Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Tarik Skubal, Daniel Bard, Lucas Sims
Enough time has passed in the 2021 MLB season for previously added and dropped players to get picked up again.
When submitting a waiver-wire claim, fantasy managers like to think that player will make a lasting impact throughout the season. More often than not, you’re dropping him for the newest shiny toy following a slump or injury. Constantly churning through players is all part of the game, as you’ll see your diligence rewarded if a few turn into roster mainstays.
Some rookies, relievers, and risers returning from the IL demand attention for the second time this season. Give them another look in a week with more options than usual, especially for managers seeking saves. Note that the scorching hot Jonathan Schoop and Patrick Wisdom aren’t listed. As of Monday night, they were both rostered in nearly half of Yahoo leagues. That means they’re likely only available in the shallowest formats, where they’re least likely to hold long-term appeal.
Note: Rostered rates are from Yahoo leagues as of Monday night.
FAABulous Four: Top Waiver Targets
Tarik Skubal (SP – DET): 30% Rostered
Make that 50 strikeouts in Skubal’s last six outings after depositing a career-high 11 against the White Sox on Saturday. He also sports a 3.09 ERA during that stretch with three wins for the last-place Tigers. Despite his 1.44 WHIP and 5.30 FIP, Skubal is performing too well to leave on the waiver wire.
Only Max Scherzer has a higher strikeout rate than Skubal’s 36.8% strikeout rate since May 1. He also has a higher rate of called and swinging strikes (CSW) than Clayton Kershaw, Tyler Glasnow, and Walker Buehler during this timeframe after inducing 20 swinging strikes Saturday. With his slider and changeup blossoming into lethal secondary weapons, the burgeoning southpaw needs to be rostered in all leagues. Skubal should even be trusted in starting lineups for an upcoming rematch with the White Sox.
Daniel Bard (RP – COL): 39% Rostered
Talk about a course correction. Bard looked to have forfeited Colorado’s closer role when surrendering four runs on May 4, desecrating his ERA to 9.00. He has since allowed one run (three earned) in 15 innings. Even more impressive, he’s tallied two or three strikeouts in each of his last seven appearances, totaling 17 in 9.1 frames.
Bard has picked up five saves since the early-May collapse and repaired his 2021 ERA to 3.75 with a 2.77 FIP. Having survived the early setback, the 35-year-old should maintain the ninth-inning job until becoming a popular summer trade target. That still gives him seven more weeks to compile saves and strikeouts.
Lucas Sims (SP/RP – CIN): 30% Rostered
The Reds finally seemed to have answered their closing conundrum. Sims has recorded four saves in his last five outings, during which he collected seven strikeouts without allowing a run. While his 4.70 ERA is still an eyesore, he’s come a long way from a 7.20 mark after allowing two runs on June 2. The 27-year-old has stockpiled 35 strikeouts across 23 innings while ceding just 15 hits and a 64.2% contact rate. Amir Garrett, on the other hand, saw his ERA balloon to 9.56 when surrendering four runs in his last appearance. The role is firmly Sims’ to lose.
Colin Moran (1B/2B/3B – PIT): 30% Rostered
A frequent guest of this column in April, Moran batted .297/.352/.468 before a groin injury sent him to the IL. He returned Sunday as Pittsburgh’s cleanup hitter, a role he locked down before getting sidelined in early May. Scoop up the 28-year-old whenever he was dropped, especially in Yahoo leagues that still generously grant him eligibility at second and third base. His hot start wasn’t just a month-long mirage, as Moran slugged .472 with 10 home runs in 200 plate appearances last season.
Priority Pickups – <40% Rostered
Josh Staumont (RP – KC): 38%
Staumont emerged as the 1A in Kansas City’s closer committee before going on the IL with a knee sprain. He returned after missing the minimum 10 days to pitch a scoreless eighth inning in Sunday’s 2-1 loss to Minnesota. While Scott Barlow may remain in the already crowded picture after recording a save Wednesday, Staumont is once again the top Royals reliever to roster.
Justin Upton (OF – LAA): 30%
With 13 long balls this season, Upton has 34 in 155 games dating back to 2019. He’s also batting .215 during that period, so don’t expect the 33-year-old to return to All-Star form. Upton is still a useful power source in five-outfielder leagues, especially while riding a hot streak (15-for-45, four doubles, five home runs) over his last 12 games.
