Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Brandon Belt, Cal Quantrill, Jo Adell
It wouldn’t be fair to everyone else if the same players kept hogging the spotlight. With that said, let’s begin by noting the few players who may still be available, but not for this column’s lack of trying.
Patrick Sandoval (51% rostered) and Logan Webb (48%) are still somehow available in nearly half of Yahoo leagues. Remedy that wherever applicable, with priority to Webb if choosing between the two. Although not as exciting a fantasy pitcher given his diminished strikeouts, Madison Bumgarner (45%) apparently found the Fountain of Youth during his IL stint. He has a 1.97 ERA and 3.3% walk rate in his last five starts.
Kyle Finnegan (48%) is the new closer in Washington. Abraham Toro (41%) is hitting .386/.460/.682 in a dozen games with the Mariners. His new teammate, Jarred Kelenic (42%), is rewarding patient investors with two doubles and three home runs in his last 10 games.
Some of the players highlighted below have also made this column before. However, they’re more likely still available than the aforementioned names, who are probably only hanging around the waiver wire of shallow and/or inactive leagues.
Note: Rostered rates are from Yahoo leagues as of Monday night.
FABulous Four: Top Waiver Targets
Brandon Belt (1B/OF – SF): 30%
There’s a twinge of deja vu writing that Belt is back from the IL and hitting again. Upon returning from a side injury in early June, he posted a .413 wOBA in 15 games before going back on the shelf with a knee ailment. The 33-year-old has once again triumphantly returned to the Giants lineup, belting four home runs in as many games.
We’d be admiring Belt’s breakout if not for constant health setbacks. He’s smacked 24 long balls with a .409 wOBA in 110 games since the start of 2020. That’s particularly impressive considering he’s yet to reach 20 dingers in a single season. With 15 homers in 58 games, he’s only three away from matching a personal high.
By the way, the matchup-happy Giants shouldn’t limit Belt to a platoon, as he’s batting .343/.455/.629 with a 13.6% strikeout rate against fellow lefties. That includes a game-tying home run off the bench Sunday:
BRANDON BELT DOES IT AGAIN 😱 pic.twitter.com/8lqAkQH5Y5
— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) August 8, 2021
Everyone who missed out on Joey Votto has another chance to snag a veteran first baseman who’s discovered a new power gear. Belt could be on the verge of a similar heater this summer.
Cal Quantrill (SP/RP – CLE): 42%
Quantrill allowed one run over four consecutive starts, allowing three or four hits in each turn. It was easier to downplay that hot streak, as it was accompanied by 18 strikeouts and 10 walks in 23 innings.
Not as easy to ignore seven scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts and no walks.
Quantrill now boasts a 0.90 ERA in his last five starts. While early bullpen work has bolstered his 3.14 ERA this season, it’s still a solid 3.71 — with a 1.22 WHIP and 3.90 FIP — since joining Cleveland’s rotation. Since Friday’s dominant turn occurred at the Tigers’ expense, this is likely Quantrill’s peak rather than the beginning of a breakout. The 26-year-old righty will likely settle into a mid-level option, but you might as well see how long the fun lasts.
Jo Adell (OF – LAA): 32%
This is strange. Sure, Adell lost some luster when stumbling in last year’s first big-league foray. He’s also a 22-year-old with a 70-grade raw power and considerable speed who formerly lurked near the top of prospect lists. The lack of interest would be one thing if he again looked lost against MLB pitching, but Adell has knocked four doubles in six games since his promotion.
Maybe this is just a byproduct of Yahoo’s three-outfielder default. Unless Kelenic is also available, there shouldn’t be anyone on your waiver wire with as much upside as Adell.
Josiah Gray (SP – WAS): 32%
Gray’s Nationals debut went well, but he collected just two strikeouts. For the second straight start, he allowed four hits, two walks, and one earned run over five innings. This time, however, he tallied 10 strikeouts.
