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Waiver Wire Report: 99 Problems But a Mitch Ain’t One

The theme for this week’s waiver wire report is “not sexy.” If you’re looking for a pole and some Def Leppard music, move along. There will be no pouring of sugar this week. Splenda maybe, but not sugar.

Unfortunately, not every week has stud prospects and hot waiver wire adds. There are only so many Walker Buehlers and Mike Sorokas to go around. It would be nice if those type of players were available every week, but that would be unrealistic and turn us into spoiled brats. Even without the high profile names, this week’s waiver wire still brings us some sneaky good targets across the board. You’ll just have to dig a little deeper in some cases.

Waiver Wire Report: Pitchers

Caleb Smith (SP – MIA)   

Ownership: Fantrax 65%, Yahoo 46%, ESPN 37%        

With Smith, you come for the strikeouts and hopefully some solid ratios will follow suit. The 26-year-old southpaw is enjoying a breakout season with the Marlins without much buzz. Why is he flying so under the radar? Because it’s the Marlins. But if he keeps pitching this well, even playing for the Marlins won’t keep him from finding his way onto many more fantasy squads.

Like I mentioned, the strikeouts are Smith’s bread and butter so far in 2018. Though his first seven starts, Smith has recorded a 12.58 K/9, which would rank fourth in the majors if he had enough innings pitched to qualify. A 3.67 ERA and 1.17 WHIP are nothing to scoff at, either. Smith has simplified his approach on the hill, focusing mostly on his 92-94 mph fastball and an improved low-80s slider which he has thrown 29.6% of the time this season, up from 21.7% last year.

The strikeout rate likely won’t remain this high, but even with some regression there, Smith still can be a fantasy asset as long as he keeps his ratios low.

Tyler Clippard (RP – TOR)

Ownership: Fantrax 37%, Yahoo 49%, ESPN 11%

Things aren’t looking good in Toronto for all-star closer, Roberto Osuna. The 23-year-old was charged with assault on Tuesday which puts his status for the rest of the 2018 season in doubt. Regardless of how the legal situation plays out, the Blue Jays are going to need to find a new closer for the foreseeable future. With several arms pitching well in the pen, it was uncertain which of them would get the bulk of the save opportunities with Osuna out. That question was answered Wednesday when Tyler Clippard nailed down the save in a 5-2 win over Seattle. Clippard pitched a scoreless inning, allowing one hit and striking out two.

Clippard isn’t your typical flame-throwing closer but still racks up plenty of strikeouts with a low-90s fastball and three solid secondary offerings. In each of the last three seasons, Clippard had a K/9 north of 10, and it sits at 9.9 for his career. He’s by no means a lock to keep the job for the duration of Osuna’s absence, but his current performance and past pedigree should give him the most save opportunities out of all the pitchers in Toronto’s pen.

Waiver Wire Report: Hitters

Mitch Moreland (1B – BOS)

Ownership: Fantrax 41%, Yahoo 30%, ESPN 16%

Welcome back to fantasy relevance Mitchy Two-Bags. In his limited playing time this season, Moreland has hit at a very high level with six home runs, seven doubles, 19 RBI, and a .342/.407/.671/1.078 slash line across 76 at-bats. I can see why some fantasy owners would be skeptical of Moreland’s hot stretch. I mean, it seems like the man has one of these stretches every season before crashing back down into fantasy obscurity.

While hitting at his level is unsustainable, there’s a chance Moreland could hold some decent fantasy value moving forward. Why? Because Jackie Bradley can’t hit his own weight right now. Seriously, Bradley is listed at 200 pounds and sports a .173 average. If he keeps struggling like this at the plate, even his elite glove won’t keep him in the lineup. That means Mookie Betts slides over to center, J.D Martinez in right, and Moreland getting starts at DH or at first with Hanley Ramirez DHing. As long as he’s playing regularly and hitting this well, Moreland needs to be owned in standard leagues.

Brandon Crawford (SS – SF)

Ownership: Fantrax 51%, Yahoo 13%, ESPN 13%

When it comes to fantasy shortstops there’s not much excitement surrounding Brandon Crawford. But you know what? Sometimes it’s OK to settle for the plain, reliable four-door sedan when you’re in a pinch and need a shortstop. That’s exactly what Crawford is these days. He’s hit for at least 12 home runs and 77 RBI in each of the last three seasons while hitting a respectable .262 in that span. Crawford won’t win you any street races but he’ll damn sure get you from home to work every day and even over to the grocery store.

After a slow start to the season, Crawford has turned it on of late, hitting .327 with two homers and nine RBI over the last two weeks. On top of that, Crawford was moved to 2nd in the batting order last night after hitting mostly 6th or 7th this season. Don’t let his lack of a high upside scare you off. If you need a shortstop to fill in for guys like Corey Seager or Elvis Andrus, Crawford is worth a look.

Dustin Fowler (OF – OAK)

Ownership: Fantrax 46%, Yahoo 7%, ESPN 5%

It’s been a long road back to the majors for Dustin Fowler. During his major league debut last season on June 29, Fowler suffered a ruptured patella tendon in his knee after crashing into a wall in foul territory down the right field line. Fowler subsequently missed the remainder of the 2017 season, but the Athletics coveted him enough to acquire him as part of a return for Sonny Gray last July.

While at Triple-A Nashville this season, Fowler showed exactly why Oakland wanted him from the Yankees. In 126 at-bats, Fowler slashed .310/.333/.484/.817 with seven doubles, three triples, three home runs, and eight steals in 10 attempts. The Oakland lineup needed a jolt and Fowler should be able to provide just that. His plus hit tool and above-average speed should give him decent fantasy value right away and he has enough pop to produce double-digit home runs the rest of the way. Give him a long look if he’s still floating around your waiver wire.

Alex Gordon (OF – KC)

Ownership: Fantrax 26%, Yahoo 11%, ESPN 9%

There’s not much to cheer about in Kansas City these days, but don’t tell Alex Gordon that. Since coming off the disabled list, Gordon has been scorching hot with a .333 average, three home runs, and eight RBI in 63 at-bats. A big reason for the hot start is an 11.1% rise in his hard contact rate from 29.3% in 2017 to 40.3% so far this season.

I know, this is far from a sexy pick. Gordon hasn’t topped 20 home runs since 2013 or 50 RBI since 2014. On top of that, he’s hit .220 and .208 the last two seasons. He’s not likely going to be a waiver wire gem this season, but as long as Gordon is hitting the ball hard like this, he’s worth a look in deeper leagues or AL-Only formats.

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.

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