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Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Don’t Look Back in Anger

Did you enjoy the mini half-week break of not setting lineups? As much as we all love this game, we all need a break. Especially when that break includes an all-star game, home run derby, Future’s Game, and MLB draft. Not a bad “break” from setting fantasy baseball lineups. Now, the theme of this week’s Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire article is forgetting the past. Or as Noel Gallagher from Oasis would say, “Don’t Look Back in Anger.” This is a valuable life lesson and something to keep in mind for fantasy baseball as well. Several of the players below have burned fantasy managers in the past, some as recently as a month or two ago. Alright, let’s jam out to some Oasis for a minute then get to work!

P.S. – Hey, Noel and Liam, if you’re reading this, I’ll give you free access to my Patreon if you reunite for one last tour. I know you two despise each other, but just think about it.

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Enjoy this Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire report? Then make sure to check out the Five Tool Fantasy Baseball Podcast and Fantrax Toolshed weekly for dynasty and prospect talk as well.

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire

The Prospect Callups: Jarred Kelenic (OF – SEA) & Jarren Duran (OF – BOS)

If either of these two are available in any of your fantasy leagues, go change that immediately. Listen, I know Jarred Kelenic’s surface stats were atrocious during his first MLB stint, but put all of that out of your mind. Many of Kelenic’s metrics were around league average, but the hits just weren’t falling. In Triple-A, however, Kelenic was doing his usual damage, slashing .320/.392/.624 with nine doubles, nine home runs, and six steals in 30 games. This is still my #1 dynasty prospect with 25+/20+ upside and he needs to be rostered following his promotion back to Seattle.

Jarren Duran needs to be rostered as well in all 12+ team leagues. After undergoing a mechanical change that altered his swing, Duran has been a much different hitter over the last 12 months, turning Worcester into his own personal launching pad. In 46 Triple-A games this season, Duran swatted 15 home runs to pair with 12 steals and a .270/.365/.561 slash line. In 199 games before 2021, Duran only amassed eight home runs. This isn’t just a normal Triple-A offensive breakout either. If you’ve seen any video of Duran hitting moonshots or see the upper body strength he has now, you know that his newfound power is legit. It still remains to be seen where he’ll slot in the lineup (likely 7th or so), but Duran’s power/speed blend makes him highly attractive for fantasy purposes.

If you only have the room to add one, I’d go with Kelenic. The Red Sox have plenty of options that can play outfield so I envision them sitting Duran against a tough southpaw every now and then.

The Rookies: Alex Kirilloff (OF/1B – MIN) & Andrew Vaughn (OF/1B – CHW)

Both Alex Kirilloff and Andrew Vaughn have gone through what many would consider “normal” rookie seasons. There have been some highs and lows, adjustment periods, and flashes of brilliance. And some of those flashes have come recently, hence their inclusion in this week’s article. In the month of July, Kirilloff is slashing .289/.372/.500 with two doubles, two home runs, seven RBI, and seven runs scored in 43 plate appearances. His quality of contact metrics have remained impressive all season as well. Kirilloff currently sports a 13.1% barrel rate (85th percentile), 43.1% hard-hit rate (62nd), 90.7 mph average exit velocity (74th), .545 xSLG (95th), and a .464 xwOBACON along with a 95th percentile xBA. Basically, Kirilloff is performing exactly as expected, showcasing his ability to hit for both power and a good average.

Vaughn’s rookie season has been a bit rockier. He doesn’t quite have the same level of metrics that Vaughn has and his slumps have been more profound and more prolonged. However, Vaughn has really turned it on over the last few weeks. Following a 0/2 game on June 27th, Vaughn’s average sat at .222. But since then, Vaughn has hit .370 with four home runs, nine RBI, and 10 runs scored in 51 plate appearances. As with Kirilloff, Vaughn profiles as a plus-hit, plus power bat, and that’s starting to show up over the last few weeks. He needs to be rostered in many more leagues.

Jed Lowrie (2B – OAK)

Jed Lowrie is another player that has burned his fantasy managers in the past, usually due to injury. However, the 37-year-old second baseman is putting together another fine season at the plate, turning the clocks back to 2017-2018, his last two healthy seasons. In 338 plate appearances, Lowrie is slashing .269/.340/.436 with 11 home runs, 45 RBI, and 41 runs scored.  He’s also been on a tear in July, slashing .395/.422/.744 with four home runs in 45 plate appearances. There’s nothing flashy about Lowrie, but as long as he’s healthy, he’s proven to be a solid bat at the second base position. At the very least, you can ride out the hot streak.

