There has been a little bit of everything for fantasy baseball managers so far in 2020. Injuries, slow starts, and postponements due to the pandemic have left many of us scrambling. In a full season, some of these circumstances are worthy of little more than a shrug. In a 60-game season, however, time is of the essence particularly in head-to-head leagues which will wrap up their regular season even earlier in order to fit in a playoff.
Aside from teams like the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals (and their scheduled opponents), most teams will be through a quarter of the season after Sunday’s games. Brass tacks: there is simply not enough time to wait for underperforming middle-of-the-road players to come around. In many cases, fantasy managers would be better off trying to find lightning in a bottle in the form of newly promoted top prospects, or whoever has the hot hand (or bat!). There is no reason to bail on a top-tier player, of course, but be mindful that sometimes it’s advantageous to ride the waivers, rather than sticking with a guy who clearly looks overmatched through 15 games.
The clock is ticking, so here are this week’s waiver wire targets.
Teoscar Hernandez, OF, Toronto Blue Jays – 60 percent owned
Hernandez’s ownership leaped 15 percent in the last week alone, but with plenty of shares still available, clearly many managers are not drinking the Kool-Aid. In the last two seasons, he has shown good pop at the plate (over 20 homers in each) and already has four dingers through 11 games this year. Add to that a .304/.327/.630 line with six runs, seven runs batted in, and a pair of stolen bases. Hernandez should continue to produce in the middle third of a lineup that will score plenty more runs.
JaCoby Jones, OF, Detroit Tigers – 36 percent owned
For some reason, Jones is widely available many leagues and I suspect it is because of the name on his uniform. Well, that and the fact that the Tigers refuse to move him out of the ninth spot in the batting order, but it is working for him. Jones smacked his fourth home run on Saturday night and now carries an absurd 1.168 OPS early in the 2020 campaign. Can he sustain that production? Probably not, but even a modest drop off still leaves him worthy of a roster spot in all formats, and especially in AL-only leagues.
J.P. Crawford, SS, Seattle Mariners – 29 percent owned
Crawford is making the most of being atop the Mariners lineup, getting on base at a .400 clip with 12 runs, four RBIs, and three stolen bases to go along with a very respectable .278 average in the early going. The former first-round pick is patient at the plate, boasting 10 walks and is a constant threat to run. The Mariners wanted Crawford to be the centerpiece of their rebuild and in a shortened season with virtually no pressure, he appears ready to use 2020 for his coming out party. Go get him.
Joey Wendle, 2B/3B/SS, Tampa Bay Rays – 6 percent owned
At 6 percent ownership, this could be as little as a “watch list” pick for some, but it has everything to do with the 2020 season and Wendle being relevant for his position flexibility. That does not mean he has not played well so far, he has. And while he may not give you anything flashy, Wendle has already scored seven runs, homered, has the speed to swipe bags, and is batting .286 so far on the year. He is a multi-position option in head-to-head leagues when many like him have already been snatched up due to the postponed games. If you have room on your bench, he could be a valuable plug-and-play asset, especially if there is another wave of postponed games.
Jairo Diaz, RP, Colorado Rockies – 53 percent owned
The Rockies have won 11 of their first 14 games, and with wins comes save opportunities. Scott Oberg is out indefinitely, and Wade Davis also landed on the injured list, so Colorado turned to Diaz to close out games. He is three-for-three in that role, and his season ERA sits at a cool 1.35 through seven appearances. He is unlikely to light up the strikeout column (just seven thus far) but is the bonafide closer on a first-place team, and he may not even relinquish that spot when Davis (who had a disastrous 2019) finally returns. Diaz is a must-add for any manager that needs a bump in the saves department.
Spencer Howard, SP, Philadelphia Phillies – 37 percent owned
The Phillies have called up 2017 second-round pick Howard – one of the league’s top pitching prospects – to start one of the games of their twin bill versus the Braves on Sunday. The electrifying rookie finished 2019 with a 2.01 ERA and 94 strikeouts in 71 innings, split between High-A and Double-A minor league levels. Barring catastrophe, he is expected to remain in the rotation after his first start and is still available in many leagues. Snatch him up as soon as possible, as even a mediocre showing against Atlanta on Sunday will not curb the buzz.
Merrill Kelly, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks – 29 percent owned
With three quality starts in as many appearances, Kelly is looking like a candidate to remain on fantasy rosters throughout the abbreviated season. He is 2-1 with a 2.29 ERA and an impressive 0.96 WHIP after another strong start versus the Padres on Saturday. He is stingy with the free passes, having walked only one in 19 2/3 innings while striking out 15. Kelly will run into some tough starts within his division (namely the Rockies and Dodgers) but will also get several less-talented squads in the NL and AL West divisions down the stretch. After Saturday’s win, you can expect his ownership in mixed leagues to take a big jump.
Rafael Montero, RP, Texas Rangers – 24 percent owned
Montero was just activated from the injured list on Friday. He flew right under fantasy owners’ radars until he immediately snatched up two saves in his first two games back. In the small sample size, he kept a clean sheet without allowing any baserunners while striking out two of the six batters he faced. Texas is not going to scare a lot of teams this season, but it appears Montero will continue to be the go-to on the back end of the bullpen and will be in line for plenty more save opportunities as the season progresses.
Questions and comments?
Hit us up on the Socials:
Check out our Facebook Group where you can read and post articles at The Scorecrow
Reddit Group where everyone can post without fear of being banned at The Scorecrow
Follow Sam Schneider on Twitter @BuyAndSellYou
Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images