Hello again, students! You’re just in time for Lesson Three in  JKJ’s School of Waiver Wire Wizardry. This weekend has already been tainted by another positive COVID test just as the Cardinals got back in action. The Reds and Pirates game Saturday was cancelled due to a Reds player testing positive Friday. Things were looking up! And then this. Just a reminder that COVID is bigger than baseball, and most especially fantasy baseball. It’s not going away any time soon by the look of it, so please continue to practice safety measures to keep you and others around you safe! This is a class after all, so a teacher has to get on their soapbox every once in a while. Fun fact: I’m a real-life teacher, too. High school English. Not my first go-around getting on a soapbox. Sorry not sorry.

Anyhoodles, let’s dive right in to the hotties you need to pay attention to for Week 4.

Note: Stats accurate as of 8/15/2020, before games began. Remember, only players available in the 30th percentiles (39% or below) of Yahoo! or ESPN leagues are eligible. Thought being that most of who you read about below will be there for you to add. Also, I’m tired of writing stat lines. I just end up retyping most of it in the analysis anyway. 

Bats

Jesse Winker – OF, CIN (Yahoo!: 26%, ESPN: 35%)

Man, this dude is Reds hot! Get it?! But 2020 done 2020’ed us again; no Reds baseball for the time being. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go scoop Jesse Winker up. In his last 10, he’s slashing .586/.657/1.207, with five homers and seven RBI. Reds hot, I tell ya.

Winker was on my Universal DH radar back in the offseason, but I really figured Aristides Aquino would get the main crack at DH. Aquino hasn’t done squat and has barely seen action, while Winker is cementing everyday ABs from now on. The batting average always figured to be good, but 2020 Winker is crushing the ball, too. His xBA is 96th percentile while his exit velocity is 94th. Dayum, son! Last year, Winker averaged 89.1MPH EV. It’s up five full points this season. Fifty percent of the time he’s hitting the ball hard, and he’s upped his walk rate from 9.9% to 12.5%. And even more good news is it’s not like he’s just feasting on fastballs. He is, but he’s also feasting on off-speed and breaking balls. All the balls. Barrel rate is almost quadrupled from last season. Sweet Spot% is up 12 points. The Reds lineup is great when it’s healthy, and that affords Mr. Winker even more opportunities to hit, score, and drive runs in. Winker has an eye-popping and league-leading 218 wRC+ right now. Don’t Wink, or you’ll miss out! Get it?!

Robbie Grossman – OF, OAK (Yahoo!: 11%, ESPN: 20%)

In a normal season, I might ignore this kind of hot streak from a guy like Robbie Grossman. He’s been around a good while and has never been much to write home about, except in OBP leagues he has been a nice value thanks to his always-consistent K:BB ratio. But 2020 Grossman has been phenomenal lately.

Grossman is currently slashing .306/.460/.612 with three homers, nine RBI, and four swipes. Four swipes! He only had nine last season. There’s a shocking amount of red on his Statcast page – the only blue bit is his outfielder jump. Who gives a damn about that; this is fantasy baseball. Ole Rob had a putrid barrel rate last season and the season before, but it’s up to 10% now. And get this: he’s actually walking more than he’s striking out. Ten walks to only nine Ks. So he’s giving you legit power, good speed, and killer OBP. That’s league-winning type stuff in a 60-game season. Sure, he’s bound to regress some, but I like what I’m seeing, and the metrics mostly support it. He does have inflated numbers against breaking balls, so if pitchers catch on to that and attack him more with those, then who knows. I like the career-low ground ball rate and career-high pull and fly ball rates. Zone Swing% and Zone Contact% are both personal bests right now, as well. Maybe aggressive Grossman is the best Grossman? Always had good Zone Contact%, just needs to keep swinging!

Dominic Smith – 1B/OF, NYM – (Yahoo!: 8%, ESPN: 10%)

The departure of Yoenis Cespedes has been the key reason Dominic Smith has seen regular playing time. He’s been at DH, LF, and even 1B sometimes. The extra versatility is nice for fantasy purposes, but that big booming bat is better. Smith has blasted a homer in each of his last three games, giving him five on the season.

I’m kind of looking at Smith as a poor man’s Pete Alonso but with a better strikeout rate. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Smith would go out and smash at a 50-HR pace, but you know what I mean. Mediocre batting average with good pop and a healthy OBP. Last year, Smith showed huge improvement by lowering the K-rate and upping the BB-rate. So far in 2020, he’s staying right in line with what he posted a year ago. The walk rate is quite a bit better, even. And he’s hitting the ball harder (and harder more often) than he ever has at the MLB level. That there barrel rate is near tops in the league. Although he still chases pitches a fair amount, it’s at least not as often as he has before. I try not to put too much stock into BABIP, but Smith’s is .267 right now, which is the second-lowest of his pro career. Things could get a little better moving forward.

