Tomorrow (Wednesday) is July 4th, which means yours truly is already mourning the loss of baseball season. Crazy, right? But we are already on the downswing of the year and I’m a bit of a melancholy type anyway, so I’m allowed. At least the Braves are still in first, right?
Anyway, if you work in education like me, you are already enjoying the summer. If you don’t, hopefully your schedule allows time to celebrate the Fourth of July. If you’re too busy to do so, at least I did some waiver wire digging for you, right?
Brian Anderson, Marlins (50% owned)
Yep, I’m stretching the rules just a tad. So he’s not under 50 percent, but he’s right at it. Sue me, it’s my article. I went in depth on Anderson a few days ago, and if you want to hear more about how “Brian Anderson is Awesome” you should give it a look. The short of it is that he is elite in every category except for home runs. Last I checked, the other four categories counted, too. He’s locked into my CI slot in The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational (and Josh Bell is benched). Amen.
Avisail Garcia, White Sox (40% owned)
Boy, that percentage leapt up in a hurry. And for good reason, as Garcia has been scorching hot since his return from a hamstring injury. He’s the No. 5 hitter in the fake game over the last week, slashing .394 with four home runs. This White Sox team is in desperate need of a boost, and Garcia is providing that. He’s a sneaky speed asset, too, as Sunday’s triple at Texas shows. He had a sprint speed of 29.1 ft/sec in 2017 and checks in at 29.0 ft/sec so far in 2018. For reference, that’s faster than Whit Merrifield, Starling Marte, Yoan Moncada, Christian Yelich, and Tommy Pham. I love his power/speed combination. Better add him fast.
Joc Pederson, Dodgers (26% owned)
Getting a piece of the Dodgers pie seems wise after June’s home run barrage. Pederson has done his part in 2018, slashing .290/.376/.615 against right-handed pitching. What he does is no secret, as all 12 of his home runs are against right-handers. He also has a healthy 11.9% walk rate and very good 13.9% strikeout rate against right-handed pitching. He’s slashing .129/.152/.194 against southpaws, so he’s preferred in daily leagues where you can bench him against a lefty. Against a RHP, though, plug him in with confidence.
Scott Schebler, Reds (23% owned)
Schebler and Pederson are similar guys in that we prefer Schebler against right-handed pitchers when chasing power. Typically Schebler leads off in that scenario, by the way. The difference is that Schebler can actually hit southpaws, albeit not for power (.136 ISO). He’s also slashing .283/.357/.489 overall this season, with a decent 8.0% walk rate and 19.0% strikeout rate. With his .206 ISO and frequent leadoff position on that patient Reds team, he’s a no-brainer addition to any fake squad.
Robinson Chirinos, Rangers (23% owned)
I’ve been waiting on Chirinos for what feels like all season. He was one of my favorite catcher targets heading into 2018 due to his power, team context, and home park. And while he’s hit home runs all season, his batting average hasn’t come around until the last couple of weeks. He’s heated up alongside the weather, batting .182 in March/April, .221 in May, and .250 in June. He had an extreme 63.6% fly ball rate in March/April, but his line drive rate increased to 20.6% in May and 25.8% in June. He comes with a 38.1% strikeout rate, but he lowered it to 32% in June and that’s a storm we can weather from our backstop so long as he is cranking home runs. If I’m in need of a catcher, Chirinos is my first add.
Steven Matz, Mets (34% owned)
I almost didn’t list Matz today, but I like him better than Matt Harvey, so Matz it is. No offense to Harvey, as he’s shown signs of life (and added velocity) in Cincinnati. I like that Matz has a higher K-rate than Harvey (21.7%) and pitches in a better home park. He also allows less hard contact and induces more ground balls...I just prefer him all the way around. As you can imagine, right-handed hitters tough up the lefty a little more (.324 wOBA, 11 HR) but Matz is really solid against same-handed hitters (.278 wOBA, 2 HR). In fact, lefty bats make hard contact against him only 9.4% of the time, which is amazing. They also have a 74.5% ground ball rate. In short, he’s slaying lefties and doing enough against righty bats. On the season he’s pitched 83 1⁄3 innings with 76 strikeouts, a 3.46 ERA, and 1.22 WHIP.
Kyle Gibson, Twins (32% owned)
Gibson stumbled a bit two turns ago against the White Sox (five runs allowed over seven innings) but he still found a way to rack up seven strikeouts. He then drew a tough assignment at Milwaukee yesterday, and had arguably his poorest start of the season (5.0 IP, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3SO). But through the first half of 2018 he’s logged 100 2⁄3 innings with a 3.58 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, and 96 strikeouts. His 47.9% ground ball rate and career-best 22.6% strikeout rate give him a decent floor. He’s a worthwhile add as a back-end starter.
Will Smith, Giants (27% owned)
He’s the flavor of the day (or week) or whatever in San Francisco and is among the best adds if you are mining for saves. He’s been San Francisco’s best reliever, as the 34 strikeouts in 24 1⁄3 innings can attest. He carries a 1.11 ERA and 0.70 WHIP. So even if he’s not always logging saves, he won’t bust up your ratios. That’s an underrated bonus.
A.J. Minter, Braves (25% owned)
He’s a bit unorthodox as a left-handed closer, but Arodys Vizcaino played his way out of the role (and had shoulder inflammation) so here we are. Even upon Vizcaino’s return, Minter figures to mix in for saves far more than Dan Winkler. Over his 36 innings he has 39 strikeouts and a 2.75 ERA and 1.25 WHIP. The Braves are proving their staying power (best record in the National League) so adding Minter now seems prudent.
Matt Harvey, Reds (17% owned)
I lied! Boom! Back to Batman it is. I was going to include Mike Minor, but he’s allowing loads of hard contact and fly balls and should be due for regression out there in Texas. Harvey is also allowing more hard contact than I like (39.6%) but he’s the No. 6 pitcher in the fake game over the past two weeks, so he’s doing something right. The great Eno Sarris clued me into the aforementioned velocity gain:
No starting pitcher has gained more velocity since April. https://t.co/kOuK6USzk6— Eno Sarris (@enosarris) July 1, 2018
Harvey’s walk rate is also down to 6.2% after last year’s uncharacteristic 10.9% rate, and the icing on the proverbial cake may be a move before the deadline to a contender (Nationals, anyone?). He’s also a back end starter for me, but I like him a shade more than Minor.
As always, hit me up on Twitter @HeathCapps or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions or some friendly banter to offer. All unfriendly banter will be shunned.