Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Madness (6/20/22 - 6/26/22)
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It’s that time of the week again folks and, as always, I’ve got some hot waiver wire recommendations to get you to the top of your standings as we all make a final push to the All Star break. In addition to the below, take a look back at last week’s recommendations because a number of those guys are still performing and available in far too many leagues (e.g., Garrett Cooper, Tanner Houck, Ezequiel Duran, Luis Garcia, or Graham Ashcraft). In addition, keep an eye out for guys returning from injury that were dropped earlier in the year. Lance Lynn returned last Monday and we're probably only a few weeks away from seeing Chris Sale, who is reportedly hitting 97 mph in his rehab.
As always, these recommendations are divided among guys that are likely available in shallower leagues and those that could provide value in deeper leagues. Good luck and keep hitting me up on Twitter with fantasy questions – I’ll answer them all as soon as I can!
Shallow Leagues – 10/12 team mixed leagues:
Luke Voit, 1B, San Diego Padres:
Luke Voit isn’t going to be a perfect match for every roster, but he should be on your radar if you are lacking in HR/RBI or if you play in an OBP league. Voit strikes out a lot (over 30% in 2021/22) and so he is never going to have a high batting average, but he pairs that with a high walk rate, making him far more valuable in OBP leagues. Voit really struggled to get going out of the gate this season and, at the end of May, he was hitting just .214 with only 3 HR, 15 R, and 10 RBI in 30 games. But since the calendar has flipped to June, Voit has found his power stroke – through 17 games, he has hit .260 with 5 HR, 9 R, and 19 RBI (tied for 2nd in MLB during that period). Voit is going to run hot and cold given the strikeouts, but when he is hot, he can hit home runs and drive in runs in bunches and he is definitely hot right now. Grab him.
Nathaniel Lowe, 1B, Texas Rangers:
This isn’t the first time that I’ve written about my boy Nate Lowe, but his recent hot streak seems to have gone largely unnoticed because he is still wildly under-rostered. Lowe is firmly entrenched in the 1B role for the Rangers and, although he went through an awful 20-game slump from about the end of April until mid-May (.113/.171/.127/0 HR/4 R/1 RBI), he has bounced back in a big way. In the 27 games since May 17th, Lowe has slashed .324/.361/.598 with 5 2B/1 3B/7 HR/17 R/16 RBI/1 SB (6th in OPS among 1B during that time). Most notably during that time, Lowe lowered his ground ball rate to 37%, well below his career mark of 49.9%. Lowe has always been a very good hitter with power that could be unlocked if he just lifted the ball more (I tweeted about this very early in the season) and this provides hope of a process change that may have unlocked more of Lowe’s potential. I am a big Lowe guy and, unless you are stacked at 1B and Util, you should be able to find a spot for him.
Alex Kirilloff, OF, Minnesota Twins:
Another big time prospect is heading back to the show folks. Alex Kirilloff is a former first round draft pick and highly-ranked prospect that was the buzz of the fantasy community just a few years ago. So far though, Kirilloff has failed to capitalize on his big league opportunities in either 2021 and 2022. Across a total of 69 combined games and 263 PAs with the Twins, Kirilloff has hit just .241/.289 with 8 HR, 25 R, and 34 RBI. Kirilloff injured his wrist again this season and then remained at AAA to work on his hitting and earn his way back to the show. Well, he definitely did that and he has earned his way back onto the big club – the team announced he was being recalled from AAA on Friday, which was well deserved. In AAA this year, Kirilloff was slashing .368/.466/.664 with 10 HR, 32 R, 32 RBI, and 1 SB in just 33 games . . . crushing. As a fantasy community, we are often too quick to write off prospects that do not perform immediately. Kirilloff is a talented hitter that is worth another chance on your fantasy squad.
