Finding early-season gems on waivers
You can’t win your league at the draft. To win, you have to be diligent and smart throughout the season on waivers. You have to be quicker than your competitors to find those diamonds in the rough and needles in the haystacks. You have to have that special eye, to see what others have missed. Consider me your second set of eyes, helping you to see players in a different light.
Here are a “magnificent” seven players who each have less than 50% ownership according to CBSSports.com.
MIKE MINOR, RANGERS: (44%) This converted starter pitched fairly well in his first outing of the season, going 4.2 innings with five strikeouts and giving up two earned runs. Last season he averaged over a strikeout per inning with a 2.55 ERA and 1.02 WHIP. Although he won’t duplicate those numbers, there’s every reason to think he’ll more than hold his own in this new role. He began his career as a starter and even won 13 games in 2013. This Texas team isn’t very good, and the division seems stacked, led by the defending world champion Astros at the top, but if you can be selective with his starts, you’ll accumulate some strikeouts while helping in WHIP and ERA.
BRAD PEACOCK, ASTROS: (43%) The 30 year-old righty has found his niche. Last season, as a classic swing-man, he started 21 games and pitched 132 innings. He had a 10.97 K/9IP with a 3.00 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. On top of those fantastic numbers, he won 13 games. This season, he’s starting exactly where he left off last year. In three non-starting appearances, he’s pitched five innings with seven strikeouts, (12.6K/9IP), and has a miniscule 0.40 WHIP, without giving up and earned run. He’ll realistically give you over 100 strikeouts, with great ratios, and a handful of wins.
REYNALDO LOPEZ, WHITE SOX: (43%) There wasn’t room for this young starter to find turns with the Nationals a couple of seasons ago, and he was shipped to the White Sox along with Lucas Giolito in the Adam Eaton trade. The focus has been on Giolito, but in Lopez, the White Sox have a second electric arm. The 24 year-old has only made 15 career starts, but looks ready to take that next step as a reliable starter to stick in the middle of the rotation…and your fantasy team. If his first start of the season is any indication, Lopez will be a great addition to your team, especially if you are in a keeper league, where you’ll have control of him for a few seasons to come.
KEVIN PILLAR, BLUE JAYS: (42%) Pillar is a nice player. He’s putting together a nice career. As a starting outfielder, it’s amazing he’s on less than 50% of fantasy teams. It might because he’s now 29 and past his age 27 prime, and if we look at his three-year averages, his numbers are pedestrian at best. He’s averaged 153 games per year, but only 69 R, 12HRs, and 50 RBIs. His saving grace is his average of 18 stolen bases per season. That alone should have him on more teams. People haven’t woken up yet this season, because so far, this isn’t the Pillar of old. He’s come out of spring training on fire. In seven games, he already had six runs, three stolen bases, a home run, and is batting .320. There has to be room on your team to make him your fifth OF starter.
ANDREW TRIGGS: A’S (35%) This 29 year-old righty is one of the elder statesmen on the A’s, entering his third season with the team. He went from six starts in 2016 to 12 starts last year, and seems entrenched in the A’s rotation this year. Starting more games last year, he utilized more pitches which resulted in a bit of wildness. His walks per nine innings increased from 2.09 to 2.62, but his WHIP managed to stay at 1.33. He had a dominant minor league career which never produced an ERA over three or a WHIP over 1.16. I wouldn’t necessarily start him against the Astros lineup, but he’s definitely worth having on your bench for those favorable spot starts.
CHAD GREEN: YANKEES (33%) This one baffles me. He pitches for the Yankees who don’t have a dominant rotation. The majority of the staff are five or six inning pitchers, so Green is very important. And, the team stands to score a ton of runs, so they’ll be plenty of appearances where Green enters the game down a run, only to leave the game with a lead. Last season, in 40 appearances and 69 innings, he managed to win five games and strike out a whopping 103 batters. He had a 1.83 ERA and crazy 0.74 WHIP. He is in effect, the right-handed version of Andrew Miller. Frankly, he should be on 100% of the teams who play Fantasy Baseball, especially AL-only leagues.
MATT BOYD: TIGERS (13%) This 27 year-old was part of the David Price trade that sent Price from the Tigers to the Blue Jays in 2015. Boyd, a lefty, is one of those pitchers who has had a wonderful minor league career which hasn’t materialized yet in the big leagues. He averaged over a strikeout per inning in the minors, to go with an ERA no higher than 2.82 at the Triple-A level. He was lights coming out of Florida this spring, which should have him in more than 13% of the leagues, but his 13-23 career major league record and 5.39 ERA most likely have something to do with that. At 27, it’s put up or shut up for Boyd, and as Judge Smails said in Caddyshack, “The world needs ditch diggers too”, so if he doesn’t produce this year, he may be relegated to throwing soft toss for some JV high school team in his hometown of Bellevue, Washington. He pitched great in his first start, although he didn’t get a win. In six innings he only gave up one run on four hits and no walks. It was a fantastic performance and something to monitor. If you have space, he may be worth a flyer, or considering his ownership is so low, you can probably afford to take a wait-and-see approach. But, if he strings a couple more outings together like his first, his ownership will undoubtedly increase.
As the season moves forward I’ll sprinkle in a handful of players who may help your teams, as well as highlight some who have been underperforming about to explode, as well as some who have been going crazy and need to be sold high. My first candidate I’m looking closely at is Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez. It’s awfully early, and it’s wayyy too soon to panic, but he has started the season extremely cold. For now, I will say to exercise patience. He’s too good to give up on, and realistically, as the temperature begins to rise, surely his bat will heat up too.
The season is now over a week old, and every team has gone through their rotations once. Although it’s early, you’ll start to see some patterns emerging, and after this week, most teams will get into a regular schedule with fewer days off. At the beginning of this article I said you can’t win your league at your draft. To win you have to see trends and patterns: sell high and buy low; know when to hold ‘em, and know when to fold ‘em.
Want to help fight blood cancer and compete for World Series tickets? Learn about the mission of DKMS and compete nightly for World Series tickets this MLB season on FantasyDraft. All for FREE. Sponsored by FNTSY and DKMS, learn about their mission and access the daily contests at dailyroto.com/dkms.