The Carlos Gomez career has been filled with stops and starts, twists and turns. It’s a four-hour road trip with a wonky GPS. Where is here? When can we feel safe about the footing? What time zone is this?
Gomez didn’t hit much early in his career, scuffling with the Mets and Twins. He eventually found his stride in Milwaukee, adding power and speed to excellent defense. The Astros thought they were getting a difference maker in the middle of 2015, but Gomez hit so poorly he was released outright a season later.
The Rangers have been trying to fix Gomez ever since. And maybe, in his age-31 season, we finally have a player we can trust again.
Gomez was sitting on an ordinary .246/.331/.423 slash (four homers, five steals) when a hamstring injury knocked him down in mid-May. A month on the disabled list was required. Gomez came back a week ago and brought his downtown swing: 9-for-23, five homers. He reached the seats twice in Thursday’s romp over Toronto; Go-Go to go.
Perhaps the Rangers and Gomez are getting hot at the right time. Texas is 4-2 since Gomez returned, scoring 46 runs in six home games. If you want a buy-low, you find all sorts of reasonable candidates in this lineup. Jonathan Lucroy, Mike Napoli, Rougned Odor have done far less than expected.
It will be interesting to see if Gomez can get his sea-legs back; he hasn’t attempted a steal since his activation. Nonetheless, his per-game pace shakes out to 33 homers and 18 steals if applied to a full season. There’s category juice here. And while a .267 average is ordinary in a mixed 5×5 format, a .346 OBP and .515 slugging justifies a lineup and roster spot.
We probably wouldn’t be discussing Gomez if he were a fantasy darling, but at some point, consumer confidence crashed. He’s only owned in 36 percent of Yahoo leagues as we go to press. On the mere presence of plausible upside, he’s worth a toss of the dice. Arlington can be a fun place to hit, especially in the heat of the summer.
• With Cubs rookie Ian Happ, we’re also going to focus on recent events Joe Maddon is giving Happ a chance to play all over the place — second base, left field, center field — and the results are starting to come around. Happ is on a 12-for-36 binge over the last nine games, with five homers. He even stole a base in Thursday’s romp at Miami, to go with four knocks.
A .246 average doesn’t sound like much, but remember he was barely over Mendoza a few weeks ago. Happ has a .585 slugging percentage, a notable pedigree, and extra job security now that Kyle Schwarber is in the minors. Happ is owned in just 23 percent of Yahoo leagues.
• “Own but don’t watch” is common advice for a player who’s on the fringe of fantasy value. Blake Bortles investors know all about it, four months a year; he often gets the points, but not in a manner that’s aesthetically pleasing. It’s common for a relief pitcher to slide into this bucket; think about most of Fernando Rodney’s career.
Jim Johnson is starting to take that shade in Atlanta. His ERA is barely below 4, and he’s only had three clean outings in his last 12 appearances. Johnson did get a save in Thursday’s 12-11 survival over San Francisco, but he allowed two runs before the frame was complete.
The Braves have no immediate incentive to put Johnson on notice, but remember we’re talking about a non-contending club. At some point in the next six weeks, Atlanta will probably enter the trade market, see what veterans it can move around. Johnson owners have two different sweats to consider; performance risk and trade-deadline risk. Johnson turns 34 in four days; he’s not a long-term cornerstone on Peachtree Street.
At some point, Arodys Vizcaino might be needed in the ninth inning again. His 2.05 ERA is artificially low (FIP says 3.56, Siera says 3.11), but he offers a zesty strikeout rate and significantly-improved control (his walk rate has been cut in half). Even if Vizcaino never gets a say in the save chase, his ratios are worth rostering. He’s owned in a modest 15 percent of Yahoo leagues.