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The thing about waiver wire articles is that they always tell you who to pick up but they rarely tell you who to drop to make room for that particular player. Of course, it's impossible to be one-size-fits all with these type of columns, which is why so many analysts avoid the topic altogether. However, we're deep enough into the season at this point to identify some players who you can move on from in shallow leagues in case someone interesting breaks on the scene.
I'll focus on two hitters in the 50-60 percent rostered zone this week before moving on to pitchers next week.
The first hitter who stands out to me is Mets left fielder Dominic Smith. After putting up a .299/.366/571 batting line with 21 homers over 139 games between 2019-2020, he has failed to pack a punch this year. He's hit just .245 with six homers and a .673 OPS through 72 games, with a sudden inability to hit breaking balls. After hitting .388 against breaking pitches last year, he's posted a .146 mark so far this year. With notable decreases in barrel percentage, hard-hit percentage, and average exit velocity, it's fair to start to speculate on other options who might make more of an impact across all categories. It hurts me to say this, but I'm a professional, after all.
Another is Phillies third baseman Alec Bohm, who impressed in a small sample last year before carrying momentum into spring drafts. Even with the .410 BABIP last year, there was reason to believe in the prospect pedigree, but he's delivered a disappointing .240/.288/.325 batting line through 295 plate appearances while playing rough defense at the hot corner. His strikeout rate is on the rise compared to last year and while he's making a lot of hard contact, it's often on the ground. He has the third-lowest fly ball rate among qualified hitters. While Bohm has a .329 batting average this month, it has been punchless. He hasn't homered since May 6. This isn't necessarily a judgment about his future, but if you want to win right now, you don't need to justify waiting for signs of progress. You can do better.
Have specific questions about your roster? Ask @djshort on Twitter.
(Players rostered in under 50 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Note: Percentages are from the morning of Thursday, July 1st
Willy Adames SS, Brewers (Yahoo: 26 percent rostered)
The Brewers steamrolled their way through June and the recently-acquired Adames was a big part of that. After hitting just .197 over 41 games with the Rays to begin the year, the 25-year-old is hitting .280/.362/.523 with seven home runs, 28 RBI, and 20 runs scored through 37 games. He's improved his contact rate this his new team while making a ton of hard contact. In fact, he's posted career-bests in terms of barrel percentage, hard-hit percentage, and average exit velocity. He's played himself into the middle of the Brewers' lineup and deserves to be taken seriously in mixed leagues.
Kyle Muller SP, Braves (Yahoo: 20 percent rostered)
Muller has quickly played his way into mixed league consideration after reeling off a 2.70 ERA and 13/4 K/BB ratio in 10 innings across his first three appearances. The 23-year-old southpaw has allowed just two hits in his last two starts and struck out nine over five scoreless frames against the Reds last time out. Control is a big question here -- he averaged 5.5 BB/9 in the minors dating back to 2019 -- but he throws in the mid-90s with his fastball and induces swings and misses with his slider and curve. Muller lines up for back-to-back starts against the Marlins going into the All-Star break, so he's a great flier right now.
Bobby Bradley 1B, Indians (Yahoo: 15 percent rostered)
There was reason enough to be skeptical upon Bradley's call-up last month, as he's put up some high strikeout numbers in the minors, but the power output is hard to ignore. The 25-year-old had his first career multi-homer game on Wednesday and now has eight homers through 78 plate appearances with the Indians this year. He's very unlikely to hit for average, but you can't fake the sort of power he has. His barrel percentage is right up there with the best in the league. He needs to be rostered in deeper formats for the time being.
Jarred Kelenic OF, Mariners (Yahoo: 39 percent rostered)
Stashing Kelenic didn't pay off the first time around, but maybe the second time's the charm. After going hitless in his first two games after his demotion to Triple-A, the 21-year-old is slashing .323/.416/.677 with 10 extra-base hits (including six homers), four steals and a 10/10 K/BB ratio over his last 16 games. He's been especially hot recently, possibly knocking on the door for another opportunity. Maybe it doesn't happen until after the All-Star break, but it's hard to think of a more worthy prospect stash in the minors. Don't hold his lengthy hitless streak against him.
Jose Alvarado RP, Phillies (Yahoo: 26 percent rostered)
Good luck trying to figure out the Phillies' closer situation. However, if you want to invite that frustration into your life, Alvarado needs to be rostered. Sporting some of the best velocity in the game, the 26-year-old has a 3.26 ERA with 41 strikeouts over 30 1/3 innings. That's the good news. The bad news is that he often doesn't know where the ball is going, as he's issued 25 walks while hitting four batters and throwing six wild pitches. Disaster looms as a possibility here, but Neris has to regain Joe Girardi's trust and Archie Bradley just hasn't looked good this year.
Michael Pineda SP, Twins (Yahoo: 44 percent rostered)
Pineda has been out since June 13 with right elbow inflammation, but he's due to make a rehab start Thursday with Triple-A St. Paul which could set him up for a return next week. The 32-year-old was scuffling a bit prior to landing on the injured list, but his numbers still look quite good overall, with a 3.70 ERA and 51/15 K/BB ratio in 56 innings over 11 starts. He's given up some hard contact this year, so the expected stats don't fully back that up, but he's been a useful enough option to fill out mixed league staffs over the years and there's every reason to think he can continue to do that if healthy.
