Fantasy Baseball Waiver Advice: Dozier Exposure
Dan Malin highlights the players you need to monitor on your waiver wire including some hitters breaking out of their slow starts!
Hunter Dozier (KC) After a horrendously slow start to the season, Dozier’s turned it on to kick off the month of May. Since Sunday he has seven hits, all of which have been for extra bases (three home runs, one triple, three doubles) including another dinger last night. The batting average is still pretty low, but that’s just how bad the start to his season was. As it has started to heat up across the MLB landscape, so too has Dozier.
Josh Rojas (ARI) Similar to Dozier, Rojas was another player that struggled out of the gate but has since performed very well, especially in the past week. He was held out of Wednesday’s lineup, but Rojas has hit a home run in four of his past five games and he’s scored and driven in a run in five straight games. At any moment he could cool off, and he strikes out at least once every game, but you all know I love going to guys on a hot streak and if it isn’t Dozer, then it might as well be Rojas.
Willie Calhoun (TEX) Everyone’s been waiting on the Willie Calhoun breakout and it’s possible we’re experiencing it right now. He missed the first two weeks of the season, but since that dilemma he’s hit safely in 13 of the 15 games he’s appeared in. He’s slashing .316/.381/.491 with six hits (two home runs) so far in May. Since returning to the team he’s been hitting leadoff a bit more so we obviously hope that sticks for fantasy purposes, but jump on this outfielder now if he’s available.
Pavin Smith (ARI) So there’s a chance you need some help at first base with Joey Votto missing the next month. Since April 20th, Smith is slashing .276/.323/.500 and he’s finding himself hitting leadoff quite regularly. In that span he has three doubles, two triples, and two home runs. The lack of walks in comparison to his strikeouts are tolerable, but he’s also been hitting leadoff more. He didn’t have the greatest performance on Wednesday against Miami, but no Diamondback did. If you need other options at first base, C.J. Cron is a viable option in shallower leagues and Brandon Belt is worth a shot in deeper leagues.
Dylan Cease (CHW) It really wasn’t that long ago (seriously, less than two weeks ago) I was telling members in the MLB Seasonal Chat to drop Cease. The turnaround over his last two starts is a true 180. He failed to escape the fifth inning in each of his first four starts. But over his last two starts (13 innings of work) he has 20 strikeouts, three walks, four hits, and zero earned runs allowed. The only thing of note is that he’s said he’s stopped worrying about the mechanics of his pitching motion and just tried to make the best pitches. That’s both good and bad, in my opinion. Typically when we see a pitcher try to fix something mechanically we see improved results. I don’t quite know what to make of a pitcher disregarding mechanics. One of his last two starts came against the Tigers so maybe we should take these last two starts with a grain of salt. He probably should be picked up as a two-start pitcher next week so get ahead of the curve while you can.
Huascar Ynoa (ATL) Admittedly, I’m not a huge Ynoa advocate and I’m saying this as someone who lives a stone’s throw from Truist Park. He carries a K/9 of nearly 10.0 but he lacks consistency on a start-by-start basis with his strikeout numbers. On Tuesday he struck out four in seven innings. Last Wednesday he struck out nine in 5.1 innings. The start before that it was five strikeouts in six innings. So if you plan on owning him long-term then the numbers will ultimately level out. But his 3.48 FIP is over a full point higher than his ERA (2.36) and his xFIP (2.89) still suggests some negative regression. He has a very tough matchup on Sunday night baseball against the Phillies (who will be starting Aaron Nola ) so proceed with caution.
Shane McClanahan (TB) If I’m being objective and honest, I don’t have the highest hopes for McClanahan in the short term. His “stuff” is great. He has a high-octane fastball, a great slider, and his changeup isn’t too bad either. He’s generating swinging strikes at an elite 18.9% rate. But he’s young and the Rays are an organization that needs to conserve young talent, not abuse it. He just turned 24 and so far he hasn’t pitched more than four innings in a start. So while the quality is what we want, we need a little more volume. He should be owned in deeper leagues, and in fantasy leagues that incorporate K/9 he’s a commodity as well. Again, I just don’t know if we see him pitch deep into games even as the season trudges on, but time will tell.
Nick Pivetta (BOS) Pivetta makes for a fine streamer to finish out the current fantasy baseball week. The good news is that he’ll toe the rubber against Baltimore. The bad news is that he is allowing far too many free passes. A 5.58 BB/9 is an eyesore and will eventually catch up to him as evidenced by his 4.42 xFIP. The good news is that he isn’t giving up a ton of hard contact (31.5%) and he’s forcing hitters to put the ball in the ground. That explains why he has allowed just one home run on the year. With the Red Sox lineup he’ll get plenty of run support and he’s been a reliable source of wins on the year with a 4-0 record. It’s a little risky and I’d love to see the walks come down, but Pivetta’s a solid streamer to help you get a win this week.
I really don’t have too many relievers I’m looking at on the waiver wire. I think it’s a good time to jump on some offensive pieces that are hitting well right now or grab a pitcher from above that can help fill out your rotation.
Cole Irvin (OAK) Here’s how barren the relief pitcher pool is right now. I’m throwing a player out who I don’t have a ton of interest in picking up. He’s more of a starter than a reliever at the moment, but he does carry RP-eligibility on ESPN. He touts an 8.74 K/9, which is decent. That’s nearly a strikeout per inning. However, on the season he’s generating swinging strikes at a 9.7% clip and while the swinging strike numbers have been better lately, the 11% rate over his last two starts isn’t all that impressive. But in general, this is a SP/RP eligible pitcher who hasn’t been yielding too many walks (basically one every seven innings of work), he’s an innings eater, and he’s minimizing damage. For the faults that I pointed out, he closes out the scoring period against the Rays who have been inconsistent at the dish to start the year.
César Valdez (BAL) Perhaps it’s the stigma of playing for the Orioles, but Valdez is still available in a decent amount of leagues and he notched his seventh save of the season Monday night, which now has him tied for fourth in the league. This is another guy who simply minimizes damage and averages over a strikeout per inning. This is a waiver wire grab that isn’t particularly sexy, but it’s got teeth. There’s nothing but good, solid production here. Additionally if Josh Staumont is still floating on waivers he’s worth a grab as well. Strangely enough he was utilized in the seventh inning of Tuesday’s game and it must have screwed with him because he got rocked to the tune of three earned runs in 0.2 innings of work. I don’t know why he came in that early, but I’m still operating under the assumption he’s the team’s closer.
Mychal Givens (COL) This is a bit of a longshot call. And if you receive no clarity from this article then be on the lookout for Joe Gallina’s Bullpen Report due out later this morning. But Daniel Bard has struggled in the closer role lately. About a month ago when we started this waiver wire piece, I noted it was possible he could lose the job if he struggled, but this was a guy that was free and could get 15-20 saves this year. But Bard has struggled mightily. Last night he locked down the save, but allowed an unearned run to score and he allowed two walks. Prior to last night he had allowed an earned run to score in five of his previous six appearances. So if he continues to struggle, Mychal Givens is worth looking at for some saves. Givens isn’t without his own faults as he’s prone to surrendering the long ball, but he’s probably the next man up in a sub-par bullpen. He averages over a strikeout per inning and does have experience working the ninth inning. Again, I don’t love the waiver options this week, but Givens is worth looking at, at the very least.