Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Fantasy Baseball Weekend Preview: George Kirby’s second start, waiver-wire targets, closers, injury updates

Fantasy Baseball Weekend Preview: George Kirby's second start, waiver-wire targets, closers, injury updates

Looking ahead at three days of baseball that should be action packed

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Scott White has you covered with everything you need to know for Week 7 of the Fantasy Baseball season with his two-start pitcher rankings and top sleeper hitters and pitchers, but before we get there we have a whole weekend’s worth of games to get through. We’ll have reactions to the weekend’s action in Monday’s waiver-wire recap, but what we’re going to do every Friday this season is preview the upcoming weekend with waiver-wire pitchers and hitters to keep an eye on and pounce on if they perform well, players on the cut watch list, closer situations to watch, plus some updates on injuries heading into the weekend. 

Here’s what you need to know for this weekend’s games:

Waiver-wire starting pitchers to watch

If there’s one pitcher everyone wanted on waivers this week, it was George Kirby after his seven-strikeout, zero-walk debut. He’s 79% rostered, and another good outing Saturday against the Mets will shoot that even higher. Where things get interesting is if Kirby struggles — some folks might be worried he’s a one-hit wonder. I don’t really have that concern because Kirby has been dominant as a professional, striking out 30% of opposing hitters in the minors with a 2.34 ERA. He has the potential to be a difference-maker. 

Chase Silseth probably doesn’t have as much upside as Kirby, and there’s a decent chance he’s just getting a spot start for the Angels before going back down after Saturday’s doubleheader, but I definitely want to keep an eye on him. The 22-year-old will be the first player from the 2021 draft class to debut in the majors, and he’s struck out a whopping 35% of hitters as a professional, albeit in just 31.1 innings. I’m interested to see how the 11th-rounder who signed for an over-slot bonus fares, even if I’m not running out to add him outside of AL-only leagues. 

Friday

  • Dane Dunning vs. BOS: Dunning has had solid enough results early on with a 3.38 ERA, but I’m not convinced there’s much here. His strikeout and walk rates have been about average, and while he has a deep arsenal, I’m not sure there’s a good enough mix of secondaries here to justify a leap. He’ll keep getting interest on the wire as long as his results are solid, but even a good start here wouldn’t make me particularly interested.  
  • Jordan Hicks vs. SFG: The question here remains whether Hicks will be able to build up enough to ever be someone who goes five innings consistently. He’s maxed out at 68 pitches and 4.1 innings, and even as a starter has mostly been a two-pitch pitcher — his changeup usage is just 5.7%. Still, I’m going to keep an eye on him in case he can figure it out.

Saturday

  • Michael Lorenzen @OAK: I remain intrigued by Lorenzen, who generates decent whiff rates with multiple pitches but hasn’t been able to turn that into strikeouts yet. He has just a 37.5% strikeout rate with two strikes, compared to a 42.5% rate for the league as a whole, and he has especially struggled against lefties, with a strikeout rate below 10% against them. He has to figure out what has gone wrong with his cutter if he is going to have any chance, but if he does, Lorenzen could be pretty good. 
  • Dakota Hudson vs. SFG: Hudson has started to garner interest thanks to a 3.56 ERA through six starts, but he’s giving up a lot of hard contact and generating few strikeouts. The Giants could very well make him pay for that, and I think Hudson’s 63% roster rate is probably way too high. 
  • Michael Pineda vs. BAL: Like Hudson, Pineda’s roster rate jumped up with a two-start week, and he rewarded you with a pretty solid outing against the A’s earlier in the week. He may do the same against the Orioles, but Pineda is playing with fire by throwing his bad fastball nearly 60% of the time. 
  • Glenn Otto vs. BOS: Otto remains pretty interesting when he’s getting whiffs, and going away from his fastball has helped in that regard. The fastball has gotten crushed in his two partial seasons, so I wouldn’t mind seeing even less than a 33% usage rate in this one. 

Sunday

  • Hunter Greene @PIT: Greene’s velocity was up to 98.4 mph on average with his fastball in his most recent start, but it was the slider that proved to be his best weapon — he generated nine whiffs on 48 pitches, with a season-high usage rate. For all the velocity Greene can generate, his fastball has gotten hit hard so far, and unless he can generate more movement with the pitch, that’s likely going to be a limitation. The slider looks tremendous, and the changeup has been pretty good for him too, so there’s still a lot to like about this profile. 
  • Elieser Hernandez vs. MIL: You’re not watching Hernandez because he’s likely to be particularly useful for Fantasy — he’s a one-pitch guy with limited upside even when things are going well. No, we’re watching Hernandez to see if he can hang on to this rotation spot. Max Meyer sure looks ready for the majors, with a 31.5% walk rate and 1.72 ERA through six starts at Triple-A. A recent Miami Herald indicates that it’s a matter of “when, not if” for Meyer to be called up — duh. The more newsworthy bit from that report is that Meyer is next in line for a rotation spot when one comes up, so we could be just one bad Hernandez start from seeing one of the game’s top pitching prospects. 