Alex Cobb (SP – LAA): 28%
Allowing five runs to Seattle would seemingly pour cold water over Cobb’s resurgence. Or maybe not. The 33-year-old righty allowed just three hits and a walk in seven innings. The damage all occurred in one inning because of a Jake Fraley grand slam following a hit-by-pitch and infield single. Change around the sequence of events, and his evening could have gone far better.
Cobb still has an excellent 49 strikeouts and 2.54 FIP in 40.1 innings despite a humdrum 4.24 ERA. He’s missing bats often (12.7% swinging-strike rate) and generating ground balls at an elite 59.2% ground-ball rate. If those trends continue, the veteran will morph into an impact starter rostered in all fantasy formats.
Hansel Robles (RP – MIN): 25%
Having recorded two more saves last week, Robles is an active participant in Minnesota’s closing committee with lefty Taylor Rogers. Alex Colomé, who was appearing to turn the corner after getting stripped of his ninth-inning assignment, has relinquished five runs in his last six outings. Although he’s still allowing too many walks (15.2%) and fly balls (38.5%) for comfort, Robles has helped fantasy investors with a 3.04 ERA, five saves, and 28 strikeouts in 26.2 innings.
Amed Rosario (SS/OF – CLE): 22%
At .374, Rosario has the highest slugging % of anyone involved in the trade that also sent Andrés Giménez to Cleveland for Francisco Lindor. That’s hardly a glowing endorsement of his season, but Rosario recovered from an atrocious April to bat .295/.354/.432 with four stolen bases in May. He’s made his last dozen starts — all but one at shortstop, halting the tumultuous center-field experiment — in the No. 2 lineup spot. While a dour 2020 made it easier for the Mets to move on, Rosario was on an upward trajectory when batting .287 with 15 homers and 19 steals in 2019. Even if he’s better in fantasy than reality, the 25-year-old still brings five-category potential to the table.
Jonathan India (2B/3B – CIN): 25%
Already a popular pickup in early April, India ended the month on the IL before batting .220 in May. That banished the rookie back to the waiver wire, where a blazing week went to waste. India opened June by going 8-for-16 with four walks, two doubles, two home runs, and a steal. He boosted his season OPS from .683 to .791 in those five games. Although not a league-winner, the 24-year-old does everything well enough to contribute.
Austin Gomber (SP/RP – COL): 22%
Contrary to what one would expect from a Rockies pitcher, Gomber has garnered an immaculate 1.33 ERA at Coors Field, but a disastrous 5.44 ERA on the road. That’s mostly a result of one nine-run implosion at San Francisco; he has a 2.92 ERA in all 11 other starts this year. Despite those splits, Gomber is mentioned here for a favorable turn at Miami this week. Continue to think of him as a matchup play rather than testing his luck at Coors.
Paul Fry (RP – BAL): 18%
After picking up a save Friday night, Fry is as enticing as an Orioles reliever can get. Holstering a 1.99 ERA and 33 walks in 22.2 innings, the 28-year-old lefty is certainly a better fit for a high-leverage role than the soft-tossing César Valdez. Fry also isn’t a flamethrower by modern standards, but he can at least reach the mid-90s while avoiding home runs and hard-hit contact. It’d behoove Baltimore to bolster his trade value with a few weeks in the closer’s spot.
Justus Sheffield (SP – SEA): 16%
After posting a 3.58 ERA in 10 impressive starts last season, Sheffield has a 4.77 ERA in as many starts this season. That undersells his disappointing campaign when considering the 25-year-old’s 1.57 WHIP and 5.76 xERA. He’s still an interesting streamer this week against the Tigers, who are last in wRC+ (75) and strikeout rate (30.6%) against lefties this season.
Eric Haase (C – DET): 13%
The Tigers apparently found a cloning machine and made another Mike Zunino. Contact has always eluded Haase, a career .244 hitter through a decade in the minors. He’s also putting his ample power promise on display with five home runs over his last four games. Eleven of his 18 hits are extra-base knocks (seven home runs, three doubles, one triple), leading the 28-year-old to slug a dazzling .647. Feel free to ride the hot hand in two-catcher formats, but expect the journeyman to eventually go cold and fade in a hurry, just as Zunino has.
