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Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Let’s Get Rowdy

Has everyone caught their breath yet? That was by far the craziest trade deadline that I can remember with dozens of notable players and prospects on the move. Some of those players you will find below. On top of that, we’ve had a few promotions of note that possess intriguing fantasy potential as well. This week’s Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire report has a little of everything.

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Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire

Rowdy Tellez (1B – MIL)

Entering the season, many, myself included, had hight hopes for Rowdy Tellez this season. That was, until he got blocked and wound up spending a chunk of time in Triple-A. The change of scenery brought new life to his fantasy value and now he’s knocking on the door of mixed-league relevance. Since landing in Milwaukee a few weeks ago, Tellez has slashed a robust .357/.440/.690 with four home runs in 16 games.

It’s a smaller sample size, but Tellez’s quality of contact metrics are very encouraging so far this season. Tellez currently sports a 12.3% barrel rate, 92.1 mph average exit velocity, 94th percentile max exit velocity, and 47.1% hard-hit rate. He’s done this while keeping his strikeout rate under 20% (19.9%) and having better than league-average rates in whiff%, zone contact, and chase contact. After another hit last night, Tellez is now on a seven-game hitting streak and has made himself comfortable in the middle of Milwaukee’s order. Tellez needs to be rostered right now in all 10+ team leagues.

Daulton Varsho (C/OF – ARI)

It might’ve taken until the 2/3 mark of the season, but we’re finally getting the Daulton Varsho we had hoped for back in draft season. Over the last two weeks, Varsho is slashing .375/.500/.844 with three doubles, four home runs, and two steals. He’s sporting an above-average barrel rate, hard-hit rate, and has an impressive 14.7% walk rate as well. This right here is the Varsho we wanted to see in the Majors after seeing what he was capable of in the minor leagues. In his 259 minor league games, Varsho racked up 46 home runs and 49 steals to go along with a .302/.372/.529 slash line and 16.4% strikeout rate. That’s a 29/31 162-G pace. This type of power/speed blend from the catcher position is pure gold.

Tyrone Taylor (OF – MIL)

Speaking of power/speed blends, Tyrone Taylor is quietly piecing together a fine season for himself in Milwaukee. The 27-year-old outfielder is currently slashing .269/.351/.491 with nine home runs and five steals in just 194 plate appearances. He’s really turned it up over the last two weeks as well, hitting .441 with six extra-base hits in 38 plate appearances. On top of that, Taylor has an above-league-average barrel rate, exit velocity, and hards-hit rate along with an 87th percentile sprint speed. Taylor’s ability to play all three outfield positions has kept him in the lineup nearly every day of late, and that should remain the case as long as he’s performing like this at the plate.

Abraham Toro (3B – SEA)

On July 25th, Abraham Toro hit a home run as a member of the Houston Astros, the team he had been with since being drafted back in 2015. Then, on July 26th, Toro hit a home run against the Houston Astros as a member of the Seattle Mariners. Since then, Toro has hit three more home runs and added a three-hit effort yesterday to raise his line with Seattle to .500/.545/1.200 in 11 plate appearances. Toro isn’t a star in the making, but he did show what type of offensive talent he could become with his strong performance in 2019 (Mostly at Double-A) where he slashed .324/.411/.527 with 31 doubles, 17 home runs, an 11.3% walk rate, and 16.0% strikeout rate. He’s been starting at 2nd base in Seattle too, which will give him dual 2B/3B eligibility once he surpasses the GP threshold in your league.

Harrison Bader (OF – STL)

Harrison Bader is excelling while Dylan Carlson is struggling. Just as we all drew it up in the preseason when we were taking Carlson in the top-150 and Bader was barely being drafted at all. But that was then and this is now. And in the present, Bader is worth rostering in all 10+ team leagues with how he’s been performing this season and the improvements he’s made at the plate.

Entering 2021, Bader was coming off two straight seasons with an xBA around .200 and three straight seasons with a bottom-10% strikeout rate. However, in 2021, Bader has cut his strikeout rate from 32% to 15.2% while also improving his whiff rate, zone swing%, zone contact%, chase%, and chase contact%. All while still recording an elite sprint speed. His middling quality of contact metrics lead me to believe that this level of power output won’t continue, but Bader has what it takes to record a 15/20 pace ROS with an AVG that won’t kill you anymore.

Keibert Ruiz (C – WAS)

While it’s not 100% certain when Keibert Ruiz will be up, the opportunity is there for him to immediately step in as Washington’s starting catcher immediately following his trade from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Scherzer/Turner deal. Ruiz has long been considered one of the top catching prospects in the game but slid down rankings due to questions surrounding how much power he’d hit for. Those concerns have been quickly erased here in 2021 as some mechanical changes in 2020 have allowed Ruiz to drive the ball in the air more consistently and tap into his raw power. The results have been astounding. In 52 Triple-A games, Ruiz has slashed .311/.381/.631 with 18 doubles, 16 home runs, a 10% walk rate, and 11.7% strikeout rate.

The contact skills and approach have always been there and now Ruiz adding this level of power has elevated him back into elite dynasty catching prospect status. Following Yan Gomes being sent to Oakland, the only two catchers on the active roster are Tres Barrera and René Rivera. Rivera is a 38-year-old catcher with a .221 career average and Barrera, while currently hitting well, isn’t nearly the offensive talent that Ruiz is. Ruiz should be up soon and is worth stashing in leagues where you have some bench depth.

