Another Monday morning means another frustrating look at the waiver bids processed in your fantasy baseball league. For some owners, waking up on Monday can be exciting as they get to see which new, fresh faces they’ve picked up in their quest for a championship. For others, it can be an exercise in futility as you’ve already spent the first two months of the season bleeding FAAB dollars just trying to fend of the injury bug and stay afloat. As a result, your league’s waiver process has probably turned into a “Haves vs Have Nots,” and those who have dealt with a severe rash of injuries just don’t have the scratch to grab some of the new, fresh faces we see on the wire anymore.
But that doesn’t mean this new influx of talent is going to pass you by. It just means you have to work harder to get them. Those who have the money to spend are also likely sitting with rosters flush with talent which means they’re going to start looking to you to consolidate their roster. The better this influx of talent performs, the easier it will be for them to put together packages and try to grab either your high-end talent or some of your still-struggling stars they believe have a second-half surge pending. The key for you is to figure out which of these players are truly worth your attention.
A hot first week in the majors can often throw blinders onto some fantasy owners as our society has steadily shifted towards the need for instant gratification. A player gets called up, hits a home run and steals three bases in his first game and suddenly he’s the superstar for whom you’ve been waiting all this time. Forget about sample size. It doesn’t mean anything anymore apparently and people start looking at you cross-eyed because you don’t jump at the chance of handing over Manny Machado for two guys who have seen a grand total of 20 big-league at-bats.
That being said, let’s take a look at some of the hottest names to come off the waiver wire this past week and see just who’s worth your time and attention and which players you may not want to go all-in on at this time.
Scooter Gennett, 2B/OF CIN – We may as well start here as the Cincinnati utility man was, as expected, one of the hottest pick-ups this week. Is the acquisition justified? Well, if you’re one of those owners who just looks at what a player has done over the last seven days rather than track record or current playing-time opportunities, you might think it is, but come on, people. Have we not learned how to do this yet? I already went off on the hype which followed Gennett’s four-homer game, so you can check that out for the full run-down, but the bottom line is, while Gennett has his moments and can handle right-handed pitching as a mid-to-low tier option, he does not have a regular job and is really only used to spell the team’s regulars. A four-homer game is nice, but you’re never going to see that again. Never.
Mallex Smith, OF TB – What a return trip to the majors here as Smith has now hit safely in each of his last four games and is batting .571 (8-for-14) with one home runs and four stolen bases in that span. If you’re in need of steals, he’s definitely someone to watch/own right now as Kevin Kiermaier is out for two months with a fractured hip and is looking at regular work in center field. Some might say that his early-season struggles were the reason he was sent down to the minors back in April, but that had more to do with Colby Rasmus getting healthy than it did Smith’s struggles. He’s obviously still learning the ropes, but as we’ve seen with a number of low on-base percentage players (Billy Hamilton, Jose Peraza and Jonathan Villar), the green light on the bases is what matters most here and so long as they’re running, they’re providing value to your fantasy team. Smith won’t keep this torrid pace going, but for the next two months, you should see a nice uptick in your team steals.
Lewis Brinson, OF MIL – Now that the Super-Two deadline has passed and the Brewers don’t have to worry about the free agent clock starting, Brinson was brought up to take Villar’s spot on the roster and is now being given a chance to prove his .312/.397/.503 slash line with six homers and seven steals will translate to the big leagues. Now those who study the prospects know that Brinson has been viewed as a potential 20-20 threat and while you can never put all your eggs into one kid’s basket, there is a whole world of potential you may want to tap into here. The biggest question, though, is the playing time. He may have taken Villar’s spot, but the team still has Keon Broxton, Domingo Santana and Hernan Perez still available. Not to mention, Ryan Braun is due back towards the end of the month. That’s a tight squeeze and no matter how many tweaks to the lineup manager Craig Counsell makes, eventually, there’s going to be an odd-man out each day. But with Broxton’s strikeout problems (39.5-percent K-rate), it wouldn’t be out of the question to see the team give Brinson a legitimate shot at taking over a starting job for the duration of the season. If you’re watching Brinson right now, as you should be,
Sean Newcomb, SP ATL – He’s drawn quite the buzz after his season debut in which he allowed just one unearned run over 6.1 innings against the Mets this past week, but before we go anointing him as the next big strikeout arm to hit the waiver wire, let’s rein in some of that enthusiasm and understand a few things. Number one, it’s the Mets, people and while they’ve got some nice talent there on the offensive side of things, they still only have a .305 wOBA against left-handed pitching. Are there worse? Of course, but the Mets sit right there in the middle of the league and are also fanning 21.5-percent of the time against southpaws. Number two is the command issues Newcomb has shown in the minors. Over the last three seasons, his BB/9 has never been lower than 4.52 at any time and that’s going to catch up to him when he starts facing more patient lineups. Number three is is arsenal. He’s got low-90’s heat and throws a decent curve, but his slider and changeup are both in serious need of some work. He didn’t throw either very much in this outing and if he doesn’t hone them to the point where he can fool big league hitters, he’s going to get hit hard. We’ve all seen what happens to two-pitch pitchers. Now I’m not saying there isn’t value to be had here, but don’t expect Newcomb to be your saving grace. Like many of these young arms, growing pains are abundant and one good start and a whole lot of hype are only going to get you in trouble. Tread lightly.
Seth Lugo, SP NYM – While Steven Matz seems to garner all the attention, people are obviously also kicking the tires on Lugo as a potential middle-of-the-rotation guy to add and rightfully so. In fact, I’d probably be more inclined to grab Lugo than Newcomb. Lugo has been back and forth and is one of those pitchers whose growth is evident. I’m not saying it’s world-beating talent, but steady growth, as I pointed out with Buck Farmer, is important to see, especially when deciding whether unproven talent is worthwhile. His four-pitch arsenal is solid and as you may have seen in his start, he’s much more confident in his changeup which looks a lot better than his first go-around in the majors last year. As a middle-of-the-rotation guy for your fantasy squad, you can definitely take a shot on him.
Jake Junis, SP KC – While he sits on the Royals’ top prospect list and showed a significant increase in his strikeout rate when he was in Double-A last year (one that earned him a late-season promotion to Triple-A), you have to be careful with Junis. He’s still developing and even though we’ve seen improvements in his changeup which complement his fastball and curve, there are still likely to be a number of ups and downs here in the early stages of his big league career. The main thing to look out for is that 5.71 BB/9 over his first 17.1 innings here in the majors. Regardless of his minor league strikeout rate, a high walk rate in the majors means either a command issue or he doesn’t trust his stuff and is trying too hard to nibble the corners. You’re better off going for someone like Lugo, actually.