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NL-Only Waiver Wire Team of the Week: MLB Week 11

Every week in baseball, a significant player will hit the disabled list, slip into a slump, or get traded out of a good spot. How fantasy owners adapt to these situations can make or break the season as a whole. One lousy add might not hurt the long-term standing of a team, but failing to take advantage of breakouts or impact bats before others sure can.

The primary challenge of playing in an NL or AL-only league is often the lack of options regarding adding and subtracting players when needed. In mixed leagues, the players on the waiver wire are usually starting for an NL-only staff. So then how does one wade through the names of players that even regular fantasy players have never heard of, and that often will not even start for their teams to begin with? That is where this series comes in.

Instead of owners spending time digging the waiver wire of 0% owned players, this article will give owners a player at each position to fill the gap, or at the least, keep an eye on to add or stash. Not all of these players will replace that injury, but offer the best option off the scrap heap. Often the players advocated for here are long shots due to the nature of shallow leagues. No quick fixes, but some upside that could turn into much more.  With that onto the island of misfit fantasy toys.

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NL-Only Team of the Week

C - Kevin Plawecki (C, NYM) - 1% owned

Back from the disabled list, and so far looking like he will get the majority of starts behind the player, Plawecki looks to be the best option on the waiver wire this week. With only 16 games this season, Plawecki is hitting .213/.383/.298 with no homers or steals. Not a great line so far, but small sample size affected by injuries should earn this player a second shot. Rest of the season he should be a .240 plus hitter with a few homers, but nothing too exciting in all seriousness. If buying into Plawecki, the best chance is that he finally hits his prospect pedigree and emerges as the top defensive catcher on the team who can add some offense to keep him fantasy relevant. Plawecki could be the National League Roberto Perez, with Micky Calloway manning the dugout in Queens should bode well for fantasy owners.

1B - Brad Miller (1B/2B, MIL) - 1% owned

For readers of the AL version of this column, this will look familiar as Brad Miller was written up for the same spot in that league. Literally hours after the article went live, Miller was dealt to the National Leagues and his new home in the Milwaukee organization. A bit of copy and paste for context: Miller was recently DFA’d by the Rays, and this could be the second coming of Cory Dickerson. While there are flaws with the profile, the overall production has been stable for Miller in 2018. Through 48 games he is hitting .256/.322/.429 with five homers. While not typical output for the position, the batting average should help most teams at the very least.

While it seems like he will report to Colorado Springs, for the time being, expect Miller to get a shot soon with Orlando Arcia struggling and the second base platoon of Jonathan Villar and Eric Sogard struggling to produce. Easy buy low and stash for a player who is switching leagues and should be owned everywhere.

2B - Irving Falu (2B, WAS) - 0% owned

The first dip into the minors on this week’s team of the week, Irving Falu is raking at Syracuse right now and should be getting a look soon if the injury news keeps coming in Washington. Daniel Murphy looks to be on the road back, but reports that he will have trouble fielding keep the opportunity there for Falu to make a splash.  In 52 games at Triple-A Kalu is slashing .283/.356/.380 with two homers and four steals. What stands out the most is 21 walks compared to 14 Ks for an incredible ratio.  While mostly a singles hitter, with 71 total bases off 53 hits, the contact rate, and batter’s eye are traits that should translate well to the bigs. The numbers look a lot like J.P. Crawford without the glove to carry the overall profile, and while not the top prospect that Crawford was/is, this should be a good fantasy player in the short term. If there is a spot on the roster, this might be worth the stash.

3B - D.J. Peterson (3B, CIN) - 0% owned

Another minor leaguer to make the list, this is even more speculative than Falu but makes sense with the current roster. First, Peterson is not the top prospect at the position in the system but who knows that the Reds are planning to do with Nick Senzel in the short term. When the Reds are also willing to build through these Quad-A players, Peterson seems as likely as anyone to get the call and a shot to play. Second, power at third is way down this year in the International League as Peterson is one of the top power hitters with only four bombs so far this year. He has 13 doubles as a nice compliment to the profile, and while there is a ton of swing and miss with 55 Ks in 170 ABs, the average still stands around .260. When the other options at third are Deven Marrero and Yadiel Rivera, take the shot on the call-up if this is not an immediate need for a starter.

SS - Greg Garcia (2B/3B/SS, STL) - 0% owned

Back from paternity leave, Garcia should be in line for a few more plate appearances over the next week as the Cardinals still try to fill-in for an injured Paul DeJong. So far as a primary bench bat Garcia is hitting .250/.325/.389 for a WRC+ of 97. Not great, but good replacement material with the position flexibility. The bright spot has been the power so far, as, in a third of the games played, he has already matched last year’s home run total at two, and is on pace to smash his career doubles line. More to the point, the SLG is almost 60 points higher than last year, and it seems that with more opportunities Garcia is scaling up the production. The K rate is down a bit but nothing too impressive there to be honest, but at the same time, with the rate staying the same a lack of regression is suitable for this profile. If he can continue to find playing time Garcia could push double digits homers, or at the very least offer a good AVG and OBP floor at the position with some opportunity to move around as needed.

