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Wire Warriors: Week 11

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Heath scours the waivers!

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Detroit Tigers Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

If considering guys who are 30% or so owned is too vanilla for you, allow me to direct you to Brian’s 10 under 10% that dropped yesterday. And if you’re into closers specifically, here’s Matt’s Closing Remarks for Week 11.

Now let’s help out those of you who need some aid in your hometown tilts or maybe have a little more wiggle room on your bench and waiver wires.

CATCHER

Kurt Suzuki, Braves (41% owned) and Tyler Flowers, Braves (6% owned)

Look, I could do something dumb and recommend Devin Mesoraco again, or I could just be smart and tell you to chase the Atlanta backstops. A year ago Suzuki finished 10th among backstops and Flowers finished 12th, despite splitting time with each other. This year it’s more of the same, despite splitting duties and Flowers missing most of April with an oblique injury. Suzuki (who hasn’t missed time) is ranked ninth among catchers this year and 13th over the last two weeks. Flowers (who essentially missed an entire month) is ranked sixth over the last 30 days and 14th over the last two weeks. It makes me feel icky too, thinking of rostering a part-time catcher. But if you don’t have one of the top 10 options the picture begins to get murky. Suzuki and Flowers are must-haves in two-catcher formats, but both could back into starter production in single-catcher formats by season’s end. I’m done playing around at this spot. Give me all the Atlanta catchers, starting with Flowers if I can.

FIRST BASE

Yonder Alonso, Indians (38% owned)

I don’t know what I have to do to drive this guy’s ownership upward. I’ve been saying it all year. Alonso is only the No. 26 first baseman in the game over the last two weeks, but he is batting .293 over that stretch (average has been the Achilles heel so far in 2018).

Alonso has worked himself up to the No. 20 ranking among first baseman on the season—ahead of guys like Carlos Santana, Justin Smoak, Albert Pujols, Justin Bour, and Josh Bell—all of whom have a higher owned percentage. Meanwhile, only nine first basemen have hit more home runs than Alonso’s 11, and Alonso’s batting average continues creeping upward after some poor luck to begin the year. It also helps that he has increased his line drive percentage from around 15% to almost 18% (and maintained a stellar hard contact rate of 37.5%). If you need power at your corner infield or utility position, odds are Alonso might be a better choice than one of your guys.

Honorable mention: Max Muncy, Dodgers (56% owned)

Muncy is an honorable mention because his ownership has spiked 20% over the last 24 hours. If you snoozed, you probably missed out.

SECOND BASE

Ian Kinsler, Angels (53% owned)

He’s on a ridiculous heater over the past two weeks, batting .377 with six home runs over that stretch. Heading into Monday night, Kinsler had homered in three of his last four games. Last I checked, there were 27 second basemen with a higher owned percentage than Kinsler in the Yahoo game—with perhaps the greatest travesty being that Rougned Odor has the same percentage as Kinsler. Fantasy masses, thank you for quickly remedying that debacle (Odor is 45% owned). Over the past month, Kinsler is the No. 8 man at the keystone, and that jives a lot better with his skill set and situation (read: hitting in front of Mike Trout). Give me all the Kinsler as a middle infield option, everywhere I can land him.

Honorable mention: Derek Dietrich, Marlins (35% owned)

I want to keep ignoring him, but Dietrich keeps piling up the hits and is the No. 5 man at the keystone over the last month. Over the past two weeks he is batting a blazing .459 with three home runs, good for No. 6 production at the keystone over that stretch. Apparently you could do worse at your middle infield position.

SHORTSTOP

Dansby Swanson, Braves (31% owned)

Swim, swam, swammy...Swanson! I got the “s” right, at least. Okay, Swanson may be only the No. 10 shortstop in the game over the last two weeks, but he’s No. 1 in your hearts—right, Braves fans? Anyway, Swanson has the smokescreen of having recently spent a couple of weeks on the DL with a wrist injury. But now he’s back, and producing. Over the past week he’s the No. 7 shortstop in the game, batting .280 with a home run and a stolen base. Fair warning, he does come with a large 28.2% strikeout rate. But that’s the price you pay for power, as his .177 ISO far exceeds last year’s nonexistent .092 mark. He’s making hard contact 33.6% of the time and is pulling the ball more than in his previous two seasons. He’s a bit of a free-swinger out of the zone and his contact rates are right at league average, but at a talent-deprived position I’ll take a guy that has already tied his power output from the previous year. For what it’s worth, Swanson has stolen three bases on four attempts this year, too. With a sprint speed of 29.2 ft/sec, it’s clear that Swanson has the wheels to run more. For reference, that’s faster than Tim Anderson, Jose Peraza, Chris Taylor, Francisco Lindor, Marcus Semien, and Jean Segura (to name a few). I’ll take a stab at Swanson in this upstart Atlanta lineup.

Honorable mention: Yairo Munoz, Cardinals (5% owned)

As of a few days ago, he had committed six errors in a week’s time. I didn’t check box scores on Monday, but I’m not too interested in Munoz given his fielding struggles. Still, his bat has been just fine, so if you’re desperate for a fix while Paul DeJong is out, add him and see how long the Cardinals put up with his poor fielding. DeJong is tentatively expected back around the end of June.