Wilmer Flores 1B/2B/3B, Giants (Yahoo: 19 percent rostered)
Flores was having a fairly nondescript season until recently. Over the course of his last 16 games, he's hitting .353 (19-for-53) with four homers, three doubles, nine RBI, and 10 runs scored across 13 games. He's found himself in some favorable spots in the Giants' lineup as well, hitting fifth, second, third, and cleanup in the past week. With the injuries in the Giants' infield (including Tommy La Stella's recent thumb fracture), Flores' playing time should be secure. He qualifies all over the infield and the bonus is that the Giants have a couple of games against left-handers coming up.
Luis Patiño SP, Rays (Yahoo: 11 percent rostered)
Patino dominated in his most recent start with Triple-A Durham (5 IP, 0 ER, 11 K) and will get the call to start against the Blue Jays on Friday. It's not an ideal matchup, but Patino is worth the pickup in case he sticks. The big question is how far the Rays will push him -- he's yet to throw more than 81 pitches in any of his appearances between the majors or minors this season -- but he's still capable of providing value even with a limited workload.
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(Players rostered in under 10 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Harrison Bader OF, Cardinals (Yahoo: 2 percent rostered)
I wanted to put Kole Calhoun here, but he might have reinjured his left hamstring during a rehab game with Triple-A Reno on Tuesday night. Instead, we'll roll with Bader, who is being activated for the start of a four-game series against the Rockies in Coors Field on Thursday. That's a little bonus right off the bat. Bader has been out since late May with a fracture in his rib cage and got a late start on the year with a right forearm strain, but he's been productive when healthy, putting up four homers and three steals in 22 games. He's a .233 career hitter, so there's flaws in the approach, but he's useful enough in deeper formats.
Austin Hays OF, Orioles (Yahoo: 9 percent rostered)
Hays has teased us with his potential in the past, with injuries often getting the way, but he's on a nice little run right now. He's hit safely in eight straight games while going 12-for-29 (.414) with two homers, one double, eight RBI, and five runs scored. On the whole, he's racked up 17 barrels in 764 pitches seen this season after having just eight of them in 1,052 MLB plate appearances coming into the year. He's in a great situation for hitters in Baltimore, so it's probably time for him to be scooped up in more leagues.
Sammy Long SP, Giants (Yahoo: 7 percent rostered)
Long wasn't great last time out against the Athletics -- his second start and fourth appearance overall -- allowing four runs over five innings. Still, the rookie southpaw was so good in his previous three appearances that it's tough to just walk away this soon. He gets the terrible Diamondbacks on Saturday, so you have to roll the dice there.
Patrick Sandoval SP, Angels (Yahoo: 22 percent rostered)
It's honestly strange that Sandoval is still available in so many leagues, because he should be considered a must-roster at this point. He's now racked up double-digit swinging strikes in each of his seven starts this season, posting a 3.44 ERA along the way. His changeup has been the big key, though his slider did most of the heavy lifting in his last start. He gets the Orioles this weekend and you should keep rolling with him there.
Tylor Megill SP, Mets (Yahoo: 1 percent rostered)
Is a start in Yankee Stadium a risk? Of course it is. But have the Yankees have been inconsistent and frustrating enough where fringe pitchers aren't an automatic sit in this venue. Megill has been very impressive through his first two starts while posting a 4.82 ERA and 12/4 K/BB ratio over 9 1/3 innings. He struck out eight against the Braves on Tuesday, with his only mistake coming on a three-run homer from Ozzie Albies in the fifth. He could have some staying power.
Gavin Sheets 1B, White Sox (Yahoo: 2 percent rostered)
The son of former major leaguer Larry Sheets, Gavin was called up to the majors for the second time this week, though he actually got a chance to play this time. Taking the place of the injured Jake Lamb on the active roster, the 25-year-old has gone 4-for-8 with a homer and a double through his first two games. Sheets has always hit for average in the minors, but the question has been whether he'd hit for enough power to stand out. He actually did that in Triple-A this year, so maybe the White Sox catch some lightening in a bottle while they sort through their injuries. Odds are they make a trade or two in the coming weeks. Orioles prospect infielder Jahmai Jones is another worthy stash if the team decides to go another direction with Freddy Galvis on the injured list.
Oscar Mercado OF, Indians (Yahoo: 0 percent rostered)
The Indians called up Mercado after Josh Naylor went down with his ankle fracture, which isn't the most exciting situation from a fantasy perspective, but that's the way the club will go for now instead of moving Amed Rosario back out there and calling up Andres Gimenez. Mercado wasn't lighting it up in Triple-A, but his contact rate is solid and there's still some pop and speed to his game. Maybe it works as a stopgap. I could also recommend Royals outfielder Edward Olivares for the third straight week on the chance that they actually keep him up in the majors this time.
Bailey Falter RP, Phillies (Yahoo: 0 percent rostered)
The Phillies' bullpen has been a mess of late, but don't blame Falter, who has been lights out since his call-up in mid-June. The 24-year-old left-hander allowed just two runs with a 13/1 K/BB ratio over 11 innings. He's pitched at least three innings in three out of his four appearances, but the Phillies seem set in keeping him in the bullpen for now. His long stride helps add perceived oomph to his fastball and he's getting a bunch of swings and misses on his slider. He's interesting and needs to be rostered in more leagues.
Seth Beer OF, Diamondbacks (Yahoo: 1 percent rostered)
Ketel Marte and Kole Calhoun are hurt and the Diamondbacks traded Tim Locastro to the Yankees on Thursday, so it sure looks like there's going to be opportunity in their outfield in the coming weeks. That's worth noting as Beer swings the bat well in Triple-A, with a good approach and power from the left side. As bad as Arizona is, they need to give priority to their young players as they look toward their future.