Hays Ablaze

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The baseball season is all about routine, which is why this time of year starts to feel strange as a fantasy writer. Your typical waiver wire advice column becomes more and more difficult to pull off, as it’s more about playing for today as opposed to showing patience with a struggling player or stashing an injured player. That’s why the approach with this column will change for the remainder of the regular season.

This will be final Waiver Wired column in its standard form, with write-ups for each recommendation. Moving forward, we’ll focus on category need, multi-position eligible players of note, as well as starting pitcher matchup plays to exploit. With the football season about to get underway, I appreciate those of you who are hanging tight with your fantasy baseball squads. And if you are still reading this, that probably means you still have a chance to win. Let’s try to finish the job together.

Have specific questions about your roster? Ask @djshort on Twitter.

MIXED LEAGUES

(Players rostered in under 50 percent of Yahoo leagues)

Note: Percentages are from the morning of Thursday, September 9th

Jeimer Candelario 1B/3B, Tigers (Yahoo: 35 percent rostered)

Candelario has been a popular pickup after homering in back-to-back games last week, but the truth is that he’s been a respectable corner-infielder option for quite some time now. Dating back to the start of July, he’s slashing .293/.369/.529 with eight homers, 35 RBI, and 38 runs scored over 60 games. While he’s not an elite source of power, he actually leads the majors with 39 doubles. He’s improved his contact rate this year and has hit the ball harder during this prolonged stretch, so there’s a lot to like. He could be even more interesting if the Tigers make some free agent additions this winter.

Eric Lauer SP, Brewers (Yahoo: 27 percent rostered)

It’s never too early to start thinking ahead to next week, which is why it’s time to pick up Lauer right away. Part of the Brewers’ six-man rotation, Lauer fired seven scoreless innings against the Phillies on Tuesday night and seven innings of one-run ball against the Giants in his previous outing. He’s back on the trust train after a stint on the COVID-19 injured list in August. The southpaw actually holds a 1.85 ERA over 10 starts and one relief appearance dating back to late June. He has a good chance to keep it going with a favorable matchup against the Tigers next week.

Alejandro Kirk C, Blue Jays (Yahoo: 13 percent rostered)

Sort of like with Daulton Varsho with the Diamondbacks, Kirk was one of the most hyped young fantasy catcher options this spring. It has taken a while for that hype to pay off in both cases. Still, better late than never. Kirk has been on fire recently with a pair of three-hit games, including three homers and five RBI. He’s now slashing .303/.360/.517 over 100 plate appearances since returning from the injured list in late July. With George Springer banged up, the Blue Jays should have the ability to fit Kirk into the lineup almost daily down the stretch.

Joe Ryan SP, Twins (Yahoo: 17 percent rostered)

Ryan is making this one really easy. The 25-year-old carried a perfect game into the seventh inning in his second career start Wednesday against the Indians. He struck out four and walked none while throwing 61 out of 85 pitches for strikes. It’s worth noting that he only racked up seven swinging strikes, which underscores the lack of overpowering stuff. Ryan averaged 92.1 mph on his fastball Wednesday night, but what makes him so effective is the deception involved in his delivery as well as his excellent command. He had a 3.41 ERA with 92 strikeouts and just 12 walks in 66 innings this season between the Rays’ and Twins’ Triple-A affiliates this year and it doesn’t appear that he has any workload concerns. In a vacuum, I’m not sold on him being a set-it-and-forget-it pitcher in fantasy leagues, but his upcoming schedule includes the Indians, Cubs, and Tigers. You have to jump on that.

Austin Hays OF, Orioles (Yahoo: 18 percent rostered)

Hays is saving his best production for the stretch run. That’s the sort of things fantasy mangers will remember going into next season. The 26-year-old is currently riding a 15-games hitting streak during which he’s slashing .357/.390/.643 with nine extra-base hits (including three homers), 13 RBI, and 11 runs scored. He boosted his OPS from .688 to .737 along the way. He loves the home cooking this season, posting an .823 OPS at Camden Yards compared to a .665 OPS on the road, so this is a good time to get on board with the Orioles in the middle of a long homestead. Including Thursday, they have eight straight games at home. Hays is hitting the ball harder than ever and has a regular spot in the middle of the O’s lineup. Ride that hot hand.

Andrew Chafin RP, Athletics (Yahoo: 18 percent rostered)
Sergio Romo RP, Athletics (Yahoo: 4 percent rostered)

With Lou Trivino allowed 13 runs in 3 2/3 innings over his last five appearances, the A’s closer job is wide open. The right-handed Romo has notched two saves over the past two weeks while the left-handed Chafin has one during that time. Normally you’d speculate that Romo would have the edge because of handedness, but Chafin has been awesome against right-handed batters and left-handed batters alike this season. If you want to protect ratios and have a chance to pick up saves, Chafin should be your guy, but both are decent speculative plays at the moment.

Andres Gimenez 2B/3B/SS, Indians (Yahoo: 19 percent rostered)

Gimenez has hit just .239 with a .619 OPS in 22 games since returning from the minors about a month ago, but he’s 6-for-6 in stolen bases during that time, which makes him 18-for-19 through 99 major league games. He’s also hit safely in five out of his six starts this month, even getting a chance out of the leadoff spot on Wednesday. The speed is the main draw here, but the multi-position eligibility certainly increases his relevance in deeper mixed formats as plug-and-play bench depth.

