Well, that was fun. One of the quietest trade deadlines in recent memory erupted at the end with many fantasy implications. We'll do our best to highlight how some of the trades affect daily lineups, beginning with Friday's slate.
Here are some suggestions to keep your team at full strength heading into the weekend, all available in at least 50% of ESPN leagues.
Kevin Gausman (R), rostered in 38% of ESPN leagues, Atlanta Braves vs. Cincinnati Reds: I'll admit it, Gausman is my personal El Guapo. Aside from a high home run rate, Gausman's underlying metrics portend better than a 5.97 ERA. His strikeout rate is above average while his walk rate hovers near league norm. A bloated .338 BABIP (batting average on balls in play) isn't helping. Gausman draws a Reds offense situated near the bottom of the league in terms of production with a righty on the hill. Not to mention, Yasiel Puig is no longer in the heart of the lineup.
Martin Perez (L), 30%, Minnesota Twins vs. Kansas City Royals: Perhaps the biggest challenge every season is discerning when to buy in on a pitcher beginning the season in a much-improved manner. Perez convinced a lot of analysts his early success was real, only to revert to previous form with respect to control as the lefty has maintained an elevated strikeout rate and is doing a good job keeping the ball in the yard. Spotty control should be less of an issue against the Royals, one of the least patient lineups in the league.
Dustin May (R), 11%, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Diego Padres: The Dodgers didn't acquire a starting pitcher, in part because they could dip into their deep farm system and promote May. After beginning the season in Double-A Tulsa, May was accelerated to Triple-A Oklahoma City in late June. In a combined 106 2/3 innings, the 21-year old righty fanned an impressive 110 while issuing a frugal 29 free passes. The Padres offense is developing, but it's still raw, whiffing at a 26% clip against righthanders.
Jason Vargas (L), 10%, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Chicago White Sox: Vargas was already facing likely regression as suggested by expected ERAs over a run higher than his actual 4.01 mark. Now, after the deal to the City of Brotherly Love, Vargas incurs a significant home park downgrade from one of the best pitching venues in the league to Citizens Bank Park which plays a tick below neutral. However, the veteran lefty lines up to face a weak White Sox lineup which will be devoid of its designated hitter.
Erik Karabell and Tristan H. Cockcroft comment on all of the potential closer changes in Fantasy takeaways from baseball's trade deadline deals. Instead of doubling down, here's a tip for those streaming hitters on a regular basis. The Rangers, Blue Jays, Marlins, Mariners and to a lesser extent, Giants all depleted their bullpen. Many of those clubs already have weak starting pitchers. An even lesser bullpen renders them even better targets to stream batters.
Catcher -- Will Smith (R), 11%, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Diego Padres (LHP Eric Lauer): With Travis d'Arnaud and his eight July homers not on the schedule, we must find another option. Fortunately, not only is Smith available, he enjoys the platoon edge on a middling southpaw. Another option is Isiah Kiner-Falefa of the Texas Rangers. With the designation of Asdrubal Cabrera, Kiner-Falefa is in line to get the bulk of the action at the hoy corner in Arlington.
First Base -- Christian Walker (R), 22%, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Washington Nationals (RHP Joe Ross): There's a difference between saying a hitter doesn't exhibit reverse platoon splits and there isn't a sufficient sample to support the analysis. As such, the fact Walker is crushing righthanders isn't evidence he's a reverse spot batter, but it does offer confidence he can be used in a same-side scenario, especially when facing Ross and his 9.85 ERA and 2.11 WHIP, albeit it in just 24 2/3 innings.
Second Base -- Michael Chavis (R), 37%, Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees (LHP James Paxton): Watching the trials and tribulations of Austin Riley in the National League and Chavis in the American League is a great reminder how most prospects undergo a series of adjustments, especially those with swing-and-miss in their game. Chavis is still vulnerable to sliders outside off the plate but he's doing a better job laying off high heat. Paxton will be a good matchup since he doesn't have the typical arsenal to get Chavis chasing.
Third Base -- Ian Happ (S), 4%, Chicago Cubs vs. Milwaukee Brewers (RHP Zach Davies): Especially after the Cubs acquired Nicholas Castellanos and Tony Kemp, how they divide playing time is unclear though demoting Addison Russell and Robel Garcia helps. Happ hasn't hit for average since his recall, but he's drawing walks which is beneficial for points leagues.
Shortstop -- Scott Kingery (R), 36%, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Chicago White Sox (RHP Ivan Nova): The Phillies acquisition of Corey Dickerson like funnels Kingery into more infield play, not costing him much playing time. Though, Kingery has been slumping lately, pushing him out of the leadoff spot. The utility man has been struggling with contact lately but should be able to put the ball in play against Nova and his pedestrian 15% strikeout rate.
Corner Infield -- Luis Arraez (L), 5%, Minnesota Twins vs. Kansas City Royals (RHP Glenn Sparkman): Arraez has quietly assumed a regular role, currently playing a lot of third base as with Miguel Sano sliding across the diamond with regular first baseball C.J. Cron on the shelf. Arraez has earned the playing time, slashing .352/.414/.438 since late June.
Middle Infield -- Scooter Gennett (L), 37%, San Francisco Giants at Colorado Rockies (RHP Peter Lambert): The concern around Gennett suffering a park downgrade after the deal to the Giants is on hold for the weekend as San Francisco returns to Coors Field after recently setting records in a four-game set with the Rockies in Colorado. Eight of the 10 homers Lambert has surrendered have come at home.
Outfield -- Hunter Pence (R), 44%, Texas Rangers vs. Detroit Tigers (LHP Tyler Alexander): Pence's role with the Rangers is expected to lessen, with most of his action coming against southpaw pitching. Alexander has pitched well for the Tigers, fanning 14 with two walks in 16 innings, however his minor league track record warns it won't last.
Outfield -- Franmil Reyes (R), 35%, Cleveland Indians vs. Los Angeles Angels (LHP Dillon Peters): Reyes is ticketed for mostly designated hitter with some adventures in the outfield mixed in. There's a chance Peters doesn't start, costing Reyes the platoon edge, but don't worry, 24 of his 27 homers have come off righties so Reyes is in play regardless.
Outfield -- Jesse Winker (L), 34%, Cincinnati Reds at Atlanta Braves (RHP Kevin Gausman): It remains to be seen, but part of the fallout of dealing Yasiel Puig was to give Winker a couple of months of regular play to see if he can handle southpaw pitching. That's moot on Friday with Gausman on the hill but something to monitor the final two months of the season.