Talent is not the only thing. As you'll see in this week's write-up, opportunity and role is even more important.
The case of Julio Urias is a prime example. Everyone who is anyone says he's destined for stardom. Unfortunately, the ways of baseball in the year 2016 mean that we'll only get limited access to Urias and his spotlighted left-arm. The Dodgers (like every other team in the game) are incredibly hesitant to give too much too soon to Urias. Since signing with the Dodgers in 2013, he has totaled just 263 innings in the minors. Within that total is a grand total of ZERO seasons with 90 innings of work. In other words, he's unlikely to see beyond 130 innings this year ... and, he's already polished off 41 in the minors this season.
He will get some starts for LA. And, he will also see some bullpen work. Will that be as a long man or as an 8th inning guy? How many total starts? Will he be on a rigid pitch count? Will he be up for just a couple of chances before heading back to the minors? Will he carry over all the exquisite skills of his teenage year (just 19 years old!) to the 'big boy' league? There is no question that Urias is a top-end talent, but for the immediate concern of 2016, his undefined role and usage makes him a tricky bid. Frankly, future call-up's such as Jameson Taillon, Tyler Glasnow, and perhaps Lucas Giolito, could all total more MLB innings than Urias this year.
Below, we've got some more guys where opportunity has overshadowed talent. Some will fit for you and some won't. Let's lay it out.
(Note: To make the list, I'll apply a loose definition that says a player is likely be unowned in a vast majority of 12-team mixed leagues. At the end of each player note, I'll also provide a suggested bid for those that use FAAB (Free Agent Acquisition Budget) for their waiver process (based on a $100 budget). Understand that this is only a suggestion ... if you've just lost your starting outfielder to injury and you have an immediate need or gaping hole in your lineup, you will find it necessary to bid more in order to get that week's top available outfielder.)
Matt Adams, 1B, St. Louis
Two to three times a season, the Cardinals once-burly and now slimming 1st baseman appears to be on the edge of a breakout. Then, of course, he recedes into a 2-for-21 slump or falls victim to injury. This time around it's the injury that has gotten him. Adams was in the midst of a stellar 12-for-23 rainbow before leaving Thursday's game with stiffness in his middle back (he missed Friday's start, as well). He was also starting to emerge from a very crowded group of players at 1B. Now, it's all back to a restart. Even if he overcomes his latest malady and keeps a portion of his good results, Adams might find even more competition just around the corner. Rehabbing vet, Jhonny Peralta, is actually seeing time at 1B in the minors and there has been rumblings of Matt Carpenter even finding his way to more starts at first in the coming months. If you can nail the hot streaks, Adams would be more than capable. As it is, though, his playing time and his bat is too unpredictable than to be anything behind a fantasy back-up.
Suggested FAAB bid - $5
Joey Gallo, 3B/OF, Texas
If you are interested in adding Gallo then you are making a long-play on the slugger. He's been up with the Rangers all week long and has yet to make a single start. He has just one at-bat and you'll probably see him back in the minor leagues before the second week of June. There will be those who put in a bid with little to no understanding of the situation in Arlington. Let them spend their money, dump him in a week or so, and then you can swoop in to grab when he's called up for good later in the summer. As of now, there's just not enough playing time to warrant an addition.
Suggested FAAB bid - $2
Mikie Mahtook, OF, Tampa Bay
Kevin Kiermeier's fractured hand will keep him out of the lineup for more than a month. With his DL arrival Mahtook gets the call. He has started three of the first five games and has been inserted in the number-2 spot in the order for each of those nods. In 40 games last year, the 26-year old surprised with a .970 OPS. That number misleads into thinking he's a home run guy. He's much more of a doubles machine, though, (30 per season over the last 3 minor league campaigns) who profiles as mostly average with the lumber in his hands. His positioning in the Rays' order makes him viable, but he'll need to hit at least .275 to maintain fantasy reliability. He can also handle all three outfield spots defensively so he should be good for a nice run of starts in June. Just don't expect anything truly notable.
