Just a couple weeks ago I was touting Max Muncy (1B/3B, Los Angeles Dodgers FAAB Bid: 5-10%) as one of my ONLY league targets. Since that point, he has done nothing but continues his incredible barrel madness. Muncy has achieved a Statcast barrel on 19.4% of his batted balls this year, a rate which falls 6th on the overall leaderboard. This dramatic change stems from tremendous improvements against fastballs and offspeed pitches, alike. His xwOBA against the heater is .459, and when seeing an offspeed pitch, it is even higher at .494. He did see 331 fastballs in his last major league appearance with the Oakland Athletics back in 2016. During that sample, he was able to mash those offerings by hitting 2 HR to only 6 K. So far this season he has a higher K% against the pitch, but every underlying number is vastly more impressive than they were when he was donning green and yellow. One of the most shocking parts of his profile is the fact that he’s not getting under the ball more and he’s topping the ball a lot less. Basically, he has found a way to improve his approach for a better launch angle, without sacrificing part of his season with a ridiculous pop-up rate to compensate for generating more backspin and changing swing plane. I do love this profile, and he has found a pretty consistent spot near the top of the Dodgers lineup. Muncy was a lot sneakier a few weeks ago, but since I think he is now a clear mixed-league add I had to do a write-up on one of my favorite waiver wire adds of the season.
FAAB Budget: 5-10%
I usually get a little extra hyped on some of these pitching prospects, but bear with me. First off, worrying about a rotation should not be a huge concern on the Dodgers. Clayton Kershaw looks to be returning to the DL after his back tightened up after his last start. The Dodgers pushed Alex Wood this week, Kenta Maeda is already hurt, and Rich Hill might as well adopt the rap moniker “Bumpy Knuckles” from the Long Island spitter. Santana should have a spot locked up as long as he can maintain his impressive season. The minor league domination will not translate directly to the bigs. However, he was able to generate 9 swinging strikes on his excellent slider during his first “start” that only lasted 3.2 innings. Adding to the “pros” side of the chart would include zero barrels or home runs allowed and only one single walk. The “cons” were minimal as the damage was mostly BABIP related. Out of his 25 sliders thrown, 5 fell into play, and 4 of those went for hits. Overall the first game was very intriguing, and as much as I can sit here an analyze, it was only one outing. Based on the improvements made within the minors this year, buy into the command changes and already elite swinging strike numbers. This converted shortstop also smacked a double in his first game and athleticism in a pitcher is something I always covet. Here’s to hoping this isn’t another quick “one-start/demotion” situation for the Dodgers as I believe Santana can easily be one of the best options for the rest of the season.
FAAB Bid: 10%
If Carlos Rodon is still available in your league, congratulations! (Also, it may be time to upgrade that guy with Wil Myers still in their active lineup.) Here we are again looking at a return from one of the White Sox biggest upside prospects. The big lefty is known for a gaudy fastball and a nasty slider. To this point in his career is has been about maximizing these two offerings to their full potential. He has yet to do so, but this is the kind of profile to buy into for fantasy. He has been stashed in many leagues for the sole reason that he can potentially be a Top 50 starter one day. Finding that type of talent on the waiver wire is nearly impossible throughout the year without overspending on call-ups or finding changes in a profile before your league-mates. Rodon may be a player that has been ignored based on past injuries and a confusing rehab stint that seemed to last forever. His past two starts were dominant in the minors, and all reports say he’s ready to go. Rodon generated nearly 18% swinging strikes in his three rehab starts. More benefits in his profile include a career 45% GB%, 23.7% K%, and youth. Make a sound investment, but this could be a player that pitches as a #3 fantasy start on the way out. If he is available, I wouldn’t doubt that he goes for over 20% to teams that need the pitching. I would be a bit more cautious than that, but as I said, there aren’t many profiles with this much upside sitting on the wire every week.
FAAB Bid: 5%
Hey! It looks like Nathan Eovaldi is going to try this pitching thing again! Getting slightly excited for this fireballer to come back is just a natural part of the fantasy season. However, this year I will be looking a little closer to see what the Rays coaching staff decides to do with him. Predictions are that they will start to change up his pitch mix to maximize what he does best as they have with so many pitchers in the past. Eovaldi has a pretty deep pitch repertoire, and in the first game, he threw his massive heater over 45% of the time while mixing in his other offerings at nearly identical rates. This narrative is something I pointed out last week when discussing Ryan Yarbrough and his newfound success. Oh, did I mention that he didn’t allow a hit? Because that happened… Anybody that can reach back for triple-digit velocity numbers should be on all fantasy radars. Nathan Eovaldi has proven in the past that he can be a useful roster piece for any team in need of strikeouts and general upside. I would not be bidding too much on the Rays arm this week based on his injury-riddled past, but the ceiling is too sweet to pass up. The potential has still yet to be fully realized, and Tampa is a great spot for pitchers in that position. Again, anybody who can toss hot cheddar like Eovaldi needs to be on fantasy rosters, period.
FAAB Bid: 3-5%
Marco Gonzales was a first-round pick in the draft one year before Carlos Rodon found his name coming off the board third overall. He has not had the same success or upside attraction that Rodon has, but the crafty lefty could be just as exciting in some senses. He relies on command much more than someone like Rodon who works in and out of the zone to generate high levels of swinging strikes. Gonzales works in four pitches and uses his sinker the majority of the time at only 36.2%. He has brought the changeup and curveball together in usage much more than any other pitch. Judging by the Statcast visuals, Gonzales gets more swing and miss on the changeup near the feet of left-handed batters with the opposite on the curveball. Working these offerings on both sides of the plate can eliminate some of the damage righties place upon Gonzales. I’m always buying into pitchers than make repertoire changes, especially one like this who was able to limit barrels in a small sample last year but is continuing the same trend this season. Carrying positive traits from team-to-team and season-to-season is a skill that this lefty is currently displaying. He is not the most exciting pitcher but should be able to give fantasy owners just under 8-9 K/9, a solid WHIP considering his price, and upside to last as a #5-6 starter on rosters for the rest of the season.
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