Welcome back to this week’s #FantasyBaseballFriday edition looking ahead to Week Three. We’ll lay out some waiver wire targets, some two-start pitchers for next week, and some reasons not to be worried about a few names. Ownership percentages according to Fantasy Pros.
Let’s dive in.
Mitch Haniger OF Sea (70.1% owned)
Haniger is just a consistently solid hitter year in and year out. His problem in the past is staying healthy, but when he’s healthy he’s productive. I think he should be owned in all three-outfielder leagues and ride it out with him and hope he avoids injury.
Brandon Nimmo OF NYM (65.4% owned)
I think coming into the year there was some playing time concern in the Mets outfield with the emergence of Dominic Smith and trying to find him consistent at-bats. But as of yet, it appears Kevin Pillar is the one who is suffering when it comes to playing time and Nimmo has come out as the front runner for the everyday centre fielder. The added bonus is Nimmo is also mostly hitting leadoff for the Mets. Nimmo has gotten off to a hot start hitting .464/.583/.571 with a .508 wOBA, so let’s ride it and add him in leagues where you need an outfielder.
Wilson Ramos C Det (26.1% owned)
Ramos is the number two catcher in points leagues behind Yermin Mercedes and he is still widely available in most leagues. He’s hitting the crap out of the ball, posting a 60% hard-hit rate with a .478 wOBA thus far. His xwOBA of .477 shows that his wOBA is legit as well. Catcher is the thinnest position, so if you drafted someone like Travis d’Arnaud, James McCann, or even Mitch Garver I’d strongly consider picking up Ramos.
Cedric Mullins OF Bal (61.2% owned) and Isiah Kiner-Falefa 3B, SS (58.3% owned) for steals sources in categories leagues.
Hitting Prospects to Keep an Eye On
You may hear the terms “service time” or “team control” thrown around with baseball from time to time. Basically, baseball has weird rules that depending on when a rookie makes his debut and how many days he spends on the MLB roster in his “rookie” year he doesn’t use up a year of service time and the team can retain an extra year of team control before the proverbial clock starts ticking towards his free agency. You can read more about it here https://www.mlb.com/glossary/transactions/service-time. So what teams usually do with their top guys is leave them down in the minors. Anyway, we’re nearing the point in the season where teams can call prospects up and not have them accrue a full year of service time for 2021, and as such here are some big names to put onto your watch list to stay ahead of your competition.
Jarred Kelenic OF Sea (47.6% owned ESPN)
Wander Franco TB SS (26.7% owned ESPN)
Alex Kiriloff OF Min (9.1% owned ESPN)
There are also some starting pitching prospects who could get called up soon this year like Mackenzie Gore (SD) and Matt Manning (Det) but I am personally of the belief that there is no such thing as a pitching prospect when it comes to fantasy baseball so I like to wait and see how they fare in their first couple starts. But if you’re in a super deep league where these guys are available then also keep an eye on them.
Trevor Rogers SP Mia (36.9% owned)
Those Marlins know how to breed starting pitchers. Through two starts Rogers has a 1.80 ERA. His SIERA is 3.31 which suggests that might come up some, which is expected, but living in the low threes for an ERA is still near elite. Rogers also has shown a 20.8% swinging strike rate and a 36.5% called strike plus whiff rate, which is a great leading indicator for more strikeouts to come.
Steven Matz SP Tor (63.7% owned)
It’s nice to see his ownership go up from last week, but I still think Matz is worth a look for your rotation.
Huascar Ynoa SP Atl (16.5% owned)
I’m not sure Ynoa is going to remain in the Braves rotation for the rest of the year with Mike Soroka‘s return looming, but he’s in the rotation for now. Ynoa has been striking people out without issuing many walks which is naturally a great combination, and his 2.27 SIERA mostly supports the low ERA he’s posted thus far this year. Everyone could always use some more starting pitching so why not add Ynoa and use him until he potentially loses the rotation spot.
Michael Kopech SP ChW (33.9% owned)
This is a deep league speculative add only, but Kopech has looked really good in his relief work and has been mentioned as a candidate to make his way into the rotation. Carlos Rodon has solidified his spot for now with stellar performances, but keep an eye out if Kopech ever gets the nod and pitches well as the starter, there could be more good things to come for the young lad.
I wrote about him last week as well, but Yusei Kikuchi (Sea) is still available in about half of ESPN leagues and I still think he’s worth an add.
Emmanuel Clase RP Cle (33.9% owned)
It hurts me to say as I was high on James Karinchak coming into the season, but it appears Clase is the Cleveland closer. Both Clase and Karinchak are really good, but for fantasy, we care about those saves and Clase is the guy now.
Yimi Garcia RP Mia (16.7% owned)
Garcia has slid his way into the closer role in Miami after the implosion of Anthony Bass. Yimi carries with him an above-average swinging strike rate of 16.5% which is a great thing to see in your closer. You want your closer to have some nasty stuff that is missing bats rather than relying on balls in play.
If any of these guys are still available in your leagues I’d also grab them for saves:
Matt Barnes (Bos), Alex Reyes (StL), and Hector Neris (Phi)
Getting two starts from a starting pitcher, especially in points leagues, can be a massive advantage over your opponent for your matchup. Here are some guys who are owned in less than 80% of ESPN leagues that you can look to add or start, along with their matchups for next week. This is subject to change, so maybe double-check on Sunday before you make any moves.
Carlos Rodon (@Bos, Tex)
Rodon has looked really impressive this year, including his no-no last week. He’s still available in more than 30% of ESPN leagues and he gets two starts next week.
Nathan Eovaldi (ChW, Sea)
Eovaldi gets to ride the hottest offence in the league for two starts next week.
Griffin Canning (Tex, @Hou)
Canning has always been an interesting fantasy player. He seems to underperform but his underlying peripherals look good, specifically his swinging strike rate. Well, that swinging strike rate is back to almost 17%, which puts him 10th in MLB for anyone with at least 20 innings pitched. He might luck out and get Houston while they’re still without some key guys due to COVID.
Michael Fulmer (Pit, KC)
Fulmer may have found something and turned his career around, with a 3.00 ERA thus far. His fastball velocity is up two miles per hour and he gets the Pirates for one of his starts next week.
Tyler Anderson (@Det, @Min) and Kohei Arihara (@LAA, @ChW)
For deep leagues only. If you’re hurting in starting pitching these two guys have decent underlying peripherals to support their ERAs thus far and could help your rotation for the coming week.
Stud Hitters Not To Worry About
It’s two matchup weeks into the season and your early draft picks are not performing to your standards and you start the season 0-2. Time to panic? Nope. Here are some guys for who the future will be brighter for, due to some early season, small sample size, unluckiness.
One could argue Sean Murphy‘s “stud” rating but it appears he’s been pretty unlucky and people tend to panic at the catcher position so I included him. All four of these guys have shown what appears to be unlucky numbers when it comes to their batting average, OPS, and wOBA. These four are also hitting the ball hard, like well above average, hard. Just about every other ball these guys hit is deemed a hard hit. Fantasy baseball is a long season and it’s not won selling low on quality guys. If you come across anyone in your league who is starting to get antsy with any of the above guys I’d buy low in a heartbeat if you can.
Fantasy expert, Adam Gruttadaro, is a guest contributor for Bat Flips and Nerds. Check out his website for more fantasy tips and follow him on Twitter.
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