Tyler Saladino & Tony Cingrani: Deep League Wire

It might be the start of the second half so far as real baseball is concerned, but for us fantasy folks, we’re deep into the middle of the 2015 stretch run. Whether you’re looking to plug in some spare parts to aid your efforts or just need some warm bodies to fill your roster as you mull a fire sale, here are two players unowned in the vast majority of leagues who could help your cause.

The usual fine print: The players in this column are typically better suited for mono leagues, and the ownership percentages are by way of CBS.

Tyler Saladino / 3B/SS / Chicago White Sox / 2%

The Conor Gillaspie, um, era is now over, with the third baseman and his .237 average sent packing to DFA Land before Sunday’s game. In his place enters Saladino, 26, who Robin Ventura says will now get the bulk of the starts at the hot corner. The rookie’s first week in The Show has been a successful one: he was hitting .308 over the first 28 plate appearances of his major league career, and smacked his first home run in Sunday’s 4-1 loss to the Royals.

The pop, however, isn’t something we should come to expect from the infielder, as he only breached the double-digit HR plateau once in his minor league career and slugged just .395 down on the farm. I’ll note here that Kiley McDaniel sees some raw power in Saladino, but suffice to say long balls won’t be much of a fantasy offering from the San Diego native in 2015. We’re also talking about a guy who shouldn’t be expected to maintain anything close to a .300 average, either, though an 11% minor league walk rate shows he knows how to take a pitch, and provides some hope that even if he will likely be a batting average liability, he could draw enough walks to not be too much of a burden in OBP formats.

But let’s get to the point: Saladino has some wheels. He stole 25 bases in Triple-A this year. Twenty-eight in Double-A two years ago. Thirty-nine across two levels in 2012. His glove — his main major league calling card — is considered good enough to merit him playing time for a White Sox team that ranks last in the American League in UZR/150, and let’s not forget that Alexei Ramirez has been so awful at the plate this year that some starts at shortstop for Saladino — who is already eligible for that position in CBS — are not out of the picture, either. If you need speed off the wire, here’s a lottery ticket with everyday opportunity who is probably available in your league.

Tony Cingrani / SP / Cincinnati Reds / 13%

The lefty has been on the shelf since mid-June with a strained shoulder, but he’s looked good in three rehab appearances — he’s allowed just two hits over nine shutout innings — topped by a five-inning, 93-pitch performance on Friday. Next, Bryan Price says Cingrani, 26, will make a start on Wednesday, providing hope that he could break into the Reds’ rotation for the second half.

We know the deal with this guy: strikeout-per-inning ability with too many walks and a cluster of home runs. Cingrani, as you might recall, is essentially a two-pitch pitcher who relies heavily on a low-to-mid-90s fastball with a couple of sliders mixed in and the occasional changeup. So far, the results in 24 relief appearances this season are utterly Cingranian: an excellent 10 K/9, but one that’s against a crazy 6.6 BB/9.

Regardless of whether you see Cingrani as a reliever or not, we can point to his resume as a big league starter. In 2013, the year he made 18 starts and threw 104.2 innings, he posted a 3.78 FIP and 3.31 SIERA, with enough strikeouts to more than offset a tolerable 10.2 BB%. Word is he’s working on a changeup and a breaking ball while on rehab, so at the least, he and the Reds acknowledge that he needs an out pitch if he’s going to be successful as a major league starter.

We’ll see if Cingrani can indeed diversify his arsenal, just as we’ll watch how his shoulder holds up. And we assume home runs will continue to be an issue for him given his proclivity for inducing fly balls.

But the Reds could use some stability in their rotation, and the possibility that either Johnny Cueto or Mike Leakeboth of whom are in their walk years — could be moved over the next 10 days only increases the likelihood that management will give the strikeout-happy southpaw a chance to once again prove himself worthy of a rotation spot. At the very least, he can be counted on to deliver the Ks, and his established MLB success makes him an easy add in all NL-only formats if he breaks into the rotation.

Karl, a journalist living in Washington, D.C., learned about life's disappointments by following the Mets beginning at a young age. His work has appeared in numerous publications, and he has contributed to the 2014 and 2015 editions of The Hardball Times Annual. Follow/harass him on Twitter @Karl_de_Vries.

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Cingrani or Aaron Nola? Who would you rather take a chance on?


Nola, less known.