Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Adds: Week 2
It turned out to be as ugly as it looked.
When Chicago Cubs outfielders Kyle Schwarber and Dexter Fowler collided on Thursday, slow motion replays appeared to show Schwarber's ankle getting rolled up underneath Fowler as both were chasing a fly ball in the alley. After getting crunched by Fowler, Schwarber collapsed to the ground and was taken off on a stretcher. Exams later showed an ACL/LCL tear as well as a severe sprain of his ankle.
You've all see the replays, so there's no reason to relive it. Needless to say, the loss of Schwarber for the season is a bad one for the Cubs, but if there is any team in baseball that can handle it, it is Chicago. With Schwarber out for the season, it is fantasy owners who are having the hardest time finding a replacement.
Schwarber entered the year with eligibility at a number of positions, including catcher, which is where most fantasy owners had been playing him. And when you factor in last year's weighted runs created (wRC+) of 131, his 16 homers, 43 RBI, and 52 runs in just 69 games played, it's clear he was one of the most valuable catchers in fantasy.
But that's all over now, and in deeper 12-team leagues, the best you can probably find are catchers like Yan Gomes, Miguel Montero or Carlos Ruiz. However, Schwarber's injury does open up an everyday spot a player at a different position who leads off the second week of fantasy baseball waiver wire pickups.
Jorge Soler - Chicago Cubs (OF)
ESPN Percentage Owned: 46.8%
Jorge Soler becomes an everyday player with Schwarber out of the lineup, and for all his struggles last year, he still has the potential to be one of the most dynamic young outfielders in baseball.
Of course, now he actually has to do it. In 404 plate appearances last year, Soler was largely terrible, slashing .262/.324/.399 with a wRC+ of 96 and just 10 homers and 47 RBI in 101 games. He struck out 24.7% of the time last season, and in just 18 plate appearances so far in 2016, he has struck out five times and walked once.
However, the 24-year-old Cuban does have some power to burn, and he's going to get the chance to prove himself this year. Add him now and stash him to your bench for a little while to see if the promise takes hold -- because he can do this.
And he did go yard on Sunday, so he's got that going for him.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 10, 2016
Which is nice.
Tyler White - Houston Astros (OF)
ESPN Percentage Owned: 38.4%
Astros rookie Tyler White had just an awful day on Sunday.
Tyler White went 0-for-3 today, dropping his average to .556.
— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) April 10, 2016
See? He's brutal now. Drop him.
Seriously, outside of the Trevor Story Show, White has been unreal in the early going, with 10 hits in 22 plate appearances, slashing .556/.591/1.167, with 3 homers and 9 RBI. While numbers like this clearly aren't sustainable, it's fair to note what the 25-year-old did in Triple-A last year.
In 259 plate appearances, White hit .362/.467/.559 with 7 homers, 59 RBI, and a wRC+ of 178. In fact, White has never had a wRC+ lower than 130 at any point in his minor league career.
No matter the league, get him now if he's not already gone.
Aaron Sanchez - Toronto Blue Jays (SP)
ESPN Percentage Owned: 49.9%
Aaron Sanchez barely makes this list, which is reserved for players owned in under half of all ESPN leagues. But, just like Byron Buxton (who still gets to be a rookie this year because he fell two at-bats short of officially qualifying last year), Sanchez makes the waiver wire piece under those same rules.
There are plenty of reasons to believe in Sanchez this season, which we've already detailed. In case that's not convincing enough, observe the filth.
It's amazing how much adding a little weight and repeating the delivery on a consistent basis really matters.
Brandon Finnegan - Cincinnati Reds (SP)
ESPN Percentage Owned: 10.5%
Acquired from Kansas City in the Johnny Cueto trade, Brandon Finnegan is being given a chance to be a starter for the rebuilding Cincinnati Reds. And in his first start of the season, the 22-year-old lefty didn't disappoint.
Finnegan has always been a high strikeout guy, averaging 9.44 punchouts per nine through 61 career Major League innings. But he's also walked too many, with a 3.39 walks per nine innings rate. Finnegan had been used as a reliever during his time in Kansas City, but the Reds are trying him out as a starter.
He looked very good with low-90s heat that seemed to rise at it approached hitters and has two pretty good secondary pitches as well. He's worth an add in 12-team, mixed-league fantasy leagues.
Vincent Velasquez - Philadelphia Phillies (SP)
ESPN Percentage Owned: 30.5%
The word is out on Vincent Velasquez, the one starting pitcher on the Phillies who can get swings and misses with a mid-90s fastball. Acquired from Houston in the Ken Giles trade, Velasquez followed up an excellent spring by shutting the New York Mets out for six innings while striking out nine and walking three.
He's going to make 20 to 25 starts this year (the Phils will be careful with their young hurlers) and, because he's not very economical with his pitches, isn't likely to last more than five or six innings each time out. But he's a hard thrower with swing-and-miss stuff, certainly worth a claim in NL-only and deeper leagues.
Domingo Santana - Milwaukee Brewers (OF)
ESPN Percentage Owned: 31.2%
Milwaukee got Domingo Santana from Houston as part of the Carlos Gomez trade, and so far in 2016, the strikeout-prone young outfielder has managed to cut back his K's drastically, admittedly in a very small sample size.
Last year, he struck out 33.7% of the time in 187 plate appearances. But so far in 2016, he's whiffed in just 17.4% of his 23 plate appearances. So yes, there is certainly plenty of time for that K-rate to go back up. But one thing Santana has managed to do this year is hit the ball hard.
Most batted balls 100 MPH+ week one:
Domingo Santana 8
4 \w 7 https://t.co/W3X5hvSksf
— Daren Willman (@darenw) April 10, 2016
Nowadays, 100 miles per hour is the benchmark for hard-hit balls, and Santana has a bunch of 'em so far this season. If he keeps that up, he's going to see a very high batting average and lots of extra base hits. And he's walked as much as he's struck out (four times), which speaks to improved plate discipline in the early going.
He's still got a wRC+ under 100 (96) but has a .370 on-base percentage and a ton of power that will surely be unlocked if his ability to avoid strikeouts and take walks continues.
Michael Taylor - Washington Nationals (OF)
ESPN Percentage Owned: 5.9%
If you owned Ben Revere, chances are you already have your eye on his replacement, the super-talented Michael Taylor. Back in 2014, Taylor flashed the power-speed combo that got Nationals executives drooling, hitting 22 homers and stealing 34 bases in 98 Double-A games. Last year, in 138 games (511 plate appearances), he hit 14 bombs with 16 stolen bases and also played a very solid defensive center field.
It's likely that, when Revere is healthy, he will go back to being the starting center fielder. But there is a chance that Taylor takes this job and runs with it, blessed with that enticing power-speed combination.
So far this year, he has just one hit and five strikeouts in 17 plate appearances, but it's still early. Add him to your roster and stash him on the bench as a potential wild card.