steven-kwan.jpg

If the Dodgers think a player is good, he's good.

That's probably an oversimplification, and I may wish to amend it at some point. But for now, let's codify it into Fantasy Baseball law, assessing such players as indiscriminately as we do hitters going to Coors Field. The Dodgers are, after all, the organization that took castoffs like Max Muncy, Justin Turner and Chris Taylor and turned them into All-Stars.

There are countless other lower-profile examples, especially in the bullpen, but the bottom line is that the Dodgers' track record for maximizing talent, even when there's hardly a glimmer to be found, is unparalleled. Other organizations might see something in a player, but few have shown the Dodgers' ability to reach in and pull out that something, like it's nothing.

LAD L.A. Dodgers • #28 • Age: 31
Sunday vs. Reds
INN
6
H
1
ER
0
BB
3
K
11

Andrew Heaney is only the latest example. He wasn't foisted upon them like David Price was. They sought him out early in free agency, with all the big names still on the market, and made sure they got him. It was a curious move given the organization's stature and player's lack of stature. Heaney may have been a prospect once upon a time, but he had put together a 4.65 ERA over nine major-league seasons. His spring training made the signing even more curious, what with him allowing 10 earned runs in 5 1/3 innings.

Even so, we should have believed. Some people did. Sure, it seemed lazy. It seemed stupid. It seemed utterly unanalytic to invest in Heaney based solely on the belief that the Dodgers know what they're doing.

But it turns out they know what they're doing. Behold:

You see that breaking ball all those Reds hitters were helplessly flailing at? That's the "sweeper," a new type of slider that the Dodgers introduced to pair with Heaney's already gem of a fastball. That was their fix for him, and it finally clicked in a bullpen session just before the start of the season. The two pitches combined for 15 swinging strikes on just 67 pitches in Heaney's season debut Tuesday, which you may have overlooked since it lasted just 4 1/3 innings. The sweeper was impossible to miss in his latest outing against the Reds, though, delivering 14 of his 16 swinging strikes over six one-hit innings. The final strikeout tally was 11.

"It's been fun to watch -- really quickly," manager Dave Roberts said of Heaney's performance. "I think he's only going to get better."

If only we had known, right? Fortunately, you may still have a shot at Heaney seeing as he's rostered in just 54 percent of CBS Sports leagues, but it would have been better to scoop him up on Draft Day and skip out of the waiver wire altogether. Maybe next time we'll give the Dodgers the benefit of the doubt, as if they hadn't earned it already.

Let's see who else is available ...

Possible waiver wire pickups
SD San Diego • #1 • Age: 23
Rostered
74%
Friday vs. Braves
INN
5.1
H
3
ER
2
BB
2
K
3
MacKenzie Gore's debut was successful enough. He threw hard and he threw strikes, which together suggest that he's past the mechanical issues that derailed him the past two years. He didn't miss many bats, which is of course the most important thing a pitcher can do, but it may have had to do with him leaning on his fastball 73 percent of the time. His secondary arsenal is said to be one of his biggest selling points, so it stands to reason the whiffs will pick up once he incorporates it more. He'll get at least one more turn to prove he belongs in the majors, and the upside is enough to cling to him for now.
CLE Cleveland • #6 • Age: 25
Rostered
64%
2022 Stats
AVG
.500
HR
2
2B
7
AB
28
BB
4
K
5
Perhaps an even bigger early-season surprise than teammate Steven Kwan, Owen Miller continued to entrench himself as the Guardians first baseman by reaching base four times, including on a double, Saturday. He took an 0-fer Sunday, dropping his batting average all the way to ... .500. Clearly, there's some regression to come, but Statcast backs up his performance so far. With plus contact skills, a line-drive stroke and an all-fields approach, he looks like a good bet for batting average with just enough power to factor in mixed leagues.
CHC Chi. Cubs • #37 • Age: 37
Rostered
60%
2022 Stats
SV
3
INN
4
H
1
ER
0
BB
1
K
3
Mychal Givens got a save Thursday, which raised the question whether he and David Robertson were in a closing tandem. But Robertson came right back with his third save in the Cubs' next chance Sunday, with Givens again playing a setup role. The Cubs were leading by three Thursday, so maybe manager David Ross preferred to reserve Robertson for an even closer game. In any case, the 37-year-old is looking as entrenched in the role as any incoming closer can be only a couple weeks into the season, so invest with gusto.
NYY N.Y. Yankees • #65 • Age: 27
Rostered
58%
Sunday at Orioles
INN
5
H
3
ER
0
BB
1
K
12
If you miss out on Andrew Heaney, Nestor Cortes is a fitting fallback, provided you can't add them both. I suspect he doesn't have quite as much upside as the new-and-improved Heaney, though that's harder to say right after he strikes out 12. And while this career-best outing came against the lowly Orioles, Cortes was nearly as good in his season debut against the Blue jays last time out, striking out five over 4 1/3 scoreless innings. Factor in his 3.07 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 9.2 K/9 in 14 starts last year, and it's probably time to take him seriously, no matter how unorthodox he may be.
SD San Diego • #10 • Age: 29
Rostered
42%
2022 Stats
AVG
.233
HR
3
OPS
.918
AB
30
BB
5
K
7
We have a long track record of Jurickson Profar not hitting the ball particularly hard, which makes the 10 or so days of him doing so questionable, to say the least. But when a player is making noise on the waiver wire, sometimes you have to add first and ask questions later. Hitting the ball hard is the only missing piece for Profar. He's a patient hitter with plus contact skills and an optimal launch angle. If he's learned to barrel up balls better, no matter how unlikely, he could turn out to be a solid contributor.
KC Kansas City • #63 • Age: 28
Rostered
11%
2022 Stats
SV
1
INN
4
H
4
ER
2
BB
2
K
5
Scott Barlow was presumed to be the closer for the Royals seeing as he handled the vast majority of their save chances down the stretch last season, but there he was entering the seventh inning of a game Saturday. The save went to Josh Staumont, who struck out two in a perfect ninth. He's been throwing harder on average this year, his fastball regularly hitting triple digits, and you may remember he got a chance to close last year even before Barlow did. Part of what cost Staumont that opportunity was a bad bout with COVID that kept him from bouncing back as easily, but maybe manager Mike Matheny would have preferred him in the role all along.
LAA L.A. Angels • #3 • Age: 28
Rostered
7%
2022 Stats
AB
6
H
3
HR
1
SB
1
BB
4
K
2
Taylor Ward returned from a groin strain Saturday, and sure enough, manager Joe Maddon installed him as the Angels' right fielder right away, just as he said he would. It leaves Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh to platoon in left, but amid the outcry over stunting those younger players' development, we may be overlooking something. Ward has potential himself, having slashed .330/.439/.588 in parts of three seasons at Triple-A, and maybe the reason he won the job is because the Angels see he's ready to capitalize on it. He homered and stole a base in his first game back Saturday and then reached base three times Sunday, this after a big spring training.
BOS Boston • #57 • Age: 31
Rostered
6%
2022 Stats
SV
1
INN
3.1
H
1
ER
0
BB
2
K
3
It was exactly a week ago we were hyping Jake Diekman as potentially next in line for saves after he recorded one against the Yankees, but since then, he's been used more like a setup man, twice working the eighth inning for a hold. The only save chance that followed those appearances went to Hansel Robles. He's not as talented as Diekman, but he throws right-handed, which gives him a leg up in any potential timeshare, and he has some closing experience, which gives him cachet. He's not the highest priority pickup for saves -- not like Robertson, Staumont or even Daniel Bard -- but in leagues where saves are scarce, Robles can't be overlooked.