Waiver claims are always tricky early in the year. You're taking a big swing on little information, and sometimes you can end up dropping the more valuable asset or flushing FAAB dollars down the toilet.
In the two-month sprint that 2020 promises to be, though, you have to act swiftly and decisively, even if not always rationally.
The one category that I know I need to bolster in virtually all my 5x5 categories leagues is saves. I never invest in them, and it usually works out because of all the changes that happen at closer across the league. But since there isn't as much time for those changes to happen this year, I have corner prospective saves sources even sooner.
Fittingly, yhe one player I made big bids for across all of my leagues this weekend was Greg Holland. He struck out three in a scoreless 10th inning to secure his first save Saturday after presumed closer Ian Kennedy worked the sixth and seventh innings. New manager Mike Matheny never endorsed Kennedy as his closer and is an old school guy who might prefer someone with Holland's track record. The past couple years haven't been kind to Holland, of course, but he was throwing a couple miles per hour harder in this outing.
More than the pitcher, though, it's the opportunity I'm buying. Most of the pitchers who surprised with saves this weekend belong to particularly messy bullpens and have managers with particularly fickle bullpen tastes. I'm thinking of Trevor Gott (who actually recorded two saves) for the Giants and Oliver Drake for the Rays. The path for Holland, by comparison, seems clear. And as badly as I need saves, I'm going to invest in that path.
Other possibilities include Nick Burdi as a fill-in for Keone Kela with the Pirates or Anthony Bass as a fill-in for Ken Giles with the Blue Jays, but both are speculative cases themselves. My No. 1 pickup for saves this weekend was Holland, and if you're as desperate in that category as I am, you might want to make a similar play.
Brady Singer SP
KC Kansas City • #51 • Age: 24
The rookie wasn't pegged as a big bat-misser, but he had 14 swinging strikes on 80 pitches and certainly wasn't overwhelmed in his debut. His pedigree is enough to take a flier and see what comes next.
SD San Diego • #43 • Age: 32
Garrett Richards has been dealing with injuries for so long that it's easy to forget how reliable he used to be in Fantasy. His ground-ball approach yielded a 3.23 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 8.6 K/9 in 89 starts dating back to 2014, and he was right back to throwing 96 mph sinkers in his 2020 debut.
MIA Miami • #22 • Age: 25
Alcantara has big velocity but has mostly pitched to contact to this point in his big-league career, undermining his upside. He may have turned a corner in his 2020 debut, though, registering 14 swinging strikes, including six on his changeup.
PHI Philadelphia • #48 • Age: 24
His debut hasn't come yet, but a report from the Philadelphia Inquirer suggests the Phillies may be looking to call up their top pitching prospect Friday after Vince Velasquez struggled in his season debut Sunday. Bryce Harper is on record saying it needs to happen, too.
Austin Riley 3B
ATL Atlanta • #27 • Age: 23
He hasn't done enough at the plate to attract much attention yet, but his 458-foot blast Sunday should serve as a reminder of how much power potential Riley has. And the Braves seem committed to getting the most out of him, bouncing him between third base and left field this weekend to keep his bat in the lineup.
MIA Miami • #24 • Age: 30
Remember how Aguilar had 35 homers and 108 RBI for the Brewers in 2018 and how most of us bought into it heading into last year? Maybe 2019 was actually the blip. Through three games, the new Marlins first baseman has already homered twice and walked twice.
CHC Chi. Cubs • #32 • Age: 30
Control has long been an issue for Chatwood, but there was hope he figured things out in a bullpen role down the stretch last year, when he put together a 2.76 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 10.7 K/9 over the final three months. So far, so good.
Kyle Lewis CF
SEA Seattle • #1 • Age: 25
He appears to have picked up where he left off last year, when he caught the league by surprise with six home runs in 18 games, but his ability to crush the ball is matched by his ability to miss the ball. His six strikeouts in 11 at-bats continues another, less optimal trend and makes me wary of adding him in anything other than five-outfielder leagues.