Another setback for A.J. Pollock means that Alex Verdugo can continue to put up numbers in the Dodgers lineup, which should be music to some fantasy baseball players' ears.
Welcome back to Waive Hello, our weekly column on players you should be adding from the waiver wire.
The elbow injury A.J. Pollock suffered back in 2016 simply won’t let him be. The outfielder will undergo surgery to remove a metal plate that was inserted in his arm as a result of that injury, knocking him out for the foreseeable future. Into his stead steps Alex Verdugo, who has an excellent chance to secure a starting job in one of the league’s most potent lineups.
Verdugo is off to a great start this season, hitting .342/.368/.616 with four homers and 16 RBI in 76 plate appearances. He has spent most of his time hitting sixth in the lineup, but it really doesn’t matter where you hit so long as you’re on Dave Roberts’s lineup card. If Verdugo is toward the top of the order, he’ll have a ton of run-scoring upside with the Dodgers’ mashers behind him. If he’s in the middle of the order, he’ll be a potential RBI machine with the team’s on-base mavens in front of him. There’s really no way to go wrong in an offense this good.
Verdugo has been known to the fantasy community for years, but he’s still in just his age-23 season. He spent parts of the last two seasons with the Dodgers, but had just 111 MLB plate appearances before this year. As the Dodgers were making consecutive runs to the World Series, Verdugo was dominating at Triple-A Oklahoma City, hitting .321/.389/.452 with 16 homers, 46 doubles, 17 steals, 106 RBI and 11 runs in about a season and a half’s worth of plate appearances. Now locked into a spot with the big league club, he should be a priority pickup in all fantasy leagues where he’s still available.
With that, let’s find some other players to Waive Hello to in this week’s look at the waiver wire.
Franmil Reyes, OF, Padres
Yes, Reyes was on the Fallers side of this week’s Stock Ticker, but that doesn’t mean he’s devoid of fantasy value. In fact, the day before he appeared in the Stock Ticker, he belted two homers in a win over the Braves. Reyes is still hitting just .242 with a .290 OBP, but he has eight homers and a .538 slugging percentage. Despite his on-base struggles and the Padres’ crowded outfield, Reyes is still in the lineup more often than not.
Ryan McMahon, 1B/2B/3B, Rockies
McMahon hasn’t quite caught on since returning from the IL, hitting .216/.326/.324 with two homers and 10 RBI in 86 plate appearances. The good news, however, is that Bud Black is sticking with him, starting him in 12 of Colorado’s 13 games since his return. The fact that Black still trusts him should be good enough for the fantasy community, especially considering where he plays his home games.
Carter Kieboom, SS, Nationals
The Nationals promoted Kieboom last week, and the top prospect has hit .130/.231/.391 with a pair of homers in his first 26 plate appearances. Trea Turner is still working his way back from a fractured finger, and while he’s reportedly progressing there’s still no timetable for his return. Kieboom should be an everyday player, at least until Turner is back, and possibly after the Nationals get their starting shortstop active. Kieboom was raking at Triple-A Fresno before his promotion, hitting .379/.506/.636 with three homers and six doubles in 83 plate appearances.
Harrison Bader, OF, Cardinals
Bader was on the bench for the Cardinals’ first four games after returning from the IL, but has now started four straight games. He has gone 5-for-14 with a homer and a walk in those four games, and given his standing as arguably the best defensive center fielder in the majors, he’s going to remain in the lineup for the foreseeable future. His power-speed combo makes him an attractive player in all fantasy formats.
Brian Goodwin, OF, Angels
Goodwin is taking full advantage of the opportunity for regular playing time presented to him, at least partially by Justin Upton’s injury. The 28-year-old outfielder is hitting .341/.427/.557 with four homers, five doubles and 11 RBI in 104 plate appearances, a far cry from what we’ve seen from him in his career. Upton is on the 60-day IL with turn toe, and has yet to start baseball activities. Goodwin should be a regular for at least another month, and it’s entirely possible that he has played his way into a starting gig by time Upton is ready to return.
Nate Lowe, 1B, Rays
The Rays promoted Lowe earlier this week, and he’s expected to get the majority of the playing time at first base so long as he’s with the big league club. A top-100 prospect coming into this year, Lowe hit .300/.444/.543 with three homers, eight doubles and 17 walks against 19 strikeouts in 90 plate appearances with Triple-A Durham. He has legitimate pop, belting 27 homers in 555 trips to the plate across three minor league levels last year, and his plate discipline should help him make an immediate transition to the majors.
Miguel Sano, 3B, Twins
Sano has been on the IL all season because of a heel injury, but he’s on the mend and likely a few weeks from returning to the Twins. He began a rehab assignment earlier this week with High-A Fort Myers, the start of what’s supposed to be a longer-than-average run through the minors. Sano missed all of spring training, so his rehab assignment is about more than making sure he’s healthy and getting his bat back up to speed. He’s expected to make stops at both the Double-A and Triple-A levels, but if all goes well we should still see him in a Twins uniform at some point in May.
John Gant, SP/RP, Cardinals
Gant has been a valuable swingman in the Cardinals’ bullpen this season, pitching to a 0.90 ERA and 0.65 WHIP with 19 strikeouts against seven walks in 20 innings. Mike Shildt is willing to turn to him in various high-leverage situations, and that only adds to his fantasy value. Gant has three wins, two saves and six holds on the year, finding multiple ways to contribute to fantasy teams. He already looks like one of this season’s breakout relievers.
Ryan Pressly, RP, Astros
Pressly has still yet to allow a run, tossing 12 1/3 shutout innings across 11 appearances, while striking out 13 batters and walking none. He has a couple of saves on the year, but it doesn’t really matter that he isn’t the dedicated closer in Houston. He can offer fantasy teams plenty of value with his gaudy rates and strikeout totals, even if he doesn’t save another game all year.
Griffin Canning, SP, Angels
The Angels promoted Canning, their top pitching prospect, earlier this week, and he’s expected to stick in the majors for the long haul. The soon-to-be 23-year-old allowed three runs on four hits in 4 1/3 innings against the Blue Jays, striking out six and walking one. Canning sits in the mid-90s with his four-seamer, and also throws a curveball, slider and changeup. He was electric in three starts at Triple-A Salt Lake before his promotion, amassing a 1.13 ERA and 0.94 WHIP with 17 strikeouts against two walks in 16 innings.
Ty Buttrey, RP, Angels
Buttrey’s like Pressly, a high-volume, high-strikeout dominating reliever who can provide fantasy value even if he isn’t closing games regularly. The difference, however, is that he may be transitioning to the closer’s role for the Angels. He saved his first game of the season on Wednesday, and with Cody Allen on the outs with Brad Ausmus, it’s entirely possible that Buttrey grabs a hold of the job in the near future.
Anthony DeSclafani, SP, Reds
DeSclafani is on a tear of late, allowing one run on nine hits and five walks with 20 strikeouts in his last 17 2/3 innings, a stretch spanning three starts. He’s leaning on his fastball and knuckle-curve more this season than he has in previous years, and the change in usage is paying dividends. His fastball has a whiff rate of 11.6%, while the knuckle-curve is getting empty swings 16.9% of the time.