Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Justus Sheffield, Nick Solak arrive and Andrew Heaney dominates
A couple of prospect call-ups might be of interest to Fantasy players, according to Scott White. Meanwhile, Andrew Heaney twirls a gem, and Tom Murphy continues to slug away.
From the day the Mariners traded Mike Leake to the Diamondbacks, it seemed obvious who would assume his spot in the starting rotation. And this Friday, nearly a month later, Justus Sheffield's turn finally comes up.
Too little, too late?
Well, it's true he has already exceeded his previous career high in innings, so there's a case to be made for too late. But too little? Have you seen what passes for a startable pitcher in Fantasy Baseball these days?
Though twice traded, Sheffield has consistently ranked among the top prospects in baseball, appearing four times in the Baseball America top 100, so that's reason enough for enthusiasm. But what he accomplished at Double-A this year should raise it to full-blown optimism.
The season-long numbers don't do him justice. He opened the year at Triple-A Tacoma of the Pacific Coast League, where a juiced ball was the last thing any of those venues needed, and well, you can only ask so much from someone put in an impossible situation. In 12 starts at Double-A, though, he put together a 2.19 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 9.8 K/9.
More importantly, he put an end to his most oft-cited shortcomings: wildness and inefficiency. He issued just 2.1 walks per nine innings across those 12 starts, which allowed him to throw seven-plus innings in six of them. Only four other times in his six-year minor-league career did he meet that mark.
So suddenly, he looks like a true starting pitcher and not just hard-thrower masquerading as one before inevitably relenting to a high-leverage bullpen role. The upside is obvious. The progress is evident. For however long he has left, Sheffield could be a real asset in Fantasy.
LAA L.A. Angels • #28 • Age: 28
You shouldn't need to turn to Sheffield, though, if Andrew Heaney is still available. The 28-year-old showed his considerable potential — and not for the first time — in Game 1 of a doubleheader Tuesday, striking out 14 while walking none over eight innings. It was his third start (of just 12 in all) with at least 20 swinging strikes, a mark Clayton Kershaw hasn't achieved even once this year, and only six other pitchers (Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Shane Bieber, Walker Buehler and Chris Sale) have had a start with 14 strikeouts and no walks. More importantly, it was a second straight noteworthy outing for a pitcher whose star appeared to be on the rise before injuries intervened this year.
Nick Solak DH
TEX Texas • #15 • Age: 24
The other notable call-up news Tuesday belonged to Nick Solak, who started both games of the Rangers' doubleheader against the Angels and homered in one. So clearly, they're intending to use him, and while he had to change organizations twice to get this chance, most recently being dealt from the Rays in mid-July, the production has always been there for the 24-year-old. The power may have been inflated somewhat by the juiced balls at Triple-A, but the plate discipline is above average. He has even shown some speed in the past. He never ranked particularly high among prospects, but he's interesting in a Josh VanMeter sort of way and could surprise in an environment like Texas.
TEX Texas • #5 • Age: 24
Of course, if you're looking into tapping the Solak well, you better make darn sure Willie Calhoun isn't available first. His ownership remains stagnant even though he earned the No. 1 spot in my top 10 sleeper hitters for Week 22, possibly because of a sluggish start to August. He's rolling now, though, having collected multiple hits in five of his past seven games, and started both games of Tuesday's doubleheader. In fact, his home run was responsible for the lone run off Heaney, a fellow lefty. He entered the day with more Head-to-Head points per game than either Rhys Hoskins or Yasiel Puig, so get on it already.
J.D. Davis LF
NYM N.Y. Mets • #28 • Age: 26
Wait, J.D. Davis is even more available than Calhoun? Well, this changes everything. Maybe his two-day absence from the starting lineup because of a calf injury slowed whatever momentum he was building toward Fantasy prominence, but ... nah, he even pinch hit in both of those games. It's just people being stupid. Perhaps, then, homering in his return to the lineup Tuesday will help them see the light. After all, he's only batting .382 with five homers in 22 games since becoming the Mets' everyday left fielder. And see those season-long numbers? Well, his quality of contact suggests they should be even better. He's top five in all of baseball in xBA and top 10 in xwOBA. Please, accept this gift.
Matt Magill RP
SEA Seattle • #61 • Age: 29
If the Mariners are in fact going closer-by-committee following the departure of Roenis Elias and Hunter Strickland at the trade deadline, Matt Magill at least appears to be the chairman. Anthony Bass was presumed to hold the honor in the immediate aftermath and got the first save, but he struggled thereafter. And now Magill has converted two in four days, both with ease. Is the 29-year-old good enough to survive in the role? We don't have much evidence yet. But saves are saves, and some of us need them any way we can get them. Obviously, you should turn to Emilio Pagan, Brandon Workman or Mark Melancon first, if possible.
SEA Seattle • #2 • Age: 28
When any player, but particularly a catcher, homers four times in three days, as Tom Murphy now has, he needs to be discussed. Oh, and it turns out Murphy also hit two home runs the previous time he played, but it just so happened to be five days earlier. And therein lies the problem for the slugging 28-year-old who wasted the best years of his career stuck in the Rockies farm system. He doesn't have great numbers against righties, and Omar Narvaez, who bats left-handed, does. It's pretty much a strict platoon between the two, and as successful as it's been, there's little reason to suspect the Marines would change it. Still, the home runs are so bankable when Murphy does play that owners in two-catcher or daily-lineup leagues should obviously partake.
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