There are five weeks left, in the regular season, of the fantasy baseball season. The playoff picture is starting to come into focus, and there is still time to gain ground, but that window is starting to close. A few weeks ago I mentioned the show we did in March with Tim McLeod. He gave great insight on players of the future, and ones to start monitoring if you’re in dynasty/keeper leagues. Prior to having Mr. McLeod on a show, we had Dr. Roto. Dr. Roto gave arguably the best fantasy tip out there. He said that fantasy sports are a marathon, not a sprint. That being said, and to follow with my previous statement, there is still time to make a push for the playoffs, and this week I want to talk about hot additions off the waiver wire. These players have been producing, and the key is getting the at-bats down the stretch. This week, I want to focus on five hitters that need to be claimed, as they are not only on fire, but should continue to produce come playoff time. This week, I bring you “That’s Amore!” Waive Wire Hitters for the Playoff Push.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. – Toronto Blue Jays
Gurriel has been one of the hottest hitters in baseball. Over the past 30 days, Gurriel has gone 27 for 66, with four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 of the games he accumulated multiple hits. He’s the first rookie in 107 years with ten-straight multi-hit games, and Sunday marked the 11th straight game with multiple hits. There’s no questioning he’s locked in at the plate, and he’s getting the desirable at-bats playing for a Toronto team that is 24.5 games out of the division. One thing to monitor is Gurriel’s injury that he suffered during Sunday’s game. Early reports suggest a left knee bruise, and left ankle sprain, but he had an MRI Monday. Monitor the results. If he’s not due to miss a significant period of time, he’s still a hitter that needs to be added. Even so, this injury could make other owners shy away from adding Gurriel, so he should still be available as he’s only owned in 19.5% of leagues. What can we expect down the stretch? The 24 year-old has really hit the scene after getting get recalled in mid-June. If he continues to see playing time, there’s no question the at-bats will be there. There will be regression as pitchers start to adjust to Gurriel, but he’s hitting line drives, and line drives tend to fall for base hits. Again, we need to monitor the extent of his left knee/ankle injury, but if he’s in the lineup he needs to be active in your lineup. Regardless, he’s a player to remember during next season’s draft. There’s no question he’s going to be a hot commodity in the later rounds.
Jonathan Schoop – Baltimore Orioles
Schoop landed in last week’s article as one of my top-five players to rebound in the second half. Early on, Schoop has started his rebound, and he’s been on a tear. Since games resumed, after the All-Star Break, Schoop has gone 15 for 43 (.348) with seven home runs and 15 RBI. He has five multi-hit games in the past nine, and he’s been Baltimore’s source of production since Manny Machado was traded. He’s owned in 77.7% of leagues (up 13.7%), so there’s a slight chance he’s still available in your leagues. Even then, he’s the perfect hitter to try to make a trade for as your league’s trade deadline approaches. What can we expect down the stretch? After a dismal start, he’s come out firing on all cylinders post All-Star, and there’s reason to believe he can continue his hot streak. As I mentioned last week, his BABIP was down from his 2015-2017 mark of .321. We’ve already seen a drastic increase from the .255 mark prior to the All-Star Break. I suggested he needs to hit more line drives and get more loft under the ball, and that’s exactly what we’ve seen in his last nine games as he’s already belted seven home runs in that span. Assuming he continue to keep the ball off the ground, we should see more power numbers, and there’s still a chance he reached 25+ home runs by season’s end. With Schoop’s value higher than it has been all season long, I wouldn’t be shocked if a team in the playoff hunt makes a run at the Baltimore second baseman. Even so, he could find himself in the perfect lineup to continue his post All-Star surge.
