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Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Rocky Mountain High

Another week in the book means another Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire report. The 2021 season is flying by and every passing week means there’s less time for you to improve your fantasy rosters and make your push towards the top of the standings. What are you waiting for? Jacob deGrom to allow an earned run? Well, when you’re striking out Fernando Tatis Jr on a damn 95 mph SLIDER, I don’t think that earned run is going to happen any time soon. Fortunately, this week’s report is chalked full of intriguing pickups to give your teams the boosts they need.

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Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire

Willy Adames (SS – MIL)

A few weeks back, I included Willy Adames in this Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire report following him being traded from Tampa Bay to Milwaukee. Adames always had issues hitting at Tropicana Field and was a much better hitter away from the Trop. That has remained the case through his first 19 games with the Brewers. In those 19 games, Adames is slashing .294/.377/.485 with four doubles, three home runs, and 13 RBI with a much-improved plate approach. This is nearly identical to his production away from the Trop throughout his career, so none of this should come as much of a surprise.

With that plate approach improving and Adames posting solid quality of contact metrics (73rd percentile hard-hit, 76th percentile barrel rate, 63rd percentile xSLG), he absolutely needs to be rostered in more fantasy leagues than he is right now. He’s proven to be a .295/25 type of hitter away from the Trop, and who couldn’t use that type of production in their middle infield or utility slot?

Brendan Rodgers (2B/SS – COL)

This feels like a trap. Not for you, for me. Recommending any young Colorado hitter these days is risky and it feels like we’ve been waiting for Brendan Rodgers to be fantasy relevant for a while now. Has that time finally arrived? Rodgers has seen time at both second base and shortstop this season thanks to Trevor Story’s IL stint and had performed admirably with a .278/.355/.463 slash line and three home runs in 62 plate appearances. He even remained in the lineup once Story returned from the IL on Friday, starting at 2nd base and hitting second in front of Charlie Blackmon, Story, and Ryan McMahon. If this continues, Rodgers has the ability to make a solid fantasy impact with dual eligibility to boot.

Rodgers consistently showcased his offensive abilities throughout his time in the minors, slashing .298/.354/.504 in 392 games with 104 doubles, 66 home runs, and 24 steals. Speed will likely never be a big part of his game, but there’s .280/25 upside in Rodgers’ bat, especially with the aide of Coors Field in half of his games. Outside of his .278/3 surface line, Rodgers has posted a solid 90.5 mph average exit velocity, 111.8 mph max exit velocity, and 40.9% hard-hit rate in his limited time this season. With it looking like he’ll continue to get a chance to play regularly, Rodgers makes for a highly intriguing addition off the waiver wire this week.

Miguel Andujar (3B/OF – NYY)

In one of the weirdest and most frustrating seasons I can remember, the New York Yankees are certainly feeling that frustration offensively. Always known to be one of the top offensive teams annually, the Yankees currently ranking 26th in runs scored right in the same range as offensive “powerhouses” like Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Cleveland. So, it’s safe to say that the Yanks are looking for any sort of offensive spark they can find, and right now, that spark is coming from Miguel Andujar.

It’s been a while since we’ve seen Andujar do anything that puts him back on the fantasy map. He’s been mostly MIA since his .297/83/27/92 season back in 2018, but we can’t act like that season just didn’t happen. Sure, the last two years have been rocky for Andujar, battling injuries and poor performance, but he’s healthy now and really heating up when the Yankees need him to the most. After seeing his average sit at .224 on May 30th, Andujar has gone on a tear since, hitting .342 with five home runs to raise his season average up to .277.

His .281 xBA backs up his performance thus far this season as well. Andujar also has many above-average quality of contact metrics with a 9.3% barrel rate, .481 xSLG, 45.3% hard-hit rate, and 90.2 mph average exit velocity. Walking isn’t really his thing (2% BB rate), but Andujar showed he can be an impact bat with the bat back in 2018 and is getting a chance to try and return to that previous form. He needs to be rostered in many more leagues than he currently is.

