Slammin' Santana

·10 min read



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At this point in the fantasy season, particularly if you're in a roto league, now is the time when you start to develop some tunnel vision with your needs. Frankly, you could make the argument that that's what should've been your focus weeks ago.

In some cases, perhaps you're right. But this is the time I've chosen to shift the format of Waiver Wired, and it's my column and not yours, dammit.

Hopefully, you're still fighting for money and/or bragging rights in your league and this is relevant to you. If not, my condolences.

Editor's note: Stats are through 9/20

MIXED LEAGUE PICKUPS

Power: Luke Voit, Carlos Santana, Trayce Thompson, Kyle Farmer, Lane Thomas, Jordan Díaz, Gavin Sheets

Santana's home runs tend to come in bunches, and he's bunched together seven over his last 10 games. The veteran switch-hitter has hit 15 long balls in 65 games since arriving with the Mariners via trade. He's hitting just .188 for the M's because nearly 40 percent of his hits have been dingers, but if power is what you need, Santana is on a heater.

Thomas made it onto some preseason sleeper lists after a strong close to last season with the Nationals. Well, he's doing it again this year, sporting a .301/.368/.520 batting line with six home runs and three stolen bases over his last 30 contests. Every one of his starts this month has been in the leadoff spot.

The A's brought Diaz up last weekend for his major league debut following a terrific showing between Double- and Triple-A this season which saw him post a .326/.366/.515 batting line with 19 homers. The 22-year-old is one of the team's better hitting prospects and RingCentral Coliseum has actually played pretty hitter-friendly of late.

Sheets has slowed down so far in September following a huge August in which he put up a 1.017 OPS with four long balls across 69 plate appearances. It's been an uneven season on the whole for the 26-year-old, but he's popped 24 bombs in 490 career plate appearances against right-handed pitching, so feel free to lock and load him with the White Sox are slated to face a bunch of righties.

Speed: Ke'Bryan Hayes, Dylan Moore, Livan Soto, Sam Haggerty, Mark Mathias, Alex Call, Michael Massey

It feels a little weird putting Hayes under the speed section here. He was supposed to be a well-rounded hitter who contributed in the steals category at a position which usually doesn't have a lot of it. Unfortunately, he's been something of a one-trick pony the last two seasons, offering a decent number of steals and not much else.

Moore has been a pretty prolific base stealer since entering the league, particularly over the last two seasons having stolen 37 bags across 594 plate appearances. Eugenio Suárez (finger) is out and Julio Rodriguez (back) has also been banged up lately, which could help Moore find his way into the lineup more often.

Moore's teammate and fellow utility player Haggerty is similarly adept on the basepaths. He's stolen 12 bases while being caught just once with the Mariners this season and, between his time in Seattle and in the minors in 2022, has gone 27-for-29 on stolen base attempts. Haggerty ranks in the 90th percentile in terms of sprint speed.

Massey has taken over as the Royals' regular shortstop since his promotion back in early August, pushing Nicky Lopez to a utility role. The former fourth-round pick has held his own at the plate with a .723 OPS and two homers while going 3-for-3 on stolen base attempts. He also has another 16 homers and 13 steals this year between Double- and Triple-A.

Multi-position eligible guys: Moore, Charles Leblanc, Josh Smith, Matt Vierling, Zach McKinstry, Luis Guillorme

No, he's not Daniel Craig's character in “Knives Out,” rather, Leblanc is an infielder for the Marlins who has been pretty productive since getting his first big league promotion back in late July. The 26-year-old has put up a .785 OPS with four homers and four steals in 134 plate appearances for the Fish while seeing starts at second, third and first base.

Coming off a five-hit game Wednesday, Vierling is seeing starts in center field against left-handers and has been playing right field quite a bit since Nick Castellanos (oblique) went down. The bottom-line offensive numbers haven't been great for the 26-year-old, but he's shown skills with an exit velocity in the 84th percentile and sprint speed in the 97th percentile. His xBA (.276) is 29 points higher than his actual average (.247).

McKinstry really struggled initially with his new team after the Cubs picked him up from the Dodgers via trade back in late July. He's perked up of late, though, going 11-for-34 with a couple home runs over his last nine games. McKinstry has 10 long balls in 252 career plate appearances versus right-handers and he's hit leadoff regularly against righties this month.

Guillorme rejoined the Mets last week after missing a month of action with a strained groin. He's not going to provide much in the way of counting stats, but Guillorme is a pretty reliable batting average source and he's got eligibility at three different spots.

Saves: David Bednar, Dylan Floro, Jhoan Duran, Reyes Moronta, Domingo Acevedo

Chances are Bednar is being stashed in an injured list spot in your league, but double-check because he's available in about a quarter of Yahoo leagues. Bednar has been on the shelf since late July with a back ailment but is poised to return after a short rehab assignment. He was scuffling a bit before going on the IL, perhaps due to the injury, but when healthy Bednar has been one of the best relievers in baseball.