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Deeper Dandies:

(Players rostered in under 10 percent of Yahoo leagues)

Corey Dickerson OF, Blue Jays (Yahoo: 3 percent rostered)

One thing I’m keeping an eye on right now is matchups for hitters. And you couldn’t ask for much better than a series against the Orioles this weekend. Dickerson hasn’t posted flashy numbers since coming over from the Marlins, but his .277/.310/.470 batting line is perfectly competent. With George Springer banged up, Dickerson has started four straight games in center field, including the last two out of the leadoff spot. Don’t be surprised if he does something useful this weekend.

Steven Duggar OF, Giants (Yahoo: 2 percent rostered)

Ditto for Duggar, who has a series against the Cubs coming up this weekend. Duggar has hit safely in four straight games since returning to the majors and holds an impressive .275/.342/.466 batting line with seven homers and six steals over 87 games. He didn’t really deserve to be in the minors in the first place, but he was the victim of a roster crunch. That’s not an issue right now as Austin Slater recovers from a concussion suffered during a collision with the outfield wall on Saturday. Duggar has legitimately looked like a different hitter this year in terms of quality of contact and putting the ball in the air more often. With the speed he offers, he could be a sneaky short-term play.

Weekend Warriors

Friday:

Daniel Lynch at Twins

Adrian Houser at Indians

With Lynch, this all comes down to whether you are willing to trust him after he was knocked around for six runs in 2 2/3 innings against the White Sox last time out. Still, he had a 2.23 ERA over seven starts prior to that after returning from the minors. It’s at least worth considering depending on where you are. Houser is an easier call against the weak Cleveland offense. The 28-year-old is coming off a complete game shutout against the Cardinals last time out and has generally been quite stingy when called upon even if the peripherals don’t really back it up.

Saturday:

Brady Singer at Twins

Elieser Hernandez at Braves

I’m picking on the Twins here, but they’ve been a decidedly mediocre offense during the second half. Singer had a rough return from the injured list last month, but he’s posted a brilliant 1.46 ERA in four starts since. This includes seven scoreless frames against that tough White Sox offense last time out. Hernandez has yet to work deep into games since returning from the injured list in mid-August, but he’s been respectable, allowing three earned runs or fewer in three out of his four starts. The home run ball is hurting him, so there’s risk involved, but he throws strikes and should at least keep the Marlins in the game.

Sunday:

Luis Patiño at Tigers

Bryse Wilson vs. Nationals

Tyler Gilbert at Mariners

A decent day for fliers here if you need to bridge the gap on Sunday. Patiño struggled against the Twins last time out, but he 3.41 ERA over his previous six starts. The matchup is promising and he certainly has the potential to bounce back. Wilson was a nice play as a streamer earlier this week, allowing three runs over six innings against the Tigers. He actually fired five scoreless frames before giving up three runs in the sixth, which cost him a chance at a win. He has a good chance to get there against the Nats. Gilbert has held his own since his no-hitter and gets another crack at a Mariners team who he pitched well against last time out.

AL ONLY

David Robertson RP, Rays (Yahoo: 0 percent rostered)

Andrew Kittredge has been great for the Rays this year and has six saves to his credit, but it’s hard to say he’s the team’s closer or if he’s best-utilized in that fashion. With that in mind, Robertson might be gaining traction as a saves option. Fresh off a stint with Team USA in the Olympics, the 36-year-old has allowed one run in four innings with an 8/2 K/BB ratio since his call-up last week. He has plenty of experience in the closer role, so don’t rule him out from getting some chances here.

Josh Lowe 3B, Rays (Yahoo: 6 percent rostered)

It’s unclear how long Lowe will stay in the majors with Randy Arozarena on the paternity leave list, but he’s worth grabbing in league-only formats on pedigree alone. Ranked as the No. 76 prospect in the game by MLB Pipeline, the 23-year-old showed off his speed in his major league debut with an infield single and a stolen base Wednesday against the Red Sox. But of course, he’s a lot more than that. Lowe slashed .282/.369/.540 with 21 home runs over 98 games this season in Triple-A. If anything, this is a fun sneak preview of a player who could be a mainstay on fantasy rosters for a long time.

NL ONLY

Lewin Diaz 1B, Marlins (Yahoo: 0 percent rostered)

RBI machine Jesus Aguilar was placed on the injured list with left knee inflammation, so we should get a good look at Diaz for the stretch run. The 24-year-old holds a brutal .132/.175/.276 batting line through his first 80 plate appearances in the majors, but he’s a well-regarded prospect and was swinging the bat well in Triple-A prior to the call-up this week. The at-bats have been sporadic in the past, but perhaps he can finally show what he can do with more steady playing time.

J.B. Wendelken RP, Diamondbacks (Yahoo: 0 percent rostered)

Tyler Clippard landed on the COVID-19 injured list earlier this week, leaving the door for the Diamondbacks’ closer job wide open. Does it really matter who Arizona’s closer is? That’s a profound question. They honestly don’t have an obvious alternative, but there’s certainly opportunity for a pitcher like Wendelken, who has enjoyed success in the past. Speculate as needed, but don’t go overboard.