Nick Solak – 2B/3B/OF, TEX (Yahoo!: 25%, ESPN: 21%)

Nick Solak was a pretty popular sleeper pick coming into the season. He looked pretty ding dang good in his brief stint last year, hitting over .290 and almost posting  a .900 OPS. This year he’s slashing .311/.382/.443 with one homer, eight RBI, and three stolen bases.

The power isn’t quite what owners hoped for maybe, but the batting average and speed are there. He’s only barreling like one-third as often as he was last year. Nothing to lose too much sleep over, though. The dude hardly strikes out, walks at a good clip, is above average in the hard-hit department, has great contact skills, and has 93rd percentile sprint speed. Solak started very slow, hitting just .205 until about a week ago. He’s got his average up over .300 now, ripping off four multi-hit games in his last five. Very encouraged by his adjustment to hitting breaking balls this year. Last season, he was .171 against them; this year, he’s at .389. I’m gonna put my money on him figuring out how to barrel more again. Don’t forget he hit a total of 32 HR last season across AAA and MLB.

Austin Slater – OF/1B, SF (Yahoo!: 31%, ESPN: 14%)

Do you need some steals? Solid batting average? Austin Slater might be a good fill-in for a slumper you have on your roster. Maybe you’ve got Nick Castellanos and need an emergency OF, I dunno.

So I’ll say this up front: Slater has a 50% HR/FB ratio going right now, and that ain’t gonna hold up. He’s never hit more than 18 HR in a full season, so I wouldn’t expect that to stick. But looking at Statcast, you see a lot of red in the categories that matter for fantasy. Like, 95th percentile xBA and 94th xwOBA. That’s good. Real good. Five swipes with just above-average speed is a teensy bit surprising, but sprint speed isn’t the end all be all as far as steals go. Still, dude has never been a base stealer really, so take it with a grain of salt. I tell ya, I gave Wilmer Flores some love coming into the season, but really the only Giants bat I even had an inkling of drafting was Mike Yastrzemski. Yet here go the Giants, pumping out fantasy relevant guys like Donovan Solano, Flores, and now Slater.

Sorry, I digress. Take a look at Slater if you need OF or 1B (in Yahoo! leagues) help. His wOBA is supported by xwOBA. Hard Hit% is for real. Launch angle is at a career high. Among the very best in wRC+ (195). Chasing fewer pitches than ever. I’m sold, despite the inflated BABIP.

Arms

Kevin Gausman – SP, SF (Yahoo!: 14%, ESPN: 19%)

If the Giants having fantasy relevant bats was surprising, I’m absolutely flamboozlegasted by any starting pitching being relevant. Kevin Gausman has been more like Kevin Gasman – 88th percentile FB velocity ain’t too shabby for a guy averaging 93.9MPH a season ago.

Anyone who’s read my stuff before knows I love the per-nine-innings numbers. Gausman’s K/9 is just dandy, his BB/9 is a work of art, but I would be much happier with a better H/9. Nevertheless, he’s been surprisingly good in 2020. Strikeouts haven’t ever been his thing in the bigs, but this year he’s throwing his slider more and his FB velocity has gained some real nice zip, and the Ks have piled up. To be fair, his slider has been smacked all the way around, but I’m still a fan of a little more variety instead of just relying on the fastball and splitter (the latter being his best pitch by far). Gausman doesn’t have a win yet and has only one quality start, but those of you in K:BB leagues should take an especially good hard look.

Dylan Cease – SP, CWS (Yahoo!: 24%, ESPN: 26%)

A whole lotta people, me included, had this guy pegged for a 2020 breakout. It’s been a little underwhelming, but Dylan Cease has sort of turned the corner lately. On the year, he’s up to 3-1 and has two quality starts in his last three appearances.

I’ll be straight up: I really don’t like him much for this season. The season is too short to chance it on unproven SPs outside of matchup-based spot starts or DFS type stuff. I’m not racing to add Cease to any of my redraft teams. I wanted to cover him more for dynasty/keeper purposes for two reasons: 1) his slider is filthy as hell, and 2) his control has improved considerably in 2020. Aside from the slider, Cease also has a fastball and a curveball that show some signs of greatness. The fastball velocity and spin are top notch – he just needs to locate it better. The curve has good spin and good dip – he just needs to locate it better. Cease’s BB/9 has never been below 3.00 until this season – he had one bad outing with five walks in five innings but otherwise has walked just one batter total. Shades of Robbie Ray here; fantastic stuff that just need harnessing. The harnessing seems to be coming along better for Cease than for Ray.

