Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Fantasy Baseball Today: Waiver-wire hitters and pitchers, a new saves option, plus more from opening weekend

Happy Monday, fellow Fantasy Baseballers! Opening day was fun despite a few games getting postponed, but opening weekend was even better. My Mets got off to a strong start albeit against a team not expected to compete in 2022, but we’ll take the small wins when we can get them after the Jacob deGrom news (sorry for even bringing it back up). On a personal note, I have to say I’ve loved everything I’ve seen from my NL Rookie of The Year pick Seiya Suzuki from his confidence against Corbin Burnes in the opener to his weekend deep blast. 

With Week 1 in the books, it’s time to turn the page to Week 2 by looking back at which players are hot and cold, hitters and pitchers to target on your waiver wire, key injuries of note, a potential new source of saves and more. We’ll get to all of that and more below.

And of course, as always, you can follow to make sure you get the latest episodes of Fantasy Baseball Today right when they drop on Apple and Spotify

My No. 1 waiver wire pitcher target

Kyle Wright, SP, Braves

Not many (including us) touted Wright as a potential sleeper pick in anything but the deepest leagues, but he sure looked like an interesting 2022 option moving forward in his debut. Wright delivered six shutout innings in his debut and allowed just two hits and one walk while striking out six. He totaled a healthy 12 swinging strikes on just 76 pitches and saw his velocity go up on his sinker (1.2 MPH) and his curveball (3 MPH). 

Wright has altered his pitch mix as well. After using the curveball just 14% of the time in 2021, he used it 41% of the time in his debut. He is just 27% rostered and draws the Padres this week. So how much FAAB should you use to bid on him? Well, for reference, Frank bid $143 in 12-team Tout Wars and $122 in the 15-team main event.

Other waiver wire pitching targets

  • Merrill Kelly, SP, Diamondbacks: I get it. No one is rushing to scoop Arizona starters, but Kelly looked great in his debut with four shutout innings and seven strikeouts (12 swinging strikes in just 75 pitches). The talk of the spring was Kelly’s changeup, and seven of those swinging strikes were generated by that pitch — his usage and velocity is up on the changeup. Kelly draws the Mets this week and is currently 43% rostered in CBS leagues.
  • Kyle Gibson, SP, Phillies: Gibson was one of the most surprisingly dominant starters of opening weekend after he delivered a seven-inning shutout with 10 strikeouts, 16 swinging strikes on 82 pitches and just two combined hits and walks allowed (no walks). His cutter usage is up — and so far so good. He’s 60% rostered and draws the Marlins this week.
  • Zach Plesac, SP, Guardians: It would be like Plesac to bounce back just when (almost) everyone had finally jumped off the bandwagon. But Plesace looked good in his debut, going 5 2/3 of shutout ball with just three hits allowed. He did register just three strikeouts and eight swinging strikes on 70 pitches — and his fastball velocity was down — but the results were there. Plesac is 83% rostered and gets the Giants this week.
  • Brad Keller, SP, Royals: Keller got some buzz in the spring and delivered a six-inning shutout in his debut with five strikeouts on 69 pitches. The changeup usage was up. He’s just 16% rostered and more of a deep sleeper for Week 2 despite having the Tigers on tap. 
  • My sleeper pick — MacKenzie Gore, SP, Padres: The steady drumbeat has been building for Gore after a dominant spring and a really nice debut in the minors this season. This is a bit of speculation on my part, but with Blake Snell likely headed for an IL stint, scooping Gore now could pay off big long term if he gets his opportunity. Always think upside with those back-end bench slots. 

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My No. 1 waiver wire hitter target

Andrew Vaughn, 1B/OF, White Sox

Was I one year too early on Vaughn, who was among my most rostered players in 2021? It’s starting to look like it in the early going. Vaughn boasted Pete Alonso-esque potential but never actually hit the ground running as a rookie last season. So far in 2022, it’s been a completely different story. Most importantly, Vaughn started three games already (playing time was an issue last season) and has hit two home runs (one off a lefty, one off a righty). He’s just 49% rostered (six home games this week with two lefties on the schedule) and provides a nice upside play early in the waivers period.

Other waiver wire hitting targets

  • Steven Kwan, OF, Guardians: Kwan joined an elite crew by going 5 for 5 on Sunday and he’s now collected a hit on eight of his first 10 at bats to go along with zero strikeouts. He’s just 21% rostered,  but that’s about to change. 

  • Connor Joe, OF, Rockies: One of my favorite late-round targets of the offseason is playing in Colorado and producing already with a home run on Saturday followed by a stolen base on Sunday. A couple other reasons to get excited about Joe — he played in all three games on the weekend and even led off in Sunday’s matchup against Julio Urias. He’s 32% rostered.

  • Astros, SS, Jeremy Peña: After a hyped-up spring, Pena went 6 for 16 with a home run opening weekend. He’s 70% rostered.

