Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Madness (6/6/22 - 6/12/22)
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Happy Sunday all! Another week down means another opportunity to improve your team through savvy waiver wire and FAAB moves. And, as usual, I’ve got you covered with some recommendations that will keep you one step ahead of the competition and one week closer to a championship. In addition to the guys below (and check out my prior weekly articles too), don’t forget about guys coming back from injury who may have been dropped – for example, Lance Lynn and Eloy Jimenez are both due back soon and could be a huge boost for your squad. In short, stay active and you’ll stay on top! Good luck all!
Shallow Leagues – 10/12 team mixed leagues:
Christopher Morel, 2B/OF, Chicago Cubs:
Since being called up by the Chicago Cubs in mid-May, Christopher Morel has been making his mark. He was slotted in the bottom of the order for his first five major league games, but has been the leadoff hitter in all 11 games since. In addition, Morel is splitting time between 2B (6 games) and OF (8 games), meaning that multi-position eligibility is on the horizon, if not already achieved in your league. Morel is worthy of your attention – in his 77 PAs this year, he has hit .262/.364/.446 with 2 HR, 13 R, 6 RBI, and 6 SBs (love those steals!) And the underlying metrics back up this early success; Morel has a hard-hit rate of 44% per Statcast with a max exit velocity and sprint speed that are each in the top 90th percentile for MLB. He’s off to a hot start and is still not widely rostered. Grab him.
Enrique (Kike) Hernandez, 2B/OF, Boston Red Sox:
Like some other Red Sox hitters, Kike Hernandez got off to a dreadful start to the 2022 season. From opening day through May 12th, Hernandez hit a measly .161/.232/.259 with just 1 HR, 13 R, and 12 RBI in 28 games. During this time—and I can’t blame these owners—he was dropped in shallower leagues. But in case you hadn’t noticed, Hernandez has turned things around and is back atop what is, all of a sudden, a powerful Red Sox lineup. From May 13th on, Hernandez has hit .267/.323/.456 with 3 HR, 14 R, and 11 RBI in 20 games. His BABIP, while still low, is normalizing now and currently sits at .228 – still with plenty of room for improvement. If Hernandez is available in your league, I’d be willing to bet you have someone that you can cut to make room for him.
Edwin Rios, 1B, Los Angeles Dodgers:
Rios is a free-swinging, power-hitting corner infielder that has recently come into regular playing time for the Dodgers with the injury to Max Muncy. And he has delivered so far, hitting .244/.293 with 7 HR, 12 R, and 17 RBI in 92 PAs across 26 games. With this power and great team context, however, comes substantial risk given Rios’s high strikeout rate - over 40% so far in 2022 and hovered around 33% in his last two years in AAA (2018-19). It is exceedingly difficult to succeed at the major league level with a strikeout rate this high and he is going to have to find a way to cut that down substantially or risk being benched or demoted. If he can reign in the Ks though, Rios has the tools to succeed and, for fantasy, any bat in that Dodger lineup is worth a hard look.
Mark Canha, OF, New York Mets:
The New York Mets are rolling and any exposure to that lineup is a plus. Mark Canha isn’t a flashy name – he isn’t going to hit 30 HR or steal 20 bases – but he hits for a good average, gets on base with regularity, and does a little bit of everything. He’s one of those grinders that you need in your lineup as a steady producer and, as a bonus, he’s been hot lately. Over his last 19 games, Canha has hit .292/.354/.431 with 3 HR, 16 R, and 11 RBI, while bouncing around between the top of the order or hitting 5th-7th, depending upon the pitching matchup. Canha is particularly valuable in OBP leagues due to his high (11%) walk rate and relatively low K% (19% in 2022). Again, Canha isn’t flashy but he will provide you a strong average, great OBP, and contribute to your runs and RBI in that good lineup. He’s worth an add to replace a slumping or disappointing OF on your roster.
Jamison Taillon, SP, New York Yankees:
I had Taillon on this list prior to the gem he tossed on Thursday (his second consecutive 8 inning, 2 hit effort!), but even more reason to add him if he is out there in your shallow league. Taillon has been nothing short of fabulous for the Yankees so far this season, posting a 2.30 ERA and .90 WHIP over his first 10 starts (with a 2.89 FIP). The strikeouts are not quite where we would like them to be—just 44 in 58 innings—but Taillon is a career 8K/9 guy, so there is reason to think more strikeouts are on the way. Some regression is to be expected, but there is reason to think that Taillon can be a very serviceable pitcher for your squad this year with an ERA in the 3.5-3.8 range and a boatload of win potential on a very good team. Grab him if he’s still available.
