Bats Bautista, Gomez, Turner plus Smyly, Stroman could be had on cheap
By Jason Catania
Summer is here! That's right: Monday marked the first official day of everybody's favorite season, when the three "B's" dominate -- beaches, barbecues and, of course, baseball.
That this is only Day 1 of summer should put things in perspective from a fantasy baseball point of view, too. Although it may feel like your team's performance to date -- whether good, bad or ugly -- already is locked in place, in reality, there's all kinds of time left.
Speaking of time, now's when you can buy low on some players who have disappointed for some reason or another to this point but could make up for it as summer progresses. Like these five guys.
Jose Bautista, OF: Bautista has been pretty productive so far, what with 41 runs, 12 homers and 41 RBIs. He just hasn't been quite what owners were hoping for, especially that .230 batting average.
Tack on the 35-year-old's recent placement on the disabled list with a left toe injury, and it might be wise to see what it would take to secure his services sooner than later.
After all, Bautista has maintained his typical elite plate discipline, as evidenced by his 16.8 percent walk rate and 17.1 percent strikeout rate. Plus, his .239 BABIP -- one of the 10 lowest in MLB -- should bump up a tad and help boost his average a click, too. Once he's healthy, Bautista will get back to bashing baseballs.
Marcus Stroman, SP: While we're at it, let's look at another Blue Jays player, eh?
Stroman -- unlike his teammate -- has been rather unproductive, especially of late. In fact, since starting on a hot note, the right-hander has been downright damaging to own recently, sporting a 7.59 ERA and a 1.79 WHIP over his past seven outings dating to mid-May.
Chances are, the 25-year-old's owner is staring at that 5.23 season ERA and possibly even considering cutting him loose. What you should be doing is 1.) paying more attention to Stroman's outrageous .393 BABIP over that seven-start span and his much nicer-looking 3.89 FIP for the year; and then 2.) making a low-ball offer for a promising young arm who still has strong SP4/5 potential in him.
Drew Smyly, SP: A popular sleeper back in March (if such a thing can exist), Smyly appeared to be making a number of owners feel smart early on, as he owned a 2.72 ERA and 0.78 WHIP after his first six starts.
So how is he a buy-low candidate these days? Because the 27-year-old lefty has seen those respective stats spike to 6.87 and 1.61 since then. Things got so bad that the Rays actually chose to skip Smyly's turn in the rotation to give him a mental break.
The good news is, that may have done the trick. Smyly returned with a quality start, allowing just two runs on four hits with a season-high 12 K's in 6 2/3 innings vs. Seattle on June 15.
Smyly isn't as ridiculously good as he was at the outset, but he's also not nearly as bad as he was at his worst, either. If nothing else, go get him because the strikeouts remain elite on a per-inning basis, as he has a 10.3 K/9 rate.
Carlos Gomez, OF: To say that 2016 hasn't been Gomez's year would be, well, putting it as nicely as one possibly could. The guy is hitting just .210, and he missed time due to a left rib cage injury, to boot.
We're now far enough into this season that any owner who predicted a Gomez bounceback on draft day likely has no use for him at this stage. Fact is, the former fantasy superstar just hasn't been all that good since joining the Astros at the Trade Deadline last summer, so this isn't a buy-low situation where a turnaround is imminent.
But Gomez also hasn't been all that healthy the past year-and-a-half, having battled through a hamstring injury in '15 to go along with his ailment this season. If there's a glimmer of hope here, it's this: Since returning to the lineup on the final day of May, Gomez is hitting .273 with nine runs, three homers, eight RBIs and three stolen bases across 15 games.
Gomez's days as a fantasy force likely are behind him, but that doesn't mean he can't be at least a contributor in a couple of categories, as long as the health problems are behind him. His owner? Probably happy to let you take him off his hands.
Justin Turner, 3B: Far from the flashiest fantasy option, Turner nevertheless became an underrated player to roster the past two seasons, following up a breakout .340-hitting 2014 with a 16-homer 2015.
Just when folks started to buy into the 31-year-old as a capable starting player, however, he went and hit all of .235 with just three home runs and 15 RBIs across 50 games through the first two months this year.
In June? Try a .281 average to go with six homers and 14 RBIs in 17 games.
Turner isn't a star-caliber player, but he is the type who won't hurt you, making him a nice little under-the-radar target. Especially while his overall numbers still don't look like much after his slow start.
Jason Catania is a fantasy baseball writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.