paul-sewald.jpg

Kendall Graveman is gone now, taking his 0.82 ERA and 0.70 WHIP with him to Houston in a surprising trade Tuesday between the Mariners and Astros. It likely ends his time as a closer given Ryan Pressly's performance in that role and thus removes one viable saves source from the relief pitcher pool.

But is it possible his replacement in Seattle could be even better for Fantasy Baseball purposes?

SEA Seattle • #37 • Age: 31
2021 season
SV
4
ERA
2.30
WHIP
0.99
INN
31.1
BB
12
K
54

You may wonder how it gets better than Graveman's ERA and WHIP, and OK, it doesn't. But one area where Graveman hasn't excelled is in missing bats, and in that regard, Paul Sewald is on the other end of the spectrum. In fact, his 15.5 K/9 rate ranks beyond only Craig Kimbrel's and Aroldis Chapman's this year -- and those two are the career leaders in that category. 

We're talking special ability, then, for a 31-year-old who flamed out in the Mets organization before landing with the Mariners this year, his transformation made possible by his low arm angle and deceptive slider. And he's already somewhat tested in the closer role, having picked up four saves as manager Scott Servais' B option for the ninth inning. 

Seeing as Servais isn't the most role-oriented manager, Sewald might cede occasional save chances to Drew Steckenrider or someone else. But he has the makings of an elite closer and is rostered in just 19 percent of CBS Sports leagues.

So who else is worth picking up?

Possible waiver wire pickups
STL St. Louis • #48 • Age: 27
ROSTERED
35%
2021 season
AVG
.301
HR
9
SB
6
OPS
.916
AB
146
K
26
I usually organize these potential pickups by current rostership, but I want to make sure Harrison Bader gets top billing here because I'm of the belief he's the most under-rostered player in Fantasy. His performance Tuesday -- which included a home run, a stolen base and two doubles -- served as a perfect showcase for his wide-ranging skills, which have come together because of a greatly reduced strikeout rate made possible by a surgery to remove polyps from his nasal passages this offseason. Turns out they were impacting his vision at the plate. Add contact skills to his existing power speed and he may be capable of Ozzie Albies-like production.
CIN Cincinnati • #19 • Age: 38
ROSTERED
76%
Since June 8
AVG
.303
HR
12
OBP
.406
OPS
.998
AB
152
K
46
Finally, the roster rate is beginning to tick up for a player whose name I've been shouting from the rooftops, but it's still not high enough. Joey Votto deserves to be universally rostered -- nay, started! -- given the way he's performed since returning from a fractured thumb June 8 (and the underlying numbers looked strong even before then). Another two home runs Tuesday give him five in his past four games and 17 overall. He's the No. 4 first baseman in points leagues since that June 8 return.
DET Detroit • #60 • Age: 23
ROSTERED
73%
2021 season
AVG
.273
HR
10
SB
14
OBP
.345
OPS
.839
AB
253
The power continues to show up for Akil Badoo, who has now homered in five of his past 11 games after doing so just once in his previous 62. Meanwhile, the strikeout gains he made during that dry spell continue to hold -- he's whiffed at just a 20 percent rate during that 11-game span. It seems like it's all coming together for the 22-year-old, who's undergoing a trial by fire like so many Rule 5 picks do. Now that he's back to hitting for power after working so hard to improve his contact skills, he looks like a must-roster player.
MIN Minnesota • #8 • Age: 30
ROSTERED
63%
2021 season
AVG
.238
HR
11
OPS
.926
AB
130
BB
22
K
45
The best catcher in Fantasy Baseball is unrostered in more than one-third of CBS Sports leagues. Yeah, I said it. OK, so Salvador Perez or Buster Posey might have a better claim to that title, but after Mitch Garver followed his two-double game Monday with a grand slam Tuesday, it seems fitting to remind you that he was far and away the best catcher on a per-game basis in 2019, when he hit 31 homers and had a .995 OPS. His swing got out of whack last year and remained so early this year, but in the 28 games he's been healthy enough to play since May 1, he has slashed .292/.452/.681 with more walks (19) than strikeouts (18).
DET Detroit • #13 • Age: 28
ROSTERED
58%
2021 season
AVG
.242
HR
17
OPS
.841
AB
194
BB
11
K
68
Might Eric Haase also have a claim to best-catcher-in-Fantasy title? His home run Tuesday brought him to 17, tied with Gary Sanchez for third-most at the position. The difference between Haase and Sanchez, though, is that Haase didn't even arrive until a quarter of the way into the season. Seeing as he's a 28-year-old rookie with a bloated strikeout rate, skepticism is warranted. But he was an accomplished power hitter in the minors, and the Statcast data mostly backs up his production so far. I'd pick up Garver over him -- and probably Daulton Varsho as well -- but at a position as weak as catcher, Haase is clearly being overlooked.
KC Kansas City • #56 • Age: 26
ROSTERED
40%
Tuesday vs. White Sox
INN
7
H
4
ER
1
BB
2
K
4
Brad Keller was broken for most of this season, which explains his 5.55 ERA and 1.67 WHIP overall, but he appears to be fixed now, having delivered his fourth straight quality start Tuesday. He corrected an issue in his delivery that prevented him from staying on top of the ball, which worked against his natural ground-ball tendencies. Given that he entered the year with a career 3.50 ERA, I think we know which version is closer to the real one. I'd say he's the most under-rostered starting pitcher in Fantasy if not for the fact Patrick Sandoval exists.