Fantasy Baseball: Walking the Waiver Wire 5/30by Sam Schneider May 30, 2021 0 comments
When it rains, it pours. We saw plenty of that this week as a maddening torrent caused rainouts and suspended games across the league. As if fantasy managers didn’t already have plenty of lineup issues to deal with, the dearth of healthy players on teams is tangible. There is never a bad time to look at some lesser-owned backup upgrades to deepen those benches, so it’s time to hit the waiver wire.
Let’s see what treasures await on waivers in the form of low-ownership, high-upside guys who can fill a spot on benches while remaining a potential plug-and-play option.
***All ownership percentages from Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball***
James Kaprielian (SP – OAK) 36% owned
The Athletics are tied for second in home runs in the American League and rank eighth in runs scored overall, which is always a bonus for any starting pitcher. They also get numerous turns matching up with the Mariners, Rangers, and Angels… none of which are exactly world-beaters with the lumber.
Kaprielian get the Mariners again on Monday, a week removed from tossing seven scoreless innings against them en route to a win. His velocity and whiff rate leave a lot to be desired – you’d likely be benching him against teams that mash, but there is nothing wrong with playing the matchups. In 17.2 innings pitched this season, Kaprielian is 2-0 with a 1.53 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP with 19 strikeouts.
Vince Velasquez (SP – PHI) 17% owned
The righty with a career 4.61 ERA might actually be in the midst of a bit of a resurgence this season. In 10 appearances (six starts), Velasquez carries a 2.95 ERA with a 1.28 WHIP. Additionally, ranking in the top third of the majors in whiff percentage, strikeout percentage, and fastball spin, he is keeping hitters on their toes. Currently on pace to shatter every personal record, Velasquez also offers good strikeout upside with 45 in 36.2 innings thus far in 2021.
Tyler Stephenson (C, 1B – CIN) 6% owned
Someone always needs a catcher, and here’s one that can be had in nearly every 12-team league. While Stephenson does split time behind the plate with the Reds veteran Tucker Barnhart, he is getting significant playing time during the absence of Joey Votto, which is expected to last at least another month. Stephenson has seen time at first base in addition to his normal days behind the plate, and is slashing .250/.328/.365 and his capable of hitting to all fields. When he gets hot, the backstop can stay hot for an extended period. He is not an attractive permanent starting fix, but if you have a timeshare catcher like Grandal missing multiple starts a week, the second-year player can plug in and offer good upside potential.
Pavin Smith (1B, OF – ARI) 29% owned
The Diamondbacks are in full-on tank mode (whether deliberate or not) but Smith has been reliable, if not head-turning. After just 44 plate appearances in 2020, he has assumed a regular spot for the Diamondbacks in 2021 and could fill a starting spot in an injury-riddled fantasy lineup. Smith is hitting for average with solid upside in both power and stolen base potential. For the season, he sits at .287/.335/.447 (.782 OPS) with 54 hits, 27 runs scored, and 18 RBI. The 25-year-old lefty hitter should only continue to get better as the season wears on with little pressure to perform as Arizona has zero expectations to compete.
Freddy Galvis (2B, SS – BAL) 17% owned
The middle infielder is almost the very epitome of “under the radar” in fantasy circles, year-in and year-out. You cannot get too much further under the radar than Baltimore, and quite frankly, the veteran might end up on a different team at the trade deadline. Galvis has clubbed double-digit homers four times in his career and he’s about to make it a fifth. Currently, Galvis has a respectable line that equates to a player that should be owned in more than 17 percent of leagues: .250/.315/.488 (.803), 9 HR, 20 RBI, 25 R, 1 SB.
Vidal Brujan (?? – TB) 19% owned
My love for the Rays’ Wander Franco has been noted in this series twice already, so let’s talk about Brujan, who is also closing in on call-up time. He has spent more time playing in the outfield of late which could pave his way to the majors a little more quickly. Not only that but he is absolutely crushing minor league pitching. At Triple-A Durham, Brujan is slashing a superhuman .326/.414/.605 (1.019) with seven ding-dongs, nine swipes, 20 runs scored and 21 runs batted in. In 21 games. Upon arrival in the majors, he’s likely to get eligibility at 2B and OF.
The Rays might still make a serious run for contention this season, but additions to the roster are going to come from down below rather than via trade. Once Franco and Brujan pass the threshold for service time (giving an extra year of team control), they’ll both be up in short order.
Luis Severino (SP – NYY) 48% owned
Severino is only available in half of Yahoo! leagues, but if he’s there in yours and you have an IL slot available, it would not be the worst idea to do the stash thing. The Yankee hurler has already tossed multiple bullpen sessions and appears bound for rehab assignment in short order.
It’s fair to assume he’ll require more than a couple rehab starts before being declared ready to join the big-league club, so a return before the end of June is unlikely. Don’t blow a bench spot on him during that period, but if you have injury spots available you could potentially steal an ace with upgraded velocity thanks to the TJ surgery.
Best of luck with all your claims and bids this week. Hopefully the waiver wire is good to you while your team navigates the downpour of injuries (and weather, too).
Follow Sam Schneider on Twitter @BuyAndSellYou
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