Fantasy Baseball Pickups: Adbert Alzolay is breaking out
The injuries, they just won't stop. No one is safe. The past week has been particularly brutal for pitchers, so let's offer a few useful starters at the top of this week's recommended pickups...
Adbert Alzolay, RHP, Chicago Cubs (42 percent rostered)
Alzolay has earned wins in three of his last four starts and he's up to 58 strikeouts on the season in 54.2 innings. His fantasy ratios have been a gift (3.62 ERA, 0.91 WHIP) and he pretty much always passes the eye test...
Adbert Alzolay, 95mph Two Seamer and 89mph Slider, Overlay (pronounced over-lie). pic.twitter.com/ByXMPfvnTi
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 2, 2021
His walk-rate has come down dramatically compared to prior seasons while the Ks have remained steady. That put-away slider is pure evil.
It appears that Alzolay is finally beginning to stick to fantasy rosters after spending the opening months as a stream-and-release guy, so, if you want to make a full-season commitment, you'll probably need to do it today.
Elieser Hernandez, RHP, Miami Marlins (40 percent)
Hernandez returns from the injured list on Thursday for a friendly start against the Pirates. A biceps issue sidelined him for the past two months, but he successfully navigated three rehab appearances at Jacksonville, striking out 17 batters and walking three in 12.1 frames. (He was knocked around a bit by Wander Franco and the Durham Bulls in his last start, but that's a common occurrence so far this year. No great shame in it.) Over the past three seasons, Hernandez has struck out 122 batters over 110.1 major league innings, producing a 1.18 WHIP for Miami. He isn't necessarily a guy you can trust without regard to his opponent, but he can help more often than not. Any start against the Bucs is clearly appealing.
We should also note that Hernandez's arsenal includes one of the quirkiest and most difficult to classify pitches in baseball, so he's a fun/odd watch. Add if you're chasing Ks.
Cole Sulser, RP, Baltimore Orioles (3 percent)
Allow me to remind you that A) every MLB squad generates save opportunities, even the bad teams, and B) all closers need to be rostered in deep, competitive leagues. You don't have to fully trust Sulser — he's 31 and was kind of a mess last season, pitching through a foot injury — but he earned the most recent save for the O's. (Cesar Valdez never seemed like a great bet to stick at closer.) Sulser has struck out 32 hitters and allowed only four runs over 20.2 innings so far while delivering a respectable 1.02 WHIP. He and Paul Fry have been by far the best options in Baltimore's bullpen to this point; those two could perhaps share the ninth moving forward.
Kolten Wong, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers (34 rostered)
Wong has gone 8-for-21 over his last six games with a pair of homers, two steals, five runs scored and five RBIs. He's batting .283 on the season, which is basically like hitting .360 in a normal year. (You might want to double-check my math there, but I'm pretty sure I nailed it.) Wong occupies the lead-off spot for the Brewers and seems likely to score 90-or-so runs this season while stealing 20 bags and producing double-digit homers. To me, that sounds like a second baseman worth rostering. It's not as if the position has produced an embarrassment of fantasy riches.
Hunter Renfroe, OF, Boston Red Sox (20 percent)
Renfroe may have started painfully slow this season, but he's binged over the past week. In his last six games, he's gone 11-for-20 with eight runs scored, six doubles, two homers and four RBIs. That'll do. When Renfroe hits 'em, he leaves little doubt...
Absolute Monster HR.
— Red Sox (@RedSox) May 27, 2021
He's now up to seven bombs on the year, so another 30-homer season is definitely in play. With JDM, Bogaerts and Devers batting ahead of him, he'll have plenty of baserunners to drive in. Add wherever you need a boost in the power categories.
Willians Astudillo, C/1B/3B, Minnesota Twins (10 percent)
Minnesota's roster has been hit by a plague of injuries, the latest of which will lead to a protracted absence for Mitch Garver following groin surgery. Astudillo should have no trouble finding at-bats in the near term. He's an odd hitter by current standards, as he basically never walks and never strikes out. He's simply a contact machine, a career .290 hitter in the majors with an OBP of just .311. It's the catcher-eligibility that makes him a player of interest for fantasy purposes. He can at least provide modest power and batting average while playing every day.