NFBC FAAB Report: Week 4

Continuing to build on our NFBC Market Report series, Fighting Chance Fantasy will highlight weekly NFBC Main Event FAAB results to help you find some free-agent gems for your lineups. If you're unfamiliar with NFBC, it's where the sharpest minds in the fantasy baseball community compete for grand prizes upward of $250K. For us, mere mortal fantasy players, analyzing NFBC market trends can be a useful tool to stay ahead of your competition. The following players were added on Sunday, April 14th. 

Estimated read time: 7-10 minutes 

Yariel Rodriguez TOR  SP 54 $163 $23
David Hamilton BOS  SS 51 $118 $1
Blake Perkins MIL OF 49  $72 $4
Jose Soriano LAA SP 49  $66 $3
Kirby Yates TEX RP 46 $211 $36
Edward Olivares PIT OF 46 $72 $2
Jose Butto NYM SP 43 $215 $9
Joe Ross MIL SP 37 $60 $1
Wade Miley  MIL  SP 37  $37 $1
Jesse Winker  WAS  OF 34  $88 $1
  • Rodriguez the new No. 5 starter in Toronto? 

Yariel Rodriguez

Yariel Rodriguez wouldn't factor in the decision in his MLB debut last Saturday but he made a great first impression on his Toronto teammates and prospective NFBC Main Event managers. Rodriguez, who signed a five-year deal last winter, sprang up as the biggest prize heading into Week 4 action after striking out six Rockies in 3 2/3 innings. His boxscore wasn't the story as much as it gave seasoned fantasy managers in the NFBC an opportunity to peek into the keyhole of Rodriguez's future. The Blue Jays opened the door for the right-hander to join the staff last week after a promotion from Triple-A Buffalo and opted to move incumbent starter Bowden Francis to the bullpen. Francis piggybacked Rodriguez on Saturday as the Blue Jays brass appeared set on easing the 27-year-old into his first career start in the bigs.

Rodriguez was a bit of a mystery when he pitched in the World Baseball Classic for his native Cuba national baseball team last year. Granted, it was a small sample size, but Rodriguez recorded some interesting yet mixed results in his two starts in the tournament. Rodriguez's four-seam fastball sat at 95 mph and graded out as a 70 in The Athletic's Eno Sarris' Stuff+ metric - which uses Statcast data to determine the quality of individual pitches. In comparison, the average grade in the MLB is 100, so 70 was well below the threshold and raised some questions about Rodriguez's future as an MLB starter. However, Rodriguez recorded his slider at 2940 rpm - which is absolutely filthy. An average rpm for curves and sliders for MLB pitchers typically averages between 2430-2530 rpm.

The bottom line is we still have a lot to learn about Rodriguez and his stuff. One thing is for certain however, he will be a two-pitch pitcher early in his tenure for the Blue Jays. In his 68 pitches Saturday, 57 were either the four-seam or the slider. Just like his WBC starts - it came with mixed results. Rodriguez got 12 whiffs from Rockies hitters with those 68 pitches but his one earned run came on a slider that was obliterated by rookie Brenton Doyle 420 feet and 108.5 off his bat. Chicago Cubs' Justin Steele has made a career being a two-pitch pitcher so it's not impossible to have success with a limited arsenal. But Does Rodriguez have MLB stuff? Can he develop an "out" pitch against lefties? You know we'll be watching closely when he faces a San Diego lineup this Friday that will be a much bigger challenge than what he faced against Colorado. Veteran NFBC managers were willing to pay up to find out if he could stick around in the Toronto rotation. Given all the injuries to starting pitching this year, he may be worth the ticket price, even though you might experience a bumpy road with an inexperienced pitcher. 

  • Hamilton still in plans after rough start? 

David Hamilton

Speedy infielder David Hamilton was the second most popular player picked up in Main Events simply because of his increased playing time in the Red Sox lineup. Hamilton had started six of the last seven games at shortstop last week, filling in for injured shortstop Trevor Story. Story will miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery to repair a fractured glenoid in his left shoulder. Red Sox manager Alex Cora's initial plan was to have Hamilton and infielder Romy Gonzalez platoon at shortstop before the Story injury was confirmed to be season-ending. Hamilton and the entire Red Sox defense have struggled since losing its former All-Star. The Boston defense has committed 17 errors in 17 games after Monday's action, which is simply unacceptable by big league standards. Cora seemed to switch gears heading into Week 4 action - something NFBC managers didn't want to hear after spending valuable FAAB dollars. Especially the person who spent $118 on a $1,000 budget.

