The schedule for Monday has 11 games, although rain could well impact the "subway series" makeup contest this evening. Included in the mix of starting pitchers is a pair of rookie hurlers set to make big-league debuts. In Atlanta, we've got Touki Toussaint in the first half of a day-night double-dip, and for Toronto, we've got Sean Reid-Foley tonight on the road against the Royals.
As of this morning, both youngsters had seen their roster percentage rise by a little more than four percent -- and perhaps it's a result of more than just the need to stream any available pitcher. Toussaint has had a 10.7 K/9 rate across two minor-league levels this season but will almost certainly be sent back down to Triple-A after the outing, as his call-up would likely not be happening just yet if not for the twin bill.
Reid-Foley is 12-4 with a 2.98 ERA in 23 starts across Double-A and Triple-A this season, and he just might stick for the remainder of the season, with the Blue Jays 30.5 games out of first place. What have they got to lose at this point? Toronto also promoted catcher Danny Jansen, who should be behind the plate for his Buffalo battery-mate, joining him for a dual celebration of playing in the majors. Jansen has hit .275-12-58 this season at Triple-A, and could see enough action to potentially earn his way into the mix for 2019's 25-man roster.
We always expect to see tons of rookies getting the call for the first time when rosters expand in September and tend not to think too much of it. However, when that first taste of The Show comes in August, should we read more into it? After all, the Blue Jays certainly could have waited two weeks to bring Reid-Foley and Jansen to town. But doing it now -- should that signal fantasy managers need to add these players, especially in dynasty formats?
Certainly, Ramon Laureano's arm got a lot of attention this weekend, but that was the first ripple of excitement from the Oakland outfielder since his August 3 debut, and it did zero for his fantasy value. San Diego's Jacob Nix threw six shutout innings on Friday against the Phillies and won his initial mound foray. Well done, Jacob! But does this say anything about his chances of helping in fantasy for the rest of 2018 and beyond?
Prior to Monday's action, 19 players have made their MLB debut since August 1. Apart from Nix and that one highlight from Laureano, there's been little else of note. We've had some successful, yet unremarkable relievers (Jesus Reyes, Trey Wingenter, Williams Jerez), but far more hurlers have posted ERAs upwards of 6.00 (Cody Carroll, Jimmy Cordero, Thomas Pannone, Kohl Stewart).
On the hitting side of things, Adolis Garcia (1-for-11) and Brandon Lowe (0-for-19) have both struggled thus far. Only Cedric Mullins, who went 5-for-13 with two RBIs during the weekend with the Orioles, has impressed with the bat. The Baltimore outfielder appears to be the only offensive option among these newcomers who seems worthy of fantasy consideration -- and I'd expect the overall impact of August debutantes to be low.
Last season, 38 players debuted in August. Of this group, you did have a few players who ended up producing numbers that warranted a pickup: Ozzie Albies (.286-6-28), Rhys Hoskins (.259-18-48) and, to a lesser degree, Amed Rosario (.248-4-10), Nick Delmonico (.262-9-23) and Dominic Smith (.198-9-26). For 2018, only those first two names were worth grabbing in drafts.
On the pitching side of things, August 2017 brought very little to the table. Maybe if you rolled the dice, you would have been fine with the likes of Jimmie Sherfy (2-0, 10.2 IP, 0 ER) or Tyler Mahle (1-2, 2.70 ERA, 20 IP), but other than that, there was no 2017 help that arrived in August. Max Fried (1-1, 3.81 ERA, 26 IP in 2017) has been a yo-yo this season, going 1-4 with a 3.14 ERA in sporadic work before going on the disabled list (groin) this past week.
Other than that, the only other impact arm on the list is A.J. Minter (0-1, 3.00 ERA, 15 IP in 2017), but although he does have 10 saves for the Braves this season, most of his fantasy value came only after Arodys Vizcaino got hurt in mid-July. While more than welcome, it certainly was not to be expected.
So, to sum up, while it's always fun to get excited about major-league debuts, the reality is that more often than not, the guys who get that first call in August are unlikely to be worth grabbing -- for both the short and long term -- unless they're prospect names you've already heard about. Sure, anything is possible, but generally speaking, you're very unlikely to catch lightning in a bottle -- so don't go courting potential trouble.