Trying to get a week ahead of the waiver wire seems futile at times with games being canceled and injury rates at an all-time high. For me, I’m using the next two weeks as a tie-breaker between similar players. I’m aiming for as much potential value over the next two weeks and then doing it all again the next. Each time I hope I have rostered a few decent options.
As normal, the two-start options aren’t perfect because only one start being ideal OR the pitcher’s talent is suspect OR the rotation might not lineup from other pitchers returning from the IL. The hitters to target are obvious with a couple of teams playing eight games.
Available Two-Start Pitchers (in order of preference)
Chris Bassitt (at AZ, at LAA, 52% owned): How is he rostered less than Fiers. Historically, they both have posted similar strikeout and walk rates, but Bassitt has been lights out in his two starts with a 0.93 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, and 11.2 K/9. Bassitt needs to be rostered for his start next week against the Angels (Andriese).
Tyler Alexander (at CWS, at CLE, 14%): For now, Alexander has a rotation spot and should get this OK two-step. In seven innings of work so far, he’s struck out 18 batters. Even if his starts don’t fall perfectly for this two-step, he’s a must-own by some owner needing pitching. His stats are eye-popping at 15.3 K/9, 0.65 WHIP, and 1.17 ERA so he’ll be desired on the waiver wire. He’s pulling off the talent jump by dropping his fastball usage (55% to 36%). His fastball has not generated one swing-and-miss this season while his change, slider, and curve all have swinging-strike rates between 18% and 20%. It might all come crashing down but owners can’t wait to find out. Buy now.
Jordan Lyles (vs SD, at SEA, 8% owned): Owners are hoping last season’s Rangers version of Lyles (2.45 ERA, 8.6 K/9, 1.11 WHIP) shows up. In three appearances (11 IP), Lyles has allowed the same number of walks as strikeouts generated. An owner can use his upcoming start against Seattle to judge his talent.
Devin Smeltzer (vs MIL, at KC, 4% owned): Smeltzer may not make it to these starts if Rich Hill rejoins the rotation. While the start against the Brewers is not ideal, owners might have to tolerate it for the Royals game. Smeltzer was usable last season with a sub 4.00 ERA and 1.27 WHIP. Those numbers have blown up in his face this season mainly because of his fastball has dropped 2 mph to 87.3 mph. He is cognizant of the drop and throwing his fastball less (46% to 35%). His breaking balls have been generating a decent amount of misses (9.0 K/9), but he’s too hittable (2.0 HR/9, .385 BABIP) at the lower velocity to recommend.
Brandon Bielak (vs COL, at SD, 7% owned): The Astros rotation has been in flux so Bielak may not get this Monday’s start with Zack Greinke lined up for the Tuesday one. Whoever does start, misses the Rockies on the road. As for Bielak, he’s likely to be overvalued since he’s an Astros with a 0.87 ERA. Why I have my doubts is the walk rate. Last season at AAA, it was 3.8 BB/9 and now 5.2 BB/9 in a limited major league sample. With a projected K/9 around 8.0, he’ll never be useful allowing all the walks.
Mike Fiers (at AZ, at LAA, 66% owned): I’m a little surprised about Fiers ownership. Historically, he’s the epitome of the streaming starter with low walk and strikeout rates who feasts on subpar talent. The problem is that Fiers is falling apart this year. His fastball velocity is down 2.5 mph leading to a 2.8 K/9. No Typo. He’s had average batted-ball luck and still has a 5.63 ERA and matching ERA estimators. I have no idea how he’s 66% owned and it should drop to 50% points.
Gio Gonzalez (vs DET, at CHC, 5% owned): I just can’t recommend him. The matchups are OK, but Gonzalez and his sub-90 mph fastball are getting lit up like the Fourth of July (.425 BABIP, 2.3 HR/9). On top of the batted ball data, he has a 5.4 BB/9. He loves base runners this season and it shows with a 7.71 ERA and ERA estimators in the 5.00 range.
Hitters to Target
Note: I’m not sure how to value hitters who will play in the seven-inning doubleheaders. Some of the vets will sit out the second game or the day after. I’m not 100% sure if these games help a hitter’s value and if they do, by how much.
Astros (2 vs COL, 2 at COL, 2 at SD)
- Josh Reddick (18% owned): There is no one as boring as Reddick but it’s tough to pass up on a Colorado trip no matter its brevity.
Athletics (2 at AZ, 2 vs AZ, 3 at LAA)
- Stephen Piscotty (13% owned): Like with the Astros, most of the regulars are already widely owned. Piscotty and his .690 OPS (.781 on his career) is not an ideal option, but regular at-bats with 25 home run power can be useful.
Marlins (2 vs NYM, 2 at NYM, 4 vs WAS)
- Jesus Aguilar (26% owned), Jon Berti (17%), Francisco Cervelli (2%), Monte Harrison (13%): With the Marlins not playing last week, many headed to the waiver wire and there are some good players available. Aguilar for power and Berti for speed are must adds. Pay up now for the extra games throughout the season.
Blue Jays (3 at BAL, 2 vs PHI, 3 at TB)
- Randall Grichuk (33% owned): While Grichuck seems like a nice buy, tap the brakes just a bit. He’s been dealing with a back issue and has yet to hit an extra-base hit. I’d look for any sign of his power being back and buy-in.
Dodgers (2 vs SEA, 2 at SEA, 3 vs COL)
- Enrique Hernandez (35% owned): Hernandez is the best option and he’s not a good one. He doesn’t play enough. After starting in the first five games, he’s only played in four of the next eight. Also, I see Edwin Rios getting some love but he’s only started in three of the last six.
Red Sox (1 at NYY, 2 vs PHI, 4 at BAL)
- Mitch Moreland (22% owned): Moreland is in a strict platoon with Michael Chavis but still has 4 HR with a .292 AVG in eight games. If Joc Pederson is owned, so should Moreland.
Twins (1 vs KC, 3 vs MIL, 3 at KC