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NL-Only Waiver Wire Team of the Week: MLB Week 9

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 - Tony Wolters (C, COL) - 0% owned

The .162 batting average early in this season has not given the Rockies, nor fantasy owners, much to cheer about from behind the plate. What is intriguing about Wolters is that he is really a second baseman in a catcher’s body, and will produce similarly. Ignoring the batting average, through 28 games Wolters has two homers, two steals, and RBI. Compared to last year, when he has no homers or steals, this is interesting, but also last season’s .240 made him more playable. Why should owners buy in now? First, as a fantasy owner, one has to assume that no player is a .162 hitter, especially when they have some track record. Second, the Rockies have played most of their games so far on the road, so gambling on Wolters moving forward with the high percentage of games at Coors seems worthwhile. At the very least, if that average can come up perhaps, there is a bit of steal upside from a position, where as many as five would lead the category.

1B - Joey Meneses (1B, PHI) - 0% owned

After treading water in the Braves system for six seasons, Meneses has taken off at AAA for the Phillies. In 42 games he is slashing .329/.367/.603 with nine homers. Career-wise his strikeout rate has always been around 20%, and this year it is a tick below, but the power is way up compared to past seasons. Not appearing on any major prospect lists at the beginning of the season, this player will be available in all leagues, and without a clear path to the majors is a stash only at this point. The fly ball rate is up from 23.7% last year to 39.5% this year which helps explain the increased power. While Carlos Santana is not giving up the position, with an injury elsewhere, this could be another situation where a bat is added either for interleague games or even just as another righty on the bench. The season has been good enough so far that even if not adding yet, this would be an excellent opportunity to jump on before other owners.

2B - Brandon Dixon (2B. CIN) - 0% owned

Last week Dixon was written up as one of the outfielders to watch and got the call right after this post went up. The surprise is that he's playing second in the majors as opposed to patrolling the outfield at Great American. The reason he appears again is that the position switch is a big deal. The knock on Dixon in the minors was that he could not field enough to support a good bat. The Reds moved him around the field trying to find a place for him to fit, or where they could hide the bat. If the Reds are going to play him at second, this means that he has improved his fielding to the point that this should not hurt his stock, or the Reds are willing to play him no matter the fielding issues. So far in the majors, three hits in ten plate appearances are nothing to get too excited about, but the power upside plays well. The .326 average at AAA and four homers hopefully will translate to the majors. The biggest thing is if this bat-only player can field, this could be the most significant “breakout” for a non-fantasy player in the short term.

3B - Sean Rodriguez (PIT, 2B, 3B, SS, OF) - 0% owned

Another player appearing here for a repeat time, Rodriquez offers the typical package off the waiver wire: lack of production but some interesting upside for the right matchups. Playing at all position, this is a nice bench bat to have in reserve. Injuries happen often, and short-term replacements are hard to find with this much flexibility. His ten runs put him at the top of the position so far this season, and while the .179 average is not great, the .303 OBP could be worse. Digging a bit deeper, with good matchups in the platoon Rodrqieuz is quite valuable. So far this season he is hitting .360/.484/.720 with two home runs and eight RBI against lefties. In daily leagues, this is an excellent streaming option and should be owned in more leagues for those numbers alone.

SS - Pedro Florimon (PHI, SS, OF) - 0 % owned

With J.P. Crawford still out injured, and Scott Kingery struggling, Florimon has emerged as a semi-regular for the Phillies over the past few weeks. In 31 games he is slashing .268/.328/.500 with one homer and one steal. The key stat for Florimon is his 11 runs which put him at the top of the available players at the position. While there is a ton of swing and miss in this profile, the ability to get on base matters when hitting in that line-up and should boost the floor a bit. Perhaps returning to the minors when Crawford is back now is the time to try to ride some of the playing time while owners still can.

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

Since breaking camp with the team, Tauchman has done nothing at the bigs, and only had one hit in 23 AB. That being said, since returning the minors he is hitting .386 with eight homers and seven steals. A career low 10.8 K% is almost nice to see versus the career rate of 15+. If called back to the majors expect him to play in the OF4, but with the ability to play center this makes him worthy of the bench slot. Not that he will push Charlie Blackmon for playing time, but the ability to play in that huge outfield will make him useful for Bud Black. While the power is perhaps not a critical piece in this profile, with more homers at the bigs, if this can keep up Tauchman could be a double-digit steals and homers play.

