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Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Alek Manoah, Keston Hiura, Michael Fulmer

by Andrew Gould | @andrewgould4 | Featured Writer
May 25, 2021

Alek Manoah is getting called up to make his MLB debut Wednesday.

Only in 2021 could a pitcher remain available in most Yahoo leagues nearly a week after throwing a no-hitter.

Spencer Turnbull became the fifth hurler to toss an official no-no this season, but Corey Kluber stole the spotlight with a sixth the next night. Despite last Tuesday’s gem improving his ERA to 2.88 and polishing his WHIP to 0.96, Turnbull remained widely available into the weekend. He didn’t surpass the halfway mark until Monday morning in anticipation of his encore.

The follow-up outing didn’t go as well. He served up seven hits and three runs against a Cleveland offense missing one of its few power threats in Franmil Reyes. Monday’s baseline quality start could temper future expectations, but those who just added Turnbull shouldn’t toss him right back into the free-agent pool. The righty still boasts a 3.12 ERA, 2.83 FIP, and 55.7% ground-ball rate on the season.

There are plenty of other intriguing pitchers rostered in fewer leagues for those who missed their chance on Turnbull. Chief among them is a neophyte who has skyrocketed up prospect boards and expedited his path to the bigs.

Note: Rostered rates are from Yahoo leagues as of Monday night.

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FAABulous Four: Top Waiver Targets

Alek Manoah (SP – TOR): 25% Rostered
Anyone who waited for news of Manoah’s promotion may be too late.

Per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, the Blue Jays will call up the 23-year-old to make his MLB debut Wednesday against the Yankees. The 6’6″, 260-pound righty toyed with Triple-A hitters, allowing seven hits and one run in three starts while stockpiling 27 strikeouts in 18 innings. While the 2019 first-round pick doesn’t have much minor-league seasoning, he also made six dominant High-A starts (2.65 ERA, 27 Ks in 17 IPs). Manoah needs to be rostered in all leagues, even if investors aren’t comfortable tossing him into the starting lineup at Yankee Stadium.

Keston Hiura (1B/2B – MIL): 46% Rostered
Hiura was batting .152/.247/.266 before the Brewers relented and demoted him. They had little choice, as he was making contact at a horrid 55.3% clip. Following three fruitful weeks in Triple-A, Milwaukee is giving him another chance.

Fantasy managers might as well follow suit and take a high-upside flier. Although he’s looked lost since the start of 2020, Hiura made a lasting first impression by batting .303/.368/.570 with 19 homers and nine steals in 84 games as a rookie. Before getting drafted with the No. 9 pick in 2017 and making his MLB debut two years later, he was lauded for a highly advanced bat that’d only get held back by his glove. We’re months removed from treating him as a top-100 pick and even higher dynasty asset, and now there’s a chance to grab him off the waiver wire.

The Brewers brought back Hiura on Monday after he went 14-for-32 with six doubles, three homers, and two steals in nine games. Unfortunately, he failed to solve his biggest issue, striking out 13 times in 38 plate appearances. Hiura may still have a long road back to stardom, but he warrants a speculative add.

Michael Fulmer (SP/RP – DET): 40% Rostered
Sunday didn’t go well for Fulmer, who gave up a walk-off homer to Carlos Santana in the ninth. Hey, at least the Tigers deployed him for a save opportunity. He has recorded four saves since shifting to Detroit’s bullpen earlier this month, and he holds a 2.84 ERA, 23 strikeouts, and three walks in 19 innings as a reliever this season.

Unless Fulmer moves back to the rotation, the Tigers might as well keep letting him close. Gregory Soto is their only other reliever with an ERA below 4.50 at exactly a run lower. He also walks too many batters to trust with the game on the line. One setback shouldn’t cost Fulmer the closing gig, and he’ll help fantasy managers far more with this new job assignment.

Enrique Hernández (2B/SS/OF – BOS): 33% Rostered
Hernández had recorded a hit in four straight games before landing on the IL with a hamstring injury. He’s swinging a hot bat since returning last week, going 9-for-24 with one home run and steal each. The Red Sox wasted little time inserting him into the leadoff role. While it’s a questionable assignment for a veteran with a career .313 OBP, batting ahead of Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, and J.D. Martinez will lead to ample run-scoring opportunities. Positional flexibility is icing on the cake for Hernández’s appeal as a plug-in-play hitter.

