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Fantasy Baseball Category Pickups: Bryan De La Cruz, Alex Kirilloff, Louie Varland (Week 8)

Fantasy Baseball Category Pickups: Bryan De La Cruz, Alex Kirilloff, Louie Varland (Week 8)

It’s that time of the week again! Time to get those waiver wire claims in! It’s incredible how quickly some of these players become unavailable. One minute they’re rostered in less than 10 percent of leagues, and the next they’re taken in virtually every format. Players like Christopher Morel, Bryce Miller, and Eury Perez were all added so rapidly, the average fantasy manager barely had time to blink.

Well, the same fate could be in store for this next group. Fantasy managers have become extremely aware of the latest trends and transactions so it’s imperative to act with haste when adding players.

As always, the players are broken down into categories of how they’re most likely to help you. They are all rostered in less than 50% of Yahoo leagues and have never been featured on this list. Most of these studs will contribute across multiple categories but their main contributions should come under the stat in which they are listed.

It’s your lucky day! There are a plethora of good add’s this week. Instead of just naming 10 to 12 players as I normally would, this week I’ve gone above and beyond, unearthing 15 amazing players that you should consider adding. I don’t mean to bombard you with choices, but I simply couldn’t resist with so much must-own talent available! Players closer to 50% rostered will likely be unavailable in deeper leagues but with so many to choose from, hopefully there’s something for everyone.

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Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups

Here are players to target for different categories.

Batting Average

Casey Schmitt (3B, SS – SFG): 48%

Combining the last two seasons in the upper Minors, Schmitt produced a batting average above .325. Now part of the Big League club, Schmitt is off to a similar start. Over his first 40 MLB plate appearances, the 24-year-old from San Diego has registered a .400 batting average to go along with four doubles and two home runs. He’s quickly become an everyday player in Gabe Kapler’s lineup rotating between third base, shortstop, and second base. He already qualifies at the first two and it won’t be long until he qualifies at the latter too.

Schmitt is a fine addition to boost your batting average but he may also help out with home runs. While he didn’t hit for much pop in Triple-A, his prospect report does reward him as possessing above-average power. Plus, he hit 21 dingers last year (mostly in A+), and don’t forget the two he already hit at the Major League level. He’s even reached an impressive max exit velo of 112 MPH already for the Giants.

San Francisco’s fourth-ranked prospect may not be the perfect long-term solution in shallow leagues, but while he’s cranking out hits, he’s worthy of a roster spot in all leagues.

Owen Miller (1B, 2B, 3B – MIL): 4%

Miller is locked in right now and it doesn’t matter who he’s facing. Over his current nine-game hitting streak, the former Guardian has collected 14 hits over 30 at-bats – good for a .466 average. He leads off against lefties and has been starting, albeit lower in the lineup, against righties as well. Miller got off to a similar start last year but was then sidelined by injury and never returned to form. His production may not last but while he’s raking, he’s a nice stopgap for those in search of a run-scoring second or even third baseman.

RBI

Bryan De La Cruz (OF – MIA): 16%

I was a huge De La Cruz fan coming into the season and now with the weather starting to warm up, his bat is following suit. Over the last seven days, the 6-foot-2 outfielder has gone 12 for 26 (.462 BA) with three home runs, eight RBI, and scored seven runs. He’s hitting the ball hard to all fields and is batting regularly in the middle of the Marlins lineup.

Last season, he quietly ranked in the top 10% of xwOBA, xSLG, and xBA and was one of the top hitters in all of baseball for the month of September. His average exit velo this year already ranks in the top 18% and his xBA sits in the top 22%. Expect those numbers to continue to climb now that he’s locked in again. Add him everywhere he’s still available and you won’t regret it.

Alex Kirilloff (1B, OF – MIN): 30%

Numerous media and fantasy managers had soured on Kirilloff, mainly because of all the injuries he has suffered. Now back with the Big League club, Kirilloff is producing as the Twins had always hoped. Since returning nearly two weeks ago, the former first-rounder has gone 13 for 38 (.342 BA) with six runs scored, two homers, and five RBI. He started every game but two since his promotion and even appeared late in those games he had off.

Kirilloff has always been worthy of fantasy consideration when healthy and now part of the everyday lineup, he deserves a spot in nearly all leagues.

Home Runs

Brenton Doyle (OF – COL): 5%

Doyle could be an excellent find in deeper leagues for his ability to fill up the stat sheet. He’s already accounted for six stolen bases and four home runs in just 20 games played. He has also collected 13 runs and 11 RBI. Doyle’s K’s have always been high which limits his ceiling, but as long as he continues to hit the ball hard when he does make contact, good things will happen.

He launched 26 homers to go along with 23 steals across the two highest levels in the Minors last year. And this season, he was off to a similar beginning, crushing five home runs in just 12 games at Triple-A.

Most projection formulas (Zips, Steamer, The Bat) put Doyle around four homers per 100 ABs, which considering how low the projections almost always are, is pretty good. Pair that with an equal amount of steals and you’ve got yourself a fine fifth or reserve outfielder for your squad who plays half of his games at Coors Field.

Royce Lewis (SS – MIN): 21%

Lewis launched two homers and went three for four in his latest rehab game at Triple-A. Finally nearing the end of his long road back to the Show, Lewis is scheduled to return sometime late next week. If you wait until then to add him, you’ll probably miss out. So if you require a slugging middle infielder, now is the time to pounce.

