This week’s report is a smorgasbord of intriguing waiver wire targets. First off, it’s Shane Bieber time! Are you excited? If you’re not, you should be. I’ll tell you more as to why below. I could probably (definitely) write this article entirely about the greatness of the Beebs, but that would totally defeat the purpose of a waiver wire report. You come here looking for more than just me drooling about one player.
Well, you’re in luck. Outside of Bieber, I have a leadoff hitter for you with an OPS over 1.000, a new starting catcher with an OPS over .900, and the latest set-up man turned closer. Do those pique your interest more? Yes? Okay, let’s dive right in then.
Waiver Wire Targets: Pitchers
Shane Bieber (SP – CLE)
Ownership: Fantrax 37%, Yahoo 29%, ESPN N/A%
Don’t stop, Beliebin. Hold on to that pitcher. If you didn’t sing those last two sentences in a Steve Perry, I’m highly disappointed in you. Just kidding. But if Bieber is still hanging out on your waiver wire and you break your keyboard or cell phone screen to add him as quickly as possible, then I’ll really be disappointed in you. Why? Because Bieber is the real deal. Just look at his 1.10 ERA, 0.70 WHIP, and 0.4 BB/9 if you don’t believe me.
Now, when I say the “real deal,” let’s put it into context. Is he the next Max Scherzer or Corey Kluber? No, he’s not. But does Bieber have what it takes to be a fantasy asset moving forward? Abso-freakin-lutely. Bieber was cruising through his first four innings last night before surrendering two runs in both the fifth and sixth innings. Overall, he ended the night allowing four runs on eight hits and one walk while striking out six in 5.2 innings of work. Wait, Bieber walked a guy? Pinch me, I must be dreaming.
Bieber has the type of control that young pitchers dream about. Out of all active major league pitchers, Kluber leads with a career 1.94 BB/9. Bieber sees that 1.94 mark and laughs at it as his BB/9 currently sits at 0.5 through his first 46 minor league starts. Don’t expect any elite strikeout numbers here, but Bieber should be an asset in both ratios thanks to his insane control and ability to mix pitches well. Once again, make sure he’s not still sitting on your league’s waiver wire.
And if you’re worried about him not sticking in the rotation past this start, remember that Cleveland demoted Adam Plutko earlier this week. Bieber has earned at least another start or two with the Indians, and likely more.
Dennis Santana (SP – LAD)
Ownership: Fantrax 16%, Yahoo 2%, ESPN 2%
With most of the attention on Bieber, Dennis Santana’s promotion happened without much fanfare. However, those who sleep on Santana could end up regretting it. To the surprise of no one, the Dodgers have multiple starting pitchers on the DL which has cleared a path for Santana to carve out some solid fantasy value over the next month or so.
Across 10 combined starts in Double-A and Triple-A, Santana had a 2.54 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 2.9 BB/9, and 11.8 K/9. He’s always had the pure stuff, but now that his control problems of the past are firmly behind him, Santana has really flourished this season. He combines a mid-90s fastball with plenty of arm-side run and sink with a plus-slider he uses to rack up the strikeouts. With a start probable on Saturday, now is the time to pounce on Santana in all leagues.
Ross Stripling (SP – LAD)
Ownership: Fantrax 70%, Yahoo 65%, ESPN 61%
Speaking of new faces in the Dodgers rotation, here’s another one worth adding. This one isn’t a shiny new prospect like Santana, but a 28-year-old veteran with numbers worthy of a much higher ownership rate. Stripling has posted a 1.68 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 2.0 BB/9, and 11.0 K/9 through his first six starts and 11 relief appearances. Furthermore, he’s allowed only four combined earned runs in his last five starts while punching out at least nine in three straight.
If you’ve been holding off on adding him due to the possibility of him moving back to a bullpen role once everyone is healthy, I urge you to throw those concerns to the side. Yes, they’re valid, but let’s cross that bridge once we come to it. For now, Stripling needs to be owned in all fantasy leagues.
Kyle Barraclough (RP – MIA)
Ownership: Fantrax %, Yahoo 39%, ESPN 10%
It’s about damn time, Miami. Ziegler hasn’t been good for two years now. After finishing with a 4.79 ERA and 1.55 WHIP in 2017, Ziegler decided to get even worse this season with a 7.83 ERA and 1.74 WHIP thus far. Oh yeah, his strikeout rate hasn’t been above six since 2016 either.
