Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Big potential with Teoscar Hernandez, Tyler O'Neill
A couple of young sluggers are worth your time Thursday, as are a couple of older sluggers.
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With what he did last season in a small sample, Teoscar Hernandez probably deserved more respect from the Fantasy community in 2018. Though it was just 27 games, Hernandez hit .261/.305/.602, with 14 extra-base hits. The 25-year-old hasn't been considered a big-time prospect, but his Triple-A numbers -- he hit .278 with 24 homers and 23 steals in 147 games at the level -- show plenty to get excited about.
Hernandez isn't a can't-miss kind of player, especially not with some real contact issues. That helps explain a lot of why the Fantasy community didn't take his 2017 production seriously, as he struck out 36 times to just six walks in his time in the majors. However, if he can tap into his power-speed potential, you'll learn to live with a poor batting average. With five extra-base hits and a steal in his first four games this season, Hernandez should at least be owned in all category-based formats.
It's not a hard and fast rule, but generally speaking, when a top prospect gets called up, they get to lead the waiver wire column. Tyler O'Neill was ranked No. 86 by Baseball America before the season, and the Cardinals announced Wednesday he was being called up, so here we are. He's a must-add player, right?
Not necessarily. Can-add? Definitely! Should-add? Maybe! O'Neill is an enticing prospect, having clubbed 37 homers in 142 career games at Triple-A, while even swiping 14 bases. That'll play in any Fantasy format, even if he's liable to be a batting average drain thanks to some strikeout issues.
So, what's the problem? He may be back in Memphis in about a week. Maybe less. The Cardinals called him up after Tommy Pham's groin injury, though Pham told reporters he expected to be fine. O'Neill instead gives the Cardinals a fifth bench player to use, after opening the season with eight relievers in the bullpen. If Pham is healthy, it's hard to see O'Neill getting regular playing time over him, Dexter Fowler or Marcell Ozuna.
Unless he tears the cover off the ball, which is certainly possible. We saw a presumably-blocked Cody Bellinger mash his way into the lineup for the Dodgers last season, so there's a precedent here, albeit on another team.
In all likelihood, O'Neill is just getting a taste of the majors before being sent down until he's needed again. I wouldn't drop someone like Yoan Moncada for him. But if I had a roster spot open… Yeah, I'll take a shot on this kind of talent, sure.
How much of Vince Velasquez's struggles last season were the result of the finger injury that ultimately ended his season? It's hard to say, but he showed a ton of promise in 2016, striking out 10.4 batters per nine innings and sporting a low-3.00s ERA well into August when he just ran out of gas. He's looked a lot more like that 2016 version in the early going this season, posting a 3.80 ERA after giving up three runs in six innings Wednesday against the Braves. The ERA isn't pretty, but the peripherals are stunning: a 2.11 FIP backed up by a 26.1 percent strikeout rate and just five walks in 21 1/3 innings. Velasquez has always had great stuff, and we're seeing the upside. Go get him.
We play a game in the office every work day where we try to predict who will homer every day. It's a nice little test of our ability to judge microtrends and matchups – and it tends to be pretty humbling, to be honest.
Wednesday was a good day for me, however. I chose Ryan Zimmerman, and the veteran came through with a two-homer game, breaking out of what had been a miserable slump. How did I know? I'm not clairvoyant, and I'm certainly not the brightest baseball mind around. I just looked at StatCast:
Yes, even in the midst of his slump, Zimmerman was hitting the ball harder than anyone in baseball. It was hard to believe he had just lost all of his skills when he was still consistently driving the ball with authority, and the results finally caught up to what he was actually doing in the batter's box.
Zimmerman is already owned in 79 percent of CBS Fantasy leagues, so most of you won't have a chance to run out and grab him. But, where he's available, Zimmerman is still worth owning. He reminded us of that Wednesday, though there were signs even before that if you knew where to look.
Jose Bautista, 7 percent owned
Let's go with another old guy, this time one who doesn't even have a good 2017 season to fall back on. Jose Bautista looked finished last season, when he hit .203/.308/.366, with 23 homers, but also 170 strikeouts. He's probably not going to make an impact after signing with the Braves – presumably to serve as their third-base solution – but there's still a chance he finds the fountain of youth and makes an impact. I wouldn't bet on it, but he's free. If you can't get Zimmerman or even O'Neill, Bautista is a decent flier.
The guy who actually got the win against Velasquez on Wednesday gets buried at the bottom of the column. I guess that's what happens when you're a 34-year-old with a 4.14 career ERA. However, Brandon McCarthy deserves some love. He limited the Phillies to just one run on five hits in 5 1/3 Wednesday, lowering his season ERA to 2.91. He won't sustain that kind of success, but his 3.70 FIP shows that it isn't entirely a fluke. McCarthy had a 3.28 FIP and 3.98 ERA last season, too, and he can still dial his fastball up to the mid-90s when he needs to. He's not the most exciting player in Fantasy, but with pitching at such a premium, he deserves a spot on your roster.
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