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The Wire Troll: Whit Merrifield an Unlikely Hero for Royals

May 29, 2016 | By JB Branson | comment on this post
Whit Merrifield has been productive for the Kansas City Royals.
Whit Merrifield has taken advantage of injuries in KC. (

Welcome back to The Wire Troll for Week Nine, as we discuss waiver wire recommendations for your season-long Fantasy baseball teams.

Week Eight brought us some sad vibes, like Jackie Bradley Jr.’s hitting streak finally coming to an end; Joey Gallo being optioned back to Triple-A (after getting one whole at-bat); and the Royals losing yet another starter. But last week also brought us our first glimpse of top prospect Julio Urias, Yu Darvish’s first appearance since Tommy John surgery, and Diamondback slugger Peter O’Brien’s promotion to the big leagues. This baseball thing is quite the emotional roller coaster. Now let’s dive in and offer you a half dozen players that are likely sitting on your league’s waiver wire that can help boost your Fantasy lineups from here on out.

Whit Merrifield, 2B/OF, Kansas City Royals (ESPN: 1.3 per cent; CBS: 3 per cent): Injuries to Alex Gordon, Mike Moustakas and Kendrys Morales have created gaping holes in the Royals offense. Merrifield is currently serving as the patch for one of those holes and showing nice hitting mechanics with a sweet line-drive stroke (see video below). In eight games since his recall, the 27-year-old rookie is hitting a cool .400 with four doubles. For five of those games, Merrifield has hit from the two hole in the batting order, which has helped him pile up six runs. While he has very little power, this utility man can flat out fly. Merrifield stole 36 bases at Triple- last season, and was already up to 16 this year prior to his promotion. The position versatility, plus speed, and run scoring opportunities make him a must add in deep league formats, and someone to certainly keep an eye on in standard leagues.

Paulo Orlando, OF, Kansas City Royals (ESPN: 6.9 per cent; CBS: 7 per cent): The second Royal currently keeping the offense’s heart beating is Orlando. The second year flyhawk is hitting a ridiculous .486 over the last two weeks, along with five extra-base hits and nine RBI. Over the week, Kansas City has scored the fourth most runs in the league compared to ranking 26th for the season — certainly not a trend you would expect with three starters out. Like Merrifield, Orlando is a must add in deep league formats, and even worth a pickup in standard leagues as long as he is on this impressive tear. If Orlando cools off, he could still warrant a roster spot in leagues that allow daily roster moves, as he is always a great start when facing southpaws (he’s a career .303 hitter against LHP).

Brandon Guyer, OF, Tampa Bay Rays (ESPN: 14.6 per cent ; CBS: 22 per cent): One last hitter benefiting from increased playing time thanks to an injured teammate, Guyer has flourished this season for the Rays, and looks to capitalize on every day at bats after Kevin Kiermaier fractured two bones in his hand. Through 34 games, Guyer is enjoying a .305/.403/.945 slash, scoring 21 runs, helped by hitting out of the leadoff slot for 13 games. For as long as Kiermaier is on the shelf, Guyer can provide steady Fantasy value in all formats.

Junior Guerra, SP, Milwaukee Brewers (ESPN: 18.1 per cent; CBS: 42 per cent): At the tender age of 31, Guerra only had four big league innings to his name heading into 2016. After five starts this season, he is a perfect 3-0, with a 3.30 ERA and 30 Ks in 30 IP. Last year Guerra posted an 11.17 K/9 with a 3.39 ERA at Triple-A in the White Sox organization, so this success isn’t completely out of the norm. According to PITCHf/x, the right-hander possesses a four pitch arsenal, highlighted by a splitter that has been his most successful offering this year. Among the 16 starting pitchers that throw a splitter and have at least 30 IP this season, Guerra’s owns the fourth highest value out of the pitch. Given his strikeout potential, and the fact he pitches in the National League, he can be added in all formats if your teams are as desperate for pitching as mine are.

Nick Tropeano, SP, Los Angeles Angels (ESPN: 20.6 per cent; CBS: 40 per cent): A fifth round pick from 2011, Tropeano pitched well in his brief appearance for the Angels last season. So far in 2016, he has shown that it was no fluke. Aside from a five run dud against the Brewers, he has held all opponents to three runs or less. Better yet, Tropeano has really shown growth in his last two outings, allowing only one run and fanning 10 in 13 2/3 IP. The most important stat from these outings is the three walks issued, which is a great sign considering his 4.11 BB/9 for the year. The strikeouts are no problem for the 25-year-old, as his 12.6 SwStr percentage places him in the top 10 in the league among qualified starters.

Will Smith, RP, Milwaukee Brewers (ESPN: 6.1 per cent; CBS: 16 per cent): After missing nearly the first two months of the season because of a torn ligament in his knee, Smith is now finally close to rejoining the Brewers. He is expected to be ready later this week, likely by the time the Brewers play the Phillies starting Thursday. The southpaw reliever has looked great in his minor league rehab games, throwing three scoreless innings with four strikeouts. In 2015, Smith owned an impressive 2.70 ERA and 12.49 K/9 in 63 1/3 IP, and was the lead candidate to fill the vacant closer position heading into this season. Jeremy Jeffress has done an admirable job as the ninth inning man during Smith’s absence, so there will probably be no rush to change things up. But that doesn’t mean that Smith won’t be seeing save opportunities when Jeffress is unavailable or the situation is better suited for a LHP. Regardless of saves, you can now go grab 2015’s sixth best strikeout relief man for free on the waiver wire.

Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below who your favourite Fantasy baseball waiver wire pick of the week is.

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