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Deep Sleepers & Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 7 (2023 Fantasy Baseball)

Deep Sleepers & Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 7 (2023 Fantasy Baseball)

It’s getting too late to say “It’s early” in this baseball season. Shoutout to Yogi Berra.

Some people wait until Memorial Day to start to get concerned about players on their teams. Both real-life and fantasy teams. I prefer going to the 40-game mark. By Mother’s Day, every team will have played that number of games. So using the term “small sample size” may not apply a quarter of the way through the season.

Now if you want to complain or panic about the rough starts for Nolan Arenado, Kyle Schwarber, Alex Bregman or Manny Machado, I present to you the case of Derek Jeter, circa 2004. Remember him? The Captain. No. 2. Tormentor of all things red in the New England states.

In 2004, Jeter was in a horrendous season-opening slump. He was hitting .189 when he went to bed on May 25 that year. That was 44 games into the season. That prolonged a slump would be enough to make even a four-time World Series champ and five-time All-Star start to have questions. Not Jeter.

On May 26, Jeter went 3-for-5 to begin a stretch that would see him hit .336 with a .394 OBP and .946 OPS over the final 111 games of the season. In 453 at-bats, he hit 20 homers, scored 94 runs and knocked in 61 RBI. If any of the New York newspapers were calling Jeter over the hill, the reports of his demise were greatly exaggerated (nod to Mark Twain).

So while we can no longer say that it’s early, we can say that the cream rises. Those elite players with stellar numbers on the back of their baseball cards but are struggling, unless they’re dealing with injuries, don’t sell low on them. Else you may give the person you’re trading them to all the great at-bats after your team ate up the rough starts.

There might be a player or two who’s off to a rough start and may have a good rest of the season in him. Let’s get into some sleepers.

More Week 7 Advice:

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Deep Sleepers & Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 7 (2023 Fantasy Baseball)

Mitch Keller (PIT – SP) ECR: 217
Keller has allowed two or fewer runs in six of his last seven games, with the seventh game seeing him allow three runs. He’s struck out 52 in 45 innings in those games. Like waiting for the other shoe to drop with the Pirates, it may be time to start believing in Keller. He’s pitching at Baltimore on Sunday, and that game features two of the most surprising teams of the season. Keller may have arrived in his fifth season.

Miguel Vargas (LAD – 1B/2B) ECR: 219
In the first edition of this article series, Vargas was a recommendation. Then he went on to hit a meager .208 in the month of April. He has three home runs in his last seven games, including round-trippers in his past couple games in Milwaukee. Don’t forget, Vargas was not able to swing a bat for a chunk of the start of spring training, so it looked like he might take a while longer to round into form. He has almost as many walks (20) and strikeouts (26), always a good sign, especially for a young player. The rookie may be worth picking up as a speculative grab if the last player on your team is a platooning veteran or struggling starting pitcher.

Evan Phillips (LAD – RB) ECR: 239
Enough with this talk that this is a closer-by-committee team. Phillips has saves in his past four outings, including one where Brusdar Graterol ran into trouble protecting a four-run lead in a non-save situation. Phillips has been the most consistent reliever for the Dodgers, being scored upon in only one of his 12 appearances. That 0.89 WHIP and 16 strikeouts in 12.1 innings show his overall effectiveness on the season. Phillips is the closer for the first-place Dodgers and needs to be rostered as such.

William Contreras (MIL – C) ECR: 251
Catchers who can hit are forever scarce. Contreras is a regular backstop in one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the major leagues. He may have just three home runs on the season, but his 90.8 exit velocity is a good sign that he’s hitting the ball hard. If you’ve been scuffling with your catchers, Contreras may be a good waiver-wire pickup for your team.

Carson Kelly (ARI – C) ECR: N/A
Somewhere it’s been said that one can never have too much catching in fantasy baseball. Kelly has missed the entire season thus far, so this is more speculative pickup, as he has yet to go out on a rehab assignment. But for fantasy teams that are stagnant with the equivalent of tight end Tyler Conklin in football, Kelly is worth grabbing. Kelly was hitting .320 with one home run in 10 spring training games before he suffered a fractured forearm. Once it’s announced he’s getting close to returning, he’ll likely get picked up. You won’t because you read this feature.


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