Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Prospective closers, plus winners and losers from the weekend
Find some help in the ninth inning, plus more options to add heading into Week 4 of the Fantasy season.
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You need bullpen help. We all need bullpen help. Even at this early stage in the season, finding saves remains one of the tougher things to do.
The good news is, there are options available right now. Two would-be contenders have seen injuries to their prospective ninth-inning options, but have viable reinforcements ready to go.
In Atlanta, a timeshare has been reduced to what will likely be a one-man operation moving forward, as Arodys Vizcaino was placed on the IL with continued shoulder issues. Vizcaino has been solid in the role, but just hasn't been able to stay healthy, and the door is now wide open for A.J. Minter to step through it.
Minter hasn't been lights out himself since coming back from a spring injury of his own, but he sported a 3.18 ERA and 2.37 FIP, with 95 strikeouts in 76.1 career innings coming into this season and has the chance to step up as a high-level Fantasy closer. He is owned in just 34% of CBS Fantasy leagues.
Out in Milwaukee, the Brewers have been making due without Corey Knebel already, with Josh Hader picking up five of the team's seven saves entering Sunday — Junior Guerra and Alex Wilson each have one, as well. However, the team would surely prefer to have Hader available to put out fires whenever they may come up.
Which brings us to Jeremy Jeffress. Jeffress stepped up in a big way, saving 15 games and sporting a 1.29 ERA in 2018, with 89 strikeouts in 76.2 innings. He was an elite Fantasy option and has finished up his rehab assignment and is set to join the club this week.
Jeffress hasn't been lights out in his rehab work, but if he's healthy enough to pitch, you'll want him on your side. If he steps up as the team's full-time closer, you've got to go get him. After all, Jeffress is only 42% owned himself.
Five (more) players to add from the weekend
- Touki Toussaint (41%) — Once again, Sean Newcomb struggled over the weekend, and ultimately earned a demotion to the minors. Toussaint probably helped the Braves with that decision, as he took over for Newcomb in the second inning Saturday and tossed six brilliant innings, striking out seven, walking two, and giving up just one unearned run. He has likely earned himself a shot in the rotation, and there's tons of upside here.
- Franmil Reyes (48%) — As long as he's in the lineup, you should expect Reyes to hit, and he's been in the lineup in six of the last eight games, including four in a row. Not coincidentally, he's clubbed three homers in that span.
- Caleb Smith (53%) — Hype started building around Smith in the pre-season, and he's exceeded expectations so far, with a 2.65 ERA, 21 strikeouts, and six walks in 17 innings of work. What's more, the underlying numbers back it up, making Smith look like an above-average option moving forward.
- Michael Pineda (77%) — Pineda no longer captures the attention of the baseball world the way he once did, but he's looked solid in his return from Tommy John surgery. His fastball doesn't have the life it once did, but he's still getting swings and misses, and has 15 strikeouts in 15 innings, to just two walks.
- David Fletcher (5%) — Fletcher hasn't made many headlines in his climb up the minor-league ladder, but he's shown some interesting skills along the way. First and foremost is speed, as he stole 27 bases per-150 games; second is contact, as he struck out just 46 times in 105 games. Speed and batting average will play in AL-only, and if he locks in more consistent playing time, he'll be worth a look in mixed leagues, too.
Winners and Losers
- Josh Donaldson — It took a while for Donaldson to find his way, but he seems to have found it. He has hit safely in seven straight games, including five doubles and two homers. Overall, he is now hitting .250/.381/.462, with an .842 OPS and 11 walks and 14 strikeouts. That may not be the MVP-level production we once got, but it's proof he's still a force to be reckoned with.
- Jesse Winker — Remember when Winker couldn't hit anything? He now has six hits in his last five games, including four homers; he only had two hits and no extra-base hits in nine games prior. Whatever concerns you might have had about Winker coming off shoulder surgery, he's put them to rest. Bonus: He's still freely available in 35% of CBS Fantasy leagues.
- Chris Archer — Maybe the trade was a win-win? Going back to his final five starts with the Pirates in 2018, Archer now has a 2.25 ERA, with 60 strikeouts in 48 innings of work. He's off to a terrific start, and maybe a change of scenery was what he needed.
- Sean Newcomb — It wasn't just a slow start to 2019 that did it; he walked 15 in 21 innings in Spring Training, as well. And had a 5.68 ERA in his final 10 games in 2018. Newcomb still has big potential, but at this point, there's no reason to stash him now that he's back in the minors.
- Miles Mikolas — Was Mikolas' success in 2018 a mirage? I think not. But, given his pitch-to-contact tendencies, his margin for error will always be slim, and he hasn't been skating by just yet. Don't drop him, but I'm not starting Mikolas until he figures things out.
- Rick Porcello — It's hard to say quite what might be wrong with Porcello at this point, but it's surely … something. He's walked 12 in 11.1 innings and given up three homers too. Porcello? Now there's one you can drop. The upside isn't high enough to show him this kind of patience.
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