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Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: A Pair of Contrerases

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 is one of my favorite reports of the season to date with plenty of bats that are heating up and a trio of intriguing starters.

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire

William Contreras (C – ATL)

One of my favorite types of hitters for fantasy purposes are the catchers that play enough behind the plate to retain eligibility but also play elsewhere as well. That’s what we have recently with William Contreras. The younger brother of Willson has been heating up with hits in five straight games (seven total) and three homers, three walks, and five runs scored as well. He’s been serving as Travis d’Arnaud’s backup behind the plate, but Contreras also will receive time at DH and even got a start in left field recently as well. This signals that Atlanta is working to keep his bat in the lineup as much as possible, and you can’t blame them with how well Contreras has hit this season.

Overall, Contreras has posted a phenomenal .273/.373/.773 slash line with seven home runs in 51 plate appearances. The quality of contact metrics have been impressive as well, especially his 23.3% barrel rate. Obviously, Contreras isn’t going to maintain this level of production but he’s finally showing the power stroke and was a .281 hitter in the minors with a solid approach. He’s been the 6th most valuable catcher so far this season according to the Razzball player rater and I can easily see him finishing as a top-10 backstop at season’s end.

Enrique Hernandez (2B/OF – BOS)

It’s been an interesting year for the Boston Red Sox offense. The big three of Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, and JD Martinez have hit extremely well, but the rest of the lineup for the most part had struggled, including Enrique Hernandez. But over the last week or two, Hernandez, Trevor Story, and the Red Sox lineup have come alive. With a first inning home run last night, his 2nd in three games, Hernandez now has a six-game hitting streak with hits in 12 of his last 13 games. During the six-game hitting streak, Hernandez has racked up six runs, nine hits, and four RBI with that pair of home runs.

Manager Alex Cora has continued to show confidence in Hernandez as his leadoff hitter which is a beautiful place to be in front of Devers, Bogaerts, Martinez, and the red hot Story. Hernandez can provide plenty of runs with some solid power and an AVG that won’t kill you with dual eligibility as well.

Christian Walker (1B – ARI)

Sometimes, a waiver wire pickup is designed to give you a boost in a specific category like home runs or pitcher strikeouts. That’s the case here with Christian Walker. While he’s only hitting .204 with a .298 OBP, Walker is now up to 12 home runs on the season with a .274 ISO, 21 RBI, and 23 runs scored. There’s been an element of unluckiness for Walker this season as well as he’s currently running a .182 BABIP with impressive quality of contact metrics. Walker currently has a 16.4% barrel rate, 45.1% hard-hit rate, and has improved both his walk and strikeout rate from last season. If you’re looking for a power boost, adding the man who is tied for the National League lead in home runs is a good place to start, and Walker’s AVG is bound for some positive regression as well.

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire

Kole Calhoun (OF – TEX)

It’s a good week if you need to improve your team’s power. In addition to Walker above, Calhoun has been on a power surge in the month of May, cranking seven homers in 79 plate appearances with a .338/.392/.704 slash line. This coming after a rough April where he laid a goose egg in the home run column in 57 plate appearances and hit under the Mendoza line. Seeing these types of power outbursts aren’t uncommon for Calhoun. Back in 2019 and the shortened 2020 season, he hit 33 and 16 home runs respectively with his combined 49 ranking 13th in baseball for those two seasons combined. Calhoun isn’t going to provide much outside of power and some solid run production, but he’s worth adding right now in 12+ team leagues while he’s this hot.

Josh Rojas (2B/3B/SS/OF – ARI)

While he’s been limited to 59 plate appearances this season, Josh Rojas has been extremely valuable when he’s been in the field. He’s already racked up three home runs and three steals with seven RBI, 10 runs scored, and a .286/.390/.469 slash line. Rojas has also improved his walk and strikeout rates from last season to 15.3% and 18.6% respectively. Obviously, Rojas isn’t going to pace at more than 30/30 for the entire season, but he’s shown a 15/10 level of power/speed blend before and his eligibility at four different positions is highly beneficial, especially for a team dealing with injuries right now.

Aaron Ashby (SP/RP – MIL)

While he’s bounced back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen, it appears that Aaron Ashby is going to stick in the rotation moving forward as Freddy Peralta is set to miss significant time. It’s not very often that you can go pick up an arm at this point in the season that possesses top-25 upside ROS. I’m not necessarily saying that he’ll pitch at that level, but we’ve seen glimpses of how good Ashby can be.

In 34 innings this season (4 starts, 6 relief), Ashby has posted a 2.91 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, and a 26.4% strikeout rate. But the problem has been his 13.5% walk rate which has played a part in that higher WHIP. However, Ashby is still keeping the ball on the ground over 60% of the time thanks to that sinker and has limited barrels and hard contact well this season while maintaining impressive whiff and chase metrics. He needs to be rostered in all 12-team leagues or deeper, and even some deeper 10-teamers, now that he’s going to be starting regularly while Peralta is sidelined.

Roansy Contreras (SP/RP – PIT)

Finally, the Bryse Wilson experiment is over and Roansy Contreras takes his rightful spot in the rotation. Since being acquired from the Yankees two years ago, Contreras has developed into a top-100 overall prospect and one of the 15 best pitching prospects in the game. In 2021, he recorded a stellar 2.64 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, and 35% strikeout rate with a tidy 5.6% walk rate in 58 innings across three levels. Contreras was off to another solid start in Triple-A this season as well outside of his walk rate spiking to 13.3% which isn’t a concern moving forward given the control he’s shown throughout his professional career.

Contreras works primarily with a four-seam/slider/curveball mix and that slider is already proving to be one of the best in baseball. In his brief time with Pittsburgh over the last two seasons, Contreras’ slider has had a whiff rate above 50% each season and sat at 50% on the dot in his first start of the season earlier this week. Oh yeah, he tossed five shutout innings with five strikeouts in that outing. Contreras has top-50 SP upside ROS and needs to be rostered in all 12 team leagues or deeper right now.

Jeffrey Springs (SP/RP – TBR)

I guess the theme of the week for pitchers here are starters that you can also plug into your RP spot. Jeffrey Springs has quietly been a highly-productive arm for the Tampa Bay Rays this season while being used both as a reliever and now as a starter for his last three appearances. In his four total starts this season, Springs has combined for 17 innings, 11 hits, four earned runs, four walks, and 16 strikeouts. He even got up to five innings in his last start which is encouraging. Springs uses a three-pitch mix (FF/SL/CH) with all three having a BAA under .225, SLG under .280, and a wOBA under .285 so far this season. He’s able to miss bats at a high clip with his changeup too, posting a 42.9% whiff rate this season and 48.2% last season.

Media Credit: Braves, Rob Friedman, Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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