Spencer Strider, SP/RP, Atlanta Braves:
Spencer Strider, a/k/a Doc Holliday, has taken the pitching world by storm this year and become a favorite of Pitching Ninja and others. In the bullpen for the Braves for the first part of the year, he was simply mowing down hitters with a three-pitch repertoire of a fastball, slider, and changeup, all of which have a Statcast whiff % of at least 29% . . . insanity. Strider works everything off of his fastball, which averages over 98 mph with nasty movement – opponents have just a .179 batting average against this weapon in 2022. Strider made the jump to the rotation in late May and has now made 4 starts, generating a line of: 19.2 IP, 11 H, 6 ER, 10 BB, 31 Ks, 2.75 ERA, and 1.07 WHIP – impressive. The control does give me some pause as Strider has a 4.3 BB/9 on the year, but the stuff is so overpowering that Strider can get away with a few extra walks here and there. If he can improve on his control, he could be a legitimate top-tier starter once he is stretched out. Given he was already in the pen to start the year, I don’t think there should be innings limits on Strider, although a move back to the pen or a few skipped starts later in the year is not out of the question as the Braves look to the postseason.
Ross Stripling, SP/RP, Toronto Blue Jays:
Ross Stripling is a talented hurler that has bounced around between the pen and the starting rotation for the Blue Jays this year. He has been a fan of mine for a few years now, but has struggled to carve out a consistent role either first with the Dodgers (although it’s hard for anyone to get a consistent role there) and now with the Jays. But talent always finds a way and the injury to Hyun Jin Ryu has opened the door for Stripling to get a shot as a starter for that powerful Jays team. Overall this year, Stripling has performed admirably, posting a 3.28 ERA (2.99 FIP) and 1.07 WHIP with 38 Ks in 46.2 IP. In his last two starts since rejoining the rotation, however, he has been even better, throwing a combined 14.2 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 9Ks and 2 Ws. Yes, those wins were against the Tigers and Royals, but its hard to discount such fantastic performances. Stripling isn’t going to be an ace that gives you strikeouts in bunches, but he has the talent to provide your team with a solid ERA and WHIP with the potential for a good amount of wins pitching behind that loaded Jays offense.
Christian Bethancourt, C, Oakland A’s:
If you aren’t fortunate enough to have one of the top-tier catchers on your roster, you should generally be going with a hot hand approach and Christian Bethancourt currently fits the bill. The former top prospect is not only swinging a hot stick, but he is getting regular playing time, which is key for your catcher spot. Overall in 2022, Bethancourt has a .254 average with 4 HR, 20 R, 17 RBI, and 4 SBs (stolen bases for a catcher!) in just 142 PAs. But if you look at the games since he secured regular playing time with the A’s, Bethancourt is raking - .344/.344/.719 with 3 HR, 5 R, 7 RBI, and 1 SB (with an avg. EV of over 95 mph during that time). He likely won’t be on your roster for the rest of 2022, but for now he is batting in the heart of the A’s lineup and producing and that’s a huge plus from your catcher spot.
Deeper Leagues (15 team or AL/NL Only)
Orlando Arcia, 2B, Atlanta Braves:
The injury to Ozzie Albies has opened the door for Arcia to get regular PT in Atlanta and he has certainly impressed in the early going. In his first three games as the Braves’ regular 2B, Arcia went 7-14 with 2 HR, 3 R, and 4 RBI. And overall for the 2022 season, Arcia is hitting .367/.429/.600 with 3 HR, 7 R, and 12 RBI in just 70 PAs. With the Brewers, Arcia was always a guy that was good, not great, and would give you a handful of HRs and SBs – someone you could swap in and out of a MI spot when he was hot. But this year, Arcia is absolutely mashing the ball in a small sample – posting an average EV of 94.7 (exceptional) and a Statcast hard hit rate of 55.3%. This is a huge jump over his career levels of 87.3 average EV and 31.2% hard hit rate. It remains to be seen whether Arcia will regress to his career levels or whether the 27 year-old has unlocked some hidden power, but either way, he currently has a lock on the 2B job and is putting up numbers worthy of your consideration, especially in deep leagues.
