Throughout the course of a full season, the fantasy baseball waiver wire is going to have it’s ebbs and flows. Some weeks will have a lot of great options and other will be completely baron. That’s the nature of the beast. Luckily, this week is one of the better weeks so far this season for waiver wire pickups with a good mix of young talent, specialized pickups, and even a couple new closer which are always a hot commodity.
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Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire
Kolten Wong (2B – MIL)
It feels crazy to say, but I might want Kolten Wong right now in fantasy more than Keston Hiura. Bet nobody was thinking or saying that before the season started. Since returning from the lineup on April 23rd, nothing has gome wong for Wong. See what I did there? Wong returned with four straight multi-hit games and is hitting .480 (12/25) total since his return with two home runs, a steal, five RBI, and four runs scored. This has all come as Milwaukee’s primary leadoff hitter, which is very promising for his fantasy value moving forward.
This Brewers lineup has been struggling, but hitting leadoff is always a value booster and even more so once Christian Yelich returns and Hiura hopefully rights the ship. Wong has never been one to standout in any one area, but he can provide a bit of everything across the board for your fantasy team from the 2nd base position. Wong’s hot start has been backed up by a .301 xBA, strong contact skills, and his usual exceptional plate discipline. This won’t be a league winning addition, but Wong needs to be rostered right now.
Nico Hoerner (2B/3B/SS – CHC)
As I said with Wong above, adding Nico Hoerner won’t be a league winning addition, but he can help your team in multiple ways. Hoerner is far from flashy, but he’s displayed the ability to hit for a solid average, provide some speed, and has multi-positional eligibility in the infield which is always useful in our fantasy world. In limited minor league action (375 PA), Hoerner hit .297 with a .365 OBP and 9.6% strikeout rate. Unfortunately, Hoerner’s power/speed blend lags behind but he’s not a zero in either.
Honestly, Hoerner reminds me a bit of David Fletcher. Maybe not quite the same contact skills, but a tad more power and speed to make up for it. In fact, Hoerner has a 90th percentile sprint speed this season which is right in line with his 89th percentile sprint speed from 2019 and 93rd percentile last season. Over a full season, Hoerner possesses .280/10/15+ upside and makes for a nice fill in until some of your stars return from injury or wake up from their early-season slumber.
Tyler O’Neill (OF – STL)
As someone who has been a big Tyler O’Neill fan for a while dating back to his days as a prospect, I was excited for O’Neill to receive his shot at everyday at-bats this season following the Dexter Fowler trade. And while the start of the season was a bit rough, O’Neill has begun to heat up over the last several days. Since returning to the lineup on April 24th, O’Neill has six hits in 21 at-bats with three home runs. And even though his average currently sits at an even .200, O’Neill’s quality of contact metrics have been impressive thus far.
Even after an 0/4 performance last night, O’Neill still boasts a .664 xSLG and .606 xwOBACON along with a 94.2 average exit velocity, 55.2% hard-hit rate, and 90th percentile max exit velocity. There’s no questioning O’Neill’s massive raw power, but the AVG definitely needs to be questioned due to his contact metrics and 34.1% career strikeout rate. If you need a power boost right now and can stomach a lower AVG, O’Neill is your guy.
Andrew Vaughn (1B/OF – CHW)
This could blow up in my face thanks to Tony La Russa forgetting how to manage, but Andrew Vaughn is really beginning to find his footing in the Majors. No thanks to La Russa. After a 3/21 start, Vaughn has gone 9/22 pushing his average to .276 and his OBP to .385. He’s yet to hit his first big league homer yet, but it’s only a matter of time. Vaughn projects as a plus hitter with plus power and he’s been hitting the ball hard thus far with a 94 mph average exit velocity and 52% hard-hit rate.
With an OBP pushing .400 and no better options on the roster for everyday playing time, it should only be a matter of time before Vaughn is receiving everyday at-bats. Even La Russa can’t be this blind to young talent that is heating up. With full-time at-bats, Vaughn could flirt with top-150 value ROS.
Domingo German (SP – NYY)
Is Domingo German back? Well, if you looked strictly at his last two outings, that answer would be a resounding yes. German has posted back to back quality starts, allowing a combined two earned runs across 13 innings against Cleveland and Baltimore. Granted, these aren’t two star-studded offenses, but German has looked highly-impressive in each start, especialy in the Baltimore outing. German had all four of his pitches working, recording a CHW of 29% or higher with each offering and a 35% CSW overall. With Luis Severino and Clarke Schmidt sidelined and Deivi Garcia getting rocked last week, German should stick in the rotation as long as he pitches well and that hasn’t been a problem in these last two outings since rejoining the rotation.
Shane McClanahan (SP – TBR)
Another day, another Tampa Bay Rays pitching prospect doing well. It’s like they got rid of all the orange trees down there and replaced them with trees that produce good pitching prospects. After pitching in relief near the end opf 2020, Shane McClanahan got the call to make his first career start on Thursday and he looked very impressive against Oakland. In four innings, McClanahan allowed five hits and two earned runs with zero walks and five strikeouts. He was pumping upper-90’s heat with the four-seamer touching triple-digits at times with the insane life you see below.
Shane McClanahan, Unfair 101mph Fastball Movement. 😳 pic.twitter.com/QblvS2qcR0
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 29, 2021
Outside of the fastball, McClanahan mixed in an impressive slider and changup while flashing a sharp curveball, finishing with a 45% whiff rate and 41% CHW overall. McClanahan is a lively arm with bigtime strikeout upside. From the sounds of it, he could be up to stay as a normal starter and not just an opener. McClanahan needs to be rostered in all leagues 12 teams or deeper for his upside alone.
Josh Staumont (RP – KCR)
When Greg Holland returned from the IL, it was presumed that he would be the closer in Kansas City. Not so fast. Each of the last three save opportunties have gone to Josh Staumont and he’s done nothing to show that he doesn’t deserve to keep receiving these opportunities moving forward. On the season, Staumont has posted a 0.68 ERA and 0.60 WHIP through 13.1 innings. Oddly enough though, Staumont’s K rate sits at a pedestrian 24.5%, 8.5% lower than last season. An 11% drop in his whiff rate is tahe culprit for that as both his four-seamer and sinker have seen significant whiff rate decrease. But on the plus side, Staumont’s slider has been even more lethal this season. Even if the strikeout rate doesn’t return to 2020 levels, Staumont appears locked into the closer role in Kansas City.
Taylor Rogers (RP – MIN)
Not one, but two new closing options this week for all you save-needy fantasy managers out there. And who are we kidding, 90+% of us fall under that umbrella. Great, now I have that Rihanna song stuck in my head. Anyway. With Alex Colomé struggling mightily, Minnesota has moved him out of the closer role. That means plenty of save opportunities shifting over to Taylor Rogers who has been much more effective to start the 2021 season.
Through his first 9.1 innings, Rogers has yet to allow an earned run and has posted an 11/1 K/BB ratio. Rogers isn’t your typical closer, missing bats at a high clip (sub-25% whiff rate on both his sinker and slider), but he limits hard contact well, doesn’t walk many batters, and has opposing hitters pounding the ball into the ground at a 50% clip. Adding Rogers can give you a boost in saves along with helping out with your ratios.
Media Credit: Rob Friedman (Pitching Ninja), Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire
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