Fantasy Baseball Category Analysis: Jo Adell, Robbie Grossman, Joe Ryan
This is it. We’re down to the final few weeks of the season. If you haven’t been able to make any headway into the upper echelon of the standings, it may be too late, but true fantasy warriors fight to the finish! And it’s always a nice consolation prize playing spoiler to those who are fighting for the championship.
With that in mind, if your lineup is lacking in one of or a few of the major categories, turn to this list of players on the rise to help you make up lost ground. These lesser-known studs are coming on strong to close out the year and could be the difference between finishing as the runner-up or season champ.
These players are rostered in less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues and are likely to be gobbled up quickly over the next few days, so don’t hesitate to add them. They’ll also likely aid you in more ways than one, with their primary contributions coming under the category in which they are listed.
Without further ado, here are this week’s categorized waiver-wire pickups!
Jo Adell (OF – LAA): 16%
Jo Adell is looking to finish the year strong and quiet the naysayers. Reminding everyone why he received so much buzz over the last few seasons, the 22-year-old has been nothing short of sensational lately. Over the last week, the Angels’ young star clubbed three homers, drove in seven runs, and batted .450. Oh, and he also stole a base for good measure. The Angels highly-prized prospect looks extremely comfortable at the plate lately and has cut down on his swings and misses. Adell could very well be a strong candidate to rake over the final few weeks and could be an absolute boon down the stretch. Add the toolsy outfielder now.
Alejandro Kirk (C – TOR): 16%
Kirk won’t play every day, but what catcher outside of the top five does? He also garners at-bats out of the DH spot from time to time, but as long as he’s in the lineup more often than not, he is worthy of a roster spot.
The Mexican native did go through a bit of a lull period this year, where he battled through injury and spent some time down on the farm. But since being called back up and given ample playing time, the stocky Kirk has produced mightily. The Jays’ backstop has registered an impressive .279/.349/.504 slash line for the season with 22 RBIs scattered over just 129 at-bats.
The powerful catcher has especially been on fire of late, mashing three home runs over his last three games and totaling six RBI over his last four. The 22-year-old rarely strikes out and usually makes solid contact, allowing his batting average to remain above average as well.
The fact that Kirk is a catcher is all the incentive you need to add the 265-pound righty. Towards the end of the season, if your league utilizes games played limits, the catcher position is always one I like to double down on if your roster has the space for it. Don’t let your catcher’s days off get you a zero or red X. Add Kirk now with Baltimore on tap and plug him in when your main guy is out.
Lane Thomas (OF – WAS): 10%
Thomas has been a godsend for the Nats. Helping make up for the roster shakeup and the surprisingly dismal production from Victor Robles, the National’s new everyday leadoff hitter has already scored eight times this month (in just six games). He has accumulated 14 hits and five walks over his last 12 games and even drove in eight runs during that time as well.
The production shouldn’t come as a huge surprise after some considered Thomas an “AAAA” player. After clubbing 21 home runs and stealing 13 bags in 2018 for the Springfield Cardinals (Double-A), St. Louis had high hopes for Thomas. He continued to do well in the Minor Leagues, but the Cards could never find space for him (similar to Randy Arozarena) among the Major League roster. After finally granting him some playing time, their marriage quickly soured after he produced a .104 batting average to start this season, and he was quickly shipped off to Washington.
After arriving in DC, though, he’s been a completely different player. Sometimes a change of scenery or philosophy is all it takes to thrive, and much to Washington’s delight, Thomas has. He’s been everything the Nats could have hoped for so far, and he deserves a spot on your roster if you lack in runs.
Yonny Hernandez (3B/MI – TEX): 1%
The Rangers’ speedy infielder is starting nearly every day and has been extremely aggressive on the base paths. Over his past nine games, Hernandez has attempted six swipes, with five of them being successful. He has very little power to speak of, but if steals are what you are after, then Hernandez fits the bill.
He stole 21 bags in 61 games in Triple-A this season and is up to eight already at the big league level. He also walks nearly as much as he strikes out, so the 140-pound Hernandez should have an ample amount of opportunities to run.
