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Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Cruising Cubbies

Another week, another Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire report here on FantraxHQ. Regardless of what style league you play in and what point of the season it is, we should always be looking to improve our fantasy teams. Whether you’re looking to catch the next red hot breakout, find an injury replacement, or improve in a specific statistical category, the waiver wire can help you accomplish all of those. This week’s report is loaded with Cubs, a couple of backstops, and some young arms.

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire

Frank Schwindel (1B – CHC)

He’s back! That’s right, the loveable Cubs’ first baseman with the infectious smile is back to performing at a level worth rostering in all 12+ team leagues. Schwindel burst onto the scene last season as one of the most productive hitters in the 2nd half of the season but was off to a cold start to the 2022 season which even saw him briefly get demoted to Triple-A (for like two hours). At the time of that demotion on May 8th, Schwindel was slashing .209/.250/.308 and it dipped to a season-low .200/.240/.295 after his game on May 10th. But from May 11th on, Schwindel has been a completely different hitter.

In that timeframe, Schwindel is slashing .281/.337/.528 with five homers, 18 RBI, and 13 runs scored along with a .247 ISO, .372 wOBA, and 15.3% strikeout rate. Now this is the Schwindel we expected to see this season. He doesn’t have the most impressive quality of contact metrics, but Schwindel has proven that he can hit for a good AVG with solid power and run production worthy of a corner infield or utility spot in 12+ team mixed leagues. He’s settled back into the middle of a Cubs lineup that ranks 5th in wOBA over the last 14 days.

Alejandro Kirk (C – TOR)

The big question for most of the season north of the border has been if there was enough PA for two Toronto catchers to have fantasy relevance. As we enter June, that answer appears to be yes. The duo of Kirk and Jansen have split the catching duties since Jansen’s return to the lineup and Kirk has also picked up some time at DH as well. Over the last month, Kirk is slashing a robust, .343/.413/.571 in 80 plate appearances with three homers, 11 RBI, and 15 runs scored.

On top of that, Kirk has more walks than strikeouts in that span and for the season as well. Overall, Kirk is hitting .301 with a .379 OBP, 89.2% zone contact rate, and 9.2% strikeout rate. This is the profile Kirk showed in the minor leagues, so I’m confident in him maintaining a level around this moving forward. He’s going to be good for a high AVG/OBP, low strikeouts, and solid power/run production. What else could you ask for from a catcher for fantasy purposes?

Danny Jansen (C – TOR)

This has to be a first. There have been a couple of times when I recommended two catchers in the same waiver wire article, but NEVER two catchers in the same article from the same team. But hey, it’s certainly warranted this week. Since returning from an oblique injury on May 14th, Jansen has swatted five homers with 10 RBI in just 46 plate appearances and is slashing .260/.315/.700 for the season. It’s certainly a small sample size, but Jansen has a ridiculous 24.4% barrel rate this season with a 46.3% hard-hit rate while trimming his whiff and strikeout rates considerably. Even as his barrel rate comes back to Earth, Jansen’s ability to hit for power with a solid average makes him worthy of rostering in single-catcher, 12+ team mixed leagues right now.

Tyrone Taylor (OF – MIL)

With Hunter Renfroe on the IL with a hamstring strain since the middle of May, Tyrone Taylor has received everyday playing time and has really flourished. Over the last 14 days, Taylor has slashed .275/.321/.588 with four homers and 14 RBI with a .314 ISO, .385 wOBA, and only a 14.3% strikeout rate. Taylor has been starting mostly in right field since Renfroe’s injury but has played plenty in center and some in left this season as well. Even with Renfroe due back in the coming week, it will likely be others that lose playing time and not Taylor. Andrew McCutchen is the most likely candidate for reduced playing time as the former MVP has struggled mightily this season and has been limited to DH duties due to his decreased range and defensive abilities.

Christopher Morel (2B/3B/OF – CHC)

Who would’ve thought before the season that Christopher Morel would be a hot waiver wire add and batting leadoff for the Cubs in the beginning of June? With Chicago battling some injuries, they called Morel up straight from Double-A where he has a .306/.380/.565 slash line and he hasn’t missed a beat in the Majors thus far. Through Morel’s first 77 plate appearances with Chicago, he’s cranked two home runs and stole six bases with a respectable .262/.364/.446 slash line. Morel’s flexibility has been huge for Chicago as well who has started him at 2nd base, 3rd base, shortstop, and in center field thus far.