A new source of saves?

Jake Diekman, RP, Red Sox

Matt Barnes (back) was unavailable this opening weekend and an IL stint is possible for last year’s Red Sox saves leader, and it’s possible Diekman is here to pick up the slack. Diekman shut down the Yankees for a save on Sunday and protected a one-run lead. What has me most excited about his potential moving forward is how strong he looked doing it. He got Aaron Judge to strike out on an 11-pitch at-bat before retiring both Giancarlo Stanton and Joey Gallo on strikeouts as well.

Who else is hot

Sean Manaea, SP, Padres: The obvious mid-to-late-round pitching target following his trade to a much better lineup in San Diego got things started off on the right foot in his new home with 7 no-hit innings.

Logan Gilbert, SP, Twins: I jumped right aboard the bandwagon after hearing of Gilbert working with Jacob deGrom this offseason and the top prospect looked awesome in his debut. He struck out seven in five innings with 14 swinging strikes. His slider was up 3 MPH and his curveball and changeup were both up 5MPH from last season. Giddy up! 

Carlos Carrasco, SP, Mets: Scott White was pushing hard for us not to overlook Carrasco this offseason after an injury essentially didn’t allow him to fully extend his arm when pitching in his Mets debut last year, and the veteran was awesome against the Nationals on Sunday. He went 5 2/3 allowing just one earned run, two hits and no walks.

Hunter Greene, SP, Reds: The Reds top prospect averaged 99.7 MPH on his fastball. That’s no typo. He also held his own against the Braves with seven strikeouts and 14 swinging strikes. He’s 79% rostered.79% rostered; start at LAD this week?

Alex Bregman, 3B, Astros: The bounce-back season is here for those of you wise enough to buy the recency bias discount! It’s either that or we’re overreacting early! Bregman had two homers this weekend.

Wander Franco, 3B/SS, Rays: The phenom had two three-hit games this weekend and also stole a base Sunday. An addition of speed would be a welcome sight to his batting profile.

Luis Robert, OF, White Sox: If anyone is going to be this year’s Vlad, I said it was going to be Robert. He hasn’t disappointed so far with five hits and two steals on the weekend.

Byron Buxton, OF, Twins: Chris Towers favorite Byron Buxton is healthy and ripping the baseball again. He had a double dong Sunday and now leads the league with three homers.

More news and notes

  • White Sox SP Lucas Giolito exited his start Friday with a low abdominal strain. He’s expected to land on the IL and miss two starts. 
  • Padres SP Blake Snell was scratched from Sunday’s start with left adductor tightness and is likely headed to the IL.
  • Rays SP Ryan Yarbrough will be placed on the IL with a groin injury of his own
  • Mets SS Francisco Lindor was hit in the face with a pitch Friday. X-rays were negative and he seems to be fine. He hit a home run and stole a base Sunday.
  • White Sox OF AJ Pollock suffered a hamstring strain Saturday and was out of the lineup Sunday. Pollock said he thinks it’s just a short-term injury but hamstrings are tricky.
  • Padres SS CJ Abrams has started two games against RHP and has sat both games against LHP.
  • Red Sox RP Matt Barnes was unavailable this weekend dealing with back tightness.
  • Rangers SP Jon Gray was placed on the IL Saturday with a blister. 
  • The Giants called up outfield prospect OF Heliot Ramos on Sunday. He hit sixth and went 2-3 with a run scored and is just 12% rostered.
  • Cubs OF Ian Happ left Saturday’s game after getting hit by a pitch on his knee. He was not in the lineup Sunday.
  • Pirates 3B Ke’Bryan Hayes was back in the lineup Saturday and Sunday after leaving opening day with a thumb injury. He had multiple hits both days.
  • Reds RP Lucas Sims will begin a rehab assignment this week. He could ultimately settle in as the top saves option for the Reds and is worth stashing in deeper leagues.
  • Guardians OF Myles Straw signed a five-year, $25 million extension with the Cleveland Guardians.
  • Pirates pitching prospect Roansy Contreras was recalled Friday. He’s expected to pitch out of the bullpen while he gets stretched out. He’s 14% rostered.

Lineup notes

  • Angels OF Jo Adell has started just two of the Angels four games (once against a lefty and once against a righty). He sat against Justin Verlander and Jake Odorizzi. Angels skipper Joe Maddon explained that prior to injury, Taylor Ward was slated to be the team’s starting right fielder with Brandon Marsh and Jo Adell platooning in left field.
  • Nationals OF Lane Thomas has started just two of the Nationals four games. All were against RHP.
  • Each of Gleyber Torres, DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Hicks has sat once for the Yankees.
  • Marlins 2B Jazz Chisholm hit eighth and ninth in his two starts this weekend. He didn’t play against a tough lefty in Carlos Rodon on Saturday. His career numbers against righties and lefties are nearly identical. 

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