Digging Deep: Amed Rosario, Anthony Swarzak

In deeper leagues, it might be time to slide Amed Rosario onto your roster (AP/Frank Franklin II)

The Mets can be a hard take at times. They’re a big-market team by geography, and a small-market team with its resources. New York is trying to stay out of the NL East basement, battling another team that gets under your skin, the Marlins.

But let’s try to say something positive. Let’s try to pan for some fantasy value.

Maybe shortstop Amed Rosario has something to contribute for the remainder of the year.

Rosario, just shy of his 23rd birthday, has long been a darling of the scouting community. ESPN’s Keith Law named Rosario his No. 1 prospect before the 2017 season, saying Rosario “has MVP potential.” Baseball America, MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus all had Rosario in the No. 5-8 range before this year. (And Mets honk Mike Salfino has owned Rosario all season in the 2018 Friends & Family League.)

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But when we see Rosario lauded by the prospect hounds, we have to consider that much of the appeal is tied to Rosario’s defense. Granted, Law could never call Rosario a potential MVP-level player without eventually expecting a significant offensive contribution. But most of the pro-Rosario capsules will start with his defensive ability. (Law’s full MVP-potential sentence read as such: “[Rosario] has MVP potential as a true shortstop who will be above average defensively and projects to hit .300 with some walks and power.”)

Rosario batted leadoff for this week’s San Diego series, in part because the Padres started three left-handers. Rosario actually doesn’t show a platoon split this year — he’s mildly better against righties — but when southpaws come calling, it’s easy for the Mets to justify moving Brandon Nimmo down in the order. Rosario didn’t go ballistic in the series, but he was active — three hits, a walk, two runs, a stolen base. He knocked in two runs Wednesday.

This one isn’t for the shallow leagues. If you’re battling it out in an 8- or 10-teamer, you need to do a lot better. But with Rosario making solid contact, stealing the occasional base, working on a pedigree, and maybe in line for a role increase, there could be some latent upside here. He’s only seven percent owned in Yahoo. I could see him stealing 8-12 bases the rest of the way, hitting for a plus average.

Manager Mickey Callaway did an interesting thing with his bullpen Wednesday, using presumed closer Robert Gsellman in the seventh inning. Gsellman finished out that inning, then handed the ball to Anthony Swarzak, a veteran reliever in the midst of a horrible year (6.75 ERA, albeit he’s worked just 18.2 innings).

Perhaps we could give Swarzak an injury pass for his bloated ratios; an oblique injury had him on the disabled list for two months. He looked sharp against the Padres, needing just 21 pitches to record six outs, grab his second save. Swarzak struck out three, and most of the contact against him was soft. In two leagues where “any closer (or semi-closer) with a pulse” has value, I held my nose and added Swarzak on Wednesday afternoon, hoping to get lucky.

This is another play for the deep-league crowd. Swarzak is owned in just three percent of Yahoo leagues, and his seasonal stats are a mess. But he passed the eye test Wednesday, looking healthy and in form. Relievers are constantly toggling between slumps and sharpness, anyway. Swarzak had a 2.74 ERA and 1.03 WHIP per 77.1 innings last year.

Maybe he can help us, again. It’s time to Meet the Mets.