OF - Socrates Brito (ARI, OF) - 0% owned

With both A.J. Pollock and Steven Souza out injured again, Brito is back with the big league club in a backup outfield role. At AAA he was hitting .323 with seven steals showing off the contact and steals approach that he brings. Concerning Arizona, with other injuries affecting the pitching staff expect to see more pinch-hit opportunities than other clubs, as with pitchers leaving the games earlier than expected, the bullpen will need to be hit for more often. Also, when the Diamondbacks are struggling to score runs, the speed that Brito offers might be a way to try to manufacture some runs. Brito strikes out too much to make this a long-term play without the power, but the playing opportunities seem to be there moving forward. If owners play in points leagues, he also tends to add a few extra doubles and triples than expected with that speed. Of his 51 hits at AAA eight went for doubles, and two for triples.

OF - Jose Bautista (NYM, 3B, OF) - 3% owned

Well, the Bautista experiment in Atlanta was short lived, but not short enough to not get another chance in the same division. With these player types owners are hoping to catch lightning in a bottle, and with Bautista, trying to get back to his Toronto days.  At the same time, knowing that this is no longer the MVP player owners should have reasonable expectations. With Todd Frazier’s injury taking a bit longer than expected Bautista is getting more playing time, and should keep getting looks on the struggling Mets. In 17 games he has chipped in two homers, with six runs across both teams this year. The strikeout rate is up to 27.5%, but this could be both due to the late start and small sample size. Still, the walk rate is much the same, and the ISO is up. If he stays on the short side of the platoon, the match-ups should help the profile, and make him at least rosterable. The upside is more than a AAA call-up so keep an eye out for his playing time moving forward.

P - Homer Bailey (CIN, SP) 1% owned

Another veteran to make this list for starting pitching, Bailey has never been the same player after arm injuries ruined his Reds career to date. Not only that, but this season has been a disaster for Bailey with 6.21 ERA in 11 starts. He appears on this list not as a starter, but with some expectation of a move to the bullpen. With Anthony DeSclafani nearing a return to the majors, could Bailey be the one to leave the rotation? If he does, this could be a nice arm in the bullpen with a history of strikeouts and the length from a starter. Nothing for sure here, but anytime a player makes a move to the bullpen expect some extra velocity, and with the ability to rely on fewer pitches the profile here might play. Bailey is throwing more fastballs this year, and the pitch valued has been bad at -6.4xFB. If he can throw less, could he get more value? That is a risk that desperate owners should be willing to take.

P - Andrew Suarez (SF, SP) - 2% owned

Suarez started off with the Giants pitching well enough to make some fantasy rosters, but with a few recent bad results and he is back on the waiver wire. No matter the results so far the ratios are nice with 8.53 K/9 and 1.99 BB/9. With the home park factors, Suarez should be a good match-up pitcher, and the 5.68 ERA is almost two runs higher than his 3.51 xFIP. A .348 BABIP also plays well for the starter moving forward, as a few fewer hits with than strikeout rate all align for a good starter. The 1.38 WHIP is not bad taking the BABIP into account, but the runs are coming from somewhere. So far this season he is also giving up an 18.8 HR/FB rate which should also come down pitching by the Bay. Fewer bad hits and homers would drop this ERA. When free this is a buy-low with playing time due to injuries on that staff as well.

P - Steven Brault (PIT, SP/RP) - 1% owned

The pride of Regis University, Brault was a non-prospect out of college but has found the velocity since joining the pro ranks. While a name most owners are at least familiar with, the lack of starts has kept his ownership rate low, meaning he is there for the taking. While pitching out of the pen, Brault has picked up two wins in his last four appearances which is a nice easter egg from the RP slot. Even more, the 7.88 K/9 is a bit low due to his starts but has shot up in the bullpen. Over the last four starts, Brault has 10 K in 6.4 innings, while only allowing four walks. Brault should be back in the rotation with an injury, and even out of the pen seems to offer innings, with close to two innings per outing, and can stay in the game long enough to grab those wins. The other thing is that the homers are way down with .68 HR/9 in part due to the stuff, but also the home park.  Brault should be owned more, to say the least.


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