Kolten Wong (2B – MIL)

It would be Wong of you to not pick up Kolton Wong right now if he’s available in your league. A calf injury sidelined Wong for about two weeks, but he made his return on Friday night, collecting three hits out of the leadoff spot. Very quietly, Wong has put together a highly productive season here in 2021. In 54 games, Wong is slashing .299/.352/.488 with seven home runs, six steals, 21 RBI, and 32 runs scored. For all of you that like extrapolation, that’s a .299/96/21/63/18 full season pace. That type of production from 2nd base? Hot damn! If you see that and don’t go add Wong, I don’t know what to tell you.

JD Davis (3B/OF – NYM)

Another player returning from an injury that deserves your attention is J.D. Davis. A sprained middle finger (driving in NYC will do that to you) caused Davis to miss more than two months of action, but before the injury, Davis was raking. In 15 games, JDD slashed .381/.469/.595 with three doubles and two home runs in 49 PA. The 2020 season didn’t go according to plan for Davis, but don’t forget how productive he was in 2019 when he had a .307/.369/.527 slash line with 22 home runs in 453 plate appearances.

Outside of his higher strikeout rate, Davis’ quality of contact metrics have been very good this season. He currently sports a 19.2% barrel rate, 92.9 mph average exit velocity, .576 xSLG, .625 xwOBACON, and a 50% hard-hit rate. Yes, it’s an extremely tiny sample size, but Davis’ performance earlier in the season coupled with the fact that he’ll likely be starting regularly for the Mets who are dying for an offensive spark right now (29th in runs

Oscar Mercado (OF – CLE)

I’m sure some of you have a sour taste in your mouth due to how Oscar Mercado burned those that rostered him in 2020 and used a top-150 pick on him. The 26-year-old outfielder slashed a putrid .128/.174/.174 with only one home run and three steals in 93 plate appearances. His leash was oddly short though, especially after posting a .269/15/15 line in 115 games the previous season.

Cleveland, starving for outfield production, recalled Mercado on June 28th. After a 0/9 start, Mercado has picked it up with nine hits in his last 27 at-bats to go along with a home run and two steals. He’ll likely sit against a tough right-hander, but Mercado looks to be back as a regular starter for Cleveland, and his power/speed blend makes him worth a look in deeper leagues.

Tanner Houck (SP – BOS)

He’s back! Just in time too as the Red Sox rotation could really use a spark right about now. Houck returned on Friday night, recording a three-inning save and allowing only one hit and one walk while striking out three. And let me tell you, Houck looked sharp. That’s been the case for basically the entirety of his brief Major League career. In 30.1 innings combined between 2020 and 2021, Houck has recorded a 1.78 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, and 30.3% strikeout rate. His slider has been nearly unhittable during his pro career with only two hits allowed in 30 AB with a whiff rate above 40% each season. The mid-90’s sinker ain’t half bad either, as you can see below.

It sounds like Houck is going to rejoin the rotation on July 23rd against Toronto and has a good chance of sticking there due to the struggles of Garrett Richards who hasn’t recorded a quality start since June 1st. Houck’s strikeout upside makes him an intriguing waiver wire target right now and he could be a top-50 SP ROS if he can keep his ratios in check.

Ranger Suarez (RP – PHI)

Several teams have had a revolving door at their closer position in 2021, and the Philadelphia Phillies are one of them. The latest Phillie reliever to get a shot closing out games is 25-year-old southpaw, Ranger Suarez. Suarez has pitched very well this season with a 0.75 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, and 27.7% strikeout rate across 36 innings. He currently ranks in the 92nd percentile or better in barrel rate, exit velocity, xBA, xSLG, wOBA, xwOBA, xwOBACON, hard-hit rate, and xERA.

Suarez doesn’t have elite velocity (93.5 mph on 4SFB), but mixes his pitches well and has a 40+% whiff rate on both his slider and changeup. Hitters also only have a .111 avg off his sinker, which he throws 46.2% of the time. Will he keep the role for the rest of the season? Who knows. But Suarez has the role right now (converted the last two saves for PHI) and is pitching very well. He needs to be rostered in all leagues.

Media Credit: Rob Friedman, White Sox Daily, MLB Pipeline, Baseball Savant

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