Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Adds: Week 3
There is a reason good closers can be so hard to find in fantasy baseball. By its very nature, finding reliable closers for fantasy is one of the most difficult jobs and usually requires one to pay close attention to usage and injuries.
In three locations, Philadelphia, Oakland and Minnesota, the end-of-game decisions appear to be coming into focus a bit more. And because in many leagues saves and holds are just as important as any other category, finding good relief pitchers on the waiver wire can be a huge boost.
So, three relievers lead off the waiver wire add list for Week 3.
Jeanmar Gomez, RP, Philadelphia Phillies
ESPN Percentage Owned: 44.7%
Thanks to a mostly outstanding starting rotation, the Phillies have actually managed to win a few games here and there, and it appears Jeanmar Gomez has done enough to lock up the closer's job in Philadelphia. For now, anyway.
Since being given the job, he's pitched seven innings and has a 2.57 ERA and a fielding independent pitching (FIP) of 4.11, converting 4 saves already. And because the Phils don't hit a lick, most of their wins are going to be of the one-or-two run variety.
Gomez has been around, amassing 431 innings throughout his career, with a 4.13 ERA. But he's been the most consistent relief pitcher ever since the spring and is the man of the hour -- for right now at least.
Ryan Madson, RP, Oakland A's
ESPN Percentage Owned: 33.5%
It's easy to root for Ryan Madson. Anytime a pitcher misses three whole seasons in the prime of his career (2012 to 2014) and manages to find his way back and be successful deserves to have a movie made of his story. Such is the case with Madson, who plays an important role in Oakland's bullpen.
Sean Doolittle is the team's current closer, but with the A's, they have been a little unconventional with their 'pen so far this season. Doolittle is a left-hander, and Madson is a righty. Manager Bob Melvin has played the matchup game so far this year, using both relievers in the closer's role. That has allowed Madson to rack up 4 saves, with a 2.57 ERA and 1.82 FIP in 2016.
And even on days when Madson isn't closing, he's setting up and getting holds.
Kevin Jepsen, RP, Minnesota Twins
ESPN Percentage Owned: 21.9%
Look, I'm not going to lie to you. I don't know how many save opportunities Kevin Jepsen is going to get this year because it certainly appears as if the Minnesota Twins aren't very good (although you're going to see a few players from that team on this list this week). But after starting the season 0-9, the Twins have managed to win a couple, and Jepsen has notched saves in their first two wins of the season.
With Glen Perkins hurt, the team has turned to Jepsen to be the ninth-inning guy. He started the season off slowly, giving up three earned runs in 1 2/3 innings but has recovered with four straight scoreless outings, and over the last two years, he has posted ERAs of 2.63 and 2.33, with FIPs of 2.78 and 3.54.
Keep an eye on Trevor May as well. Should Jepsen falter, he'd be the next guy in line until Perkins returns.
Marcus Semien, SS, Oakland A's
ESPN Percentage Owned: 31.4%
Until this year, Marcus Semien was best known for his defense, or lack thereof. He made 35 errors for the A's last season, but excellent range actually allowed him to finish with five defensive runs saved (DRS). Defensive metrics are weird, sometimes.
This year, Semien has made just one error so far and has been a valuable offensive player at a position where there aren't a lot of them. He's seen his walk rate explode to 13.3% and has 4 homers on the young season so far, putting up a weighted runs created (wRC+) of 155 (100 is considered league average for a run producer).
He's not providing much with the batting average (.237), but that is perhaps the result of a far poorer-than-league average batting average on balls in play (BABIP), meaning he's been a bit unlucky in that department. If Semien can continue to provide power from the shortstop position, he'll be a very valuable player indeed.
Joe Mauer, 1B, Minnesota Twins
ESPN Percentage Owned: 43.5%
Hey, Joe Mauer, welcome back! How ya been, big fella?
The former All-Star has gotten off to a hot start for the Twins this year, really the only member of that offense who has. He's slashing .372/.472/.512 in 53 plate appearances thus far, with a homer and 5 runs scored. The power numbers are probably never going to be there, but the man has seen his walk rate jump to 15.1% and his strikeout rate cut in half, to 7.5% in the early going.
People mostly expect home runs from their first basemen, but there's a lot of value in high batting average/on-base guys. And while Mauer hasn't filled the stat sheet in any of those areas since 2013, there's reason to believe this talented hitter who has dealt with concussion issues for the last few seasons may be starting to get his head, and hand-eye coordination, right again.
Aledmys Diaz, SS, St. Louis Cardinals
ESPN Percentage Owned: 26.2%
This week, Diaz became just the second Cardinal to have five extra-base hits in his first five games and overall hit .406/.441/.813 in 34 plate appearances, with 2 homers, 11 runs scored and 8 RBI. He's been knocking the cover off the ball and may have secured himself some more playing time even when Tejada comes back.
Of course, by the time you read this, it's also possible Diaz has been sent back down to Triple-A to get regular at-bats. If you have room on your roster to stash him, it might not be a bad idea. He impressed in his brief cup of coffee with St. Louis.
Chris Carter, 1B, Milwaukee Brewers
ESPN Percentage Owned: 28.4%
Chris Carter is a three-outcome player. He either strikes out, walks or hits a home run. Two of these things are very good, but the one that isn't, Carter does a lot. He K's 31.8% of the time and has walked 13.6% of his plate appearances so far this season. He's also hit 3 homers and knocked in 8 runs in 44 plate appearances for the Brewers, slugging .622 here in the early going.
Carter is going to hit 30 homers if he stays healthy.
Nick Markakis, OF, Atlanta Braves
ESPN Percentage Owned: 26.5%
Markakis is slashing .333/.423/.533 in his first 52 plate appearances, with 7 runs scored and 12 RBI. He still has yet to leave the yard but has nine doubles in his first 12 games, a modern-era Braves record, and according to Baseball-Reference, he was just the 20th player in the last 50 years to amass nine doubles in his first 11 games.
He's playing everyday for the rebuilding Braves, so ride the hot streak while it lasts.
Ian Kennedy, SP, Kansas City Royals
ESPN Percentage Owned: 49.0%
Ian Kennedy just barely qualifies for our criteria, owned in just under 50% of all ESPN leagues. After a rough season in San Diego last year (4.28 ERA, 4.51 FIP in 30 starts), Kennedy has bounced back with a 2-0 record and a 0.66 ERA. In two starts (13 2/3 innings), he's given up just one run with 14 strikeouts and 3 walks.
It's still early, but Kennedy's walk rate is down in his first two starts of the season, and if he can avoid the long ball (Kennedy gave up 1.66 homers per nine innings last year, the most among qualified starters), he'll be a valuable piece for the Royals' rotation and your fantasy team.
Mat Latos, SP, Chicago White Sox
ESPN Percentage Owned: 18.0%
Lesser owned is Chicago's Mat Latos, who is trying to come back after a terrible 2015 as well. So far, so good for the White Sox right-hander, with a 0.75 ERA and 2.86 FIP in 12 innings through two starts. He's not striking many people out (just 4.50 strikeouts per nine innings) but has walked just two batters so far, which is important.
He's also playing for a White Sox team with a pretty good lineup, so he should be able to notch some "wins" even when he doesn't have his best stuff.
If you're in need of a strikeout guy, Latos may not be for you. But if you need rotation help, he's probably available.