10 Burning Questions: Adolis Garcia, Jesse Winker, Zack Wheeler (2021 Fantasy Baseball)
I hate to begin this week’s article with such a poor outlook, but last week was excruciatingly rough with the number of injuries that occurred.
Arguably the two best players in baseball, Mike Trout and Jacob deGrom, are out with injuries. Fortunately, deGrom should be back this week. Some other top-tier players, such as Pete Alonso, Franmil Reyes, and Manny Machado, will miss some games due to ongoing injuries. One can hope that the number of injuries slows down because this MLB season has been nothing short of fantastic.
Now, let’s take a look at 10 burning questions I had from the previous week! You can find my previous article here.
As always, these rankings and statistics are up to date as of May 24th via Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) and average draft position (ADP) from FantasyPros.
1. Will Fernando Tatis Jr. continue to dominate?
One word: Wow. Fernando Tatis Jr. is back. After missing a handful of games due to COVID issues, Tatis came back with a vengeance. In four games this past week, he went 11-14 with four home runs, 12 RBIs, and three stolen bases. It’s safe to say that’s some solid production. This is actually the second time I have written about Nando in this manner because he won plenty of fantasy managers their weeks with his outstanding play. I think it’s safe to assume he will continue to terrorize opposing pitchers. Do not even think about trading him. Enjoy the ride.
2. Can the injuries stop already?!
I get that they are a part of the game, but injuries are the worst thing in sports. It’s a shame that so many athletes have to deal with them. I already addressed a handful of injuries earlier in the article, but I didn’t even get to mention guys like Cody Bellinger, Byron Buxton, and Corey Seager. Injuries are obviously a far bigger issue in real-life sports, but injuries can destroy a fantasy baseball team’s production, too. If you’re in dire need of wins, don’t hesitate to consider offers for some injured stars on your roster. Let’s hope the injuries slow down.
3. Has Austin Riley arrived?
If not for the previously mentioned Tatis, Riley would have been taking all of last week’s spotlight. The hard-hitting 3B put on an absolute clinic at the plate. Riley is slugging an absurd 1.308 in his last seven games and looks as locked in as any hitter in baseball. Riley has always been known for having a powerful bat, and it’s good to see him put together a stretch like this one. I truly believe this is a coming-out party of sorts for the 24-year-old, and I would look for more strong hitting performances soon.
4. Is Jesse Winker a legitimate NL MVP candidate?
There is only one answer to this question, and that answer is yes. Jesse Winker is putting together a historically great season. He currently ranks in the 90th percentile or higher in Avg Exit Velocity, Hard Hit%, xwOBA, xBA, xSLG, and Barrel %. The season he is having cannot be overlooked. You could argue (strongly) that he’s been the most consistent hitter this season. So, yes, Winker is an MVP candidate — unless the Reds decide to shop him. However, that remains to be seen. Winker should only continue his hot hitting, and fantasy baseball managers will enjoy every bit of it.
5. Will Adolis Garcia be the best waiver wire pickup of the season?
Talk about putting the team on your back. Adolis Garcia is doing just that for the Texas Rangers. Not only did he hit a walk-off against his in-state rivals, the Houston Astros, but then he came around to hit two more dingers the next game. Garcia is on a run right now, and it’s difficult to envision him slowing down soon. His swing is looking as pure as anyone’s, and his 96th percentile Barrel % goes to show that his hitting stats are no fluke. If anything, Garcia’s numbers should arguably be better as his xBA is in the 76th percentile. Nevertheless, Garcia is looking like a staple for fantasy baseball managers’ rosters. If you don’t have Garcia on your team, you should try and send some offers to acquire him immediately.
6. Was Zack Wheeler an ADP bargain?
Coming into the season, I found myself underrating Wheeler. He had put together a marvelous 2020 season — he posted a 2.92 ERA to go along with a respectable .254 opponent batting average. However, Wheeler fell towards the 75-80 range in most drafts. That’s making him look like a steal now. Wheeler has been borderline unhittable in his last four starts. He gives up some of the weakest contact in all of baseball and is striking out hitters like it’s nothing. At this point, he may be the Phillies’ ace. He may get hit around hard at some point, but Wheeler is looking as strong as he ever has. Hold onto the new Phillies’ ace with confidence.
7. Can Lucas Giolito find consistency?
Finally! The White Sox ace was finally able to put together a stellar outing. It was arguably Giolito’s best outing in 2021. Giolito pitched eight strong innings while only allowing five baserunners and striking out 11 batters. Not to mention, he did it against a potent offense in the Minnesota Twins. We always knew Giolito could do it, but he’s yet to remain consistent this season. He has another tough test versus the St. Louis Cardinals this week. Let’s see if he can maintain his momentum.
8. Is Kenley Jansen back to his old ways?
It would be a disservice to call Kenley Jansen’s season anything short of a wild rollercoaster ride. He started the year by scraping together saves and looking like a shell of himself. There were even rumors of Corey Knebel stealing the closer role from him. Now, Jansen has put all of those rumors to rest. He looks like his all-star self and shows no signs of slowing down. His cutter is back where it used to be, and he is getting hitters to whiff at a very high rate. Jansen appears to be back — let’s see if he can keep it up.
9. Will Trevor Bauer win back-to-back Cy Young Awards?
It’s hard to imagine, but Bauer might actually be pitching better than he did last year. At times, Bauer looks like he can do whatever he wants to on the mound. Hitters have absolutely no shot against him, and he has been a treat to watch all season long. He is finally getting some run support, and the wins are now starting to pile up. deGrom’s injury may have changed things in the NL Cy Young race, and it’ll be interesting to see which pitcher comes out on top with the award this season.
10. Is Vladimir Guerrero Jr. the best hitter in baseball?
I pose this question because the Toronto Blue Jays made a lot of noise by tweeting out that Vladdy is the best hitter in baseball. And although I disagree with that statement, I agree that he is putting together an unreal season, and it is getting far too overlooked. I don’t know what it is about Vladdy and not getting the proper credit he deserves, but right now, he is a strong AL MVP candidate. Maybe all the hype made fans overlook his production, but I’m here to give Vladdy his proper respect as he is firmly in the AL MVP race. His percentile ranks are out of this world, and he should only get better. Let’s not debate Vladdy — instead, let’s appreciate what he’s doing. I’m sure fantasy baseball managers who have him have been doing that all season.
If you want to dive deeper into fantasy baseball, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Baseball Tools as you navigate your season. From our Lineup Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant – that allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team and by how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy baseball season.