We are getting down to the nitty gritty of the season. There are four weeks left before the fantasy playoffs and we are seeing some pretty big names hit the disabled list. Mike Trout’s ailing wrist ailment has forced the Angels to move him to the 10-day disabled list, with reports suggesting he shouldn’t need more time than that. George Springer has battled a sprained thumb on his lead hand, and should return in another week. Trades can still be made if you’re deadline hasn’t passed, but what about options off the waiver wire? Yes, the waiver list has become thin throughout the summer months, and with September call-ups still a month away from hitting the scene, there are three specific players I would recommend giving a look to. These players have solid matchup entering the week, and have produced admirably as of recent. They’re still available in numerous leagues. This week, I want to take a look at these three players in “That’s Amore!” Three Deep Outfield Options Off the Waiver Wire.
Daniel Palka – Chicago White Sox (3 @ DET, 3 vs KC)
Owned in just under 5% of leagues, Palka has been a bright spot for a White Sox team that hasn’t been competitive in 2018. Entering Sunday, Palka has slashed .235/.297/.588 with 18 home runs and 46 RBI. No, these numbers aren’t likely to make up for a lost star, such as the aforementioned Mike Trout or George Springer, but his 18 home runs lead nearly all outfielders still remaining on the free agent list. While the power has been solid, more than half of his RBI total have come via the home run. Even then, six of his home runs have been solo shots. Having runners on base have been far and few between. Over the last month, Palka has slashed .297/.324/.662 with seven home runs, 17 RBI, and 13 runs scored. He’s simply heated up since the All-Star Break, and the production should continue through this week as the White Sox play three games at Detroit, and three games versus Kansas City. Detroit and Kansas City have been equally as bad as the White Sox, and these matchups should give Palka an ample amount of opportunity for the long ball.
One glaring hole in Palka’s game are the strikeouts. He’s accumulating strikeouts in 363% of his at-bats, and this will kill owners in leagues that count strikeouts, and/or on-base percentage. If you mix his strikeouts with his 16.8 SwStr%, and it’s easy to see why the White Sox outfielder is still hanging around the waiver wire in numerous leagues. If you’re looking for an outfielder with favorable matchups for the week, I’d suggest looking at Palka. A lot rides on home runs, or striking out, but he’s heated up over the past month, and it’s hard to argue keeping him away of a six-game schedule versus Detroit and Kansas City. His add should warrant no more than the short term, as this is merely a move to help the lost production with numerous key outfielders on the disabled list.
Mallex Smith – Tampa Bay Rays (3 @ NYY, 3 @ BOS)
If your team is anything like mine, you’ve been absolutely destroyed in the steals category. I don’t know what it is, but I’ve always been deprived of speed on my teams. Last season, I owned Dee Gordon and Trea Turner. This was the first team I’ve ever had accumulated a tremendous amount of stolen bases. However, this season has me back to my usual case of looking for steals. A few weeks back, I took a shot on Smith and boy has he helped in the stolen base category. Over the last 15 days, he’s stolen seven bases and slashed .415/.529/.585. The key with players like Smith, that possess speed and a very low, if any, amount of power, is getting on base frequently. Post All-Star Break, he’s been able to get on base at a more frequent mark, and he’s already more than half way to the total amount of bases (16) that he posted pre All-Star Break. Of the 25 year-old’s nine post All-Star Break steals, eight came in a 12-game stretch, and he racked up seven in seven games. This is the perfect time of production owners want when adding a player solely for steals, and production like this rarely occurs. If you’re like me, and love splits here are few numbers for you. Overall on the season, Smith is 25/33 in stolen bases (75%). He’s 9/10 against lefties, and 16/23 against righties. Pre All-Star, Smith was 16/23, and post All-Star he’s 9/10.
Early in the week, Smith gets three perfect games against the Yankees. Assuming he can gets on base against Happ, Tanka, and Lynn there will me great opportunities to run as the Yankees enter Sunday tied for seventh-worst with 67 stolen bases allowed. On the other hand, Smith’s series with the Red Sox features the opposite as the Red Sox entered Sunday tied for third-best with 38 stolen bases allowed. Still, Smith has been tearing up the base paths, and jumped feet first into the second half of the season. His owned percentage keeps growing, but at a 48.7% owned, there’s a still good chance you can grab Smith and start winning weekly stolen base categories.
Renato Nunez – Baltimore Orioles (2 vs NYM, 3 @ CLE)
After being acquired from the Rangers at the end of July, Nunez has finally seen playing time for an Orioles team that made major subtractions at the trade deadline. Power has always been part of Nunez’ game, but so has the strikeout. However, over the past 30 days, Nunez has gone 18/63 with an OBP of .338. Two things make Nunez an interesting/desirable pickup: he has third base and outfield eligibility, and he’s not in line to lose at-bats. As I mentioned, the Orioles moved key pieces from their team, and they are simply looking for bodies to plug in the rest of the way. He’s featured only at third base for the Orioles, but he hasn’t lost outfield eligibility which helps a lot.
Early in the week, Nunez gets the New York Mets. I’m all in for the first matchup again Jason Vargas, and while Zack Wheeler has been solid over the course of the season, Nunez has hit safely in 11 of his past 12 games. The weekend series versus the Indians should gauge how Nunez has come accustomed to above-average Major League pitching. Over the weekend, he will see Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, and Mike Clevinger. All three pitchers can take advantage of players with holes in their swings, and I love seeing young hitters face solid pitchers as this helps me get a sense of the work that needs to be done for the hitter. While the series versus the Indians has the Indians written all over it, I’m very interested in Nunez’ matchup with the Mets. Given he’s only 24, the Orioles will give Nunez a long leash, and I still believe he has 25+ home run potential after accumulating 135 home runs over eight seasons in the minors. A lot like Palka of the White Sox, it’ll be hard to find ducks on the pond, but Nunez could piece together a nice finish to the season.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Brian Roach, Jr, and Cole Freel live on Sunday August 12th, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #132 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 Kevin Bzdek. Kevin is a writer and editor with majorleaguefantasysports.com. His articles publish every Friday morning and his focus is on bullpens.