Welcome to Week 4, folks. I hope everyone has come down a bit from last night’s heroics, namely Dansby Swanson of my Braves. Also, some guy named Fernando Tatis Jr. clubbed two more homers. He now leads the majors outright with 11 dingers. Maybe you’ve heard of him?
Anyway, you can’t add those guys from waivers, so let’s see who might be available in your league.
OF Jesse Winker, Cincinnati Reds (50% owned)
The Reds’ postponements might be masking the one of the hottest adds in baseball, as I expected Winker’s ownership to be north of 70%. But here we are at only 50%, so enjoy the smokescreen while you can. He’s playing every day, and not just against right-handed pitching. He’s blistering the ball, ranking inside the top 10% of the league in exit velocity, xWOBA, xSLG, and xBA. He’s inside the top 15% in hard hit rate and barrel rate, too. Odds are he’ll continue hitting fourth or fifth in the order, so he should have plenty of run-producing opportunities. His .424 BABIP will come down, but his newfound aggression is paying off right now. He’s not making loads of contact, but early returns on plate discipline suggest that he’s being selective—a low 38.3% swing rate and an epic 18.2% chase rate are impressive, and correspond nicely to his hefty 12.5% walk rate. Ride the wave here.
SP Alec Mills, Chicago Cubs (42% owned)
Call this one a head start on streaming for the latter part of the week, as Mills should get the nod against the Cardinals on Friday...unless something weird happens (entirely possible in 2020). The man armed with the slowest curve in the majors should do a fine job of keeping St. Louis off balance. Overall he’s sitting on a 2.84 ERA and 0.84 WHIP, and the lone blemish in his last turn was a sixth inning homer to one Christian Yelich (hard to blame him too much). The Cards strike out nearly 25% of the time against righty pitching this year, a bottom-feeding mark for sure. The team’s .168 ISO is middling, and the 7.3% walk rate is one of the worst. It looks like a nice spot, and Mills has the added bonus of more job security now that Tyler Chatwood is on the IL. Mills isn’t overpowering, but he does change speeds and keep hitters off balance enough to induce plenty of weak contact—he’s 99th percentile in average exit velocity and 96th percentile in hard hit rate thus far. He’s more of a quality start/ratios help sort of play...don’t go chasing tons of strikeouts, and you should be happy. Scope out that curve:
Ever wonder what the slowest pitch in all of baseball was last year?— Ben Palmer (@benjpalmer) January 9, 2020
Well here it is, Alec Mills’ curveball.
This thing *averaged* 67.6 MPH.
And oddly enough, it was just about a money pitch, with a 39.6% chase, 44.2% zone, and 15.1% SwStr rate pic.twitter.com/2TEkMNHpnz
I’m a big fan of Mills and I’m exposed to him in tons of places. So if you take the plunge here, we’ll be in it together.
RP Andrew Miller, St. Louis Cardinals (13% owned)
Miller is the flavor du jour on the endless closer carousel of 2020. I can’t tell you he sees every save chance for the redbirds moving forward, especially with a double-header looming—but locking down two saves in two appearances since Friday has to grab your attention. The 35-year-old is pretty much a fastball/slider guy, and he’s lost some velocity from his heyday. But he’s got the gig for now, it seems. That’s enough to take a shot on him if you’re in need.
SS Willy Adames, Tampa Bay Rays (12% owned)
Adames might be a bit of a surprise, but he’s one of the “sure things” with regard to playing time in Tampa. He also seems to be making something of a trade-off at the plate, giving up contact in favor of more power. So while the 33.8% strikeout rate is ghastly, he’s still not chasing out of the zone (28.6%) and has beefed up his walk rate to 13.0%. He’s also hitting the ball harder, as he ranks in the 78th percentile for exit velocity and the 86th percentile for hard hit rate thus far. He’s also speedy (81st percentile). He’s only made one attempt thus far in 2020, but it’s nice to know the speed is there. And for reference, Adames ranks 13th in the majors in average exit velocity over the last two weeks, at 93.4 MPH. And over the last week he ranks eighth, at 96.5 MPH on average. That’s alongside names like Franmil Reyes, Jesse Winker, and Teoscar Hernandez—sluggers who have been lighting it up recently. Lastly, if you’re a fan of Statcast, know that Adames ranks 23rd in the bigs with a 97.1 MPH average on fly balls and line drives. Sure, his 50% ground ball rate gets in the way, but he has slowly inched up his average launch angle in the majors each year (8.5, 10.8, 11.1). I like the incremental growth here, and Adames is definitely good enough to cover your middle infield slot if you’re in need. Here’s a clip of Adames celebrating my birthday with a dinger:
Willy Adames - Tampa Bay Rays (2) pic.twitter.com/1bKYwfI4wm— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) August 16, 2020
The more I dig into Adames, the more I like him. Let’s go!
OF Nick Markakis, Atlanta Braves (6% owned)
He’s been red hot since opting back into 2020, and the Braves desperately need his bat to lengthen their lineup with Ronald Acuña Jr. and Ozzie Albies still shelved. Markakis is slashing .353/.421/.618 and has driven in four RBI over his last two games. He’s nestled into the middle of the Atlanta order, and is a free square in 15-team leagues if you’ve lost an outfielder or two (or three, let’s get real). Markakis also doubled off of Tanner Rainey last night, a man who had only allowed one hit all season long. Speaking of doubles, Markakis is ONE double behind some man named BABE RUTH for his career. So yeah, the 36-year-old has been honing his craft for quite some time now. Take advantage of this elder statesman and his dependability.