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Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: A.J. Puk, Chris Paddack, Alek Manoah

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: A.J. Puk, Chris Paddack, Alek Manoah

As if anyone needs a reminder that Elly De La Cruz is otherworldly, it’s time to take a look at the pace he’s on after passing the quarter pole of the MLB season. With 30 steals in 44 games, he’s on a 162-game pace of 110 steals. With nine home runs, he could finish in the low 30s. By the way, he’s still only 22.

Rickey Henderson and Eric Davis are the only players in Major League history to hit at least 20 homers and steal 80 bases in a season. Anyone who’s still celebrating winning a fantasy title on the shoulders of Ronald Acuna‘s historic 40-70 season knows the greatness of those outlier seasons. That’s what fantasy managers are witnessing when De La Cruz makes another jaw-dropping play, hits another tape-measure shot or snags multiple bags in the same game. He’s done that nine times already this season, by the way. Including four stolen bases on May 16.

Enjoy the De La Cruz ride, everyone. We don’t know where it’s going, but it’s going to be fun. Now time for some deep Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire sleepers.

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Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 9

A.J. Puk (SP, RP – MIA): 14%

Maybe this is reading a lot into an extra-inning save when the regular closer pitched earlier in a tie ballgame, but A.J. Puk working his way into regular save situations is not out of the realm of possibility.

Puk is still barely 29 and was the sixth overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft. He also had 15 saves last year, though nine blown saves are pretty unsightly. Equally hard on the eyes are the 17 walks in 18 innings Marlins closer Tanner Scott has issued. Unless that improves, Puk may start seeing some work in the ninth inning. It never hurts to take a flier on a potential closer as long as there’s roster space.

Chris Paddack (SP – MIN): 13%

Oh, how 2019 feels like yesterday and eons ago all at once. That was the year Chris Paddack came up and electrified the San Diego Padres faithful with a dominant high-90s fastball that powered him to 153 strikeouts in 140.2 innings. Now he’s throwing a respectable fastball that averages 93.6 miles per hour (MPH), good for a 42nd-percentile velocity reading.

Paddack won four straight before losing his most recent start on May 14. During the winning streak, he struck out 28 in 23.1 innings. It’s hard to picture him sustaining that, but he could be a streaming pickup against the Guardians on May 19. After that, fantasy managers can make the call if he’s worth holding on to for a longer spell.

Alek Manoah (SP – TOR): 12%

Was there anything more fun personified than Alek Manoah’s 2022 All-Star Game appearance, when he was mic’d up and asked Hall of Famer John Smoltz what pitches he wanted Manoah to throw while striking out the side? This call is partly hoping for more fun in baseball.

The burly right-hander had a lengthy stay in the minors after his 2023 season went in the tank. He debuted on May 5, getting throttled for six runs in four innings. Things got better on May 12, as he went seven innings and allowed three unearned runs while striking out six Twins in a loss. He’s pitching on a week’s rest again on May 19 against the Rays. Join me in rooting for fun. Good pitching helps, too.

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