— MLB (@MLB) August 8, 2021
The rookie recorded an eye-popping 20 swinging strikes in 82 pitches against Atlanta. A dozen were from his curveball, which has generated a 41.7% putaway rate (pitches on two-strike count resulting in strikeouts). Gray’s walk (11.5%) and fly-ball (59.4%) rates remain too high for comfort, but the 23-year-old should keep parlaying filthy stuff into strikeouts for his new squad.
Priority Pickups – <40% Rostered
Alex Colomé (RP – MIN): 39%
The Twins reverted to the path of least resistance, giving Colomé back the closing role he squandered earlier in the season. He “earned” the role back by process of elimination when Taylor Rogers went on the IL and Hansel Robles got shipped to Boston. Having converted three opportunities in the last six days, Colomé will likely keep getting the nod unless he forces them to looks elsewhere again.
Merrill Kelly (SP – ARI): 31%
Prone to defined ups and downs throughout a season, Kelly has settled into a relatively steady hand. The righty has a 3.59 ERA in 18 starts since a disastrous April and has not allowed more than four runs in an outing since June 5. After blanking the Giants across eight innings Thursday, Kelly has a 2.86 ERA and 2.71 FIP since the All-Star break. Ride his highs as a back-end piece in shallow leagues. In deeper formats, Kelly is a durable option fantasy managers will appreciate more as younger starters get rested or shut down.
Josh Harrison (2B/3B/OF – OAK): 30%
Harrison initially looked poised to fill a super-utility role when Oakland acquired him from Washington at the deadline. While his position may deviate, the 34-year-old is now more likely to receive steady playing time in place of the suspended Ramon Laureano. Harrison is quietly hitting .293 with seven home runs, seven steals, and a 116 wRC+ this season.
Luis Gil (SP – NYY): 25%
A team — real or fantasy — can’t possibly replace an ace like Gerrit Cole. At least that’s what everyone thought when he went on the COVID-19 IL. Promoted as a spot-starter, Gill has tossed two scoreless outings for the Yankees. Kaite Sharp put the 23-year-old exceptional MLB arrival into perspective:
Luis Gil is first pitcher in the modern era (since 1900) with 14+ K, fewer than 10 Baserunners and 0 Runs allowed in his first 2 career MLB games.
— Katie Sharp (@ktsharp) August 8, 2021
You can’t fly under the radar when playing for the New York Yankees, so Gil’s rostered rate could double to the midway mark by the time he makes his next start. (The Yankees sent him back to Triple-A after Sunday’s gem against Seattle, but they’ll likely bring him back later in the week.) Before getting too excited, Gil has allowed 23 walks in 19 runs in 30.1 Triple-A innings this season. He’s one of their system’s many hard throwers whose future might belong in the bullpen.
The threat of walks prevents Gil from being the pitcher to prioritize on the wire, but he’s still worth a shot.
Dylan Floro (RP – MIA): 25%
Floro has emerged as Miami’s clear new closer, collecting two saves since the last-place squad sent Yimi Garcia to Houston. While he allowed a run in the second save, the 30-year-old still possesses a 2.78 ERA with a 2.84 FIP. As stated last week, he’s succeeding by keeping everyone in the ballpark. He served up his first home run of the season Sunday, and regression could come swiftly if gives up any more. For now, Floro currently has a job and solid ratios.
Anthony Santander (OF – BAL): 24%
Santander returned to Baltimore’s lineup on July 30 after spending nine days on the COVID-19 list. After two hitless games, he’s gone 10-for-24 with two doubles and a homer during August’s six-game hitting streak. Posting a .296 wOBA in 70 underwhelming games, the 26-year-old has yet to live up to a breakout 2020. Yet plenty of power potential remains from Baltimore’s cleanup hitter, who clubbed 31 homers in 570 plate appearances in the prior two seasons. He’s worth bringing back on board in five-outfielder formats.
Andrés Giménez (2B/3B/SS – CLE): 19%
Groupthink did a terrible number on speed-desperate drafters who overpaid for Giménez. The glove-first youngster not so surprisingly had a setback after better-than-expected hitting returns in 2020. Sent back to the minors to work on his offense, the 22-year-old batted .287/.342/.502 with 10 home runs, the most he’s ever offered at any professional level. That’s an intriguing development, even if he’ll still get a second chance primarily from fantasy managers seeking stolen bases.
