Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Find steals and saves with Jonathan Villar, Joakim Soria
Looking for immediate help? There are a few intriguing bats out there who may not have an assured long-term job, but who can help right now.
What are Fantasy players to do when they see a player they like at this point in the season who doesn't necessarily fit into his team's immediate plans? We were faced with that question earlier this week when Jack Flaherty mowed down the Brewers, before being sent back to Triple-A. My advice then was to hang on to Flaherty because team's plans often change, and he is talented enough to be worth waiting on.
Preston Tucker isn't the kind of talent Flaherty is, and his obstacle to playing time – uber prospect Ronald Acuna – seems to be an even more significant one than the combination of Adam Wainwright and Miles Mikolas that Flaherty has to overcome. However, Tucker has shown enough to open the season to be worth adding in your deeper leagues.
The 27-year-old had some hype coming off strong performances in the high minors a few years ago, but he was inundated by the tidal wave of young talent in Houston in recent seasons. He hit .243/.297/.437 with 13 homers in 98 games in 2015, but hadn't been able to lock down an everyday role since. However, he's off to a red-hot start with the Braves, hitting .429 with two homers, including one off Nationals' ace Max Scherzer Wednesday. That'll catch our attention.
Once Acuna is promoted to the majors in about 10 days, there may not be a spot for Tucker to play every day, so this could be a short-term add, possibly to replace Wil Myers in your lineup. On the other hand, maybe Acuna doesn't play well enough to hang in the majors – hey, it happened to Mike Trout! Or maybe the Braves decide veteran Nick Markakis can sit on the bench. Or maybe someone just sprains an ankle, or pulls a hammy. It's baseball. Things happen.
Tucker has a job for the next few weeks, and can be useful for that time. What happens beyond that is anyone's guess, but I would bet this isn't the last we've heard of him.
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Tucker isn't the only post-hype Braves player to thrive against a tough matchup Wednesday. Fireballer Mike Foltynewicz limited the Nationals to just one earned run in 5 1/3 innings. More impressively, he racked up eight strikeouts in the outing, giving him 15 in two starts. Folty has always had enormous potential – anyone who throws 98 mph that easily does – but he's never really been able to miss enough bats to live up to that potential. It's just two outings, but this is a great start for one of the more intriguing sleepers around. He'll have to face this same Nationals lineup in his next start, so he'll be hard to trust, and the Cubs are right after that, so you may not want to start him in his two-start Week 3. However, with what he's shown in the early going, he's worth adding with an eye on beyond the next few weeks.
It wasn't clear who was going to get the saves for the White Sox coming into the season, and Fantasy owners were rightly uninterested in the possibility of picking from two guys who would split opportunities for a bad team. However, the White Sox have been surprisingly competitive so far, and they also haven't been splitting their save opportunities, either: Joakim Soria has the first two, while Nate Jones entered Wednesday's game in the seventh inning. Soria isn't the lights out guy he once was, but he was respectable in 2017, posting a 3.70 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings. That's not a star, but it's enough to get the job done if you need saves. And, let's be honest: You probably do.
It's been a rough start to the season for stolen base specialists. While Dee Gordon is humming along, Trea Turner finds himself batting fifth most days, Billy Hamilton is sitting about as often as he's starting, and Whit Merrifield can't get on base to steal one. However, it has been a surprisingly good start to the season for one of baseball's forgotten speedsters, as Villar is hitting .304 through his first six games of the season. The average will come down – he's still striking out too much – but he has stolen two bases so far, and more importantly, has started five of the team's first six games, and got three plate appearances in the other one. If he's an everyday player, Villar pretty much must be owned in every category league, because he has 50-steal potential.
Let's talk about one more player who has a short-term path to playing time that he needs to take advantage of. With Nelson Cruz on the DL, Daniel Vogelbach is going to get some plate appearances, and he got the start Wednesday. The big slugger went 2 for 4 for his first hits of the season, including a double. He's never hit in the majors, but Vogelbach owns a .291/.403/.480 line in 258 career games at Triple-A, and is an intriguing option to add for the next week or so. Beyond that, if he hits, he'll force his way in the lineup one way or the other, I bet.
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