Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Jordan Hicks replacement options, a streaking Jason Kipnis highlight winners and losers
Who's the next in line for saves in St. Louis? How worried should Fantasy players be about Lucas Giolito and Zach Eflin?
In about a 48-hour period, Jordan Hicks went from having a sore triceps to a torn UCL, and whatever tepid feelings you may have had about adding his potential replacement suddenly swelled to a fever pitch.
Now if you could only pick the right guy.
GM John Mozeliak threw his hat in the ring for John Gant in the immediate aftermath of the injury Sunday morning, when the severity remained unknown. But at the time, the right-hander had a 1.54 ERA. After a four-run meltdown later that day, it's up to 2.40.
Since then, Rick Hummel, beat writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, reported that former ace Carlos Martinez "is expected to take over most of the closer duties," but the use of the passive voice there cleverly obfuscates who it is doing the expecting. Is it Hummel himself more or less speculating, or did he hear something from manager Mike Shildt, who hasn't always been on the same page with Mozeliak regarding the pitching staff? Martinez has more consistently worked the eighth inning than Gant since coming off the IL in mid-May, for whatever that's worth, but he also has just one hold compared to Gant's 10.
And then there are Cardinals fans out there who suggest that Giovanny Gallegos, with his 49 strikeouts compared to just six walks in 34 2/3 innings, is deserving of a shot, and it's hard to argue looking at the numbers.
If I was handicapping it right now, I'd go Martinez one, followed by Gant and then Gallegos, but if you need saves any way you can get them, it might be worth hedging and making a play for all three. Seeing as Shildt has relied on more traditional bullpen roles so far, I'd bet against a committee, but it's ever the possibility in 2019.
CHC Chi. Cubs • #73 • Age: 24
After a sizzling debut in which he no-hit the Mets for four innings of relief (before serving up a home run at the start of the fifth), Adbert Alozlay has been confirmed as the starter for Tuesday's game. The Cubs may go with a six-man rotation for now, preventing him from making two starts this week, but the bottom line is that if his first start is as electric as his debut, you probably won't get another shot at him.
ARI Arizona • #53 • Age: 28
Christian Walker has had his ups and downs this year but has held steady as the Diamondbacks' primary first baseman and has a clear path to at-bats again with Kevin Cron in the minors. He's also hot again, continuing a nine-game hitting streak with a single and a homer Monday. His totals are lagging because of some missed starts in recent weeks, but he still makes some of the hardest contact of anyone and could re-emerge as a viable mixed-league starter.
Jason Kipnis 2B
CLE Cleveland • #22 • Age: 32
Jason Kipnis, who has been a non-factor in Fantasy for 2 1/2 seasons, changed the way he positioned his hands a little over a week ago and is suddenly reborn. On Monday, he connected for his fourth homer during that nine-game span, during which he has hit nearly .300 with just three strikeouts in 34 at-bats. There's enough success in his past to make him worth a longer look if you happen to have a need at second base.
Bryse Wilson SP
ATL Atlanta • #46 • Age: 21
Bryse Wilson will get the first crack at replacing Mike Foltynewicz during a year when several of the Braves' top pitching prospects haven't lived up to the billing in the minors. His Triple-A numbers won't bowl you over, but he does have a 2.49 ERA over his past eight starts, buoyed by a shockingly low walk rate. He may be a little too fastball-reliant, but in this pitching environment, anyone with upside is worth a flier.
Jon Gray SP
COL Colorado • #55 • Age: 27
With six shutout innings Monday, his second straight quality outing, Jon Gray's numbers are suddenly looking quite serviceable during a year in which the 27-year-old has again fallen short of the grandest expectations. His ERA is back below 4.00, he has a top-20 swinging strike rate, and he's on pace for more than 200 strikeouts. He's never has been intimidated by Coors Field either, actually boasting better numbers there than on the road this year.
Jose Ramirez 3B
CLE Cleveland • #11 • Age: 26
Jose Ramirez reached base four times Monday, twice on doubles and twice on walks, to give him a .326 (14 for 43) batting average and six extra-base hits in his past 11 games. It's admittedly a small victory during what has been a colossally disappointing season, but with as little as he strikes out, the batting average had to go up eventually.
Jon Lester SP
CHC Chi. Cubs • #34 • Age: 35
Jon Lester's six shutout innings Monday against the Braves ended a horrendous seven-start stretch in which he put together a 7.17 ERA, but what's most interesting about that stretch is that he still had a healthy strikeout stretch during it, getting burned mostly by the long ball. He's still right at a strikeout per inning for the season, which is a big improvement from a year ago, and had a season-high 13 swinging strikes in this one.
CC Sabathia SP
NYY N.Y. Yankees • #52 • Age: 39
After striking out seven in six one-run innings last time out, CC Sabathia struck out nine in six two-run innings Monday against the Blue Jays. It's a reminder the 38-year-old can still be a useful matchups play, particularly with a great offense backing him, which wasn't so obvious after a rocky first few starts off the IL in early June.
CHW Chi. White Sox • #27 • Age: 25
Lucas Giolito continued to put the breakout hype to the test Monday, not exactly getting lambasted like last time out by lasting only 5 2/3 innings while issuing four walks. He's up to 11 walks in 16 innings over his past three starts, which is something that plagued him at the start of the season, too. The stuff itself is so improved this season that we shouldn't sweat these growing pains so much.
Zach Eflin SP
PHI Philadelphia • #56 • Age: 25
Zach Eflin has thrived this year mostly because of low line-drive and home run-to-fly ball rates, which may be a testament to how well he locates his cutter, encouraging hitters to swing but not in a way that allows them to square up the ball. Or maybe Monday's start in which he allowed six runs on 11 hits, including three homers, in five innings, is the start of him normalizing to his xFIP, which estimates his ERA should be somewhere in the mid-fours.
Steven Matz SP
NYM N.Y. Mets • #32 • Age: 28
Steven Matz has been sort of a curiosity in Fantasy the past two years, recording a decent number of strikeouts but with an arsenal that suggests he shouldn't. It's come back to bite him over his past two starts, his ERA rising from 3.93 to 4.85 thanks to 12 earned runs and five home runs.
ATL Atlanta • #49 • Age: 28
Julio Teheran's seven earned runs in four innings Monday might be a little more excusable if he hadn't given up six earned runs in four innings last time ... or if he didn't have an xFIP over 5.00. Granted, the guy has a history of outperforming his peripherals, but even with these two awful starts, his ERA is still only 3.94, which is outperforming them by a little too much to believe. Good home run luck may be to blame, but either way, he's not to be trusted.
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