Joey Wendle – Tampa Bay Rays
Wendle was a player I added before the All-Star Break. I was looking for a player with multiple position eligibility, and Wendle has been a key contributor with second base and outfield eligibility. He’s not one that possesses crazy power, but he’s playing for a Tampa team that’s 20.5 games behind in the division, and he’s going to get the at-bats. Since the All-Star Break, he’s accumulated hits in seven of his nine games played and posted a .303 average with one home run and five runs scored. Wendle is more of a depth signing, but he’s getting the regular playing time and he’s been collecting hits. What can be expected down stretch? Wendle is a player that isn’t in jeopardy of losing at-bats, and this is exactly what I’m looking for when I scour the waiver wire. As I mentioned earlier, he’s not going to hit a high number of home runs, but he does get the occasional home run while collecting hits. He’s collected stolen bases on seven of eleven attempts, and he could be a cheap source of a stolen bases here and there. If you’re in a deep league, give Wendle a look. He’s getting the at-bats, and he’s shown the ability to hit line drives while owning a modest 23.4 K%.
Yairo Munoz – St. Louis Cardinals
Munoz is a player that I saw a lot of over this weekend’s series with the Cubs. He’s been a thorn in the Cubs’ side all season, and he’s been seeing more at-bats since returning from the All-Star Break. Post All-Star, he’s slashed .333/.400/.593 with one home run and seven RBI. Assuming he gets regular at-bats, he could be a nice source for RBI and runs scored. The Cardinals have heated up as of late, and he’s seen playing time at the middle infield positions. He possesses average power, and he’s shown the ability to drive balls left out over the plate. Owned in only 10.2% of leagues, there’s no question he’s available in your leagues. What can we expect down the stretch? Assuming he sees enough playing time to accumulate at-bats, he should continue to hit. Over the season, he’s slashed .292/.349/.444 with six home runs and 30 RBI. The Cardinals are seven games behind in the division, and 4.5 games out of a Wild Card spot. There’s no question the Cardinals are going to try everything possible to get a Wild Card spot, and if they continue to catch fire, Munoz could be one of the bright spots in the lineup. Monitor playing time, but if you’re digging deep for a player getting at-bats, Munoz could be a player that helps bring you solid production.
Steven Souza Jr. – Arizona Diamondbacks
I drafted Souza Jr. in nearly all leagues entering the season. Souza has missed a majority of the season due to a pectoral strain, but he’s been on fire since making his return from the disabled list. Over his last 15 games, Souza has slashed .344/.432/.438 with seven RBI. While the power has arrived, he has made hard contact and followed this with three multi-hit games in the eight he’s played in post All-Star Break. With Arizona 0.5 games out of the division, and currently in a Wild Card spot, there’s no question the Diamondbacks will be competing. Souza gives the Diamondbacks a much needed power bat, and his return is almost like a trade deadline acquisition for a power-hitter. What can we expect the rest of the season? Assuming he’s healthy, Souza should see a bulk of the playing time in right field. He possesses a tremendous amount of power, and he’s coming off a 2017 season in which he hit 30 home runs. The power will eventually catch up, and he’s playing in the perfect ballpark in Arizona. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Souza hit 15+ home runs by season’s end, and for a 6’4″ 225lb power-hitter, he has above-average speed, and could steal 10+ bases along the way. If you’re in need of power, and don’t possess the pieces to acquire a bat through a trade, I’d suggest taking a show on Souza. He’s owned in 10.5% of leagues, and once he starts feeling it, I promise we will start seeing the ball leave the park
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Brian Roach, Jr, and Cole Freel live on Sunday July 29th, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #131 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. We will discuss the latest information in the world of fantasy baseball.
Our guest this week is Joe Iannone. Joe is a writer with majorleaguefantasysports.com. His articles publish every Sunday and he focuses on spot starting pitchers for the coming week.
Major League Fantasy Football Radio Show: Join host Corey D Roberts and James Wilk live Thursday July 26th, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #86 of Major League Fantasy Football Radio. Call in number is 323-870-4395 press 1 to speak with the host. We will hit free agents, rookies, and fantasy football as a whole for each team for 2018. This week we will discuss everything NFC North!