As we enter the third week of the season, many fantasy managers are beginning to get a feel for their roster(s) and what they need to address via trade or on the fantasy baseball waiver wire. While it’s too early to overreact to your star players struggling, it’s definitely not too early to bench them, drop some dead weight, and pick up a hot free agent or two to give your team a needed boost. Lucky for us, there are plenty of those available in most leagues at the moment, headlined by a rookie with blue hair.
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Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire
Jazz Chisholm (2B/SS – MIA)
I’m not exactly sure why Jazz Chisholm is still available in over 2/3 of leagues, but that needs to change. Today. If young middle infielders capable of going 20/20 aren’t your thing, then I’d recommend skipping over to the next player on the list. After a 1/4 showing yesterday, Chisholm currently sports a .258 average with two home runs and three steals through his first 10 Major League games. On top of that, Chisholm has a 17.9% walk rate which had his OBP sitting at an even .400 before yesterday’s game and has been tearing the cover off the ball when he hasn’t been strolling down to first base following ball four.
Jazz Chisolm (aka Duke Silver) just launched a 100 mph fastball from Jacob deGrom to the upper deck.
— Nick Pollack (@PitcherList) April 10, 2021
Through Wednesday, Chisholm had recorded an 88th percentile exit velocity, 89th percentile hard-hit rate, 100th percentile barrel rate, and 93rd percentile xSLG. This is what Chisholm does and has always done. Chisholm needs to be rostered in all redraft leagues, even shallower formats, as he has a legitimate chance to go 20/20 this season with his power/speed blend. Just be patient through the valleys as his strikeout woes are still prominent.
Alex Kirilloff (OF – MIN)
As I mentioned in my hitting prospects to stash article, prospects with good hit tools are usually the ones to target in redraft leagues as they tend to make the transition more seamlessly. Alex Kirilloff is definitely one of those prospects. Kirilloff possesses an easy plus hit tool and has proven himself to be one of the best pure hitting prospects in the minors. In his 279 minor league games, Kirilloff slashed .317/.365/.498 and never fell below .283 in any season.
While the hit tool is most notable, Kirilloff has shown above-average to plus power potential as well with the upside for 25-plus homers annually down the road. The Twins brought him up for their doubleheader the other day but optioned him back to their alternate site after the games. Kirilloff started one of the two games, going 0/2, but with both batter balls resulting in hard contaact. The time is now to stash Kirilloff so you don’t have to use a ton of FAAB or a high waiver to get him when he comes back up.
Tim Locastro (OF – ARI)
While Tim Locastro didn’t play a major role in Arizona’s offensive outburst yesterday, he did extend his hitting streak to seven games which is the same amount of time he’s been in the leadoff spot. While in the leadoff spot, Locastro has recorded 10 hits in 32 at-bats with five runs scored and two steals. Those steals are the main reason why one should target Locastro on the waiver wire.
Tim Locastro has been the Fastest Man in Baseball for 2 years running (🙃), leading MLB in Sprint Speed (min 10 competitive runs) in back-to-back seasons
2020: 30.7 ft/sec
2019: 30.8 ft/sec
(27 ft/sec = MLB avg, 30 ft/sec = elite)
— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) February 28, 2021
Simply put, Locastro is one of the fastest players in baseball. He’s been in the Majors for parts of three seasons and has posted a 100th percentile sprint speed in every season. He just wasn’t on our fantasy radar until recently as this is the first time he’s really gotten a chance to play regularly. As long as Arizona is starting Locastro regularly and using him in the leadoff spot, he should be a great source of speed and runs scored.
Jed Lowrie (2B – OAK)
Eight plate appearances over the last two seasons are all it takes to make people forget a .267/.353/.448 line with 23 home runs and 99 RBI. That’s what Lowrie posted back in his last healthy season in 2018. We all know the story with Lowrie and how frustrating it’s been to roster him over the years due to the myriad of injuries he’s had to deal with. But a healthy Lowrie is usually a fantasy-relevant player and his production in 2017 and 2018 shows that.