Tylor Megill (SP – NYM)

Earlier this week, I tweeted about how good Tylor Megill has been this season for the Mets. Scratch that, how GREAT he’s been. But despite his strong performance, Megill remains a free agent in 60+ % of fantasy leagues. Why? He shouldn’t be available in this many leagues with how he’s dealing each and every start. On the season, Megill has posted a 2.04 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 7.6 BB%, and 27.1 K% in seven starts.

None of the above is a fluke or him getting lucky either. All of Megill’s underlying metrics support his hot start to his MLB career. Megill currently has a 2.32 xERA (98th percentile) and is in the top-4% of the league in barrel rate, xBA, xSLG, xwOBA, and xwOBACON. His three-pitch mix (also throws a CB 2.8% of the time) has been working very well with all three offerings currently having an xBA under .225, an xSLG under .340, and both secondaries (slider and changeup) have a wOBA under .200. Is he THIS good? Probably not. But Megill looks like a solid fantasy starter moving forward.

Luis Patiño (SP – TBR)

Back in the rotation, and possibly for good, Luis Patiño is a great option to pick up if you need some pitching help this week. The electric right-hander is coming off the best start of his young career earlier this week. On Thursday against the New York Yankees, Patiño tossed six shutout innings with eight strikeouts while only allowing two hits and two walks. He also posted a 39% whiff rate and 37% CSW in the outing, outdueling Gerrit Cole in a lopsided 14-0 win for Tampa Bay. That stellar outing dropped his season ERA and WHIP down to 4.26 and 1.17 respectively, and Patiño has been pitching even better than those numbers would indicate.

The biggest improvement I’ve seen from Patiño has been in his strike-throwing ability. After posting a 9.5% walk rate in the minors in 2019 and 16.5% in the Majors last season, Patiño has cut that down to a respectable 7.4% which is a full percent better than league average. His 4-seamer is still hitting hit more than one would like, but at the same time, Patiño’s slider, sinker, and changeup all have a sub-.200 xBA with his slider really excelling with a .109 BAA and 43.8% whiff rate.

Reid Detmers (SP – LAA)

With his Major League debut on the horizon (Sunday), Reid Detmers will become the 2nd player from the 2020 draft class to make it to the Majors after Garrett Crochet. The 6’2 southpaw only needed 13 starts to reach the Majors. He recorded double-digit strikeouts in four of those starts, including a 16-K effort June 26th. Overall, Detmers posted a 3.15 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 7.3% walk rate, and a ridiculous 42.9% strikeout rate across 60.0 innings. Detmers features a low-90’s fastball that can get into the mid-90s. a mid-70’s plus curveball, an above-average changeup, and a serviceable slider as well. His above-average to plus command and control really elevates his entire arsenal and helps him miss as many bats as he does. His strikeout potential makes him worth a look in fantasy leagues.

New Closers Following The Trade Deadline

Anthony Bender (MIA)

With Yimi Garcia gone, any of three or four relievers could step into the vacated closer role. My money is on Anthony Bender, who has been the best of the bunch this season. Bender currently has a 2.21 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 5.8 BB%, and 32.4 K% in 36.2 innings of work. He also ranks in the top-10 of the league in xBA, xSLG, xwOBA, xwOBACON, hard-hit rate, and xERA as well. Bender has gotten the job done mostly with his 96.7 mph sinker and mid-80’s slider, the latter of which has a .169 BAA and 47.8% whiff rate. If he does take over the closing duties, Bender would have plenty of fantasy value moving forward.

Kyle Finnegan (WAS)

After a firesale turned the “Nationals” into the “Soto and the misfits”, Kyle Finnegan appears to be the new 9th inning arm to roster in this bullpen with Brad Hand out of town. Finnegan has recorded a save in back to back days, tossing scoreless innings in each outing with only one hit allowed. Finnegan’s 3.21 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, and 25% strikeout rate aren’t exactly outstanding for a closer, but Finnegan is the best of the remaining arms and should get the chance to stick in the role moving forward. Finnegan mixes a mid-90’s sinker with an upper-80’s slider and splitter, all three of which have been solid offerings for him this season. His slider has been the most effective of the trio, registering a .185 xBA, .234 xSLG, and a 38.7% whiff rate.

David Bednar (PIT)

With Richard Rodriguez’s departure, David Bednar is the arm to roster in Pittsburgh’s bullpen now. Bednar has limited hard contact exceptionally well this season in route to a solid 2.70 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, and 31.4% strikeout rate. He also ranks very highly in many savant metrics, including whiff rate, chase rate, xBA, xSLG, and xwOBA. Bednar’s 4-Seam/splitter/slider combo has been getting the job done with each pitch recording a BAA of .227 or less with a 36.8% whiff rate on the splitter and 52.1% on the slider.

Those are my top-3 new closers to target following the trade deadline. If you miss out on the above trio, some others to target are Tyler Clippard (ARI), Spencer Patton (TEX), or Rex Brothers/Codi Heuer (CHC). But all three are less appealing for fantasy purposes.

Media Credit: Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire, Bally Sports Wisconsin, Rob Friedman, Blake Harris

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