As usually happens throughout the marathon that is the baseball season, injuries continue to pile up as we reach the middle of May.
Last week we learned that Garrett Richards was the latest victim of Tommy John surgery and that Mike Moustakas, who was having a nice season, would be sidelined with a fractured thumb.
The Yankees AARP roster is slowly making its way to the DL as Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia will both be sidelined for the foreseeable future.
I’d prefer to focus on the positives, however, and there was some news in that regard this week too.
For this week’s hot topics, we’ll look at Evan Gattis’ potential with his looming catcher eligibility, Lance McCullers return to the Astros rotation, and the state of the Angels rotation now that Garrett Richards will be out for the next year (okay, there goes the positivity).
2016 Fantasy Baseball Hot Topics
It was odd to see that the Astros sent down Gattis to Double-A on May 7, but it was done to allow him to tune up his catching skills. That means that when he returns to the Astros, he will presumably be the Astros starting catcher. Therefore, while the move to the minors may put Gattis owners in deep leagues in a pinch in the short term, gaining catcher eligibility should spike his value.
Gattis has the potential to produce Brian McCann-like value. Considering the acquisition cost, McCann was the fourth catcher drafted and had an ADP of 106 overall while Gattis’ ADP was 218th, so this news has big Fantasy potential.
Gattis cannot be recalled until May 17 but is expected to come back shortly after that. In what might be a surprising development for those who have seen Gattis catch before, he actually caught a runner stealing in his first minor league appearance. The video isn’t the highest quality so it’s difficult to see much more than where the throw ended up, and the runner doesn’t seem like the next Billy Hamilton or Starling Marte on the base paths, so take it for what it’s worth.
Whether Gattis can stick at catcher should remain largely irrelevant for Fantasy purposes, however, as in most formats he will need to start only five games at the position to become eligible.
Changes to the Astros Lineup
This move obviously hurts Jason Castro as he is likely a part time player, at best, moving forward, but more interesting and more impactful for most Fantasy leagues is what the Astros seemingly have in mind with the rest of their lineup. The Tyler White experiment should be nearing its end as he has not homered since April 20 and has only homered twice in the past month.
A.J. Reed could be on his way back to play 1B, which will leave White and Preston Tucker to battle for regular at-bats as the designated hitter. With Tucker being a lefty and White being a righty, there seems to be a natural platoon split, but that isn’t actually the case as White has hit just .208 against lefties this season.
Neither White nor Tucker is an inspiring option with their current stats but I give a slight edge to Tucker to win more at-bats moving forward due to his power potential, something the Astros clearly value.
Hitters aren’t the only ones making news for the Astros, as Lance McCullers is nearing a return to the rotation. If all goes well, he may not exit the rotation again this season as was feared during draft season. While he will still likely have an innings limit, he has missed enough time to remain under his innings cap, especially if a start is skipped here and there.
The Astros desperately need him to show his form from last season as they currently have a 4.46 team ERA. McCullers is likely owned in nearly every league but he will bump one of the several underperforming Astros’ starters out of the rotation, though Chris Devenski is the most likely one to lose his regular start in the rotation.
For good reason, there has been plenty of talk about Richards’ Tommy John Surgery and what it means for him. There has been a lot of talk about his future, less about the Angels rotation moving and not as much about what is left behind in the Angels rotation.
So where does the Angels rotation stand?
Hector Santiago is now the de-facto ace and he is doing exactly what he was expected to entering the season. He has been homer prone, but otherwise a solid and reliable starter, if unspectacular.
Speaking of homer prone, Nick Tropeano is currently surrendering 1.71 HR/9. His strikeout production is intriguing, however, as his strikeout percentage is currently at 25.2-percent and he has the swinging strikes to back it up. He will have to rein in his 4.83 BB/9 rate, however, to rack up enough strikeouts to make him Fantasy relevant as he has failed to pitch deeper than 5.2 innings in any start this season.
If Tyler Skaggs can remain healthy on a consistent basis (he recently experienced bicep tendinitis), he could be a potential under the radar late season pick-up. However, his health is far from certain at this point.
Jered Weaver and Matt Shoemaker will also be a part of the Angels rotation moving forward but neither has shown much to indicate that they will be a Fantasy asset.
In summary, the Angels rotation is in trouble so don’t rely on them in your Fantasy leagues unless absolutely necessary.