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Waiver-wire hitters to watch

The cut watchlist

Pitchers 

Hitters

Closer situations to watch

David Robertson was placed on the IL earlier this week, likely due to a positive COVID test, and Rowan Wick got a save for the Cubs in his absence. Similarly, Felix Bautista got a save Thursday with Jorge Lopez on the bereavement list. Both players could be back this weekend, and I wouldn’t expect either situation to cost the incumbent his job, though Bautista is someone to watch given his very impressive start to the season (1.93 ERA, 29.7% strikeout rate in 14 innings). 

  • Twins: The Fantasy community wants to see Jhoan Duran run away with this job, but it was Pagan who got the save in two of three games against the Athletics last week — Duran got the save in the other game. It’s not unreasonable to think Pagan may blow it at some point — he did have a 4.75 ERA in his prior two seasons — but it seems like this is very much a committee right now, limiting Duran’s upside. 

  • Red Sox: I mean, honestly, someone has to run away with this job at some point, right? Right? John Schreiber was the most recent guy to get a chance, and he did close out the Braves on Tuesday, albeit in a two-inning appearance. Ryan Brasier allowed the Braves to win on walk-off the following night, albeit not in a save situation. Schreiber is a long-shot, but a name to keep in mind given how the likes of Hansel Robles, Matt Barnes, Matt Strahm, and Brasier have so far struggled to lock it down. 

  • Marlins: Dylan Floro came back from the IL this week and proceeded to give up three runs in his first outing. Chalk it up to rust maybe. I still think he’s the most likely guy to be the Marlins closer moving forward, but he may need a few innings to earn it. 
  • Royals: Josh Staumont blew a save in the eighth on April 28 and hasn’t had an opportunity since. Joe Barlow has the past two saves for the Royals and has been the better pitcher, but he also worked the eighth with a 4-2 lead against the Rangers on Wednesday, so that could’ve been a Staumont game if not for the Royals scoring four in the top of the ninth. This still looks like a committee. 
  • Reds: Don’t look now, but the Reds have won four of six heading into Thursday’s series opener against the Pirates, though they haven’t actually had a save opportunity in any of those games, funny enough. Which means the Reds haven’t had a save since April 24, when Lucas Sims got his first and so far only. Sims was placed on the IL Thursday with a back injury, so we’ll likely see the underwhelming Art Warren/Tony Santillan combination again. Neither is worth really getting excited about. 
  • Pirates: This is ostensibly still a committee, but Chris Stratton hasn’t had a save since getting one in consecutive games April 21 and 22. Since then, David Bednar has four saves, and since he’s clearly the better pitcher (an incredible 24 strikeouts to three walks in 15.2 innings this season). he’s the guy to roster even if Stratton figures to work in occasionally. 
  • Mariners: The Mariners have four saves on the season and four different Mariners pitchers have saves. I think that’s just how this is going to go moving forward, though you can probably safely drop Diego Castillo at least; he doesn’t have a save since the team’s second game and has a 9.28 ERA. 

Injury report updates

  • Tests on Bryce Harper’s elbow revealed a small tear in his UCL. He won’t throw for four weeks and will be re-evaluated then, but he’s going to have to stick at DH. It hasn’t really impacted Harper’s play in any noticeable way, and he’s still running, which is especially nice to see. 
  • Chris Sale will resume throwing within a few days. He recently had a non-baseball medical issue, which caused a setback, but he could be back sometime in June, still. 
  • Jeremy Peña left Thursday’s game due to discomfort in his right knee. He is considered unlikely to play Friday, but we don’t know much more than that right now. 
  • Nick Lodolo was playing catch ahead of Thursday’s game at Pittsburgh. He was expected to be activated last weekend but his back injury flared up, so hopefully it won’t be too long. 
  • Tigers outfield prospect Riley Greene had an examination Thursday. He’s hoping to be cleared for baseball activities soon, but would likely need a while to ramp up, and I would be surprised if they called him straight up to the majors after missing the first month-plus. I’m not expecting to see him until June, which makes his 47% roster rate seem a tad high. 
  • Adam Wainwright rejoined the Cardinals and completed a bullpen session. There’s a chance he starts Sunday against the Giants if he is cleared from the COVID IL. 
  • Mitch Haniger may not return until July because of his Grade 2 right ankle sprain. 
  • Chris Paddack was moved to the 60-day IL. The Twins haven’t revealed whether he will require elbow surgery, but that’s an ominous sign. He is droppable in redraft formats. 
  • Brian Anderson began a rehab assignment at Single-A Thursday as he returns from the COVID IL. 

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