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Fantasy baseball pickups: Is closer role in Josh Staumont’s future?

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In a season filled with injuries thus far, fantasy managers are surely seeking replacements. Here are three players well worth adding in ESPN leagues:

Chance Sisco, C, Baltimore Orioles

Sisco opened some eyes during a September 2017 cup of coffee, only to struggle mightily over parts of the next two seasons as he aimed to capture the Orioles’ long-term catcher position. This season, his performance has been overshadowed by that of fellow Orioles backstop Pedro Severino, the No. 2 catcher thus far on the Player Rater and one on pace for what would be .333-27-108 numbers in a 162-game season. But remember: Severino could be on the trade market as the Aug. 31 deadline approaches.

Even if the Orioles stick with a Severino-Sisco combination the remainder of the way, Sisco’s contributions shouldn’t go unnoticed. He also rates among the top 10 catchers thus far, thanks in large part to his squaring the ball up more effectively as well as hitting it with more authority this season, evidenced by a 31% line drive rate and 58% hard-hit rate. That helps make up for much of the swing-and-miss in his game, and by the way, he’s one of the more selective hitters in doing so, as his chase rate — his percentage of swings at pitches outside the strike zone — is a very-good 20%. Should Sisco move into a 60%/40% share of the catching duties in Baltimore, or perhaps greater than that if Severino indeed is traded, his value could soar. Consider this the last chance to grab him on the hope he sees more starts.

Josh Staumont, RP, Kansas City Royals

Speaking of speculative adds tied to a player at a more prominent spot who could be traded, Staumont is a worthy stash with rumors swirling that Royals closer Trevor Rosenthal could be dealt before Monday’s deadline. While there is competition for the role of Rosenthal’s successor, with Scott Barlow and Greg Holland also present, Staumont’s high-90s mph fastball and history of high strikeout rates give him the look of a potential top-10 closer if granted the opportunity.

That’s not to ignore the faults in Staumont’s game: His control is suspect at best, and he’s more of a fly-ball type, which is a dangerous combination for a prospective closer. He has never posted better than a 11.4% walk rate at any professional stop in any single professional campaign, and has a ghastly 17.2% rate in 14 appearances this year. Still, Staumont has 25 — 25!!! — strikeouts in relief to go along with a 0.71 ERA. Those numbers can help you even if he’s not closing ballgames.

Jose Garcia, SS, Cincinnati Reds

He’s the ultimate deep-league wild card: A 22-year-old Cuban defector who, at the conclusion of 2019, had never played professionally above high Class A ball. As bold — and strange — as Garcia’s promotion might seem, the Reds appear committed to him as their everyday shortstop, at least for so long as he hits during his first extended taste of the majors. He was scheduled to start and bat eighth on Wednesday before the game’s postponement, as Freddy Galvis appears set to shift to a utility role.

Garcia’s .280/.343/.436 rates for Class A Daytona last season, with per-162-game rates of 12 home runs and 23 stolen bases, seem solid-but-not-overwhelming, and that they came at such a low competitive level makes it difficult to project him for the rest of 2020. Scouts like him to develop power as he ages, he has well-above-average speed and his defense is strong enough that he should be able to stick, so long as his penchant for strikeouts doesn’t lead to a prolonged, start-of-career slump. As he’ll be out there for the taking in almost any redraft or shallow keeper league, Garcia is well worth the speculative add, especially with a hitting-friendly home environment helping his cause.

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