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Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: A Tale of Second Chances

This week’s Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire report is all about second chances. Well, mostly. Several players discussed below have scorned fantasy managers at one point or another, some of them on multiple occasions. But now it’s time to give these talented individuals a second chance and allow them back into our fantasy baseball circle of trust. Everyone could use a second chance at some point. Especially when these players that have scorned us before are capable of helping our teams out in the present. And that’s all that really matters right? I mean, you didn’t open this article to find players that could help you back in May.

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Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire

Jarred Kelenic (OF – SEA)

Having Jarred Kelenic in a fantasy baseball waiver wire article twice in one season is awesome in a way, but also means that the first go-around didn’t quite go as planned. But you don’t need me to tell you that Kelenic struggled mightily in his first Major League stint. That’s well known. However, his 2nd stint has gone much better than the first and it’s time to show him more love in fantasy leagues. This hasn’t just been luck either. Kelenic made an adjustment back to his old swing and it seems to be working wonders so far. If you want to read more about this and about Kelenic in struggles and adjustments in general, check out this phenomenal piece by Joe Doyle on Lookout Landing.

Since July 27, Kelenic has shown signs of life with a .237/.326/.474 slash line that looked even better before an 0/4 performance last night. Kelenic also has three home runs, 10 RBI, and six runs scored in this timeframe with a 11.6% walk rate and 18.6% strikeout rate. This is one of the most talented young outfielders in the game that made a tangible change which has led to better results over the last week and a half. I know Kelenic’s struggles earlier this season burned many fantasy managers, but it looks like he’s gearing up for a strong end to the season.

Jo Adell (OF – LAA)

Speaking of initial struggles, that big-name prospect was Jo Adell in 2020. In 132 PA, Adell slashed .161/.212/.266 with three home runs which got him sent back to Triple-A where he started the 2021 season as well. Adell has looked like a new man here in 2021 and one that has improved every month. In May, Adell mashed 11 home runs in 105 plate appearances but still was striking out too much at 34.3%. However, that strikeout rate dropped to 29.6% in June and 23.2% in July while still hitting for power and a solid average as well. Adell even added eight steals this season to his 23 home runs and .289/.342/.592 minor league slash line. Adell still needs to continue refining his approach at the plate, but his upside makes him worth giving a 2nd shot to in fantasy leagues right now.

Rafael Ortega (OF – CHC)

In the wake of the Chicago Cubs firesale, you had to imagine a relative unknown or two would rise to fantasy relevance. We appear to have found one of those players with 30-year-old outfielder Rafael Ortega. Starting on 7/29, Ortega is on an eight game hitting streak with four home runs, nine RBI, 10 runs scored, and two steals while serving as the Cubs primary leadoff hitter. Overall, Ortega is slashing .320/.374/.531 on the season with six home runs and five steals in 140 plate appearances. His performance is backed up by a rock-solid .294 xBA as well. On top of that, Ortega has an above-average barrel rate, exit velocity, and hard-hit rate with a 63rd percentile sprint speed. This level of production likely won’t continue, but Ortega can provide a solid power/speed blend moving forward with a respectable average and runs scored total as the Cubs leadoff hitter.

Edward Olivares (OF – KCR)

Part two of the Edward Olivares experience in Kansas City is off to a good start. Before his night off last night, Olivares recorded hits in four straight games with home runs in three of those four games. For anyone that has followed Olivares minor league career, they’ll know how much of a power/speed threat he’s been over the last several years including a combined 31 home runs and 47 steals in 2019 & 2021 (179 games). In the Majors, he’s combined for seven homers and two steals in 48 games with a 95th percentile or higher sprint speed in each season. There’s not much competition to his playing time in Kansas City either, so as long as Olivares continues to hit well, he should remain in the lineup for the forseeable future.

Brendan Rodgers (2B/SS – COL)

Alright, enough outfielders. How about a middle infielder that has really found his groove over the last month? Rodgers has quietly been hitting well for most of the season but not many have seemed to notice as he’s still available in around 75% of fantasy leagues. Over the last two weeks, Rodgers is hitting a robust .373 with four home runs, eight RBI, and 11 runs scored, and is currently on a 13-game hitting streak. He still isn’t walking much, but Rodgers proved in the minors that he has to contact skills to succeed at the plate without a high walk rate. It appears that Rodgers has settled into the #2 spot in Colorado’s order and can help fantasy teams with everything besides stolen bases moving forward.

Carter Kieboom (3B/SS – WAS)

Remember Carter Kieboom? The former top prospect that struggled his way into prospect obscurity? Well, he might be back. Or at least finally fantasy-relevant. Kieboom was recalled on 7/24 and after a few hitless games has really taken off. Since 7/29, he’s recorded hits in 8/9 games with seven RBI, six runs, and a pair of home runs. With dual eligibity and the skills to hit for a solid average with a 20-homer pace, Kieboom is an intriguing target this week if you need help on the left side of your infield. And after Washington’s fire sale at the deadline, there’s not much of a threat to his playing time moving forward.

Logan Webb (SP – SFG)

The fact that Logan Webb is still available in around 60% of leagues is mind-blowing. This is an arm that should be rostered in all 12+ team leagues right now and plenty of 10-teamers as well with how he’s pitching. With another strong performance last night (6 IP, ER, 9 K), Webb improved to 5-3 on the season in 79.0 innings with a 3.19 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 7.4 BB%, and  25.3 K%. His xERA, FIP, and xFIP all back up his performance so far as well with each being between 3.05 and 3.51. Webb also has a ridiculous 59.7% groundball rate which ranks 3rd in baseball behind Framber Valdez and Adrian Houser.

While three of Webb’s pitches have a BAA above .250 (4S/SNK/CH), all three along with his slider have a SLG below .390 and all besides the changeup have an exit velocity under 86 mph. That slider has been his breat and butter all season with a .140 bAA, .256 SLG, and 44.6% whiff rate. Webb’s performance is very sustainable and there’s no reason for him to be sitting on any waiver wires right now.

Tanner Houck (SP – BOS)

Welcome back to the rotation, Mr. Tanner Houck. As a fantasy baseball analyst and a diehard Red Sox fan, the Houck recall has me all sorts of excited. Is he a frontline starter in the making? No. But is he a better starter than Martin Perez and capable of making a fantasy impact moving forward? Absolutely. It’s a small sample size for sure, but in his 39.0 Major League innings, Houck has compiled a 1.62 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, and 33.6% strikeout rate. Most of that coming as a starter two (7 of 9 appearances).

At the very least, Houck should provide an immediate boost in the strikeout department. On top of his four-seamer (94.5 mph) and sinker (93.8 mph), Houck already has one of the best sliders in the game. In both 2020 and 2021 (again, small sample), Houck’s slider has registered an xBA under .100, xSLG under .125, and a whiff rate above 47%. In total, he’s only allowed three hits in 43 at-bats off the slider which gets exceptional horizontal movement. With this level of strikeout upside, Houck can make an immediate impact, especially if he keeps his ERA and WHIP in check.

More to consider if they’re available: Kyle Farmer (CIN), Abraham Toro (SEA), Mike Moustakas (CIN), Shane McClanahan (TBR), Jesus Lúzaardo (MIA), Tyler O’Neill (STL), Jorge Soler (ATL), Rowdy Tellez (MIL), Kyle Muller (ATL)

Media Credit: MLB Pipeline, Los Angeles Angels, Rob Friedman, Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire

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