OF - Jon Jay (OF, ARI) - 16% owned

While the 16% ownership seems a bit high for a player just jumping to the National League, owners who are interested should jump on board while they have the chance. A surprising, early move from Kansas City to Arizona should bode well for fantasy owners looking to add a contact and speed player with a good floor. This year, including both teams, he is hitting .292/.356/.356 over 62 games, while chipping in three steals and one homer. The trade on its own is an exciting insight into the Diamondbacks who either found the cheapest player on the block to fill in for some injuries or are moving a different direction with the effects of the Humidor at Chase.  With power not working, perhaps slap and dash dingles hitters are the new play?  Jay and Dyson fit the mold and should provide at least adequate defense. If Jay can keep the average up and keep a 13 point increase in his GB% going, this could be a nice move for this type of player profile.

OF - Mike Tauchman (OF, COL) - 0% owned

To be brutally honest Tacuhman has been awful this year in Colorado, and the only reason he makes this list is that the Rockies seems to like him. Oh, and also he was raking at AAA. Since his demotion, Tauchman has been hitting .385/.431/.673 with nine homers and seven steals. Just looking at the stats, he could be a top outfield prospect in the bigs but will need for that production to carry over to give fantasy owners something to buy into or trust long term. At Albuquerque, he has was also posting a 22.5 HR/FB% which is up seven points from 2017 at the same level, and could hint at some change in the swing and approach. The bottom line is that if Tauchman can begin to produce at the majors, he can be an excellent fantasy option with power, average, and speed all the while hitting at Coors.  He was expected to perform right out of camp and fell flat, so this is more of a feel pick than one tied to the data.  One of these times it has to work.  Right?

OF - Jacob Wilson (OF, WAS) - 0% owned

The third trip to the minors this week takes a return to Syracuse with Jacob Wilson who has been one of the top hitters in the minors this year. In 41 games at Triple-A, he is hitting .320/.371/.493 with three homers and 15 doubles. The outfield is full in Washington, but Wilson should be the next man up or makes an attractive trade piece as the Nationals look to make that push for the playoffs. While already 27 he is no longer a young player but offers good upside in the right situation with a high contact approach and doubles for days. Over his entire career in the minors, almost 35% of his hits have been doubles, and this skill has shown will in the translation to the majors. Another player worth the watch in the upcoming weeks.

P - Taylor Williams (RP, MIL) - 0% owned

While relievers are often under-owned, this is criminal for fantasy owners. 24.1 innings with a 2.22 ERA and 12.21 K/9 plays no matter what league, and in fact, Williams should be added by mixed league owners as well. Starting with the negetives, to be honest the homers are up from the past at 1.11 HR/9, but the .198 BABIP keeps most runners off the bases feeding that low ERA. While the sample size is a bit small, from watching Williams pitch, the BABIP seems to be more skills-based as opposed to luck. Williams could be a sub .230 BABIP pitcher moving forward. Primarily a fastball or slider pitcher to date, Williams has seemed to add a change-up that he is throwing two to three percent of the time. Either way the fastball and slider are both up at least a mile, with the fastball now topping at 96.3 MPH. Love this profile going forward and with Jeremy Jeffress struggling Williams should be the next in line for the next late inning injury.

P - Jesse Biddle (RP/SP, ATL) - 0% owned

While listed as a starter by the Braves, most of Biddle’s work has come in long relief this season and has shown some promise in the role. 22 innings over 18 games have resulted in a 2.86 ERA with 10.64 K/9 and a single win. His best performance to date was a three-inning outing against the Nationals where he struck out eight and only allowed one hit. If this is the player moving forward, Biddle could be a nice bridge to the late-inning guys out the pen as the Braves are starting to pull starters sooner. At Triple-A he was striking out even more per nine, so the skills are there, and the three-pitch mix works with him. Add Biddle now for the innings and Ks, and hope that a spot start is around the corner.

P - David Hernandez (RP, CIN) - 1% owned

The elder statesman in the Red’s bullpen at the ripe age of 33, Hernandez has been having a career-best season and should be on fantasy radars moving forward. A 2.11 ERA in 22 innings plays with an 8.02 K/9 rate. The WHIP sits at 1.08, and the no home runs finish off the impressive profile. Finally, in seven out of 17 relief appearances he has gone more than one inning, and on five occasions has gone two or more. The Reds enjoy using relievers like this and should be a good bet to continue moving forward. While he did not get any saves with the other injuries in the pen, Hernandez offers upside in the set-up role.  Hernandez is also a piece that will benefit from the trading deadline.  Either he is dealt and moves to key innings, or everyone else is dealt and he moves into key roles with the Reds.  Vote on the latter and cash in on a bad team.

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