Needing some stability in the infield, Cora moved Ceddanne Rafaela to shortstop after primarily playing in centerfield to start the season. The sudden emergence of outfielder Wilyer Abreu gave the Red Sox another hot hitter it desperately needed. The Boston offense has been scuffling and was shut out for the third time in 17 games, including twice on the recent seven-game homestand. Boston will get infielder Vaughn Grissom to return soon after starting his rehab assignment at Triple-A Worcester. Grissom, who was acquired in the Chris Sale trade to Atlanta, suffered an injury in spring training and was projected to be an Opening Day starter. Hamilton may have excited some prospective NFBC managers by homering in his season debut in Oakland, but his at-bats may be dwindling for a Boston team looking for answers after a tough start of its season.  

  • Perkins in line for playing time with Yelich out?

Blake Perkins

With the Milwaukee Brewers deciding what to do with injured Christian Yelich, outfielder Blake Perkins has come in and made a great impression, with NFBC managers filling in for the former MVP. Yelich hasn't appeared in a game since last Friday after reporting discomfort in his back while running the bases. He was placed on the injured list on Tuesday. The former All-Star was putting up MVP-like numbers in the early going by hitting .333 with five home runs, 11 RBIs, and an OPS of 1.166. Yelich was also in the 90th percentile in xwOBA (.461), xBA (.346), xSLG (.672), and Barrel percentage (16.1). Perkins isn't coming close to those expected stats but took advantage of the new playing time in the short term. Perkins belted a go-ahead homer in the seventh inning off Yennier Cano last week and had two three-hit games hitting in a Milwaukee lineup that has been red-hot to the start of the season. Perkins could see some solid playing time while the team develops a plan to limit Yelich's time in the outfield after he returns from the injured list. Perkins could be a steal when we look back at FAAB acquisitions at the end of the year.
  • Soriano to stick in Angels rotation?

Jose Soriano

With starter Chase Silseth out until approximately early May, Jose Soriano has a real chance to impress Angels manager Ron Washington. Soriano, 25, made his first start in Anaheim last week against Tampa Bay after being converted from his role as a reliever. Soriano got off to a rocky start in front of the home crowd and gave up four earned runs on six hits in just four innings. Soriano was hit by two line drives from Rays hitters in the first inning but eventually settled down and generated 24 called or swinging strikes on 72 pitches. Soriano is in the 99th percentile in fastball velocity and averages 98.7 mph this season. The right-hander hasn't allowed a walk this season and came into his rematch with Tampa Bay with a 53.3 groundball rate. Veteran managers in the NFBC are willing to take a gamble on the flamethrower as he gets more comfortable in his new role as a starter in the Angels rotation. It didn't hurt Soriano had two starts this week for those managers who were hungry for any viable pitching to get them through Week 4.
  • Yates getting save opportunities?

Kirby Yates

The worst-kept secret in fantasy baseball finally became a reality last week as the Texas Rangers gave closer Jose Leclerc some much-needed time away from high-stress situations. Last Tuesday, Leclerc suffered his first blown save and second loss of the young season. After the game, Leclerc mentioned he was working to refine his mechanics, which led Rangers manager Bruce Bochy to announce that the right-hander would pitch in low-leverage situations temporarily. The biggest question is who will step up and get some of the Rangers' save opportunities with Leclerc out of the picture. Many added David Robertson as a speculative add as soon as Leclerc appeared to be leaking oil in the early going. Robertson has been deserving of the role this season and has only allowed one run on four hits and three walks while striking out eight over 8 1/3 innings. But it was veteran reliever Kirby Yates who picked up the save with a perfect ninth inning against the Tigers on Monday and rewarded those NFBC managers who picked him before the start of Week 4 action. Yates, a former All-Star closer for the San Diego Padres, has been stellar this season by not allowing a run in five outings. Bochy has a track record of not moving on quickly from players, so Leclerc could regain his role as the closer if he performs much like he did in last year's postseason. But you can sneak a couple of saves in your lineup in the short term until Leclerc gains Bochy's trust again.

Follow Michael Chasco on Twitter (X) @ChascoFCF for more fantasy baseball coverage.

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