Welcome to our very first edition of Digging Deeper, our weekly column where we will focus on deep league waiver wire options. My counterpart Tom Bellucco will be handling the American League while I focus on the National League.
For those that have played in limited size leagues, you are well aware that at-bats and innings are the precious commodities. You are not going to find a top-100 player on the wire at any point this season. In fact, top-150 is a stretch.
That said, we can still uncover some options that help you fill key gaps and get you the counting stats necessary to compete. Let's get going.Editor's note: Get 50% off any MLB Premium Pass. Draft guide, cheat sheets, 200 days of DFS access, and over 20 premium tools. Dominate your leagues all year long! Sign Up Now!
Digging Deeper: Week 2 Pickups - NL
Joaquin Benoit (RP, PHI)
41% owned in Y! Leagues
If you are in a daily transaction league (or just play with good competition), Benoit is likely off the market and you can move along. But the news did come Monday morning and weekly leagues close on Sundays, so there are a few of you this pertains to. Benoit has replaced the incumbent Jeanmar Gomez for the Phillies closer role, leaving Hector Neris to remain the set-up man. Benoit, 39, has 51 saves in his career with the majority coming in 2013 with Detroit (24). His fastball sits around 94 mph and has become his primary pitch as his slider and change have lost effectiveness over the years.
In addition his command has waned (4.50 BB/9 in 2016 was a career high). The industry assumption is Benoit has been placed into the closer role to boost his trade value and minimize financial leverage for Neris come arbitration time. Yes, Benoit is a must-add for saves, but don't expect the situation to last all year.
Alex Wood (SP, LAD)
5% owned in Y! Leagues
There was a point in time Alex Wood was a top 35 SP off the board in fantasy drafts. Now he's lucky to get a starting opportunity in the cluttered Dodgers system. Thanks to a Rich Hill blister, Wood got his chance on Monday versus the Cubs. Considering the circumstances (Cubs home opener after winning World Series, in the rain), Wood was decent. He went 3.2 innings and allowed two runs (one unearned) on three hits and five walks while striking out four. The walks did him in, but the stuff is there. His fastball was up four ticks (94 mph) from 2016 to pair with his loopy curve. While Wood only saw 60.1 innings last year, he averaged 180 innings the previous two seasons. Given how fragile the Dodgers rotation is, Wood should see 15+ starts this year. Don't be frightened by early results; Wood is a strong play in NL formats.
Amir Garrett (SP, CIN) - 19% owned in Y! Leagues
The Reds are undergoing a youth infusion, and Garrett is right at the top for their rotation. Garrett, No. 2 Reds prospect according to MLB Pipeline, is an above-average prospect who won't blow hitters away with his arsenal but keeps it around the zone. He uses three pitches (FB, SL, CH) with the fastball-slider being his best offerings. He was excellent in his MLB debut, pitching six shutout innings in a win versus the Cardinals with four strikeouts.
While impressive, there are two factors limiting Garrett's fantasy potential. One is his control; he never posted a BB/9 under 3.50 in the minors. Given Garrett doesn't have dominating stuff, he will find himself in high pitch counts often. That, combined with a mediocre offense behind him, means he will not pitch beyond the sixth inning often hence limiting his win potential. The second factor is his home park; Great American is the second-best park for right-handed hitters, averaging 7% more runs than the standard park. If you need innings Garrett is a decent add, but don't expect the ratios to stay pretty or the wins to pile up.
Archie Bradley (SP, ARI) - 5% owned in Y! Leagues
Any time a former first round pick shows a pulse, it's a fantasy player's duty to take note. Bradley, the seventh overall pick in 2011, has reemerged as a relief option in Arizona and is off to a strong start. In two relief appearances (five innings pitched) Bradley hasn't allowed a run and has a 8/1 K/BB ratio, displaying a fastball touching 96 MPH. Bradley had a tough luck 2016 (5.02 ERA/1.56 WHIP) thanks to a high BABIP (.338). His 4.10 FIP indicates Bradley pitched better than the results. Bradley is too young to write off and should be a valuable long-relief option or potentially a starter in 2017. Add in NL-Only and deep mixed leagues.
Wilmer Flores (1B/3B, NYM) - 5% owned in Y! Leagues
It's more likely than not Flores was drafted in your NL-Only league, but if owners were bearish on his playing time and left him in FA, it's time to make them pay. Flores saw two starts in the first week and looks to be the Mets first basemen versus LHP going forward. Last year Flores hit .340 with 11 HR and 28 RBI versus lefties over 107 plate appearances. He had a 23 percent home run per fly-ball rate versus lefties as well, so don't think it was a fluke. Flores will continue to be a platoon monster and needs to be owned in NL-formats.
Miguel Rojas (2B/SS, MIA) - 0% owned in Y! Leagues
Now we're digging. The injury to Adeiny Hechavarría (oblique) has opened up time at short for the Marlins, and Rojas stands to be the main beneficiary. Rojas is a replacement-level hitter who slashed .247/.288/.325 in 2016 -- nothing to write home about. He did however hit over .300 in 2014 and 2015 at AAA ball. If you are in need of at-bats Rojas may be able to help in average, but nothing more. Add if necessary.
Gorkys Hernandez (OF, SFG) - 0% owned in Y! Leagues
Many expected the Giants to resign Ángel Pagán as their fourth outfielder in Spring, but that never came to fruition leaving a void on the Giants bench. Hernandez looks to be the main beneficiary, starting four of the Giants first seven games thanks to a Denard Span injury. He is batting .095 with four RBI so far, but if you remove the second game he is 0-for-16 with a 6/0 K/BB ratio. So why add him if you need outfield help? Because he has averaged over 19 steals in his past four seasons (minors + majors), which are a precious commodity in Roto formats. Add with caution.