Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Jeurys Familia replacements and hitters with big potential
Jeurys Familia is the latest closer shipped to a contender to serve in a set-up role. Here are some other options for those with a closer gap.
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One thing that makes investing in closer such a gamble -- beyond just the natural fungibility and unpredictability of pitchers in small sample sizes -- is that they are also often the most likely players to get traded. Especially on bad teams.
We've now seen three good closers on bad teams moved, with Jeurys Familia following Brad Hand and Kelvin Herrera to a setup role on a contender after his trade to the Athletics over the weekend. That move strengthens Oakland's bullpen for a surprise run to the playoffs, and also leaves Fantasy owners scrambling to find a new source of saves. Can it be found in New York?
Probably not, if we're being honest. For one thing, the Mets just don't have many good options in the bullpen, with the versatile Seth Lugo standing as the only man in the 'pen with an ERA below 3.00. He's unlikely to be ticketed for that role given his ability to pitch in the rotation if needed, so the Mets are already likely picking from some unsavory options.
The most likely choice is probably Robert Gsellman, who got the first save in Familia's absence, and has five on the season. The problem there is twofold: Gsellman may not be any good, and he's hardly been used as a traditional closer even when getting saves. Three of his five have been of the multi-inning variety, including Friday's two-inning outing. Add in a below-average ERA and mediocre peripherals, and it's hard to get excited about Gsellman even in that role.
The more potentially interesting choice is Anthony Swarzak, who emerged as a relief ace for the White Sox and Brewers in 2017. Unfortunately, injuries derailed his season in April, and he hasn't been right since, pitching to a 7.56 ERA in 16.2 innings in 2018. There's certainly potential for a high-level reliever here, but he needs to get right first, and with seven earned runs allowed in 2.2 innings in the month of July, there aren't any signs of that.
Unfortunately, there just isn't a natural option to target in the Mets' bullpen with Familia gone. Maybe one will emerge.
Of course, just because the Mets don't have anyone worth adding doesn't mean there aren't any closers out there for you to target. In fact, there's one quite good one available in the majority of CBS Fantasy leagues: A.J. Minter.
OK, his low ownership may be the result of his interim status as the Braves' closer, but Arodys Vizcaino has now been on the DL twice with shoulder issues, so it may not be so temporary. And Minter is good enough to take the job outright if given enough time to prove himself. He's been a bit underwhelming in 2018, largely thanks to underwhelming strikeout numbers early on, but he's had a 2.41 ERA with 22 strikeouts and only two walks in 18.2 innings since the start of June. There's elite potential here, and he's the Braves' closer. For now, and possibly into the future.
If I can get some exposure to a talented young player in Coors Field, I'll take it. If that young player happens to have big steal potential, well, that's not a bad bonus. Garrett Hampson is the Rockies' No. 6 prospect, as he's developed into a solid hitter to supplement his plus speed. Over parts of three minor-league seasons, Hampson has hit .315/.389/.458, showing a good approach at the plate that actually looks quite a lot like D.J. LeMahieu, the guy he's replacing due to an oblique injury. Of course, Hampson has also stolen 120 bases in 143 attempts (83.9 percent) in 287 career games, the kind of production in a rare category that could make him an even more interesting Fantasy player than LeMahieu. Oblique injuries are tricky, so Hampson could stick around for a while, and I'm interested in seeing what he can do.
Last season feels like a long time ago for Rougned Odor, who has been one of the biggest disappointments in Fantasy across the past two seasons. However, he's showing flashes of that potential of late, hitting .364 with three homers and five steals in the month of July. It's still coming with plenty of strikeouts, but we've seen how good Odor can be when he's hot, so I can't just ignore this. It may lead to nothing, but if I have room in a Roto league, I'll pick him up and see if he can't carry me down the stretch.
We've never seen Willie Calhoun get a fair shake in the majors, but he remains one of the more intriguing young players in baseball. The power hasn't quite been there in 2018, but when a .306/.360/.444 line at the highest level of the minors counts as a disappointment, you're talking about a pretty talented hitter. How talented? In the best-case scenario, Calhoun profiles as a 30-plus homer hitter with tremendous strike zone coverage, a rare combination that could make him an extremely valuable Fantasy player. His 11.2 percent strikeout rate for his minor-league career compares favorably to what Jose Ramirez has managed this season, while his .212 ISO matches Carlos Correa's mark in 2018. If the glove can play -- and there are serious doubts that it can -- Calhoun has major upside. He's back in the majors, and worth a flier.
Nick Kingham wasn't at his best Saturday but still got good results. That's a promising sign itself. We've seen great things from the rookie at various points this season, most notably when he struck nine in 6.1 innings against the Brewers in his final start before the All-Star break. We've also seen some struggles as well, such as when he was tagged for five earned runs on eight hits in three innings on July 2. Overall, Kingham has just a 4.11 ERA, however he has put together three straight quality starts, with 17 strikeouts in 18.2 innings in that span, and deserves an extended look from Fantasy players moving forward.
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