Andres Gimenez (SS/3B/2B – CLE): 19%
Gimenez is also an option, but I favor Hernandez over him because I think Hernandez will run more often and play nearly every day. But if you’re desperate for steals and have the room, pick up both and watch your base swipes climb rapidly.
Robbie Grossman (OF – DET): 50%
Robbie Grossman has done a little bit of everything all season but has been putting on a hitting clinic lately. He is 11 for his last 32 and just put together a four-hit game. The Tigers’ outfielder has been flip-flopping between the leadoff spot and third in the order over the last few weeks, but his run production has continued to soar regardless. Grossman has a shot at a 25/20 season and should be rostered in all leagues.
Eric Lauer (SP/RP – MIL): 27%
This season, Lauer has been a pleasant surprise for the Brew Crew and has improved his steady production of late. The ex-Padre has thrown back-to-back quality starts, defeating two playoff-contending teams in the Giants and Phillies. He allowed one run over those two starts and lasted an impressive full 14 innings. Lauer’s ERA sits at a fine 3.18 for the season with an equally respectable 1.18 WHIP. Lauer faces off against Detroit in his next start and should be started in the majority of leagues.
Joe Ryan (SP – MIN): 17%
Ryan pitched in the Tokyo Olympics and then was traded (with another player) from Tampa Bay to Minnesota for Nelson Cruz. He was lights out in his 10.1 innings in Japan and hasn’t missed a beat since joining the Twins.
The ex-water polo player allowed seven base runners and two runs over nine innings with 17 strikeouts for St. Paul in Triple-A. Then after his call-up, he dominated big league hitters surrendering only four hits and one walk over 12 impressive innings.
MLB Pipeline ranks Ryan as the sixth-best prospect in Minnesota’s farm system and has looked more like a number one so far. He works off his tremendously accurate fastball and pairs it with some heavy breaking off-speed stuff. The Twins will give Ryan a start every five or six days down the stretch, and he could pay heavy dividends to the savvy managers who pick him up.
A.J. Alexy (SP – TEX): 11%
Originally drafted out of high school by the Dodgers in the 11th round of the 2016 draft, Alexy suddenly found tremendous success. His extraordinarily high LOB rate has certainly helped him put up such remarkable numbers, but there’s no denying what he has accomplished so far.
Alexy has allowed just two hits over 11 innings in two starts for the Rangers while striking out a batter per inning. Combine that with his ridiculous Minor League numbers this season, where he pitched 65 innings (both Double and Triple-A) and struck out 76 batters with a sterling 1.66 ERA, and you’ve got yourself quite an impressive stat line.
He may not have the projected upside other young prospects do, but what’s to say he can’t keep the good times rolling for another week or two? Plus, the strikeouts will almost always be there. Add the widely available and relatively unknown Alexy now to help you boost those strikeout totals.
Mychal Givens (RP – CIN): 23%
Givens is still comically rostered in less than a quarter of all leagues. The Reds lost a slew of games recently, so fantasy managers forgot about him, plus he got rocked in a blowout game where David Bell used him in the sixth to try and stop the shellacking. But he is still the Reds’ best arm to close out games, and when Cincinnati does have a lead, they will continue to lean on their trusty side-arm’er.
Since the three runs allowed in the sixth, Givens has assembled two saves over three scoreless outings. The Reds are still in the playoff hunt battling for the second Wildcard, and they should be in plenty of close battles down the stretch. Add Givens now in any league where you need saves.
Adrian Houser (SP/RP – MIL): 26%
Sticking with the Brew Crew, how about Adrian Houser? In the righty’s most recent start, he blanked the Cardinals, firing his first complete game shutout while earning his ninth win. The Brewers have somehow developed their starting staff into the finest group in baseball, and Houser has more than kept up his side of the bargain as the number five. Houser has bounced back after a rough two months last year during the shortened season and looked more like the young arm that showed so much promise in 2019.
His ERA is 3.41 for the season and with the Crew winning so many games and the bullpen able to sustain leads, look for Houser to add to his win total down the stretch. He’ll take on Cleveland this Friday, which should make for an excellent streaming matchup.
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.