Suggested FAAB bid - $3
Jurickson Profar, SS/2B, Texas
Amazingly, we haven't come across Profar's name since 2013. That was the last time we saw his uniform in the major leagues as he has battled serious shoulder ailments for each of the past two years. He's back up with the Rangers because of the Rougned Odor suspension which will carry forth for the next week. Thus, Profar could very well be back in the minors in just over a week from now. The Rangers just have too much of a roster crunch, right now. That limits all measure of upside when it comes to adding Profar. If you're an on-the-search Odor owner, this makes sense, but for others it's mostly a pass.
Suggested FAAB bid - $1
Jarrett Parker, OF, San Francisco
The NL West leaders continue to toy with the status of Hunter Pence (hammy). He has not been good enough to start this week, but he has come on a couple of times for a pinch-hitting appearance. While we wait and wait on Pence, Parker is getting a shot. He's accomplished a load in the minors. His power is legit (13 homers in 36 games), but that is often muted in the pitching-friendly confines by the Bay. He's not an uber-prospect by any stretch. Remember he's 27 and has a grand total of 60 MLB at-bat's despite being a part of an organization that could use offensive support. His first week of play has featured little to excite. He has just two hits (one of them a homer) in his first 11 at-bats entering Friday's play. Unless you hear that Pence is suddenly off to the DL, he isn't worth much interest.
Suggested FAAB bid - $1
Yangervis Solarte, 3B, San Diego
Somehow, someway, I always find myself mentioning this guy! And, before last night's two home run effort, I thought I could sneak him through the waiver process with relative ease this week! Solarte has been out of action since the first week of the season. He returned last week and immediately became a piece in the heart of the Padres' batting lineup. He's likely to stay there and produce some solid marks. If he stays off the disabled list you are legitimately adding a guy who can hit .275, launch low double-digit homers, and drive in 50+ over the remaining 115 games. For those who just lost Mike Moustakas for the season, it's an easy add. Although his pub is a sliver of what Moose gets, he's practically the same player. He also tops Moustakas by sporting both corner and middle infield eligibility.
Suggested FAAB bid - $8
Trayce Thompson, OF, LA Dodgers
If you are in a league full of fantasy folks who know what they are doing then Thompson may be long gone. It's gone incredibly unnoticed, but the young outfielder has become the best outfielder on the Dodgers' overpriced roster. In just a shade over 100 at-bats this year he has already launched seven home runs, driven in 19, scored 18, and built an OPS just under-.900. We've seen him now for a total of 83 MLB games (last year he was playing with the Chi-Sox) and his slash is .289/.355/.538. Yasiel Puig is a total mess. Carl Crawford is one move out of bed from injury. Joc Pederson still runs hot-and-cold. Andre Ethier is hurt. Kike Hernandez is slumping. Thompson has playing time at his feet. I don't believe that he is quite this good, but he's a decent bet as a 5th outfielder for fantasy purposes.
Suggested FAAB bid - $8
CC Sabathia, SP, NY Yankees
The big guy looked washed up last season. This year he appears to have turned the clock back, well, just a few years. He'll never be Cy Young-worth again (he's now 35), but he is on quite a run to begin the season. He's only made seven starts this year thanks to a groin injury that caused him to miss a few turns in the rotation. In those seven appearances you cannot complain about what he has featured. Sabathia has a 2.83 ERA through 40+ innings and even his K-rate has come back a bit with 36 total punchouts. Playing things forward, he's likely to be hurling at Toronto next week (the Blue Jays look lost right now and Sabathia didn't allow an earned run against them in seven innings on Thursday) and will then be in line for a 2-start week in the first full-week of June. If you don't make a run at him this week, certainly remember him for next week when you can take advantage of the pair of chances.
