Fantasy Baseball 2020: Luis Castillo, Players With Rising Stocks

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJuly 8, 2020

Cincinnati Reds' Luis Castillo (58) throws during team baseball practice at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, Sunday, July 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)
Aaron Doster/Associated Press

The Cincinnati Reds might be in position to be a surprise team in Major League Baseball's 60-game season.

With an easier strength of schedule than their original 2020 slate, the Reds might be able to be more competitive than expected, and ace Luis Castillo may be the top beneficiary. 

The 27-year-old is one of many players in the American League and National League Central who could break out and become fantasy baseball gems due to the poor bottom half of each division.

The statement does not just apply to pitchers, as a handful of hitters could outperform expectations with plenty of matchups scheduled against Detroit, Kansas City and Pittsburgh.


Players With Rising Stocks

Luis Castillo, SP, Cincinnati

Aaron Doster/Associated Press

Castillo is not a new name to fantasy baseball owners, as he reeled off 15 victories in 2019, but he flies under the radar to the casual fan because he plays in Cincinnati.

In a normal 162-game campaign, the right-hander might be the third or fourth pitcher selected by one team, but the Reds' adjusted schedule may justify him being the second hurler drafted into squads.

According to MLB.com's Sarah Langs and Matt Kelly, the Reds had the largest adjustment in their favor in terms of strength of schedule, as it became .012 percent easier. 

Castillo should reap the rewards of that on Opening Day against the Detroit Tigers. And if the rotation aligns in the right way, he could face Kansas City in back-to-back starts in August. 

There is a chance he twirls one of the best gems July 24 because of the matchup and the form he is already in, as he told MLB.com's Mark Sheldon.

"Right now, because I've been here such a long time and doing all of my bullpen sessions, I think I could go out and pitch 6-7 innings," Castillo said. "That's how good I feel right now. I'm perfectly OK to do so."

If he lasts six innings or longer from the start, Castillo has a higher chance to replicate his 10.7 strikeouts-per-nine-innings from his career-best 2019 season. 

In 2019, he only had a losing record against one NL Central team, the Milwaukee Brewers, and with those matchups spread out, there is a chance he could face them two or three times. 

However, the same could be said for games versus the Pittsburgh Pirates, which would balance out any potential struggles with Milwaukee. 

At the moment, Castillo has an average draft position of 39, per Fantasy Pros, but he might be chosen higher given how favorable Cincinnati's schedule looks. 


Paul DeJong, SS, St. Louis

JUPITER, FLORIDA - MARCH 12: Paul DeJong #11 of the St. Louis Cardinals bats during the spring training game against the Miami Marlins at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium on March 12, 2020 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
Mark Brown/Getty Images

The adjusted schedule and a heightened role in the St. Louis offense will make Paul DeJong an intriguing middle infield fit on fantasy rosters. 

The 26-year-old should become the top power support for Paul Goldschmidt, with Marcell Ozuna now playing in Atlanta. 

DeJong is more than capable of filling that void, after hitting a career-high 30 home runs in 2019. Although he packs a powerful bat, he has an ADP of 185 because some of his splits were average at best. 

The Orlando, Florida native recorded a .233 batting average, .318 on-base percentage, .444 slugging percentage and .762 OPS in 664 plate appearances. 

But there is room for promise that DeJong can outperform his ADP since August and September are the best home run-hitting months of his three-year career.

DeJong can improve on those numbers if he takes advantage of two series with Pittsburgh in the first three weeks, as well as four straight matchups with the Detroit Tigers from August 3-6. 


Max Kepler, OF, Minnesota

Elise Amendola/Associated Press

Max Kepler is expected to be a major piece for Bomba Squad 2.0 in Minnesota.

The 27-year-old used 36 home runs to move into a higher echelon of fantasy baseball players. His previous career high in long balls was 20. 

Not only does he produce power, but Kepler also had over 30 doubles in each of the last three seasons and recorded an OPS over .800 for the first time in his career in 2019. 

The outfielder could have more opportunities to drive in runs if he drops into the middle of the order and opposing pitchers are more cautious with Nelson Cruz and Josh Donaldson.

The most favorable matchups for Kepler may be against the Chicago White Sox and Detroit, who both conceded more home runs than the league average of 226 last season.

Since the AL Central is perceived as weak behind Cleveland and Minnesota, he may be drafted higher than his current ADP of 122

If Kepler and his teammates hit homers at a similar pace compared to 2019, he would be more than worth a selection before his average draft position.


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90

Statistics obtained from Baseball Reference