Fantasy Baseball Category Analysis: Mike Zunino, Josh Rojas, Triston McKenzie
It’s that time again! Time to turn your attention to the waiver wire to help rescue those waning categories bringing your team down. These 11 players rostered in 50 percent or less of Yahoo leagues will likely aid you in multiple categories, with their primary contributions coming in the heading under which they are listed.
Don’t sleep on these players or they’ll be gobbled up by the competition just as most of the players previously divulged in this series have been. There is still enough time to make up ground, add these players now!
Mike Zunino (C – TB): 50%
Mike Zunino, holy homers! Voted into the All-Star game by his peers, the slugging veteran is now up to 26 long balls, thanks in large part to his latest stretch of five straight games with a home run. Zunino is now averaging better than a homer every 10 at-bats and has a nine-game hitting streak going. A bad tooth seems to be the only thing able to slow him down at the moment, but expect the club-house favorite, Zunino, to return shortly. He’s still available in half of Yahoo leagues so pick him up now to help boost your power numbers at the catcher position.
Frank Schwindel (1B/OF – CHC): 33%
Schwindel could easily be featured under any of the four main categories, but with him getting on base so often (.429 OBP) and batting out of the two-hole, I’ll place him here. The long-time Minor Leaguer has produced nine extra-base hits over the past week and has continued to rake against both right-handed and left-handed pitching. The Cubs’ rookie first baseman seems to have come out of nowhere but actually did draw some attention back in 2018 with a monster Spring Training. His OPS was nearly 1.000 in Triple-A for Oakland this season and has been hitting lasers all over the field since joining the Cubs. Take a chance on the 29-year-old and expect more quality production.
Josh Rojas (2B/SS/OF – ARZ): 46%
Rojas put on a hitting display this last week raking for a ridiculous .609 average, gathering 14 hits over his last 23 at-bats. For the season Rojas has accumulated 54 runs and a .286 batting average in just over 100 games. The talented 27-year-old has a trip to Colorado on tap for this weekend followed by a series against Pittsburgh. Pick up the red hot Rojas now.
Jonathan Villar (2B/3B/SS – NYM): 37%
Villar is playing every day and is once again stealing bags. His bat has come alive over these last few series and it’s come against some impressive competition. Villar is always on fantasy radars due to the rare power/speed combo he possesses, and while he has had his share of letdowns, he has also led some fantasy victories. If he’s burned you before, don’t hold it against him if he’s available now and you’re lacking in steals. The Mets are going to continue to be aggressive and Villar could pay dividends down the stretch. Add him now.
Tyler Naquin (OF – CIN): 36%
Naquin’s bat has awakened from its mid-summer slumber and it couldn’t have come at a better time. With fellow grass roamer Jesse Winker hitting the IL, Naquin has helped pick up the slack by producing six multi-hit games over the last eight days, while only striking out four times. He is currently riding an eight-game hitting streak where he has consistently crushed the ball with authority. He also knocked in six runs and scored as many. Naquin hit his first two home runs in over a month this last week and looks to be on a similar tear that put him on the map earlier in the season. Add the Cincinnati outfielder now and start him versus right-handed pitching.
Steven Brault (SP – PIT): 3%
I wrote a piece about Brault in the off-season (before he got hurt) highlighting just how good I thought he could be. I was a little skeptical upon his return, taking a wait-and-see approach, but after three solid outings against the Dodgers, Cardinals, and Brewers I’m more than ready to buy back in.
Not to dive too deep into detail, my Winter piece discussed how Brault quietly dominated at the end of last season and how he went about achieving it. Basically, a change in pitch selection made his other offerings much more effective, which allowed him to silence bats from either side of the plate and largely limit home runs. He’s still on the Pirates so he likely won’t earn you many wins, but he should be a solid contributor helping lower your ERA. Pick up Brault in deeper leagues and start him with confidence.
Triston McKenzie (SP – CLE): 49%
Triston McKenzie anyone? Yes, he nearly threw a perfect game in his last outing, but the kid has actually been lights out over his three most recent starts. Through his last 21 innings, McKenzie has limited opposing teams to just 11 base runners. His control has been impeccable in those games illustrated by just a single walk allowed. He does give up the occasional long ball and has had his share of blowups this season, but lately, he has been controlling the strike zone and getting hitters to go after his pitch. By limiting line drives and free passes, the slender right-hander has been a boon in the WHIP category and is someone you should look to add before his tilt with the Angels on Saturday.
Vladimir Gutierrez (SP – CIN): 50%
The Reds are doing all they can to try and make a late playoff push and they’re currently only a game and a half back of the second wildcard. Gutierrez, the team’s 17th ranked prospect coming into the season and an afterthought in many fantasy leagues (until now) has been a big reason why they are where they are. The Reds’ number five starter has thrown five straight quality starts (three runs or less over 6+ innings) and obtained the victory in four of those games. His successful streak dates back even further as he’s produced seven quality starts over his last eight outings. The 25-year-old has averaged better than a strikeout per inning in his last three games and has a nice matchup coming up at home versus Miami. Add the efficient righty now.
Daniel Lynch (SP – KC): 8%
Lynch has been quite impressive since his return to the big leagues and he has done it against some rather stiff competition. Talk about an unlucky draw. The rookie’s last four games have come against the Blue Jays, White Sox, Yankees, and the Astros, with two of those outings coming on the road (Toronto and Chicago). Yet, remarkably Lynch was able to earn the victory in two of those starts and limit the opposition to just eight runs. He also shut out the Tigers over eight innings in his first game back since being sent down.
The Royals’ number three prospect has struck out 18 batters over his last 16.2 innings and considering the competition, that is rather remarkable. Unfortunately, Lynch is scheduled to take on the Astros again in his next start, but judging by his fortitude lately, he is worth an add now for the stretch run.
Josiah Gray (SP – WAS): 36%
I featured Gray in a previous post, but seeing as he is still only rostered in just over a third of leagues, I felt he deserved mentioning again. The dynamic young righty is striking out hitters in bunches and isn’t in any danger of being shut down early (he has only thrown 45 innings this year including the Minor Leagues). Gray should be rostered in all leagues.
Paul Sewald (RP – SEA): 29%
Sewald was back in action after missing a few days on the paternity list. His first game back he earned the save against Texas and then earned the hold the following day, setting up Drew Steckenrider. The Mariners utilize the dreaded committee style approach for saves, usually dispatching one of three pitchers. Diego Castillo hasn’t been great for Seattle, however, and while Steckenrider has been successful lately, he doesn’t exactly possess typical closer-type stuff. His xFIP is more than two points higher than his ERA and he doesn’t strike out that many hitters.
Sewald on the other hand has 66 K’s over 40 innings to go along with a minuscule 0.90 WHIP and an xFIP and xERA actually lower than his actual 2.70 ERA. He has five saves on the year with four coming in July and one this month. He had a rough game back on August 5th versus the Yankees but other than that he’s been quite stellar. He has been the Mariners’ best arm out of the pen this year (who’s still on the team) and should garner a handful of saves along with some pretty hefty strikeout totals the rest of the way. Add Sewald now to help add those few extra saves needed to help put you over the top.
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.
Austin Lowell is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Austin, check out his archive.