Suggested FAAB bid - $4
Will Smith, RP, Milwaukee
Jeremy Jeffress has been a rock for the Brewers since the beginning of the season. Although his K-rate hasn't followed his journey to the 9th inning (down almost 3 batters per inning), he has had major success in finishing off Brewer wins (12-for-13 in save opportunities). That might make you think he's certain to hold onto the 9th inning for the remainder of the season. I do follow and favor that line of thinking, but if you're fishing for saves you might want to make a preemptive move on Smith. The preseason closer is finally back on the hill and going through his minor league rehab stint. If all goes according to plan and his recuperating knee holds up, we should see Smith back with the big league club by this time next week. The Brewers have not publicly stated what they'll do when he's back. Of course, the odds say he'll just move into the 9th inning, but there is a slight possibility they stick him back into the role he was ticketed for. Nobody is talking about the minor possibility which makes him a very cheap add with little risk involved if he doesn't get his old job back. Even if he's not the fireman he will still bring great ratio's (over a dozen whiffs per nine innings from '14-'15).
Suggested FAAB bid - $3
Dan Straily, SP, Cincinnati
The Reds' pitching staff has been a dumpster fire most of the season. Straily is their best fire retardant right now. He was quite good in his last time out in LA. With just three runs allowed in seven innings he moved to 8-for-8 for the year when it comes to allowing three or fewer runs in his starting appearances. In other words, he's been stream-able. Don't fall in love with the 11 punch-out's he collected against the Dodgers. He's not that kind of pitcher. Instead, you'll need to spotlight the matchups. But, here's the problem. Despite an upcoming two-start turn, you just cannot add him for this week. He's set to be up against the Rockies in Colorado and then follows with a home-tilt against Washington. With a different set of head-to-head's I could make a move. But, not this week.
Suggested FAAB bid (if you must) - $1
Julio Urias, SP, LA Dodgers
Pre-start on Friday afternoon I would have written, 'Right off the top ... if you truly want or need Urias you better be prepared to wipe out most of your FAAB. And to cut to the chase ... I don't like the idea.'
Now, Post-Friday start, I can write, 'Suddenly, everyone's 'blow out the budget pick-up' is considered a bum. Literally, one start, eight outs, and a few runs have drastically altered the opinion of the uneducated. Nothing has changed regarding Urias 2016 value.'
Moving beyond his effort of Friday night and moving beyond his uncanny skills (three strong pitches with great command and a 'future star' tag from nearly every single talent evaluator), Urias' 2016 role is the hang-up. The Dodgers have been upfront that they don't have a defined role or usage goal for him right now. But, nearly all agree that most MLB work he could see this season would be in the 80-90 inning range. If you start there, that would mean around 15 starts or the Dodgers could work him in for 8-9 starts and then use him out of the bullpen for another 20-25 appearances. Either way you are not bringing in a full-time pitcher to your fantasy roster if you add the young lefty. Understand what my view is ... he might be the single most talented pitcher to get called up to the big leagues this year, but with a limited and scaled-back role on the parent club, he is not worth more than the bid listed below.
Suggested FAAB bid - $10
Matt Wisler, SP, Atlanta
If Wisler had gone out and clamped down the Brewers on Thursday night you might have found yourself in a minor bidding war for his services this week. As is, he turned in another 'quality start,' was dinged with the loss, and lost some steam heading into the weekend. Don't totally sleep on the right-hander. After a decent run of eight wins in his rookie season of '15, Wisler has followed up with a very good month of May. Over the previous four weeks he's made five starts, registered 36 innings, allowed just nine runs (2.25 ERA), and posted a 1.00 WHIP. He won't be a K-maestro and he won't be a wins collector (he pitches for Atlanta, ya know!), but for those in leagues of at least a dozen teams he could make a very convenient stream option.
Suggested FAAB bid - $5
You can hear Kyle each weeknight on 'The SiriusXM Fantasy Drive' from 7-10 ET, Sirius 210, XM 87.
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