Lane Thomas, OF, Washington Nationals:
Lane Thomas had a rough two months of the 2022 season – at the end of May (43 games), he was slashing .195/.255/.325 with 3 HR, 10 R, 18 RBI, and 1 SB and was a fixture at the bottom of the Nationals lineup. But oh how things have changed in June. Thomas has found his groove ever since the calendar flipped to June and this month he is hitting .290/.362/.548 with 4 HR, 15 R, and 9 RBI in 15 games. In addition, Thomas has been moved to the top of the order and has hit first or second in 15 of the Nationals last 16 games. Thomas strikes out more than you would like to see from a leadoff hitter, but he has a good walk rate and batted ball profile (not too many GBs, good hard hit rate, etc.). The Nationals are struggling this year, but the leadoff hitter for any team has value in deep leagues, and Thomas is currently hot. He’s worth an add if you need runs and some balanced contributions across the board.
Jon Berti, 2B/3B/OF, Miami Marlins:
Run Jon, run . . . [insert image of Forrest Gump here]. If you need steals, look no further than Jon Berti, who has gladly accepted the title of 2022 fantasy baseball steals specialist. Despite missing time to injury this year, Berti already has 15 SBs in just 35 games. And, although he isn’t going to contribute in the HR or RBI department, Berti is currently batting .275/.378 and has scored 21 runs through those 35 games (a 95 run pace based on 155 games). In addition, Berti has started 19 of the Marlins last 21 games and has typically been leading off against lefties. If you need average/OBP, runs, and stolen bases, grab Berti while he’s hot because he’s been swiping bags in bunches.
Michael A. Taylor, OF, Kansas City Royals:
For several years now, the Royals’ Michael Taylor has been a double-digit HR/SB guy that could be relied upon to serve as a back-end OF with upside to dream on. Back in 2017, Taylor was great for the Nationals, hitting .270/.320 with 19 HRs and 17 SBs in 118 games . . . the future was bright. But injuries and underperformance sapped the playing time and many lost faith in him. But this year looks different – Taylor is striking out far less than his career average (2022 K% of 20.3% v. career of 29.8%) and walking far more (2022 BB% of 12% v. career of 7%) and this improved plate discipline has my eyebrows raised. Since returning from the IL earlier this month, Taylor has been a fixture in the Royals lineup and he has hit .385/.444/.564 with 2 HR, 5 R, 6 RBI, and 1 SB, all with a 17% K% and 9% BB% - this is outstanding production and indicates more of a process change than a mere hot streak. Taylor has tools and is worth a flyer in deep leagues while he’s hot.
Kendall Graveman, RP, Chicago White Sox:
Not much to say here beyond the fact that Liam Hendriks is on the IL (and it is not at all clear when he’ll be back, if at all) and Graveman appears to be the next man up. Joe Kelly is also likely to get some save chances for the White Sox, but he looks to be second in line for now. Graveman has been solid this year, posting a 2.51 ERA (3.20 FIP) and 1.33 WHIP (would like to see this lowered) with 27 strikeouts in 28.2 innings pitched. If you need saves, you have to jump when opportunities like this arise – the White Sox are a good team that will have plenty of save opportunities and Graveman is a seasoned closer that just could hold that job until Hendriks returns (whenever that happens).
Seranthony Dominguez, RP, Philadelphia Phillies:
There isn’t much other way to say it, Corey Knebel has been a train wreck as the Phillies closer lately. Since the beginning of May, he has blown 4 saves and owns a 4.60 ERA, a 1.79 WHIP, and has walked 13 batters in just 15.2 innings. That won’t get it done and the Phillies have rightly announced that Knebel will be out of the closer role at least temporarily until he can “get right.” In his place, it is expected that Seranthony Dominguez and Brad Hand will serve as a closer committee. Of the two, I prefer Dominguez because Hand has had his own control problems this year (10 BB in 18 IP). Dominguez, on the other hand, has pitched well – 25 IP, 16 H, 5 ER, 7 BB, 34 Ks, 1.80 ERA (1.90 FIP), and a 0.92 WHIP. It is not clear whether Knebel will right the ship and reassume the closer role, but as they say, possession is 9/10ths of the law, and right now Dominguez has at least a partial hold on the closer role. If he continues to pitch well, that may not change.
Stay active on your wire and good luck all!