Priority Pickups – <35% Rostered

Daniel Bard (RP – COL): 30%
So you typically don’t want to pick up a pitcher with a 1.83 WHIP. Whether they expected Bard to lose the closer role or decided no amount of saves was worth the hassle, most managers abandoned the struggling Rockies reliever. Having recorded a save Saturday and pitched the ninth of a tie game Sunday, it appears he somehow hasn’t lost the role despite a dreadful start to the season. He was likely unavailable to pitch a third straight day Monday, leading Carlos Estévez to receive the ninth-inning nod instead.

Bard has gone five outings without allowing an earned run, so consider the risky reinvestment if hungry for saves. A week away from the Coors Field against the Mets and Pirates could yield more save opportunities against decrepit lineups in pitcher’s parks.

Adbert Alzolay (SP – CHC): 28%
No, I’m not giving up on a pitcher with a 0.86 WHIP and 22.6% K-BB rate. Alzolay has a glaring home run problem, but he’s gone three starts without giving up a walk and hasn’t allowed more than three runs since his first outing of the season. Even if the two-pitch pitcher doesn’t perfect his command, a high ERA comes with an excellent WHIP and approximately one strikeout per inning.

Danny Santana (1B/2B/3B/SS/OF – BOS): 23%
The Red Sox activated Santana on Friday, and he celebrated with a home run. The following day, he paired another long ball with a stolen base. Looking at his career portfolio, his 2019 breakout stands out as the clear outlier. Nobody should expect another 28-homer, 21-steal campaign, and they especially shouldn’t anticipate a .283/.324/.534 slash line from the career .259/.300/.421. Yet the streaky hitter could also sprinkle a little power and speed into a deep-league fantasy lineup hamstrung by injuries. His value is also heavily contingent on the format. Santana is eligible everywhere but catcher in Yahoo leagues, but he’s only a first baseman on most other platforms using 2020 games played.

Hansel Robles (RP – MIN): 21%
The bad news? Robles blew a save Sunday. An optimist, however, would celebrate the Twins handing him the ball in the ninth with a one-run lead. (Those who already roster him received a cheap win for their troubles.) As discussed last week, Minnesota won’t give him too many chances unless he succeeds. Yet the Twins didn’t give the 10th-inning save opportunity to Alex Colomé, who allowed two runs without recording an out the previous day. Robles could get some more chances to prove his merit as a closer.

Austin Gomber (SP/RP – COL): 18%
The last time fantasy managers streamed Gomber for a two-start week on the road, they got burned with a nine-run demolition at San Francisco. Those unwilling to take the risk again missed out on an eight-inning, two-run gem against a severely understaffed Mets squad Monday evening. The Rockies righty hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in any other start besides the Giants catastrophe, which is impressive since he’s faced the Dodgers and Padres twice apiece. He’s scheduled to get one more golden streaming opportunity at Pittsburgh.

Garrett Cooper (1B/OF – COL): 16%
Cooper recorded an impressive .383 wOBA last season, but the Marlins losing the DH put his playing time in peril. As seen time and again, injuries tend to sort out those issues. Playing often at right field, the 30-year-old late bloomer has gone 14-for-32 with three doubles, a triple, and three home runs during an ongoing nine-game hitting streak. Batting .275/.341/.452 since the start of 2019, Cooper continues to deliver when given a chance. His bat is far too hot for Miami to take off the field.

James Kaprielian (SP/RP – OAK): 14%
Kaprelian dazzled in the first two starts of his MLB career, tallying 15 strikeouts over 10.2 innings against the Red Sox and Angels. He missed all of 2017 and 2018 recovering from Tommy John surgery. During that time, the Yankees shipped him to Oakland in a package for Sonny Gray. Kaprelian pitched twice from the bullpen last season, but he could not repair his stock in the minors. That caused his arrival in the A’s rotation to fall under the radar. That anonymity won’t last for long if he continues to miss bats with his sharp slider.