Alright, enough about Ziegler. Let’s talk about why Kyle Barraclough should be on more fantasy rosters. First off, he has the stuff to succeed in the role. Barraclough features a 93-96 mph fastball and pairs that with a wipeout slider and a developing change up that he’s using more frequently this season. That arsenal has helped him record a K/9 north of 10 in each of his four major league seasons. On top of that, Barraclough has never has an ERA above three and sits at a solid 2.69 for his career. Control has been, and likely will continue to be, an issue for him (career 5.5 BB/9), but it’s not like he’s the first closer to have a high walk rate.
With Marlins skipper Don Mattingly confirming last night that Barraclough will be the team’s closer moving forward, he needs to be owned in all leagues.
Waiver Wire Targets: Hitters
Brandon Nimmo (OF – NYM)
Ownership: Fantrax 57%, Yahoo 37%, ESPN 39%
Here’s a fun fact for you; Brandon Nimmo currently has an OPS of 1.004. Never would’ve thought that, would you? Players like Nimmo often fly under the radar because they don’t excel in any one area. Nimmo will likely never swat 30-plus homers or steal 30-plus bases in a season, but he does a lot of things well that add up to some solid fantasy value.
Through 115 at-bats this season, Nimmo is slashing .287/.431/.574/1.004 with seven doubles, four triples, six home runs, five steals, and 25 runs scored. Just your average, all-American, solid fantasy line. Nimmo is hitting more fly balls, fewer ground balls, and making more hard contact. His fly ball and hard contact rates have risen 14.8% and 7.2% respectively from last year while his ground ball rate has dropped 12.4%.
Nimmo’s across the board contributions have firmly entrenched him as a top-50 fantasy hitter over the last month. The Mets have made him their everyday leadoff hitter/left fielder and that doesn’t appear to be changing any time soon. A big reason for that trust from the Mets is that Nimmo is getting on base 43% of the time and has shown a strong plate approach all season long. With his production being high and lineup spot secure, there’s no reason why Nimmo should be unowned in over 40% of Fantrax leagues and over 60% of Yahoo leagues.
Max Stassi (C – HOU)
Ownership: Fantrax 5%, Yahoo 13%, ESPN 7%
Unhappy with your current fantasy catcher? Sure you are. Who isn’t? Outside of a few catchers, the position is the equivalent of a baron wasteland. So, chances are, you’re willing to get a boost anywhere you can get it. Well, let me introduce you to Max Stassi, the new Houston Astros starting backstop. Playing time opened up behind the plate for Stassi with Brian McCann going on the DL with knee issues. McCann got a shot in his knee and had it drained to try to relieve some discomfort. He was only placed on the 10-day DL, but it sounds like he’ll be out longer than that.
Enter Stassi and his .929 OPS. A big reason for his success so far is a jump in his hard contact and BABIP. While the high BABIP signals that some batting average regression could be coming, the power is for real. Stassi already has eight doubles and five home runs in just 89 at-bats so far this season. If your current catcher is making you pull your hair out, give Stassi a chance while McCann is out.
Max Muncy (1B/3B – LAD)
Ownership: Fantrax 23%, Yahoo 7%, ESPN 4%
Since someone in Los Angeles thought that putting a first baseman in center field was a smart idea, first base is Muncy’s for the taking moving forward. Muncy has started the last four games at first and nine of the last 14 overall. He’s performed quite well in this two-week span, too, hitting .263 with four homers, nine RBI, and six runs scored.
Al Melchior went into Muncy’s recent performance the other day:
“Only four hitters who have made at least 75 plate appearances this season have hit high drives at a rate of 24 percent or higher. The top three are J.D. Martinez, Joey Gallo and Mookie Betts. Muncy is No. 4.”
That’s some damn fine company to be in when you’re talking about hitting the ball hard in the air. Muncy looks to be locked into regular playing time moving forward and could even see some time at second base if Logan Forsythe continues to flirt with the Mendoza line.
Yairo Muñoz (SS – STL)
Ownership: Fantrax 8%, Yahoo 4%, ESPN 2%
This one is for you deep league fantasy owners playing in leagues of 14-plus teams. The Cardinals can’t seem to figure out their outfield or rotation, but at least they’re giving Yairo Muñoz a chance at regular playing time over the past couple weeks. Muñoz is making the most of it too, slashing .314/.364/.471/.834 with two homers, 10 RBI, six runs, and a steal in 51 at-bats.
While he’s been mostly an unheralded prospect, Muñoz has shown a moderate power/speed profile, averaging 14 homers and 22 steals per every 600 at-bats in the minors. With Paul DeJong expected to miss up to two months following hand surgery last week, Muñoz makes for a solid addition if you need a short stop or middle infield depth in general.
Have a question about a player who wasn’t covered here? Ask below or find me on Twitter. Check back next Friday for more waiver wire recommendations.