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Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Cranking Cubbies

It’s hard to believe, but September is right around the corner. It feels like the season just started and now we’re entering the home stretch. But it doesn’t matter how late in the season we are, improvements can always be made. If your team(s) are still in contention for H2H playoffs or a money spot in roto, let’s finish the season strong and continue to work the fantasy baseball waiver wire to improve our teams wherever we can. And this week, there are plenty of options to choose from that can help you in a variety of ways.

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Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire

Ian Happ (2B/OF – CHC)

Another popular preseason draft target, Happ has struggled mightily for most of the 2021 season. Until recently that is. Over the last 14 days, Happ is slashing .385/.429/.881 with four home runs, 11 RBI, and seven runs scored. The Cubs firesale at the deadline gave Happ continued opportunities to remain in the starting lineup and his bat finally appears to be awakening from it’s prolonged slumber. A .267/.330/.547 slash line in August is more indicative of the Happ we’ve seen in the past. Happ also has slotted into the middle of the Cubs order and has two or three position eligibility depending on your league settings which is extremely useful as we navigate injuries and COVID IL stints.

Frank Schwindel (1B/OF – CHC) & Patrick Wisdom (1B/3B/OF – CHC)

On top of Ian Happ being a solid pickup this week, both Frank Schwindel and Patrick Wisdom are worth a look as well and are available in around 2/3 of fantasy leagues right now. With the Cubs big three out of town and Willson Contreras on the IL, Schwindel and Wisdom have settled into the #2 and #4 spots in the Cubs lineup and have been performing very well of late. Over the last month, Schwindel is hitting .348 with four homers, 16 RBI, 14 runs, and eight steals while Wisdom is hitting just .245 but with nine homers , 23 RBI, 16 runs, and seven walks. Wisdom’s quality of contact metrics have been extremely impressive this season. Wisdom currently has a 17.5% barrel rate, 91,7 mph avg EV, .532 xwOBACON, and 54.5% hard-hit rate.

As for Schwindel, his metrics aren’t quite as glowing, but he’s been hitting fastballs and breaking balls well this season and has a well above-average zone contact rate along with an ideal launch angle. Both sluggers should be rostered in many more leagues than they are right now with how they’re performing in the middle of the Cubs order.

Anthony Santander (OF – BAL)

While he isn’t quite on his 2020 pace, Anthony Santander is slugging is way back into fantasy relevance. Over the last 28 days, Santander is slashing .307/.337/.636 with eight home runs, 13 RBI, and 14 runs scored. And dating back to 2019, Santander has cranked 45 home runs in 215 games. He was a popular preseason pick before early season struggles, but even through it all, the quality of contact metrics have remained solid. Santander currently sports a 70th percentile or better mark in average exit velocity, hard-hit rate, and xSLG with a 59th percentile barrel rate and 90th percentile xBA, the last hinting that he was a bit unlucky earlier in the season. Santander doesn’t provide any speed, but he’ll provide steady production in AVG, R, and RBI while providing a power boost for your fantasy teams.

Connor Joe (1B/OF – COL)

One of the many beautiful aspects of the game of baseball is the fact that anyone can be an impact player over the course of the season. Entering the 2021 season, Connor Joe wasn’t even remotely close to being on the fantasy radar or even considered someone that would make an impact for the Rockies at the Major League level this season. But here we are nearing the end of August and Joe has been their best hitter not named CJ Cron over the last month. In 94 August plate appearances, Joe has slashed .295/.383/.564 with six home runs, 20 RBI, 14 runs scored and a 10/14 BB/K ratio.

This performance has been no fluke either. Joe’s ,282 xBA and .462 xSLG this season back up his performance along with an above-average walk rate, strikeout rate, and barrel rate. Joe won’t provide any speed, but he can be a solid four-category contributor ROS as the Rockies primary leadoff hitter.

