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Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Duran Duran

Another week, another Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire report here on FantraxHQ. Regardless of what style league you play in and what point of the season it is, we should always be looking to improve our fantasy teams. Whether you’re looking to catch the next red hot breakout, find an injury replacement, or improve in a specific statistical category, the waiver wire can help you accomplish all of those. This week’s report has a good mix of young guns, solid veterans, a pair of underrated arms, and a couple saves targets as well.

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire

Vinnie Pasquantino (1B – KCR)

It’s about time! We’ve seen plenty of big-name promotions this season and Vinnie Pasquantino’s might have been the one that had the biggest reaction on social media. Mainly because he had been tearing up Triple-A for nearly three months and Kansas City continued to look the other way trying to pretend it wasn’t happening. But that’s all in the past now. Here in the present, Pasquantino is an immediate pickup in all 12+ team leagues and probably 10 teamers as well.

As mentioned, Pasquantino dominated in Triple-A this season. In 296 plate appearances, Vinnie P slashed .280/.372/.576 with 18 home runs and more walks (37) than strikeouts (36). Basically, he repeated his 2021 dominance at a higher level.

Pasquantino projects as a high AVG/OBP bat with 30+ homer power as well that could make an immediate impact for fantasy purposes. He already cranked his first homer in his third career game Friday night and could be poised for a nice 2nd half of the season.

Jarren Duran (OF – BOS)

The leadoff hitter for the Boston Red Sox is performing well and still available in over 2/3 of fantasy leagues? Granted, Jarren Duran’s Major League tenure up until recently hasn’t exactly been positive, but the skills and minor league performance made him one of the most exciting prospects in baseball until he decided to try and sell out for power last year. Now, Duran has seemingly found a nice middle ground, getting back to what made him a top-100 prospect while still showing some pop in the bat.

In 62 plate appearances with Boston this season, Duran has slashed an impressive .333/.387/.544 with 10 runs, five RBI, four steals, and finally hit his first homer of the season on Friday. Duran has always displayed good speed throughout his professional career and was a .307 career hitter in 307 minor league games. So far with Boston, Duran has a 92nd percentile sprint speed while also posting a 39.1% hard-hit rate and trimming his strikeout rate to 17.7%. Even if he doesn’t hit for much power this season, Duran can make an impact in AVG, runs, and most importantly, speed.

Nathaniel Lowe (1B – TEX)

Nathaniel Lowe is one of those players who never quite fully lived up to expectations but has had a solid career anyway. After a slow start this season, Lowe has quietly been excelling of late. Over the last 30 days, Lowe has slashed .303/.343/.546 with seven home runs, 16 RBI, and 14 runs scored. Lowe has never been one to light up his savant page with red but he’s above league-average this season in barrel rate, AVG EV, and hard-hit rate. With a career-best swing%, Lowe has made it a point to be more aggressive this season and it’s working now. A higher K rate and whiff rate will likely bring that AVG back down some, but Lowe is certainly worth a look right now.

Andrew McCutchen (OF – MIL)

Don’t look now, but old man Cutch is on a bit of a heater. Over the last 30 days, McCutchen has slashed .327/.416/.510 with four homers, 15 RBI, 17 runs scored, and a pair of steals. Even in his age-35 season, Cutch still has a 89th percentile sprint speed and his solid approach hasn’t gone anywhere. He’s been especially hot over the last two weeks with a .340/.426/.638 slash line to go along with a trio of homers, seven RBI, and 10 runs scored. With Cutch heating up and starting regularly for Milwaukee, he’s worth a look in 12+ team leagues if you need some outfield help.

Nico Hoerner (2B/SS – CHC)

When you Google Nico Hoerner, one word you won’t find in the listing is “flashy”. But often, your shopping trips to the waiver wire won’t be flashy. Sometimes you’re just looking to ride a hot streak or find some help at a specific position. Enter Nico Hoerner. Over the last 30 days, Hoerner is hitting .341 with 13 runs, one homer, and one steal, and has hit .435 over the last two weeks with seven runs and seven steals. This hot stretch has pushed his season AVG over .300 to .308 with four home runs and six steals in 228 plate appearances. While Hoerner might not provide much in the power and speed departments, he should continue to hit for a high average thanks to his 93.5% zone contact rate, 14.7% whiff rate, and 10.1% strikeout rate.

Juan Yepez (OF – STL)

I’m honestly not sure why Juan Yepez is available in around 60% of fantasy leagues. The power-hitting rookie has lived up to and even exceeded expectations while starting regularly in a good St. Louis lineup. Being mentored by one of the best hitters of all time also can’t hurt. Yepez has swatted nine homers in 181 plate appearances for St. Louis so far this season with 24 RBI, 21 runs, and a solid .283/.326/.506 slash line. His quality of contact metrics don’t stand out at the moment, but Yepez does have a 9.4% barrel rate and projected as a 25+ homer bat in the minors. He’s also done a nice job at keeping his strikeout rate in check at 22.7%. Although, he does tend to chase too much outside the zone. As long as Yepez continues to start regularly, he should be rostered in 12+ team leagues.

Ross Stripling (SP – TOR)

The last few years have been bumpy for this former Los Angeles Dodger, but Ross Stripling seems to have found his footing this season. Toronto has really needed him to as they’re without Hyun-jin Ryu (TJS), Nate Pearson (Various), and both Jose Berrios and Yusei Kukuchi have been wildly inconsistent and mostly ineffective. In 18 appearances (10 starts) spanning 57.2 innings, Stripling has posted a 3.12 ERA and 1.08 WHIP, albiet, with a below-average 19.8% strikeout rate. I’m not a huge believer in his ROS outlook as he’s pitching better than his ERA indicators right now, but I’d consider Stripling for short-term help as he faces Tampa Bay, Seattle, and Kansas City in his three starts leading into the all-star break.  Those three teams rank 28th, 18th, and 24th respectively in wOBA vs RHP this season.

Devin Smeltzer (SP – MIN)

If you’re looking for pitching strikeouts, this isn’t the week for you. However, it’s hard to argue against what Devin Smeltzer is doing outside of strikeouts right now. In nine starts, Smeltzer has a pristine 2.86 ERA and 1.01 WHIP with a solid 5.6% strikeout rate. And while his strikeout rate sits at a lowly 15.8% this season, Smeltzer did strike out nine Guardians in his last start with a 28% whiff rate and 34% CSW. Smeltzer is a soft thrower, but commands and mixes his four-pitch mix very well. He’s lined up to face Baltimore, Texas, and the White Sox to round out the first half. Let’s hope this last start was the beginning of an uptick in strikeouts for the southpaw.

A.J. Minter (RP – ATL) & Hunter Strickland (RP – CIN)

If you’re searching for saves this week, A.J. Minter and Hunter Strickland are your two best targets. Minter appears to be the leading candidate for saves as long as Kenley Jansen is out dealing with a heart issue (Get better Kenley!). I’m sure Will Smith will factor in to some degree, but Minter has been Atlanta’s best reliever this season and considerably more effective than Smith. In 35 appearances, Minter has a 1.64 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, and a 35.8% strikeout rate compared to a 4.1% walk rate. His four-seamer, cutter, and changeup all have a whiff rate above 30% with the 4-seam and changeup also boasting a BAA under .150.

As for Strickland, his numbers aren’t quite as shiny as Minter’s, but the 33-year-old right-hander has been better of late. Strickland hasn’t been scored upon in his last five appearances, allowing just two hits and one walk with five strikeouts in 4.2 innings. He’s also racked up three saves in that span.

Media Credit: Bally Sports Midwest, MLB Network, Bally Sports Kansas City, Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire

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