Zach Davies – SP, SD (Yahoo!: 26%, ESPN: 26%)

Give me any start throwing for the Padres right now. That lineup is clicking. Eric Hosmer is healthy again, Fernando Tatis Jr. is THE best shortstop in fantasy, Trent Grisham is a force, Wil Myers has revitalized his career, Tommy Pham is a hoss, Manny Machado is gonna Machado, and Jake Cronenworth has burst onto the scene. The Friars are one of the better run-scoring and home run-hitting squads in baseball.

So Zach Davies. He’s got a 2.78 ERA and 0.84 WHIP. Strikeouts aren’t his forte (though he’s having a career year in tht respect), but he doesn’t allow a lot of hard hits and has a dope lineup giving him run support. Davies has always had a very respectable ERA in his big league career – only once has it been above 4.00. He’s another one of those not-flashy-but-gets-it-done types. I don’t care much for those types unless they pitch for good offenses, and the Padres fit that bill. It’s why I like Randy Dobnak for the Twins. There’s just a good chance there will be lots of run support. Davies is mixing pitches better this year, relying more on his changeup and cutter than in years prior. He hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in a single start and hasn’t allowed more hits than innings pitched in a single start, either. Again, not flashy, but it works. And when you’ve got a good offense backing you up, “but it works” will do just fine for fantasy.

Scott Barlow – RP, KC (Yahoo!: 2%, ESPN: 1%)

Here’s a niche pick. Scott Barlow is only viable in leagues that count holds, but I wanted to highlight him just in case Trevor Rosenthal starts to fall apart.

Barlow has been a late-innings guy of late, racking up a save and two holds in his last four appearances. His xBA, K%, Sweet Spot%, launch angle, exit velocity, xwOBA, and xERA are all personal bests for now. And, if you didn’t know, T-Rose walked three batters his last time out. I know I’m sitting here talking career bests with a small sample while also bringing up one single not-even-that-bad-all-things-considered outing, but it’s still worth at least mentioning. Rosenthal could fall apart in a jiffy, and I’d put my money on Barlow to take over if that happens. Closer Monkey agrees (side note: bookmark Closer Monkey if you haven’t already. Follow them on Twitter and put their tweets on your notification list. They aren’t paying me to say that, but they should).

Other Quick Notes

Garrett Hampson needs to be owned. I really wanted to take the victory lap and write about him up top, but he’s too owned now, dammit. The Rockies can hit; we all know this. He’s been leading off. He’s very, very, very fast. His xBA and xSLG are DOPE. GET HIM. He’s still not-owned enough to warrant mentioning here.

If you need a catcher and all the ones I’ve been writing about lately are taken, then take a look at Pedro Severino. Pretty solid power and most of the time lately he’s been batting fifth in a weirdly potent Orioles lineup.

Rafael Montero is too highly owned to fit above, but he’s now 4-f0r-4 in save chances and has been perfect each and every time. Just to be clear, that’s a 0.00 ERA and 0.00 WHIP.

Framber Valdez is another pitcher who might be out there for you but also might not. Four starts, three of ’em quality, and hasn’t given up more than two earned runs in any of ’em. Can be slotted in as an RP, too.

One last pitcher you might take a gander on is Brad Keller. His first start was five three-hit innings – zero runs allowed. Seven Ks. His next start was six two-hit innings – zero runs allowed, but only three Ks. Good news is both starts were against quality opposition (Cubs and Reds, respectively). Bad news is he pitches for the Royals lol.

Feel free to hit me up down below in the comments or on Twitter (@jkj0787) with any and all questions! Or complaints! Tag me in those mentions, slide into those DMs, whatever pops your fly.

 

 
  1. Don't be a Hader says:
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    I like these Waiver columns for the info, but they’re missing a key piece…what higher owned guy should we be replacing?
    Sure Solak is a nice pickup, but who is over-owned and could be replaced by him.
    Otherwise it’s adding Peter to drop Paul.

    • JKJ

      JKJ says:
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      That’s fair enough, but that’s kind of impossible for me to just blanket answer all at once. That’s what these comments are for! Don’t go dropping a cold Belli for Winker or Solak. A cold Eugenio Suarez, though? Sure. Yordan Alvarez’s knee is not inspiring any confident right now either. Gotta risk it to get that biscuit in a 60-game season.

      But one of my strategies in general is to have an expendable roster slot or two where I snag these hot bats up and ride the heat wave. I always have a streaming spot or two for SP as well.

