Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: A big night for Christian Villanueva and a gem from Jake Junis
Heath Cummings looks at some of the top performers from Tuesday night and whether you should be rushing to the waiver wire to add them.
I know the game of baseball is changing, but it's still absurd that twice in the first week of the season a player owned in less than 10 percent of leagues has hit three home runs in a game. Christian Villanueva was the latest, but before you get too excited, it's probably good to remember that Matt Davidson was the first, and he's 1 for 12 with five strikeouts since.
Villanueva now has seven home runs in 40 major-league plate appearances, and he did show pop in his past two minor league seasons. But he's still a 26 year-old who hasn't been on a top prospect list since 2012. He's also not a full-time player, as his performance Tuesday night came in place of Chase Headley.
With his ownership being this low, I'll definitely be checking in my NL-only league and could understand adding him in a 15-team Rotisserie league with full rosters. But even in those situations this is more of a speculative add, because he'll need more than Tuesday night to get regular playing time.
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Jake Junis is exactly the type of player you should get excited about after one good performance. He's a young starting pitcher who showed flashes in 2017. He was phenomenal in spring training, and in his first real game was impressive. He fired seven shutout innings, allowing just three hits and one walk in his 2018 debut. The six strikeouts aren't quite on par with what he was doing this spring, but it's not a discouraging total either.
While Junis doesn't have top-prospect pedigree, he's been pretty awesome the past two years in the minor leagues. In 2017, he struck out 86 hitters in 71 innings, posting a 2.92 ERA in the PCL. The year before he struck out almost a batter per inning, with a 3.25 ERA in Double-A. There may not be ace upside, but with his efficiency and the Royals' lack of options, it's not hard to see Junis throwing enough innings to be a top-30 starting pitcher in points leagues. Go get him now if he's still available.
Jack Flaherty was a consensus top-100 prospect coming into the year, but it didn't look like the Cardinals had a place for him in the rotation yet. A minor injury to Adam Wainwright opened the door, and Flaherty barged right in.
Pitching in notorious hitter's paradise Miller Park, Flaherty whiffed nine Brewers and walked just one hitter in five dazzling innings. This is a 22 year-old with near ace upside and he looked the part in his first start. The question is whether he's still on the roster to take his next turn in the rotation, with Wainwright due back. Scott White doesn't care.
From a current Cardinals' rookie to a former Cardinals' rookie, Aledmys Diaz was raking last night in Toronto. The Blue Jays shortstop went 3-for-3 with a double and his second home run in as many days. He also left the game with back spasms, but he's expected to be fine.
Diaz has had a strange career. He came out of nowhere to post a .300/.369/.510 slash line as a 25-year-old rookie, and then disappeared from Fantasy relevance just as fast, struggling so much in 2017 that the Cardinals dealt him to Toronto for a song (OK, it was J.B. Woodman, but same difference).
So am I convinced Diaz is back to his 2016 self? Not entirely, but he doesn't have to be if he's a starting shortstop playing half of his games in to Rogers Centre. At the very least, he needs to be owned in all AL-only leagues and he deserves a look in most leagues that start a middle infielder.
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