Runs

Matt McLain (SS – CIN): 40%

McClain was a hot waiver wire addition this week after earning his long-awaited promotion. The coveted shortstop led all of MiLB with a 1.184 OPS to begin the year and he’s off to a nice start for the Reds scoring four runs over his first four games. He also bats second in the Cincinnati lineup. It doesn’t take a genius to add this guy. Put in a waiver request now if you play in one of the 60% of leagues he’s still available in.

LaMonte Wade Jr. (1B, OF – SFG): 28%

Wade’s been hovering around 25% over the last few weeks while contributing handily in runs scored and OBP. I’ve been wanting to add him to this list for some time but I’ve always found someone who was flying slightly more under the radar. Well, this week I can hold out no longer. He’s in for runs scored.

While Wade has definitely cooled off a bit since his hot beginning, he’s still leading off for the Giants and reaching base and an extraordinary clip. Wade walks nearly 20% of the time while limiting his K’s to just 18%. He’s also sporting a .264 average which has led to an incredible .429 OBP. That number is good for third highest in the league just behind Luis Arraez and Ronald Acuna Jr.

Getting on base at such a high rate almost always leads to an excellent amount of runs scored. Wade’s also hit seven homers on the year and has even been starting against LHP. If you need to boost your runs scored, he’s a great option.

Stolen Bases

Leody Taveras (OF – TEX): 7%

Taveras is back to his old tricks, getting on base and stealing bags. Since the calendar flipped to May, Taveras has been on another level. For the month, the Rangers’ speedy outfielder has hit for a .370/.433/.481 slash line and has racked up four steals on six attempts. All four of those thefts have come over the last two weeks. Speed when paired with another category is always valuable and if Taveras can continue to produce at the plate like he has, he’ll make for a solid addition for any fantasy team looking for steals.

WHIP

Louie Varland (SP – MIN): 33%

I’m writing this before he takes on the Angels tonight, but so far Varland has looked like a solid contributor. Through four games the slider specialist has held opponents to a 1.22 WHIP. He seldom issues a free pass and when he does, it’s usually because he’s hoping for a chase rather than him missing his spot. The lack of walks has led to an impressive 28.6 and 33.9 K-BB% over the last two years in Triple-A.

Varland’s CSW is over 30% for the season which is always a welcome sight for starting pitchers. The 25-year-old has a great chance to stick around with Taylor Mahle needing Tommy John and Kenta Maeda down for the count with a strained tricep. Add Varland now if you’re in need of a starter or your WHIP is heading in the wrong direction.

Strikeouts

James Paxton (SP – BOS): 38%

Paxton was once an excellent fantasy asset but years of well-documented injuries derailed his career. Even when he was able to return, he was a shell of his former self, surrendering over six earned runs per nine. Now after nearly four years of rehab, the electric left-hander has successfully returned to the Major League bump. Bravo.

Over his first two starts, Paxton generated a fine 30.3 CSW% leading to 14 K’s over 11 innings. His average velocity on his fastball (96.4 mph) is the highest it’s been since 2016 and he exhibited great control of it, only walking three out of the 44 batters he faced.

It’s anyone’s guess how long he’ll be able to hold up but in the meanwhile, Paxton and his 2.45 ERA and 1.09 WHIP belong on rosters everywhere.

Matthew Liberatore (SP – STL): 37%

Liberatore struck out six batters over five shutout innings in his first Major League game this season. Limiting the Brewers to no runs came as little surprise after he led the entire Minor Leagues in strikeouts before his promotion.

Liberatore was a top pitching prospect in the Cardinals system last year, but this season he has taken his entire game to another level. The 23-year-old southpaw has increased his fastball average by nearly two miles per hour and has significantly bumped his velo up on his breaking pitches as well. He averaged better than a 30% K rate and a 50% ground ball rate in Triple-A this year with the higher velocity. Liberatore should be starting in all leagues.

ERA

Braxton Garrett (SP – MIA): 11%

Garrett did well last year despite his lack of velocity. After an up-and-down beginning to this year, Garrett suddenly added a cutter to his arsenal and the results have been exemplary. Over Garrett’s last two starts totaling 11.1 innings, he’s surrendered just four hits with two walks, and just one run while striking out 16 batters. The crafty left-hander now throws six different offerings which seem to completely baffle hitters. He’s worth a look in most leagues while his new pitch is doing wonders for his confidence.

Wins

Michael Lorenzen (SP/RP – DET): 13%

Starting Lorenzen is always a nail-biting experience because he tends to have a few blow-up starts now and then. That said, it shouldn’t take away from the outstanding roll he’s been on. Over his last three games, the former Angel and Cincinnati Red tossed 20 innings and allowed just two runs. He gave up 14 hits with four walks (0.90 WHIP) and kept the ball in the ballpark for all three outings (zero homers). Lorenzen also held Baltimore to no runs back on April 21st.

His strikeout ratio isn’t great and he will have a few bad games from time to time but he was solid for the Angels last year (when healthy) and looks to be at peak form right now. Plus, he pitches deep into games. He’s scheduled to take on the Royals next, so get him in your lineups for this week.

Saves

Kendall Graveman (RP – CHW): 17%

Graveman has been pitching well lately and while I don’t recommend him for the long term, he does possess value right now. Saves often come down to who’s currently getting the ball in the ninth inning and if there’s a pattern, it’s worth investigating. The closer role is often a revolving door of sorts where new players are constantly given the opportunity (for some teams). In the White Sox case, Graveman is just holding down the fort until Liam Hendriks is cleared to play. But for now, if you’re in need of saves, Graveman is a wise choice after putting together eight scoreless outings and three saves.

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Assistant


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Austin Lowell is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Austin, check out his archive.

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