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I've got a lot of respect for the deep-league hustle and also understand the frustration when owners see a waiver wire column and everyone in the column was drafted in their league. Even if the column helps 80 percent of Fantasy owners who read it, the 20 percent have that experience too often. So how about a waiver wire for those of you in deeper leagues? The following five players are owned in less than 25 percent of leagues and a couple of them are interesting in standard leagues as well.
Yes, it was the Royals, but, man it was good to see a healthy Nick Tropeano on the mound and pitching well. In his first start since 2016, Tropeano struck out six Royals over 6.2 shutout innings while walking just two. There were a lot of encouraging things about this start, but the most encouraging was the fact that he threw 88 pitches in his first outing of the season.
In 2015 and 2016 combined, Tropeano posted a 3.65 ERA, striking out a batter per inning. His control was not good in 2016, but overall it was an enticing profile for a 25 year old starting pitcher. Of course, injuries are a concern. But not when a guy is 4 percent owned. I'd take a flyer on Tropeano in any league 12 teams or deeper.
Junior Guerra wasn't quite as impressive as Tropeano in his season debut on Wednesday, but he's also not quite as good a pitcher. Guerra has a K/9 under eight for his career and when we last saw him he looked like one of the worst pitchers in the league. But in a 15-team league or deeper (and especially in any NL-only league) the chance that Guerra recaptures that 2016 magic is worth a roster spot.
I don't really believe Guerra could be a 2.81 ERA guy again, but his FIP in 2016 was 3.70 and he had a 1.13 WHIP. If he can give a sub-four ERA and a WHIP under 1.2 he should win plenty of games as well.
There was a time when Joe Mauer hitting .400 in April wouldn't be that surprising at all. He was one of the best contact hitters in baseball, striking out 10 percent of the time and posting an extremely high BABIP because of his contact skills. That's not exactly what's happening right now (15.9 percent K rate) but Mauer is clearly locked in. His hard contact rate (40.7 percent) is his highest since 2010. His ground ball rate (44.4 percent) is the lowest of his career.
Injuries and shifts ruined any chance Joe Mauer ever had at hitting .400, and he's not going to keep this up. The .519 BABIP may regress .150 points. But as long as Mauer is seeing the ball and hitting the ball like this, he's going to be a good source of batting average. I'd even expect a few home runs pretty soon as well.
Jurickson Profar has 749 plate appearances in the major leagues and he's done nothing to make us believe he belongs. He has a .287 wOBA and a career 26.6 percent hard contact rate. But with injuries to Rougned Odor and Elvis Andrus, Profar is getting one more shot with the Rangers. In deeper leagues, you should give him one more too.
Profar is still just 25 years old and he's a long way removed from when he was the No. 1 prospect in baseball in 2013. It's probably instructive to look at his Triple-A numbers form back then. As a 20-year-old he posted a .278/.370/.438 slash line at Round Rock. Four years later he posted a .287/.383/.428 line for the same ball club. It's certainly possible that Profar is just a AAAA player, but with his pedigree I'd like to give him one more chance.
Thursday night's performance is exactly why you have Chris Stratton on your roster. In a great matchup in a big park, Stratton threw seven shutout innings with just four strikeouts. He's a fly ball pitcher who doesn't strike a lot guys out, and you can't use him in small parks. Which will make his next start really interesting. Stratton will go to Chase Field in another test for the humidor. With a second start next week against the Angels, Stratton should be a popular two-start streamer.