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It's easy to make the Rays the butt of your joke. Whether it's the stadium, the attendance or their wacky starter policy, there's plenty of material. But I hope that hasn't led you to overlook them in Fantasy.
Yes, there are plenty of Fantasy assets in Tampa Bay, and there are three that are still underowned.
Coming into this year, Kevin Kiermaier had a career 162-game pace of 22 steals and 53 extra base hits. Of course, due to injuries he has only topped 150 games once in his career. Still, at 27 years old and coming off career highs in batting average and OPS there was plenty of reason for optimism. Then he was terrible to start the year, and was hurt once again. Well, he's back and he's starting to hit (and run) again.
Kiermaier still owns an OPS below .530 but in his last four games he has four hits, two walks, two steals, a homer and a triple. He may not ever reach the level of must-start in a three-outfielder league that we had hoped but even with his struggles this year he should still be owned in any five-outfielder league. Expect a solid average and a 20-steal pace the rest of the way. If he keeps leading off, he should also give you a decent run total.
Because of the strategy the Rays employ, Sergio Romo is the rare reverse-SPARP. You can insert him in your SP slot and get saves out of him, which is more interesting than useful in most leagues. What is useful is that Romo's past nine appearances have come in a traditional closer's role, and he's picked up five saves over that two-week stretch. Romo isn't a true shutdown closer, but he does have more strikeouts than innings pitched, and he's quite clearly the best option in Tampa Bay. There's no chance I would trust him in a points league, but Romo should be owned in any categories league that is 12 teams or deeper. Especially if you need saves.
One look at Nathan Eovaldi's peripherals and you may wonder how anyone could say he's underowned at 38 percent. And no, I'm not going to preach about his blazing fastball or the upside he's never delivered on. But the Rays righty owns a 4.08 ERA despite the fact that he's faced the Nationals twice, the Yankees and Astros on the road, and the Mariners. His control this year has been phenomenal (1.27 BB/9) and he's generating a lot of soft contact (24.5 percent) against very good offenses.
I'm feeling more comfortable with the idea of putting Eovaldi on my roster and starting him in any good pitcher's park. Yes, you'll bench him at Boston and New York, but for a majority of his starts he should be a serviceable fifth or sixth starter. Eovaldi shouldn't be universally owned unless he's a two-start pitcher with good matchups, but he should be owned in more leagues than he is now.
I've written plenty about Winker this season, but I'd be remiss if I didn't make sure you were aware of his blazing pace as of late. Winker picked up three more hits Tuesday, and since June 3 he owns a .333/.447/.540 slash line. His excellent batted ball data (41.5 percent hard contact) is finally starting to pay off in the form of more power, and he has more walks than strikeouts on the season.
Winker won't be a true must-start outfielder until the Reds stop sitting him so often against lefties, but he should be owned in more leagues even with his current situation. I'd add Winker in any league that requires five outfielders or is deeper than 12 teams. If the Reds commit to playing him every day, I'll add him everywhere.
I've been trying to add a nugget for deep leagues more often, and since Aldaberto Mondesi hit his first home run last night it's probably a fine time to take a look at him. I mostly overlooked his recent call-up because the Royals acted like he was going to be a part-time player, playing 3-4 days a week. Well, he's started five of their last six games.
Incredibly, Mondesi is still just 22 years old, and there are some reasons to be excited. In a tiny sample size he's creating a lot of hard contact, and he's already stolen two bases in eight games. He's still not walking at all, and his strikeouts are a major problem. For now Mondesi needs to be owned in all AL-only leagues, and any mixed league that is 14 teams or deeper and requires a middle infielder.