Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Say It Ain’t Sano
Before we get into this week’s Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire report, I just want to say rest in peace Tyler Skaggs. This type of stuff sucks. There’s no better or more eloquent word to use. Skaggs was only 27 years old and a bright young pitcher in this game that we all love. So again, rest easy Tyler.
Now, down to business. Once again, a few Blue Jays make the list this wee as their lackluster offense hasn’t been as lackluster lately. You can thank the three hitters below for that. Joining them on the list is a potential top-10 closer option and two former top-25 prospects. A potential top-10 closer? Two former top-25 prospects? You’re messing with us, aren’t you Eric? Come on, you know I would never do that to you all.
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Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire – Hitters
Miguel Sano, 1B/3B, Minnesota Twins
Some times I try talking myself out of listing people here. Not out loud of course. It’s more of an internal discussion between my brain and my heart that sometimes turns into an all out battle. That was the case this week with Miguel Sano. He’s burned most of us at one point or another by poor play or injuries, or both, if we’re being honest. And when you look at his surface numbers this season, you’ll see his .225 batting average and try to look the other way. You’ll try to look away, but you won’t. The allure of Sano and his upside will keep you looking, and then you’re finger will move closer to the add button on your phone screen. It’s okay, go ahead and click it.
— FOX Sports North (@fsnorth) June 22, 2019
While Sano is still striking out at an alarming rate, the power has been very prominent this season, especially lately. For the season, Sano ranks 14th in hard contact rate, 12th in fly ball rate, and is pulling the ball over 50% of the time. A plus B plus C equals homers. It’s a simple equation really. And even though his average is sitting at a lackluster .225, Sano has hit better of late and has had a little bit of bad luck in the BABIP department this season. If he can keep up his recent production, which I believe he definitely can, and hit in the .250 range, his power and run production will be an asset down the stretch.
Alex Verdugo, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
Isn’t it refreshing when a talented hitter received regular at-bats? Cough, Colorado Rockies, cough. Sorry about that, had something in my throat. After receiving inconsistent playing MLB playing time and mostly being stuck down at Triple-A, the Dodgers have finally given him a chance to play regularly this season. And as a shock to no one, Verdugo has performed well, hitting .297 with nine homers and four steals in 263 at-bats. With hit plus contact skills and rock-solid plate approach, Verdugo is a safe bet to continue hitting for a high batting average and has enough power and speed to maintain a 20/10 pace there. Verdugo is currently available in around half of fantasy leagues, which is a damn shame. This is a very good pure hitter that appears locked into regular at-bats in the Dodgers outfield, even when A.J. Pollock returns next weekend.
Freddy Galvis, 2B/SS, Toronto Blue Jays
I’m not sure if it’s a good thing that a player gets included in a waiver wire report twice in one season. Freddy Galvis made this report around a month and a half ago, before tailing off in May and early June. But you know he’s picked up the production again or he wouldn’t be in this article. I would do that to you all. Yes, Galvis has been on a tear over the last 28 days, hitting .347 with six doubles, six home runs, 19 RBI, and 16 runs scored.
This Toronto offense is starting to finally heat up, ranking 15th in runs scored last month and 2nd so far through four July games, and Galvis has been a big reason for that. For the season, he’s now on a 29/85 pace. Outside of that one aforementioned cold stretch, Galvis has been a solid fantasy contributor this season and needs to be owned in more leagues.
Danny Jansen, C, Toronto Blue Jays
Remember back in the winter/spring during draft season when Danny Jansen was a popular sleeper pick at the catcher position? Yours truly even predicted Jansen would be a top-10 fantasy catcher this season. Whoops. Yeah, that didn’t go too well. At the end of April, Jansen was sitting below the Mendoza line at .182 with a big fat goose egg in the home run column and followed that up by hitting .143 in May with two dingers.
At that point, nobody wanted Jansen anywhere near their fantasy team, including myself. However, all hope was not lost. Jansen had proven himself to be a good offensive catcher over the last couple years in the minors hitting .323 with 10 home runs in 2017 and .275 with 12 home runs last year. With his average contact skills, above-average raw power, and rock-solid plate approach, it was only a matter of time before Jansen showed us some glimmer of hope, which he is right now. Jansen is hitting .333 with four home runs over the last two weeks (33 AB) and has only struck out twice. If you need a catcher, which many fantasy owners often do, give Jansen a look.
Eric Sogard, 2B/SS, Toronto Blue Jays
This now makes FIVE Blue Jays hitters I’ve recommended over the last two Waiver Wire reports. That’s enough to make me question whether or not I was actually born in Canada or something. A quick fact check confirms I wasn’t, but it finally looks like this Toronto offense has some life, even if that doesn’t include Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Excuse me while I shed a tear. Sogard appears to be locked in as the Blue Jays main leadoff hitter and has quietly been putting together a solid all-around stat line this season with a .307 average, nine home runs, and six steals in 205 at-bats. Never thought Sogard would be on a 25/15 type of pace, did you? To be honest, neither did I, but here we are.
Both his hard contact and fly ball rates are up this season, which explains the uptick in home runs. And as long as Sogard is starting and leading off regularly, there’s some solid mixed-league appeal here as he can chip in across the board.
Miguel Rojas, SS, Miami Marlins
Meet Miguel Rojas. Who? Miguel Rojas, I said. The player that has settled in as the Miami Marlins leadoff hitter and is still available in over 90% of fantasy leagues. Show of hands, how many knew that Rojas has started nearly all of Miami’s games at shortstop this season? Gotta love the Miami Marlins and the utter lack of publicity this team gets. That’s what happens when you haven’t had a winning season in a decade and are on a 102-loss pace this season. But I digress.