Floro seems to have usurped Tanner Scott as the Marlins' closer of choice. The 31-year-old has mostly pitched well since a slow start preceded by a shoulder injury, posting a 2.54 ERA and 32/7 K/BB ratio over 28 1/3 innings since the beginning of July. Floro did a fine job as the Marlins' closer in the second half of last season.

I don't know if Moronta will get the Diamondbacks' next save chance, but I know that Ian Kennedy has been scored upon in each of his last five appearances, allowing a whopping 11 runs over that stretch. I can't imagine the next save opportunity will go to him. Moronta got the last one on Tuesday and converted. He's posted a 2.79 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 8/3 K/BB ratio over 9 2/3 frames since landing in Arizona.

The A's have had four different relievers collect a save since Lou Trivino was traded at the deadline. Acevedo has picked up each of the last three, though, seemingly rising to the top of the closer heap in Oakland. The big right-hander doesn't get as many strikeouts as you'd like, but he's had a nice season with a 3.39 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 54/16 K/BB ratio over 63 2/3 frames.

Non-closer relievers: Evan Phillips, Trevor Stephan, Cionel Perez, Andrew Bellatti, Reynaldo Lopez, Alex Vesia

If the Dodgers see something in an unheralded reliever, we should be paying attention. Phillips is a 28-year-old who had a career 6.68 ERA and 45 walks over 67 1/3 innings coming into 2022. This year he's gone out and posted a 1.26 ERA, 0.75 WHIP and 66/14 K/BB ratio across 57 1/3 frames, picking up a couple saves in the process.

Stephan was a so-so starting pitching prospect in the Yankees organization when the Guardians plucked him in the Rule 5 Draft before the 2021 season. Cleveland immediately put him in the bullpen and after he showed flashes that year, Stephan has broken out in 2022 with a 2.75 ERA and 75/14 K/BB ratio over 59 innings.

Bellatti first appeared in the majors in 2015 and not again until 2021. He's now broken out in 2022 as a 31-year-old with the Phillies, holding a 3.31 and 72/22 K/BB ratio over 49 innings. Among the 386 pitchers with at least 40 innings under their belt, Bellatti ranks 13th in baseball with a 35 percent strikeout rate.

Lopez had surgery on both eyes over the offseason to correct blurred vision and has made a permanent move to the bullpen this year. He's been tremendous, posting a 2.83 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 60/11 K/BB ratio over 60 1/3 frames. Lopez isn't going to be getting saves with Liam Hendriks around, but he'd make a fine ratio stabilizer down the stretch.

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WEEKEND WARRIORS

Friday:

Marco Gonzales at KC

Some home run issues this month have pushed his ERA up a little, but Gonzales holds a 3.73 ERA and 0.93 WHIP over his last five starts. This weekend he gets to face a Royals team which ranks 23rd in baseball with a wRC+ of 92. Gonzales isn't going to get you strikeouts, but he's a good bet to pitch deep into a game and have a shot at a win.

Cody Morris at TEX

Morris missed a large chunk of this season with a shoulder issue, but he's been impressive when healthy. He's put up a 2.35 ERA and 30/3 K/BB ratio over 15 1/3 innings at Triple-A Columbus and a 2.30 ERA and 15/9 K/BB ratio across 15 2/3 frames with the Guardians. That's after he fanned 93 over 61 innings in the minors last season. Morris got stretched out to six innings his last time out and in his next start faces a Rangers club which ranks 22nd versus righties with a wRC+ of 94.

Saturday:

Alex Cobb at ARI

Cobb dealt with some injuries early in the season as he often has in his career. However, he's taken all of his turns since coming back from the injured list in late June and boasts a 2.60 ERA and 89/28 K/BB ratio over 97 innings covering 17 starts during that span. The Diamondbacks are 22nd in baseball with a wRC+ of 93.

Bailey Falter vs. ATL

In six starts since re-entering the Phillies' rotation, Falter has posted a 2.36 ERA, 0.90 WHIP and 25/4 K/BB ratio over 34 1/3 innings. The rookie left-hander has pitched so well that the Phillies have elected to keep him in the rotation and send Noah Syndergaard to the bullpen with Zack Wheeler's return. The Braves are a tough matchup, but Falter has been on a roll of late.

Sunday:

Adrian Sampson at PIT

Sampson is a 30-year-old journeyman who has put together a nice season for the Cubs, posting a 3.35 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 62/24 K/BB ratio over 88 2/3 innings. He tossed six innings of one-run ball against the Marlins his last time out and has permitted a total of just two runs across his last three outings. Sampson gets by more on inducing soft contact rather than strikeouts, and he'll have a juicy matchup this weekend in Pittsburgh.

Luis Ortiz vs. CHC

Yes, we're going with pitchers opposing each other for the Sunday section. The flame-throwing Ortiz has impressed in his first two major league starts, yielding just two runs – one earned – over 10 2/3 innings while posting a 10/5 K/BB ratio along the way. Ortiz boasts a fastball which reaches triple digits and a slider which has induced whiffs at a 50 percent rate thus far.