Deep League Targets – <10% Rostered

Brendan Rodgers (2B/SS – COL): 7%
Rodgers may have opened 2021 with a full-time opportunity if not for a hamstring injury sending him to the IL. This gave fantasy managers yet another reason to forget about the once heavily hyped prospect, who has dealt with shoulder issues earlier in his career. Now it’s a matter of whether the Rockies will actually use a young player. He’s started two of four games at second base, which sent Garrett Hampson to the outfield. That’s the layout many onlookers anticipated and/or hoped for before Rodgers got hurt. Or course, Colorado doesn’t also follow common sense, and Rodgers has yet to establish himself in the majors. However, the 24-year-old could leverage Coors Field to five-category production if given a chance to mature with regular reps.

Josh Naylor (1B/OF – CLE): 6%
After showcasing none of his power potential in April, Naylor has gone deep four times in May. He’s now batting .250 for Cleveland, which has moved him to the No. 5 lineup slot for three of his last four starts. The 23-year-old will continue to get regular playing time to transfer his 70-game raw power into big-league results, making him an intriguing post-hype addition in 15-team formats.

Taylor Walls (SS – TB): 6%
Walls makes his MLB debut in an unenviable spot. Rather than embracing a newcomer who was batting .327/.468/.490 in Triple-A, most fans are upset because he got the call over Wander Franco and Vidal Bruján. While Walls isn’t an uber-prospect on par with those young middle infielders, the 24-year-old stole 59 bases in his last two seasons. This will change if Tampa Bay decides to promote the best shortstop in its farm system, but Walls currently has the job now after the club sent Willy Adames to Milwaukee.

Spencer Howard (SP – PHI): 5%
He issued four walks in only three innings, but Howard returned to the rotation Saturday. The well-regarded prospect has yet to click for the Phillies, allowing 16 walks and 22 earned runs in 31.2 innings. That’s not nearly enough of a sample size to abandon hope on the 24-year-old righty, who is slated to make another start Thursday at Miami. He’s a tempting dart throw in deeper leagues, and it may only take one promising start for Howard to garner attention in a standard mixed league.

Antonio Senzatela (SP – COL): 3%
Chi Chi González (CP – COL): 1%
Take a look at the Mets’ injury-ravaged lineup. Cameron Maybin and James McCann have batted third over the last week. Gonzalez and Senzatela are scheduled to face them on the road Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. Stream them, and then move on.

Nicky Lopez (2B/SS – KC): 2%
Lopez is batting .230 with zero home runs almost exclusively from the No. 9 spot. Not exactly an exciting pickup when you put it that way, but the 26-year-old has also succeeded on all five stolen-base attempts after getting caught on all five tries last season. He also has 16 walks to just 21 strikeouts in 150 plate appearances, offering hope for a higher batting average from a speedster with an 89.1% contact rate.

Merrill Kelly (SP – ARI): 6%
Kelly isn’t gaining too much traction despite tallying a career-high 12 strikeouts at the Dodgers’ expense last Thursday. He has a 5.05 ERA after allowing six earned runs in consecutive April starts (one at Coors Field), but he’s posted a 3.65 ERA and 26.9% strikeout rate this month. Those punchouts, however, are unlikely to remain so plentiful unless he substantially improves an 8.2% swinging-strike rate. While Kelly isn’t about to leap to ace status, he’s a solid depth piece and matchup play who wields a 4.33 ERA in 266.1 innings since returning to the U.S. in 2019.

Edmundo Sosa (SS – STL): 2%
Do we have some Cardinals Devil Magic to report? Replacing Paul DeJong at shortstop, Sosa is batting .387/.500/.516 in 21 games. Half of his batted balls won’t continue to fall for hits, but he could post an above-average BABIP as a ground-ball heavy hitter with a Statcast sprint speed in the top 98th percentile. Although he never ran much in the minors, that speed could also yield a few stolen bases if he stays on the field. That’s no guarantee, as DeJong isn’t expected to need a lengthy absence, but Sosa could force his way into time at second base with Tommy Edman sliding to the outfield. While that uncertainty makes Sosa more of a hot hand to ride for another week or so, the 25-year-old should at least stick around as a super-utility man.


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Andrew Gould is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Andrew, check out his archive and follow him @andrewgould4.

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