Roansy Contreras, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates:
The fabulous Roansy Contreras is back from his minor league stint and, as we all hoped, he is now ready to be a front-line starter. Contreras looks like the real deal – he has a high-velocity (avg. 97 mph) and high-spin fastball that generates whiffs at a more than 25% clip. And he pairs that with a slider that has been magnificent (generating whiffs at a 48% rate and inducing a .135 expected batting average against) and a curveball that is very good in its own right. Since returning from the minors, Contreras has made two starts and is living up to expectations: 10 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 8 Ks. The team context is obviously not ideal, but Contreras is a very talented pitcher that has more room to run this year. I'm a fan.
Deeper Leagues (15 team or AL/NL Only)
Trevor Larnach, OF, Minnesota Twins:
Larnach is a former first-round draft pick by the Twins that may be coming into his own this year, currently hitting .271/.350/.467 with 3 HR, 18 R, and 15 RBI in 123 PAs. He has always projected as a guy with both good power and an excellent walk rate, but with some downside risk due to strikeouts (34.6% in his first major league exposure in 2021). But that strikeout rate is right a tick down at 30% so far this year and Larnach is still hitting the ball with authority – he is top 13% in the league in average exit velocity, max exit velocity, and Hard Hit%. And that success is translating into increased playing time for the Twins, as Larnach has started 11 of the Twins last 12 games. Larnach has pedigree and potential and the Twins are a better team than people expected at the outset. He is definitely worth an add in deeper leagues.
Michael Harris II, OF, Atlanta Braves:
Michael Harris, the #58 overall prospect (per MLB.com), was called up from AA by the Braves in late May in a somewhat surprising move. Harris was hitting well at AA this year, hitting .305/.372 with 5 HR, 33 R, 33 RBI, and 11 SBs in 43 games. Harris has very good speed and is a strong speculative pickup for anyone in need of steals. Since being called up, Harris has started 7 straight for the Braves, so the playing time is currently there. And although he has been hitting at the bottom of the order, that could be remedied with a hot streak. We have seen plenty of rookies struggle, so there is definite risk here, but the potential upside of a guy that can give you a pace of double-digit HRs and SBs is appealing.
Franchy Cordero, 1B/OF, Boston Red Sox:
It seems like forever ago that the 27 year-old Cordero came up with the Padres as a tooled up outfield prospect with a bright future. Unfortunately for Cordero—who has 70 grade power and speed—his strikeout rate was simply too high for him to achieve any measure of success. But is that finally turning around for this talented hitter in 2022? Cordero’s plate discipline is vastly improved this year, as he has lowered his strikeout rate from a career 35% to 26% with an over 8% walk rate. That is an unbelievable change that can’t be ignored given Cordero’s underlying skills – top 1% in max exit velocity last year and top 15% in both max EV and sprint speed this year. Cordero has started 13 of the past 14 for the Red Sox and recently debuted in the leadoff spot for a game, so he clearly has the team’s confidence. A bet on this type of talent is always in order.
Josh H. Smith, 3B, Texas Rangers:
[Note: Smith was placed on the IL as this was being prepped for publication, but we elected to leave it in so that you can keep him in mind when he returns from the IL]. Josh H. Smith is the #7 prospect in the Rangers’ system per MLB.com and he was given his ticket to the show at the very end of May. Since that time, Smith has started three of four games for the Rangers at 3B and performed well in what is obviously a very small sample: 5G, 17 PAs, 2 R, 1 SB, .417/.588/.500. Smith is a player that is unlikely to provide you a multitude of stats in any one category, but he will likely provide contributions across the board. In the minors, Smith showed great plate discipline, consistently striking out less than 20% of the time and walking more than 12%, making him a valuable asset in OBP leagues. In 40 AAA games this year prior to the call-up, Smith was slashing .273/.382/.422 with 4 HR, 30 R, 29 RBI, and 8 SBs. As you can see, he has some pop and speed and, on Thursday, Smith was leading off for the Rangers. It’s early and we have only a small sample to go on, but Smith could be a contributor in deep and only leagues.
Edward Cabrera, SP, Miami Marlins:
Edward Cabrera wasted no time in announcing his return to the bigs by tossing an absolute gem—6 IP, 1H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 9 Ks—and in Colorado no less! Cabrera is a highly touted prospect that underwhelmed during his first stint in the majors last year. At that time, he walked far too many guys (note that he walked 4 in this great start too) and was also susceptible to the HR, which is a recipe for disaster. Given injuries to the Marlins staff, it looks like Cabrera is going to get a shot here and he is a high risk, high reward gamble. The control needs to improve, but the stuff is legit. The most eye-popping pitch from his game against the Rockies was his 94 mph changeup . . . yes, changeup. The pitch is obviously thrown very hard and doesn’t have a huge velocity differential with his fastball, but the movement is elite and that showed even in the thin air at Coors. In a deep or NL only league, Cabrera is worth the gamble but know there may be bumps in the road given his control issues.