It’s a sweltering Sunday, and it seems to be the perfect evening to sit in the air conditioning and research your fantasy baseball waiver claims. “Walking the Waiver Wire” continues to bring upside adds that can contribute in most leagues. Reminder: This column is for all fantasy managers. For those in deep leagues, some picks won’t apply. To those in shallow leagues, picks may not crack your starting lineup. Depending on your league, the players listed could be starters, bench rotation, or injury fill-ins. It’s adult swim, fantasy managers. Time to dive into the pool.
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***All availability percentages are from Yahoo! fantasy baseball leagues.***
Roansy Contreras (SP – PIT) 36% owned
Skepticism has kept Contreras off of this list for several weeks, but he cannot be ignored anymore. There are always growing pains for a 22-year-old thrust into the starting rotation from a relief role, and Contreras has taken it in stride. The rookie came out of the bullpen to begin 2022 and made his first start on May 24. He could work on his walks as they are driving his WHIP up, but it still holds at 1.29, which isn’t exactly terrible. The same goes for his .306 BAbip in his six starts. Not stellar, but nothing to bat an eye at. In those six starts, Contreras is 1-1 with a tidy 2.73 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 29.2 innings. He will continue to benefit as Pittsburgh persists in calling up some of their highly touted prospects who are able to provide run support.
Edward Olivares (OF – KC) 9% owned
The Royals’ outfielder suffered a quad injury on May 8 and quietly made his return from the IL on Friday. You could say it was a success, as Olivares popped two solo ding-dongs in three at bats. While his season stats are in an extremely small sample size and not very impressive due to lack of playing time, the Kansas City outfield is worth monitoring. Normally, it would be tough to recommend Olivares or teammate Kyle Isbel (0% owned), but the recent injury to backstop Salvador Perez makes things interesting. The Royals have been insistent on keeping fellow catcher MJ Melendez in the lineup whether in the outfield, behind the plate, or as DH. With Perez out for an extended period, Melendez spends time behind the plate, thus opening up more starting opportunities in the grass. Olivares and Isbel could both lay claim to the extra playing time and have nearly identical stats. Whichever seizes the opportunity is worth adding. By pedigree, that would be Isbel. By performance, my money is on Olivares.
David Peterson (SP – NYM) 25% owned
Peterson has been sneaky reliable this season and is still available in 75 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Twice he has come out of the bullpen (one was his first game of the season) when another starter failed to provide the needed innings. In his eight games started, Peterson only fell short of five innings once, and has continued to improve. Last week, he made it through six in earning his fourth victory of the season. Today, he went seven innings in a no decision. Peterson has the benefit of pitching for a team that has plenty of pop in its offense, and he should be a reliable starter in all formats going forward. On the season, Peterson is backpacking a 4-1 record with a 3.10 ERA and 1.24 WHIP while punching out 50 batters in 52.1 innings. Again, here’s a pitcher averaging close to nine K/9 with a dropping ERA on a team that scores. His ownership is far too low.
MJ Melendez (C, OF – KC) 52% owned
Melendez is likely gone in most of your leagues, but surprisingly he’s still available in 48 percent, so it’s certainly worth checking. Usually any decent catcher would be unavailable by now. With Perez (torn UCL – thumb) expected to be sidelined until at least late August, it’s the rookie’s time to shine with consistent playing time. The lefty-swinger has a mediocre .237 batting average, but has knocked six bombs over the fence to go with seven doubles and a triple in 152 at bats. He’s walked 24 times and driven in 17 runs with the stick. If Melendez can get his average moving in the right direction (up) and with Perez out of the picture, he should be a fixture at third or fourth consistently in the Royals’ batting order. It’s not every day a good catcher with huge upside just falls into your lap. He should be available in many shallow leagues and even deep league owners should double-check. For teams set at backstop, deeper leagues could still benefit from his outfield availability.
Jack Suwinski (OF – PIT) 13% owned
Another Pirates rookie making a splash, Suwinski already has a three-homer game on his resume. The youth movement in Pittsburgh is real, and so is the talent. He already appears on some Rookie of the Year lists, although with a batting average hovering just above the Mendoza Line, the award is probably not in the cards. Interestingly enough, there should also be significant interest in fellow rookie Bligh Madris (3% owned). In 24 total at bats since his callup, Madris is batting a cool .375 with a whopping 1.042 OPS entering Sunday. He’s tacked on a homer and a stolen base along with a trio of doubles. Although those numbers cannot possibly hold up, he is certainly worth a flier in deep leagues.
As for Suwinski, as long as his average remains low he continues to be a boom/bust proposition. That does not mean, however, that he shouldn’t be added as a potential contributor in most formats, even as a bench fill-in. Suwinski stepped up to the plate 168 times and carries a 0.9 WAR early in his career. He’s hit 12 moonshots with the boomstick, scored 26 times and driven in 22. The outfielder is also 2-for-2 on stolen bases. Suwinski’s biggest misgiving is strikeouts (59 thus far), which he needs to cut down. That will come with maturity, and the risk/reward is still in the positive. No matter what, the offense in Pittsburgh is improving with these guys and phenom Oneil Cruz.
Worth a Look
Tyrone Taylor (OF – MIL) 5% owned
One of my favorite inexpensive DFS plays (you can find our DFS content here), Taylor has massive power and is going to continue fairly regular playing time since the departure of Lorenzo Cain.
Brendan Donovan (IF, OF – STL) 61% owned
Donovan has a 1.6 WAR, is slashing .311/.422/.416 (that’s an .838 OPS for you non-math wizards), and is eligible at every position aside from the battery.
Brad Hand (RP – PHI) 18% owned
Corey Knebel is pretty much out as the closer in Philly. Even more recently, his manager said he would be used only in “low-leverage situations”. Seranthony Dominguez is the best option for Philadelphia, but he has been so good in a lockdown setup role, it’s possible the Phillies could use the veteran Hand (2.01 ERA, 1.25 WHIP) more often to close games.
Best of luck on all of your waiver claims. Here’s hoping you get every guy you put in a request for.
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