THIRD BASE

Jeimer Candelario, Tigers (34% owned)

I’m ready to call it a full-fledged breakout for the 24-year-old Tiger, but for some reason others are being slow to notice. Candelario is slashing .263/.350/.507 with 10 home runs so far, good for the No. 19 spot in production among his peers at third base. Candelario did lose 10 days to a DL stint, too (so his numbers could be better). His 36.0% hard contact rate is superb, and he has increased his line drive and fly ball rates from last year—while also reducing his ground ball rate. Candelario makes above average contact and has a very good 8.9% swinging strike rate (10.6% is league average). He reads like a guy that simply needs to swing more, if I’m picking something to gripe about. The double-digit walk rate is nice, but since he’s making solid contact he should be attacking balls in the zone more. Perhaps this is a side effect of him batting second in the order. Still, beggars can’t be choosers. Candelario is a great add to your CI or UTIL slot.

OUTFIELD

Leonys Martin, Tigers (19% owned)

I cut Gregory Polanco in a shallow mixer to add Martin the other day, so that’s where we’re at with this call. I play for keeps. Martin has finally begun to run, something we’ve been waiting for all season. Over the past two weeks he is the third-best outfielder in the whole of the MLB, with a sparkling .294 average, four home runs, and four stolen bases. Only Eddie Rosario and Andrew Benintendi have been better over that stretch. Martin already has nine homers and five swipes on the year, and with career highs in hard contact (37.7%) and fly ball rate (50.0%) it’s possible he keeps it going. The only question is: will he be producing for the Tigers all season, or will be be traded?

Teoscar Hernandez, Blue Jays (29% owned)

In the preseason I predicted Randal Grichuk would slug 30 home runs. Turns out, I chose the wrong Blue Jay. What I liked about Grichuk then (his ability to barrel the ball) also applies to Hernandez. In fact, Teoscar ranks third in all of the MLB in Brls/PA, behind only Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez. It’s no fluke according to 2017 either, as Hernandez ranked 8th in the MLB in Brls/PA if you sort for a minimum of 50 batted ball events. In short, he can hit the ball hard. Give me all that cheap power.

STARTING PITCHER

Frankie Montas, Athletics (30% owned)

Since the call-up Montas is 3-0 with a 1.25 ERA and 0.88 WHIP. He’s faced some inferior competition (namely the Royals twice) but he’s still getting the job done. The strikeouts haven’t come so far in the MLB (16.9 K%) but his minor league track record says he can be above average in this department. I’ll be curious to see how much he lives in the zone against better competition in the days to come—perhaps his current marks are due to the level of competition he faced. Right now, Montas is throwing first strikes 63.9% of the time, which is above the 60.4% league average. For comparison’s sake, that first strike percentage would rank 29th among starters if Montas had enough innings to qualify. Which is fine, except that his swinging strike rate of 7.2% is below average (10.6% is average). That’s actually a Leake-ian swinging strike rate, as Leake’s 7.7% mark is slightly superior. Leake actually isn’t a bad comp, honestly—for Montas to help you it appears he’ll need to do so in ratios and by working deep into games (8.0 and 7.2 innings in his last two turns). He’s worth a gamble to see if he can keep it going—and to see if the strikeouts start to come.

Seth Lugo, Mets (23% owned)

Apparently Lugo has an epic curve. Where have I been to not know this? I don’t know. Hiding under a rock I suppose. I try to stay informed, but there’s a lot of information out there. I mean, it’s hard enough keeping up with whatever team Trevor Cahill is pitching for now. You really expect me to know all of the eleventy billion Mets pitchers? Anyway, Lugo was completely dominant against the Yankees on Sunday, hurling a six-inning shutout with the win and a whopping eight strikeouts. He’s worked out of the bullpen mostly in 2018, but you’d think a start like that would buy him more time in the rotation...right? But the Mets are bonkers sometimes, so tread lightly.

RELIEF PITCHER

Joakim Soria, White Sox (46% owned)

He has four saves over the past two weeks and has fully unseated Nate Jones for the closing gig. How long will it last? I have no idea.

Hector Rondon, Astros (39% owned)

The flavor of the week now that Kenny Giles won’t stop imploding. As a short-term fix, I support this move.

Kirby Yates, Padres (10% owned)

Yates has amassed a couple of saves recently, despite the presence of established closer Brad Hand. I don’t really know what’s up, but perhaps Hand is trade-bait soon enough and the Padres need to see what they have in Yates? Anyway, Yates is the clear-cut No. 2 option for saves in this bullpen, so you could do worse if you’re speculating.

Justin Miller, Nationals (6% owned)

Wilson has some absurd strikeout rates at Triple-A (50%!) and at the MLB level (60.7%) so far this year. In leagues where you need ratios help and/or play for holds, he looks like a heck of an addition to see if he can keep it going. I’ll be taking a shot on him in my deep league tilts.