Jake Meyers (OF – HOU)

As with Joe above, nobody anticipated Jake Meyers receiving regular at-bats with the Houston Astros this season. But various injuries thrusted Meyers into the starting lineup and it looks like he could stick as the starting center fielder ROS with Myles Straw now in Cleveland. While the 2.0 BB% and 30.4 K% aren’t ideal, Meyers has impressed in other areas including his 11.1% barrel rate, .457 xwOBACON, and 51.1% hard-hit rate. He’s also recorded a 96th percentile sprint speed so it’s possible we see more steals from him in September. Outside of the speed, Meyers has a .323/.348/.523 slash line this season in 69 PA with 14 RBI, 10 runs, and a trio of home runs. A regular starter with some impressive metrics in a loaded Houston lineup is a good recipe for fantasy success.

Nicky Lopez (2B/SS – KCR)

As we get closer and closer to the end of the season, waiver wire pickups tend to become more specialized, especially in roto leagues. That’s exactly what we have here with Nicky Lopez. Over the last month, along with hitting .298, Lopez has swiped 10 bases which trails only Whit Merrifield and the speed demon known as Starling Marte. Now, don’t go overboard to acquire him in weekly FAAB leagues as Adalberto Mondesi just started (again) a rehab assignment, but Lopez could provide a nice speed boost for your squads until Mondesi comes back.

Kyle Freeland (SP – COL)

What in the world has gotten into Kyle Freeland lately? I’d love to know, because whatever it is, it’s working big time. In his last 12 starts starting with his 6/22 start against Seattle, Freeland has tossed 70 innings (5.83 IP/GS) with a 2.57 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 4.4 BB%, and 25.2 K%. That strikeout rate has even ticked up to 29.8% in five August starts. This recent run of success is no fluke either. In this 12-start span, Freeland has faced the Dodgers three times and San Diego twice along with St. Louis and the MLB-leading San Francisco Giants. Freeland’s recent success has coincided with his increased curveball usage, which has easily been his best offering this season, registering a .095 BAA and 41.7% whiff rate this season.

Freeland has seen increased effectiveness with his slider and changeup as well which has allowed him to drop his 4-seam and sinker usage to a combined 34.1% in the month of August. This pitch mix has worked for Freeland as both of his fastballs have been his two worst pitches of late. Looking at the Rockies upcoming schedule, Freeland lines up to face the Rangers on the road, the Giants at home, the Phillies on the road, and the Nationals on the road in his next four starts. I know it can be scary to roster a Rockies arm, but Freeland is worth a look with how he’s been looking after making adjustments to his pitch mix in July and August.

Carlos Hernandez (SP – KCR)

One of the biggest bright spots on the Kansas City Royals this season has been the emergence of big right-hander, Carlos Hernandez. The 6’4/245 24-year-old has posted a 3.38 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in his seven starts this season, albeit, with only a 20.4% strikeout rate. He also just twirled 5.2 innings of one-hit ball in relief on the 27th, but that was out of necessity. Hernandez appears to be locked into the rotation for the time being.

When digging into Hernandez’s metrics, you notice that all five of his offerings have been rather effective for him this season. All five offerings have a BAA of .250 or less, SLG of .400 or less, and a whiff rate above 20%, led by a 41% whiff rate on his curveball. Hernandez’s remaining projected starts are favorable as well, facing Cleveland at home, Baltimore on the road, Minnesota on the road, Seattle at home, Detroit on the road, and Cleveland or Minnesota at home.

Adam Ottavino (RP – BOS)

As someone that has watched nearly every Boston Red Sox game this season, the change in the closer role has come as no surprise. Matt Barnes dominated for most of the first four months of the season before turning into a completely different pitcher in August with a 14.21 ERA over 10 appearances. That’s not going to get it done for a playoff contending Boston squad, so now Adam Ottavino gets a chance to close out games. Ottavino himself hasn’t been flawless, but the 35-year-old right-hander has a respectable 3.51 ERA, .201 xBA, .271 xSLG, and 2.2% barrel rate this season. However, that also comes with his lowest strikeout rate since 2013 at 24.3%. If you’re looking for some elite reliever, Ottavino isn’t your guy. But he’s been solid enough across the board and will now be receiving the bulk of the save opportunities in Boston moving forward.

Media Credit: MLB Stats, Los Rockies, Rob Friedman, Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire

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  1. Ted says

    With Conner Joe and Jake Myers, are either worth stashing for next year?

    1. Eric Cross says

      Apologies for the delayed response. I doubt it. Both seem like bench guys that have received unexpected PT this season. If either has a chance, I’d say Joe.

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