Yan Gomes (C – OAK): 13%
An underrated second catcher before going on the IL with an oblique injury, Gomes has three home runs in seven games since returning. He’s hitting a .272/.321/.472 with 11 home runs and the fifth-best xwOBA (.353) of all catchers with at least 200 plate appearances. Gomes is the perfect second catcher, and not a terrible fallback option in single-catcher leagues.
Carlos Hernández (SP/RP – KC): 13%
Hernández has relinquished two runs in his last three starts, consisting of steep competition in the White Sox (twice) and Yankees. The 24-year-old righty has earned a roster spot, but remember that a five-run outing against the Tigers preceded this stretch before getting too pumped.
Mychal Givens (RP – CIN): 11%
Michael Lorenzen (RP – CIN): 10%
Heath Hembree appears to have already pitched his way out of save opportunities. Givens has picked up the last two saves for Cincinnati, seemingly giving him the inside track on more opportunities. Before that, however, Lorenzen earned his first save on August 3. Missing the entire first half with a shoulder injury, Lorenzen injured his hamstring running the bases (as an outfielder) in his 2021 debut. He came back more quickly this time and has tossed 5.2 scoreless frames from the bullpen.
Lorenzen has more upside, but Givens has a higher probability of receiving more save chances.
Carter Kieboom (3B/SS – WAS): 10%
I touted Kieboom as a preseason post-hype sleeper, but any hope faded when he started the season on the bench before quickly getting sent down to Triple-A. He didn’t quite regain his shine there, batting .236/.376/.385 with five home runs in 44 games. Yet the 23-year-old is now holding his own in the bigs, batting 12-for-46 with six walks and two home runs since returning to Washington. While those are hardly flashy numbers for a former prospect who hasn’t shown significant power or speed, Kieboom is at least displaying the plate discipline — and getting the playing time — necessary to contribute in deeper leagues.
Deep League Targets – <10% Rostered
Sam Hilliard (OF – COL): 8%
Back in Colorado’s lineup, Hilliard has touched them all four times in his last six games. He has a .442 wOBA since the All-Star break, which will likely prompt many managers to grab him now in deep leagues. You don’t necessarily want to add a low-level Rockies hitter at the beginning of a full week on the road, but it might be too late if waiting until he’s back at Coors Field next week.
Yadiel Hernandez (OF – WAS): 7%
Hernandez has played regularly in the heart of the Nationals’ lineup since they traded Kyle Schwarber. The 33-year-old rookie has made the most of this opportunity, batting .310/.362/.437 in 138 plate appearances. Although a .380 BABIP has fueled most of the late bloomer’s success, Hernandez flaunted plenty of pop when hitting 33 homers in Triple-A two years ago and slugging .576 in 15 games there this season.
Jake Fraley (OF – SEA): 5%
He’s hitting .226, but everything else about Fraley demands attention. The 26-year-old nevertheless boasts a .392 OBP because of a 21.1% walk rate. If that patience isn’t enough to sway managers in standard five-by-five leagues, Fraley has tallied seven home runs and eight steals in 47 games. He’s still interesting despite going five days without a hit.
Jack Mayfield (2B/3B/SS – LAA): 5%
Seemingly a Quadruple-A star, Mayfield couldn’t hit a lick in Houston despite his Triple-A prowess. Batting .221 with four walks in 120 plate appearances, he’s not exactly tearing it up for the Angels. However, the 30-year-old has three of his seven home runs in his last six games. With Anthony Rendon out for the season, Mayfield could keep playing and providing cheap power — with multi-position eligibility in Yahoo leagues — in deep leagues.
Spencer Patton (RP – TEX): 4%
Patton picked up Texas’ first save after trading Ian Kennedy to Philadelphia. That was on August 2, and the Rangers haven’t won a game since. The 33-year-old thus remains unclaimed in an overwhelming majority of leagues despite registering a 3.00 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 21 innings.
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.