Morel has always shown a solid power/speed blend in the minors and that has shown up with a 12.5% barrel rate, 43.8% hard-hit rate, and a 93rd percentile sprint speed. His power/speed blend, great lineup spot, and multi-positional eligibility make Morel a desirable target in all 12+ team mixed leagues and maybe even some deeper 10-team leagues as well.

Riley Greene (OF – DET)

If it wasn’t for a broken foot in March, Riley Greene would’ve made Detroit’s opening day roster with Spencer Torkelson and would be about 150 plate appearances into his Major League career. Instead, we’re still waiting on his debut, but fortunately, that shouldn’t be far off. Greene returned to action a week ago and has slashed .318/.400/.500 with one home and one steal in his six games, four in Lo-A and two in Triple-A.

Greene is coming off a standout performance in 2021 where he slashed .301/.387/.534 with 24 homers and 16 steals, and projects as a .280/25/15 offensive threat longterm. It’s not like he’s blocked either as Detroit has mostly been starting Willi Castro, Daz Cameron, and Harold Castro in their outfield. Greene should be up within the next couple of weeks, so now is the time to stash him if you have the spot.

Zach Eflin (SP – PHI)

After missing around two weeks with COVID earlier in May, Zach Eflin has pitched effectively in his four starts back. One of those four starts was a 6 IP/7 ER clunker, but his other three starts have all been quality starts including eight shutout innings on Friday against the Angels. Another start was a 7 IP, 2 ER, 12 K gem against the loaded Dodgers on May 22nd. Overall, Eflin has quietly put together a solid season with a 3.88 ERA in nine starts with ERA indicators all lower than that including a 2.53 xERA and 3.05 FIP.

Eflin has done an incredible job limiting barrels and hard contact this season with a 4.6% barrel rate, 28.9% hard-hit rate, and 84.5 mph AVG EV allowed, all of which rank in the top-18% in the league. His strikeout rate remains a tad underwhelming at 21.6%, but Eflin also has a low 4.8% walk rate and I believe there’s more strikeout ability if he throws his curveball more. That’s been huge for Eflin this season as he’s really revamped his arsenal.

Eflin has increased his curveball and cutter usage while nearly ditching his ineffective slider from last season. The cutter hasn’t been great, but Eflin’s curveball certainly has. If he continues to increase his curve usage, we could see Eflin’s whiff and strikeout rates tick up a bit.

Caleb Kilian (SP – CHC)

While the Cubs offense has picked it up lately, their pitching continues to struggle. For the season, the Cubs rank 24th in ERA and have a 5.40 ERA over the last 15 days entering their double-header on Saturday. So, naturally, when your pitching staff is struggling like this and you have one of your top pitching prospects excelling in Triple-A, you give them the call to try and stop the bleeding. Caleb Kilian broke out in 2021 and carried that momentum over into 2022 with a 2.06 ERA in nine Triple-A starts.

Kilian mixes a solid four-pitch arsenal headlined by a mid-90’s fastball and big curveball and has demonstrated plus or better command and control as a professional. The upside might not be massive here, but Kilian has all the makings of a solid mid-rotation starter at the Major League level that can provide decent ratios and strikeouts. If he pitches well in his debut, Kilian should stick with the Cubs moving forward.

Edward Cabrera (SP – MIA)

Miami Marlins fans and fantasy managers alike have been clamoring for one of Edward Cabrera or Max Meyer to get the call for weeks. And with Meyer struggling and now hurt, Cabrera won that battle, making his 2022 season debut on Wednesday in Colorado against the Rockies. Cabrera fired six shutout innings allowing one hit and four walks with nine strikeouts. he also posted an impressive 47% whiff rate and 43% CSW in this outing including a whiff and CSW above 40% on his four-seamer, curveball, and changeup.

Throughout his professional career, Cabrera has displayed an impressive arsenal with #2 starter upside but the control has been a slight concern and popped up in this debut with four walks. Since the beginning of the 2021 season, Cabrera has posted a combined 12.2% walk rate in 115.1 combined innings between the minors and Majors. That’s also come with a stellar 32.8% strikeout rate though, which shows how good Cabrera can be when he’s on. For 2022, the ratios might now be spectacular, but they could be solid enough with a strikeout rate in the 27-30% range which makes Cabrera an attractive mixed league target moving forward.

Media Credit: MLB Pipeline, Baseball Savant, Chicago Cubs

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