For a guy who calls Coors Field home, you want someone to put as many balls into play as possible. He has also posted high BABIP marks, so it suggests a future batting average contributor.

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.

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Mike, Tapia is likely not playing because he has turf toe. It’s a painful condition that can linger, depending on the specifics of the injury.


Sounds like Tapia is fried.