      It’s a case-by-case basis for whom you should drop, in the end. I don’t go out and grab all the guys I write about each week because I don’t have space everywhere. Each team is different.

  2. youngid says:
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    Add Santander, Slater or Grossman?

    • JKJ

      JKJ says:
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      I’m feeling Santander the most of those. Raking today already!

  3. Happyharry says:
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    Hey, good stuff!!12 team, H2H, 6X6. No bench, weekly transactions. Your advice please on possible WW pickups. I could drop Wong, Alberto or Kyle Lewis for:
    Winker, Grisham, Santander, Carson, K.Calhoun, Verdugo, Hosmer…….Need three to put in for!
    Or Hold…thanks

    • JKJ

      JKJ says:
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      I would cut all three for Winker, Grisham, and either Verdugo or Santander. Trust Verdugo a little more but Santander is sizzling

      • RicoSuave says:
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        Good work JKJ!

        16 team H2H weekly points league… redraft

        Elieser Hernandez or Eovaldi?
        Thanks

        • JKJ

          JKJ says:
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          Thank you kindly!

          Never been a big Eovaldi fan. He can spin a gem but always crashes and burns it seems. I’ll go EH.

          • RicoSuave says:
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            Thank you!

    • JKJ

      JKJ says:
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      I am amending my reply. Nix Verdugo/Santander and take Hosmer. He’s the real deal this year. His approach has improved and he’s no longer hitting grounder after grounder. The power is very very real and he’s lifting the ball and it’s leaving the park.

  4. Don't be a Hader says:
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    Is it better to have an emerging bat such as Solak versus a platoon bats like Moreland/K.Calhoun or a home-only bat like D. Murphy?

    A. Gimenez tied for MLB lead in SBs with limited ABs. Seems like a decent grab for MI.

    • JKJ

      JKJ says:
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      Gimenez isn’t a bad bet.

      Good question. I really dig Moreland and wish he’d get everyday reps. But I tend to favor the guys who get more playing time, especially in this shortened season. ABs are so vital. Gonna have to say Solak there.

  5. Harley Earl says:
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    JKJ,

    Just want to say, good piece here. Well researched, with strong support. Nice work friend.

    • JKJ

      JKJ says:
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      You’re a sweetheart and I love you

  6. uncle wighty says:
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    drop wong or encarnacion for pablo lopez? thank you

    • JKJ

      JKJ says:
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      I love Wong IRL but for fantasy I’m not a huge fan. I’d cut him for Lopez eight days a week.

      • uncle wighty says:
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        thank you, just cut the cord on wong.

        last q, worth dropping edwin for grossman?

        • JKJ

          JKJ says:
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          I’m a bit of a risk-taker so I’m gonna say yes. Maybe not in a full season, but right now Encarnacion is AWFUL.

  7. E says:
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    Playing in a best ball league with a couple rules regarding replacing injured players, need to replace Cron.

    Would you pick up Winker or Dom Smith for rest of season? Can fit either in lineup, points league.

    • JKJ

      JKJ says:
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      Both are good options. The power is a welcome bonus from Winker this year – I’d put my eggs in his basket. That sounds dirty…

  8. fausto

    fausto says:
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    10tm Redraft. Eugenio or Hosmer? Do you believe in his Launch Angle adjustment that much?

    • JKJ

      JKJ says:
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      I want to believe in Suarez. What a bummer. I absolutely believe in Hosmer. That lineup is jacked – go Hosmer.

  9. Andre says:
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    Any idea if Gonsolin is in the rotation now? I need to make a pickup and we have limited season long moves. Trying to decide between Justus Sheffield, Elieser Hernandez, Brad Keller, Kevin Gausman and Gonsolin. Ideally ROS….feel like Gonsolin might be the best but might not have enough chances, even in a opener/swing role. Who would you guys grab of those names? League uses W,L, K’s, Whip, and QS, Thanks!

    • JKJ

      JKJ says:
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      Hmmm. I like Gonsolin, and he looks to be in the rotation for now, but I’m worried he never goes more than 5 innings. Still, he plays for a great team obviously and should provide quality innings, just not quantity innings. Keller might be the best QS option but the Royals suck.

  10. James Wiser says:
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    I like Winker, but when will Reds play again?

    • JKJ

      JKJ says:
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      Tough to say for now. No more positive tests is a good sign, and they’ve adjusted the rule to let players come back a little sooner than before. It won’t be another Cardinals situation unless another few tests come back positive, I guess? I don’t know. Wouldn’t let that deter me from Winker if I were you unless you’re super on the fence about whomever you’d drop.

Comments are closed.