Fantasy Baseball: Walking the Waiver Wire 5/23by Sam Schneider May 23, 2021 0 comments
How bad is it? Are you one of the only managers who has dodged the injury bullet? Live in fear, it’s coming for you. Is your team languishing in the middle of the crowd? Already cellar-dwelling? No matter where you sit in the current standings, hope is not lost. The Waiver Wire is here for you.
All three of these situations demand you stay on top of the claims. The great news is that we are about to see some major movement over the next few weeks. As teams get players back from injury, they’ll start dumping off guys who can help your squad. Additionally, as the “Super Two” deadline(s) creep closer, we know we will start seeing some big prospects coming up through the pipeline. This is going to further add to what has already been a pretty intriguing free agent pool in 2021.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Some teams need reinforcements sooner rather than later. Here’s a few names who could add depth to your team immediately as rotational pieces with upside potential.
You can find my previous waiver recommendations here.
***All ownership percentages from Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball***
Willy Adames (SS – MIL) 9% owned
The Brewers gave up a couple of potentially integral bullpen arms in the deal that brought Adames over from Tampa Bay. He will likely take the bulk of the work at the position after the struggles incurred by Luis Urias, who is hitting .205 and has nine errors already on the season. Adames is a much better fielder, but his line at the plate is unimpressive: .200/.260/.370. That’s not much more exciting than the man he is replacing, but the overall numbers do not tell the whole story.
Adames was batting .156/.229/.328 (OPS .557 for you math wizards) at Tropicana Field in Tampa. On the road, however, the stick was more lively at .235/.278/.412 (.690). Less strikeouts, 50 percent more hits, more runs, more extra bases in roughly the same amount of plate appearances. With home/away splits like that, it’s hard to ever find a groove, and Milwaukee (who has always liked Adames) is banking on the second set of numbers starting as the baseline by getting him out of Tropicana.
He is available in most leagues and will be consistently hitting in a lineup that is going to continue to improve as the season progresses. The shortstop is currently sitting on five dingers, six doubles, 10 walks and 15 RBI. He’s worthy of a rotational bench spot in deep leagues.
Casey Mize (SP – DET) 39% owned
The former first-overall draft pick is still just 24-years-old, so you had to know there was going to be some up-and-down to come along with his arm. The biggest concern thus far in 2021 is a drop in velocity. However, after a rocky start, Mize is pitching more cerebrally rather than just trying to blow it by major league batters.
There are two bits of good news. The velocity should tend to increase as we hit these summer months, and he cannot possibly be victimized on bad beats the way he was early in the season. After starting out with an astronomical xwOBA to start the year (batters were barreling hard and finding holes), he has slowly chipped away and is now sitting right around the league average.
If you remove back-to-back clunkers in starts three and four in 2021, Mize has given up three runs just once and less in the remaining five. Over those six times toeing the rubber, he’s tossed 36.2 innings with 22 hits, 8ER, 16BB and sat down 29 via strikeout. That’s a 1.96 ERA to go with a 1.04 WHIP, ladies and gentlemen. Last week, Mize hurled 7.2 innings of one-run ball with seven Ks while picking up a W.
You can’t discount the clunkers completely, but with the correction of xwOBA and an increase in velocity, Mize could be in for a dandy the rest of the season. He is slated to pitch today against the Royals, so let’s see which Mize we get.
Mike Zunino (C – TB) 30% owned
Zunino has an ugly batting average.
That’s it, that’s all I’ve got. This guy being rostered in just 30 percent of leagues is an absolute crime, and at a position that is always in demand. Yes, he is batting .223. That’s pretty in line with his career average, if not higher. But weigh these pros to that con: .904 OPS, 11(!) longballs, 20 runs and 21 RBI. This is all coming as he has to share some of his time behind the plate.
A quick once-over at his advanced metrics tells you what to need to know: He’s gonna strike out plenty. But when he doesn’t, Zunino is in the 90th or above percentile in xwOBA (90), xSLG (98), Max Exit Velocity (99), and Barrel percentage (100). Those numbers are all bright red and only go to a 100th percentile… that’s kind of good. If you can afford to deal with a few 0-4, 3K games, you’ll be handsomely rewarded with the veteran backstop on your team if you have a need at the position.
Amir Garrett (RP – CIN) 28% owned
The Reds reliever who started the season as the de facto closer had been all but left for dead by fantasy managers after a horrid start and a five-game suspension. Don’t look now but in his last eight innings pitched, the lefty specialist has allowed one run (a homer in the first of those eight appearances) with two walks and 10 Ks. He looks sharper on the mound than he has all season since fixing his arm slot and is not missing the zone.
Garrett, for all his struggles to start the season, still ranks high in chase rate and near the top of the league in whiff percentage, so with continued location the strikeout numbers should continue to roll in.
Lastly, the Reds have a rough bullpen situation currently and likely would prefer that all-world reliever Tejay Antone (another viable pickup at 41 percent owned) be moved earlier into the games. There’s a strong possibility you’ll see Garrett and Antone share the back-end role in Cincinnati depending on matchups. Regardless, they’ll both appear in nearly every Reds win. Either one of them is likely to help you with saves and (if you have the category) holds.
Danny Santana (IF – BOS) 11% owned
Just starting his season, Santana has begun 2-for-8 on a pair of moonshots with the boomstick. Prior to that, he hit three during his rehab assignment in the minors. He is swinging in an offensive juggernaut of a lineup but should not have trouble getting into the game with his versatility.
In Yahoo! leagues, Santana is eligible at every position aside from pitcher and catcher. He could likely be a nice plug-and-play for your positions with little depth.
Keep an eye on these guys, they could very well be included in the next few crops of waiver adds in the coming weeks.
Ji-Man Choi (1B – TB) 7% owned
William Contreras (C – ATL) 25% owned
Kris Bubic (SP/RP – KC) 31% owned
Taylor Widener (SP, ARI) 7% owned (return from injury)
Hansel Robles (RP – MIN) 19% owned
Best of luck to all on your pickups and bids this week, and we’ll do it all again next Sunday. You’re just a surprise arm or hot bat away from making a run in your league, so stay diligent.
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