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Roster Review: NL Central

A look at recent roster changes in the National League Central Division

Charles Edward Miller

We’re a week away from the beginning of September. Let that sink in. All the time and energy put into your respective rosters will soon show their final yields. It’s important to pay attention through the finish line and one of the best ways to stay engaged is to watch the roster moves made by teams until the bitter end. Whether by injury, poor performance, inning limits or just wanting to take a look at the future, teams around the league are constantly shuffling their active rosters. The National League Central Division has been busy recently. Let’s review.

St. Louis Cardinals:

I’ve heard more than a few complaints on various podcasts and Twitter regarding Ozuna’s 2018 performance. The production is certainly down this season, however, Ozuna is still a playable asset in our game. It’s unfortunate Ozuna went down now, not only for the Cardinals who are making a serious push as of late but also because Ozuna was raking this past month. Over the previous 31 days (111 at-bats) Ozuna has hit six home runs with a .315/.356/.532 triple slash. At this point Ozuna’s return date is unclear. Had he remained healthy, 20 home runs would have been in the bank and with how hot he was as of late, reaching 25+ would have remained in sight. I’m still interested in Ozuna for 2019 fantasy baseball purposes.

Adams was one of a few players leaving the Washington Nationals this week. Now back with the Cardinals, it will be interesting to see where exactly Adams fits in going forward. Fortunately, the Cardinals roster contains some flexibility among its position players. Yairo Munoz was recently activated from the DL and has been playing in left field. It’s no ones dream to see Matt Adams play the outfield, but it appears at least a game or two a week in the outfield might be in Adams immediate future.

Pittsburgh Pirates:

While Feliz being sent out isn’t the biggest fantasy news of the day, those who play in deep leagues that count holds may have owned Feliz at one point or another this season. Before being sent out, Feliz, a piece acquired in the Gerrit Cole trade, appeared in 40 games and pitched to a 6.05 ERA with a 1.56 WHIP (42 IP). We’ll have to wait and see if time in the minor leagues helps this former somewhat intriguing prospect.

Chicago Cubs:

Murphy has been a very productive hitter with great underlying skill support over the past month. The playing time picture in Chicago seems like it could be tight once Addison Russell returns from the disabled list. Even once the 25-man roster is healthy, Murphy’s skill set is too valuable to take action in all but the shallowest of mixed leagues. While a slight dip in playing time could result from this trade, it won’t take Murphy out of every week lineup consideration in most fantasy baseball leagues.

Russell’s skill set has taken a step back in 2018. That is unfortunate considering it was already starting at a somewhat low ceiling and with a shaky foundation. At this point, Russell will be fighting just to reach double digits in the home run category. Referring back to the Daniel Murphy discussion above, I wouldn’t be shocked at all to see Russell as one of the bigger playing time losers once healthy.

Cincinnati Reds:

This news is a little old at this point, but it’s the most fantasy-relevant offering the Reds have for us. Many, myself included, thought Votto could challenge for 30 home runs again in 2018. I’ll be honest when I say that a hitter with the overall plate approach and the power-contact ability of Votto really gets my projection imagination going. I could have easily talked myself into paying for a 35+ home run season had Votto been a major target for me back in March. Team context lowered Votto just enough that I missed out this season, however. Brandon Dixon and Tucker Barnhart have shared time at first base in recent games. Dixon has displayed a power/speed combination in the minor leagues, but I’m skeptical that his overall game will translate to the big leagues anytime soon (or ever).

Milwaukee Brewers:

That’s right, Corey Knebel the Brewer’s opening day Closer has been sent back to the minor leagues. Knebel’s big downfall this season has been because of home runs allowed. Even reducing the number of homers allowed by half would drastically improve Knebel’s rotisserie numbers, while also bringing the results much closer to the other skills shown this season. Knebel isn’t necessarily someone I’m holding onto if I need the roster spot in a win-now type of situation. That said, if you’re looking at 2019 and beyond and could acquire/stash Knebel on the cheap, buy-low situations don’t get much lower than this.

Joakim Soria should return to high leverage situations for the Brewers at this point. While it still appears that Jeremy Jeffress and Josh Hader will share the majority of save situations down the stretch, Soria certainly has pitched well enough to also garner some attention in the ninth. Those needing saves but with limited FAAB or trade resources could do much worse than speculating on Soria over the final month-plus of the season.

 

Source Fangraphs Baseball HQ
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