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By Michael Beller
May 31, 2019

When the Blue Jays drew up their plans for this season back in the spring, they likely didn’t include a month-long stint in the minors for Lourdes Gurriel Jr. After all, Gurriel impressed in a 65-game sample last year, hitting .270/.309/.446 with 11 homers, eight doubles and 35 RBI in 263 plate appearances. Without any service-time concerns bogging him down, Gurriel figured to be a mainstay of Toronto’s lineup all year. And then the season began.

Gurriel was terrible the first two weeks of the year, necessitating his trip back to Triple-A Buffalo. Before his demotion, he was hitting .175/.250/.275 with no homers in 44 plate appearances. The Blue Jays have more than their fair share of exciting young players, portending a promising future, but 2019 almost certainly isn’t their year. As such, it only made sense to send Gurriel back to Triple-A where he could hopefully right the ship.

The 25-year-old did just that, slashing .273/.305/.479 with four homers and 13 doubles in 128 plate appearances. He earned his way back to the majors last week, and he has hit everything in sight since rejoining the Blue Jays. He has started the team’s last six games heading into play Friday, going 10-for-23 with four homers, three doubles and six RBI in that stretch. Gurriel left the yard in each of his first three games back in the majors, and then again on Thursday, taking Blake Snell deep in an eventual 4-3 loss to the Rays. The hot stretch has Gurriel’s season-long slash line up to .270/.324/.571 in 68 plate appearances, and Charlie Montoyo moved him up to the second spot in the order in the team’s last game. With his upside, pedigree, recent play and positional versatility, he should be a target in all fantasy leagues.

With that, let’s find some other players to Waive Hello to in this week’s look at the waiver wire.

All players have ownership rates of 40% or lower in at least two of Yahoo, ESPN or CBS leagues.


Hitters

Cavan Biggio, 2B, Blue Jays

Biggio arrived a few weeks after the major wave of prospects, but he’s just as intriguing as the players who came before him. He raked at Triple-A Buffalo to earn his promotion, hitting .307/.445/.504 with six homers, seven doubles and 26 RBI in 173 plate appearances. Biggio was absent from top prospect lists heading into this season, and that’s already looking like a whiff by the evaluators. With Gurriel moving to the outfield, Biggio shouldn’t be in any real jeopardy of losing playing time.

Keston Hiura, 2B, Brewers

Hiura hasn’t quite caught on in fantasy leagues to the degree that fellow top prospects Austin Riley and Brendan Rodgers have over the last two weeks, and that needs to change in the near future. Hiura is hitting .260/.315/.460 with three homers and four RBI through his first 54 plate appearances. He has started all but one game since getting promoted, hitting everywhere between fifth and eighth in the order. Travis Shaw is expected to return from his rehab assignment next week, but it's hard to imagine him immediately threatening Hiura for playing time. Hiura could be a game-changer for any fantasy owner, even one without an immediate need up the middle.

Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Howie Kendrick, 1B/2B/3B/OF, Nationals

Kendrick is at the opposite end of the career spectrum from the three players we’ve discussed thus far, but he’s every bit as intriguing in fantasy leagues. The 35-year-old is hitting .328/.367/.595 with nine homers, eight doubles and 33 RBI in 147 plate appearances this year. He has played all over the infield, benefitting from injuries to Anthony Rendon and Trea Turner, but even with those two back he should find his way into the lineup more often than not. The Nationals aren’t exactly in a position to be sitting a player swinging the bat as well as Kendrick is, no matter their best-laid plans in the spring.

Renato Nuñez, 1B/3B, Orioles

Nuñez is on another strong run, going 13-for-36 with six homers and 13 RBI across 41 plate appearances in his last 10 games. He’s up to .239/.289/.482 in 211 trips to the plate this season, and he has 13 jacks and 32 RBI. Nuñez went on a streak like this in April only to suffer through a prolonged slump, but he’s worth a look so long as he’s swinging a hot bat.

Oscar Mercado, OF, Indians

Mercado has been a welcome jolt to the Indians’ lineup since his promotion two weeks ago, hitting .304/.385/.435 with one homer, three doubles and two steals in 52 plate appearances. After spending his first week at the bottom of Cleveland’s order, the 24-year-old has hit second in the team’s last five games. That significantly increases his fantasy value, especially since he swiped 37 bags last year and had 14 steals at Triple-A Columbus before getting the call this season.

Gio Urshela, 3B/SS, Yankees

Urshela has mashed in place of the injured Miguel Andujar this season, hitting .331/.384/.471 with three homers, 10 doubles and 21 RBI in 151 plate appearances. Urshela is a known commodity, and while we’ve never seen him swing the bat this well for this long, we have watched him go on hot streaks only to eventually regress to his uninspiring career line. Anyone who needs help at a position where he qualifies should give him a shot, but don’t count on him to be someone who sticks on your roster all year.

Jarrod Dyson, OF, Diamondbacks

Dyson continues to get on base at a high clip, carrying a .369 OBP into play Friday. So long as he’s doing that, he can make the most of his blazing speed, which he has done to the tune of 12 steals this year. He’s in a bit of a slump, hitting .214/.290/.321 over his last 31 plate appearances, but there’s still more than enough here to give him a shot in all fantasy formats.

Kevin Kiermaier, OF, Rays

Kiermaier is doing his usual thing this season, providing plenty of speed and a little bit of power while exacting a toll on his fantasy owners’ rates. If you can live with the bit he’ll take out of your batting average and OBP, his counting stats make for a nice addition. The 29-year-old has five homers and 10 steals in 186 plate appearances this season.


Pitchers

Griffin Canning, SP, Angels

Canning has been excellent in his last three trips to the mound, allowing two runs on nine hits in 18 innings, striking out 15 and walking three. That translates to a 1.00 ERA and 0.67 WHIP across the three-start sample. All told, the 23-year-old righty owns a 3.06 ERA and 0.96 WHIP with 34 strikeouts against nine walks in his first 32 1/3 MLB innings. Get him while you still can.

Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Nick Pivetta, SP, Phillies

Sooooooo, this one didn’t go too well the first time around. I was strongly on the Pivetta bandwagon at the start of the season, and he rewarded me and all his backers with an 8.35 ERA, 2.13 WHIP and demotion to the minors. After more than a month at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, Pivetta is back with the Phillies, and I’m back for another run with the talented, yet inconsistent, righty. He allowed three runs in his first inning back with the Phillies, but quickly righted the ship, tossing four scoreless innings to close out his start. Pivetta struck out six in the outing, earning a win over the Cardinals. He gets a tough assignment with the Dodgers over the weekend, but no matter what happens there, he’s worth a look in most formats. The strikeout upside is simply too great to ignore.

Alex Reyes, SP, Cardinals

Reyes is expected to make a rehab start at Triple-A Memphis on Sunday, as good a sign as any that the Cardinals plan to try him in the rotation when he’s ready to return from his fractured pinky. That gives him significantly more fantasy value than he’d have as a setup man for Jordan Hicks. We’ve been waiting for Reyes to break through since he made his MLB debut in 2016, but he’s still just 24 years old, and his arsenal remains as electric as ever.

Ty Buttrey, RP, Angels
Brandon Workman, RP, Red Sox
Sam Gaviglio, SP/RP, Blue Jays
Adam Ottavino, RP, Yankees
Amir Garrett, RP, Reds

As always, we close out the Waive Hello with a group of non-closer relievers worthy of attention in all fantasy leagues, even if they don’t save another game all season. Buttrey, Workman, Gaviglio, Ottavino and Garrett all rack up gaudy rates and strikeout numbers over a significant enough number of innings to generate fantasy value as setup men.

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