This could just be a hot streak, but it looks like Lowrie is 100% healthy again and is cranking the ball to start the season with a 90th percentile xSLG, 95th percentile xBA, and 91st percentile xwOBA to go along with a 79th percentile exit velocity and 78th percentile hard-hit rate. Lowrie doesn’t provide any speed, but he’s capable of a .350+ OBP and 20-homers over a full season which has plenty of value from the 2nd base position.
Adam Duvall (OF – MIA)
Many might’ve missed it during the craziness of the shortened COVID season, but Adam Duvall was on a 45-homer pace in 2020, cranking 16 home runs in 57 games. Power is about all he does well, as evident by his career .233/.294/.471 slash line, but sometimes waiver wire pickups are for specific positional or categorical needs. Duval fits that mold.
If you need an outfielder or a power boost, Duvall is your guy. Through the first 10 games of the season, Duvall has been up to his old tricks with four home runs, an 18.2% barrel rate, .587 xSLG, and .527 xwOBACON. His lower contact rate will keep the average in check and cause some annoying cold stretches, but Duvall is cheap power at it’s finest.
Casey Mize (SP – DET)
A former top prospect is pitching very well and yet still is available in nearly 2/3 of leagues? Sure, he’s not missing a ton of bats with a mediocre 13.3% whiff rate so far, but has allowed only one earned run through his first 11 innings and has allowed one lone barrel. Mize has once again changed up his pitch mix this season in his ongoing search for his most effective arsenal. Through his first two starts, Mize is throwing more four-seamers, fewer sinkers, more splitters, and has turned his cutter into a slider. While the whiff percentages haven’t been great thus far, four of Mize’s five offerings have a wOBA under .300 this season, with the sinker being the lone exception.
— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) April 13, 2021
That sinker was a below-average pitch for Mize in 2020 as well so maybe we’ll see less usage of the pitch moving forward. When adding Mize, understanding that his spot on your roster is more to help with ratio than strikeouts is key. Mize has never been a big strikeout guy, but he limits hard contact well and is capable of posting a rock-solid ERA and WHIP.
Tejay Antone (SP/RP – CIN)
With how the pitching landscape has changed over the last several years, we’ve gotten to a point where these “in-betweeners” are able to provide more fantasy value than they used to. Rewind five years or so and most of us wouldn’t even consider rostering a pitcher that wasn’t a full-time starter, closer, or a setup man for those in leagues that value holds. Now, guys like Tejay Antone have value and should be rostered in standard leagues.
Antone has been lights out to start the season, tossing 6.2 scoreless innings with a 0.60 WHIP and 37.5% strikeout rate. He’s even added two holds for good measure. Antone has been excelling thanks to three high-quality offerings in his sinker, slider, and curveball, all of which he’s throwing above 30% of the time this season with a 25+% whiff rate on each. We were all hoping Antone was going to secure a rotation spot out of spring training, but as long as he’s pitching several innings a week, he’s definitely worth rostering right now for the strikeouts and low ratios.
Jakob Junis (SP/RP – KCR)
Coming into 2021, Jakob Junis was coming off back-to-back seasons with an ERA above five and had a lowly 16.7% strikeout rate in 2020. That strikeout rate was good for the 42nd worst mark among the 323 pitchers with 20+ innings last season. Yeah, not good. But we’re witnessing a different Junis here in 2021 through his first three starts.
Junis has been throwing more four-seamers and cutters at the expense of his sinker and slider. In fact, 79 of his 81 pitches last night were four-seamers or cutters. The change in pitch mix has brought plenty of additional whiffs and strikeouts along with it. Junis has a 32.6% strikeout rate through 12 innings this season, largely thanks to that new cutter. I’m still treading cautiously due to his past performance, but there are tangible changes here that are worth monitoring. If you play in a 12+ team league, Junis is worth a look.
Media Credit: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire, Nick Pollack, Detroit Tigers, Sarah Langs
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