Here’s what you need to know about Rojas. Firstly, his approach and bat to ball skills are solid. Those haven’t always led to high batting averages, but that’s mostly because Rojas has never had a hard contact rate above 26.8% until this season. Now that rate is up to a much more respectable 35.2% this season with a 14.0% soft contact rate. Much better. Rojas has also shown that he can use the entire field and doesn’t strike out often. The overall upside is limited, but if you need batting average and/or a shortstop in deeper leagues, Rojas fits the bill.
Nate Lowe, 1B, Tampa Bay Rays
Alright, I’ll admit that I’m not nearly as confident this time around about Nate Lowe sticking with the big club as I was back in May. At the moment, it looks like this stint is strictly due to Brandon Lowe and Ji-Man Choi going on the IL with Lowe ticketed back for Triple-A once those two are ready to return following the all-star break. So consider this more of a speculative “Let’s see what happens” pickup for mixed leagues if you have a spot for him. Lowe has been red-hot over the last month at Triple-A, hitting .340 with nine home runs in 97 at-bats over the last month. If he has a strong showing while Choi/B.Lowe are on the IL, Lowe could very well play his way into staying up with Tampa Bay. It’s not like Choi has been lighting the Majors on fire or anything either.
Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire – Pitchers
Dylan Cease, SP, Chicago White Sox
Dylan Cease was a guy I discussed yesterday in my Fantasy Baseball Prospect Report, in which I debated whether I would want him or Brendan McKay on my teams this season. While McKay was declared the winner of the debate, that doesn’t mean I don’t think Cease can be a serviceable fantasy arm the rest of the way. The overall arsenal has never been question. Cease has two plus-plus pitches right now in his fastball and curveball and has flashed above-average to plus potential with both his slider and changeup as well, just not consistently. What had gotten Cease in trouble at Triple-A this season was his command, leading to a bloated 1.57 WHIP.
While his command was off in his debut, fellow prospect writer Lance Brozdowski of Prospects Live spoke with Cease after his start and there’s some hope that things will improve moving forward. Here’s what Cease had to say to Lance after the game.
“I came in and I said to him, ‘My fastball is cutting, it looks like a wiffle ball,’ and I said what advice do you have for me,” Cease said. “[Giolito] basically said get my direction going towards the plate and I was able to do that and lock back in.”
For more on Cease’s start, check out Lance’s full write up on Prospects Live.
Having a guy like Giolito there to mentor you is huge for Cease right now. Giolito went through his own command issues before righting the ship this season and turning into the type of pitcher we all thought he could be back when he was arguably the top pitching prospect in the game. Cease’s upside and dynamite arsenal are definitely worth investing in for the remainder of the 2019 season. Even if he sits around a 4.00 ERA and 1.40 WHIP or so, that will be good enough to provide value to fantasy teams when you factor in his likely 10+ K/9.
Nathan Eovaldi, SP, Boston Red Sox
It might say SP next to Eovaldi’s name above, but once he returns to action in a couple of weeks, we’ll be able to add RP to that as well. Word came out of Beantown earlier this week that the Red Sox plan to use Nathan Eovaldi as their primary closer once activated from the IL. It’s about damn time. Sorry, that’s the diehard Red Sox fan in me poking out. Eovaldi has only pitched in relief eight times in his nine Major League seasons with half of those coming in his rookie year back in 2011 with the Dodgers.
Nasty backdoor cutter from Nathan Eovaldi to serve Cedric Mullins a backwards K. pic.twitter.com/5TjBabEpna
— Pitcher List (@PitcherList) September 25, 2018
This move makes so much sense when you think about it for a second. The Red Sox bullpen is terrible, Eovaldi has had issues staying healthy, and his pure stuff could be an absolute weapon in the 9th. As a starter, he’s averaged around 97 mph on his fastball, hitting triple-digits with regularity and will also throw an absolutely filthy cutter in the 91-94mph range as seen above. Those two pitches alone could allow him to flourish as a closer, so we’ll see how frequently his curve, slider, and splitter get used in the pen. Eovaldi combined to throw those three pitches 1/3 of the time this season. If Eovaldi is sitting on your league’s waiver wire, I’d highly recommend scooping him up quick.
Dinelson Lamet, SP, San Diego Padres
After a near two year absence, we can can finally have that welcome home party for Dinelson Lamet. The 26-year-old Dominican righty returned to the mound yesterday, tossing five innings of three-run ball, allowing three hits and two walks while striking out seven. All in all, a fairly solid return game and 2019 debut. One aspect that you know you’re going to get from Lamet is plenty of strikeouts. During his only Major league season in 2017, Lamet posted a 10.9 K/9 and had a 10.3 K/9 in 322.1 career minor league innings.
For Lamet to be a strong mixed league asset the rest of the season, his command/control will have to be there. That’s what got him in trouble back in 2017, allowing too many free passes and not locating his pitches in the zone. It’s a small sample size for sure, but Lamet had a 3.4 BB/9 during his minor league rehab stint this season and only walked four in his three Triple-A starts. If he can keep his command/control in check, there’s some intriguing upside here, making Lamet worth a look in mixed leagues. If he gets wild, you cut him and move on to the next arm. The potential reward outweighs the risk here.
Photo/Video Credit: Pitcher List, Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire, Lance Brozdowski.
Eric Cross is the lead MLB/Fantasy Baseball writer and MiLB prospect analyst for FantraxHQ and has been with the site since March 2017. In the past, he wrote for FantasyPros and FanSided. He is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) and a contributor in the best-selling Fantasy Baseball Black Book. For more from Eric, check out his author page and follow him on Twitter @EricCross04.
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