Amed Rosario (SS/OF – CLE)

Speaking of returning to fantasy relevance, Amed Rosario deserves your attention. There was once a time when Rosario was on an upward trajectory and looked poised to blossom into a top-10 fantasy shortstop. That trajectory took a sharp wrong turn in 2020, but Rosario is quietly putting together a quality season here in 2021. Through his first 53 games, Rosario is hitting .276 with four homers, six steals, and 31 runs scored. That’s a .276/93/12/18 pace over a full season. On top of that, Rosario appears to be locked into the #2 spot in Cleveland’s order right in front of Jose Ramirez. In general, Cleveland’s offense hasn’t been great but Rosario is in a great spot hitting right in front of JoRam.

Rosario’s .280 xBA backs up his current .276 average and he’s even hitting the ball harder than he ever has with a 41.2% hard-hit rate. Just wipe his 2020 performance out of your memory. Rosario can provide a boost in AVG, runs, and steals while providing a little pop as well while being eligible at shortstop and the outfield in most leagues.

Eric Haase (C – DET)

It’s always good when we can add a catcher to the report. Unless you drafted one of the top backstops or lucked into Buster Posey’s resurgence earlier in the season, you’ve likely been trying to ride the hot streaks with your catcher position. If you fall into that group or just aren’t satisfied with your current catcher’s production, Eric Haase would like a word. The 28-year-old backstop is absolutely crushing the ball this season. Haase has cranked eight home runs in 88 plate appearances thus far with some downright sexy quality of contact metrics.

He’s still striking out too much, as he always has, but Haase currently has a robust 19.6% barrel rate, 92 mph average exit velocity, 56.9% hard-hit rate, .567 xSLG, and .552 xwOBACON. His performance has earned Haase close to everyday playing time, seeing time behind the plate, in left field, and at DH as well. A catcher cranking the ball right now that doesn’t have the rigors of catching every day? Where do I sign up?

Austin Gomber (SP – COL)

Recommending a Rockies pitcher feels dirty, but I had to include Austin Gomber this week. If you remove the start where he got Gombered (1.2 IP,9 ER) on April 26th, Gomber’s season ERA would be sitting at a sparkling 2.83 right now. Since that blowup outing, Gomber has allowed two earned runs or less in seven of eight starts with a 2.18 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 2.2% walk rate, and 26.8% strikeout rate. That includes two home outings where he combined for 11.1 innings and zero earned runs. Trust me, I tried to find reasons not to include a Rockies pitcher here, but couldn’t find anything to deter me.

Gomber isn’t one to blow hitters away with his fastball (91.8 mph), but his three secondary pitches have been rock-solid this season and are a big reason for his success. Gomber’s slider, curveball, and changeup each have a BAA under .210, an SLG under .340, and a whiff rate above 33%. Expected stats back those metrics up as well. While it’s often tough, there is a recipe for success for Colorado pitchers and Gomber is executing that with his pitch mix, ground ball rate, and limiting hard contact.

Jackson Kowar (SP – KCR)

Yes, I’m still including Jackson Kowar after he had more wild pitches than outs in his Major League debut. I’m still a believer that Kowar can be a serviceable fantasy starter the rest of the season and Kansas City is showing their confidence in the 24-year-old right-hander. Kowar’s Triple-A dominance before getting promoted also warrants a longer leash than just one outing.

In six Triple-A starts this season, Kowar posted a 0.85 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 8.3% walk rate, and 33.9 % strikeout rate. His profile is pretty similar to Chris Paddack’s but potentially with a more effective fastball. Like Paddack, Kowar has a fringe curveball that he doesn’t use too much thanks to his double-plus changeup. The potential here isn’t elite, but Kowar has what it takes to settle in as a solid fantasy arm moving forward.

Media Credit: Baseball Savant, Pitching Ninja, MLB Pipeline, Talkin’ Yanks, Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire

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