Akil Baddoo (OF – DET): 11%
Fantasy managers who rushed to grab Baddoo in early April have since grown bored of the raw rookie outfielder, who currently wields a 127 wRC+ with five home runs and six stolen bases. Having jumped straight from High-A to the majors, he’s expectedly endured growing pains in the form of a power drought and a 35.6% strikeout rate. He also can’t buy a hit against fellow lefties, which has the 22-year-old mostly serving in a platoon. Given how well he’s performing against righties (152 wRC+), Baddoo delivers enough power, speed, and walks for those who can take the batting-average blow.
Caleb Smith (SP/RP – ARI): 11%
Remember when Smith looked like a legitimate ace in early 2019? He’s tried to rediscover that magic to no avail ever since, but the 29-year-old southpaw is slowly working his way back to fantasy relevancy. Since moving back to the rotation, Smith has allowed three hits across five innings in each of his two starts. He picked up eight strikeouts — matching his highest single-game tally since September 7, 2019 — Sunday at Milwaukee. Although he’s still too volatile to trust for every start, Smith can certainly pile up the strikeouts. With a career 26.0% K rate, those never left.
Miguel Andújar (3B/OF – NYY): 10%
It feels like decades ago since Andújar batted .297 with 27 homers and 92 RBIs as a rookie in 2018. Health, playing time, and production have eluded him ever since, and even with an extended opportunity in left field, he’s hitting .235 without a single walk in 85 plate appearances. The 26-year-old, however, also snapped an 18-game homer drought to go deep three times in his last six contests. It’s worth seeing if reasonable short-term job security can keep Andújar comfortable enough to refind his footing.
Deep League Targets – <10% Rostered
Seth Lugo (SP/RP – NYM): 6%
Lugo picked up three saves early last season before shifting to a starting rotation depleted by injuries. Neither option is likely on the table in his return from an elbow injury. Nevertheless, Lugo posted a 2.51 ERA and 191 strikeouts in 168.2 innings out of the bullpen from 2018 to 2020. He also picked up 10 wins and a dozen saves, so he’s not limited solely to holds formats. Lugo’s SP eligibility makes him particularly valuable in leagues with weekly lineup changes.
Tucker Davidson (SP – ATL): 6%
Part of Atlanta’s young pitching armada, Davidson prompted a promotion by allowing two runs and registering 23 strikeouts in three Triple-A starts. His first two MLB turns weren’t as pristine, but he debuted with a quality start (6 IP, 3 ER) against the short-handed Mets before overcoming five walks to toss 5.2 scoreless frames against Washington. The southpaw notched a 13.1% swingings-strike rate in those turns and is expected to stay in the rotation to face the Phillies this week.
Harold Ramírez (OF – CLE): 4%
Ramírez has bolstered his 2021 slash line to .278/.327/.464 with eight hits in his last five games. He’s playing regularly for Cleveland, occasionally in the cleanup role. While the 26-year-old’s results hardly jump off the page, his Statcast page is much more exciting. He carries a .335 expected batting average and .394 expected wOBA with a 55.3% hard-hit rate. His hardest hit (114.5 mph) ranks in the top 6% of MLB, and he also brandishes a sprint speed in the 88th percentile. Ramírez is a perfectly competent fifth outfielder in deeper leagues who may evolve into someone more interesting.
Trevor Larnach (OF – MIN): 3%
Larnach is a highly-touted prospect playing regularly and recording a .389 OBP with a .386 expected wOBA. Fantasy managers will eventually take notice, so grab the newcomer in deeper leagues before a hot streak skyrockets his rostered rate.
Tony Kemp (2B/OF – OAK): 3%
Kemp is making a strong case for steady playing time with a hit in 10 of his last 11 games. Although he hasn’t stolen a base since swiping three in April, 29-year-old is batting .287/.391/.455 with an 87.3% contact rate and only 20 strikeouts to 17 walks. Hitting well against righties (141 wRC+) and lefties (144 wRC+), Kemp could convince Oakland to leave him be an everyday starter at second base and left field.
Jake Lamb (1B/3B/OF – CHW): 2%
Injuries have presented Lamb another chance to handle the strong side of a platoon. He’s delivered, slashing .259/.377/.500 with four home runs in 23 games. We haven’t seen Lamb healthy and productive since smacking 30 dingers in 2017, so it’s valid to question his hot streak’s sustainability. However, he also crushed righties for two full seasons and currently boasts the highest average exit velocity (93.5 mph) and expected wOBA (.394) of his career. It’s at least an intriguing hot streak.
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.