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The Wire Troll: Isiah Kiner-Falefa Deserves Fantasy Attention

August 1, 2020 | By RotoRob | comment on this post
Isiah Kiner-Falefa qualifies at multiple positions for the Texas Rangers.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa is just a singles hitter, but speed and catcher eligibility are nice allures. (Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News)

Welcome back to another week of Fantasy baseball. Well, the Marlins’ fiasco aside (and now the Cardinals), it’s been fairly smooth sailing for baseball so far. Continue to work the wire for early-season help.

This week, Mike Trout left the Angels to be with his expecting wife; MLB has instituted new rules around electronic sign stealing; and given the number of double-headers coming soon, MLB has opted to reduce them to seven-inning affairs, which will have an impact on Fantasy owners.

And now let’s get to this week’s Fantasy baseball waiver wire recommendations…

Isiah Kiner-Falefa, C/3B, Texa Rangers (ESPN: 11.8 per cent; CBS: 32 per cent): In late-August 2018, we recommended Kiner-Falefa, especially as a DFS play against southpaws. It wasn’t our best call as he didn’t see as much PT in September, a trend that continued last year. Early on this season, however, Kiner-Falefa again looks like a decent pickup, especially given his catcher qualification. He’s already showing more extra-base sock and has beefed up his BA to the point it won’t hurt you. But it’s the speed potential at catcher that is really enticing (on Wednesday, he had a hit, a walk, two runs and a pair of thefts). Clearly, the hamstring issue Kiner-Falefa had earlier in the week is a non-issue. This is a dude that deserves some Fantasy attention; he flew under the radar as a prospect mostly because he looked like a utility man in the making, but his batting eye, multi-positional eligibility and speed are very intriguing. And hey, Kiner-Falefa will always have a place in Ranger history after hitting the first triple at their new ballpark on Opening Day (see video below).

Quick Hits

  • There was a lot of concern about Salvador Perez‘s ability to bounce back this season after missing all of 2019, and while he’s hardly hitting the cover off the ball, the power and productivity (two homers and four RBI through seven games) has been sweet. The BA is a concern (especially after he slipped in this regard in 2018), but his pop is an asset.
  • New Padre Tommy Pham had been a bit quiet recently, but he came through big time on Thursday, delivering the go-ahead single in the 10th inning to cap a 3-for-5 performance that included a double, two runs and two ribbies. He stayed relatively healthy last year, and San Diego is counting on him remaining in the lineup again this season as his ability to get on base is much needed.
  • On Thursday, Miguel Cabrera had two hits to double his production over the first seven games, but they were both dingers, including a first-inning shot against Royal rookie sensation Brady Singer. Miggy now has three bombs among his four hits, and if he stays healthy this season, he could put up his highest ISO in quite some time.
  • Coming off a productive rookie season, Giants outfielder Mike Yastrzemski is looking like a breakout star early on. On Thursday, he laced an RBI triple as part of a two-hit, two-walk, three-run game. That’s three straight multi-hit efforts and four over the last five. If Yaz the Young had a bit more speed, he’d be a Fantasy stud.
  • After getting smoked by him last Saturday, Detroit bounced back and stuck it to Reds ace Luis Castillo on Friday. He suffered his first loss, giving up five runs over six frames, while whiffing a half dozen and walking one. After a breakout 15-win campaign in 2019, Castillo is winless through his first pair of starts, with a career-worst 4.50 ERA so far.
  • The Fantasy baseball world was shocked when Juan Soto tested positive for Covid-19 just before Opening Day, but his owners must be thrilled with news he’s been cleared to work out on Saturday. He’s scheduled to be cleared after he spends 10 days in isolation.
  • The Yankee bullpen has taken a hit with the loss of Tommy Kahnle. He experienced the ever-dreaded forearm tightness on Tuesday and had an MRI on Friday. He’s landed on the 10-day IL with a right ulnar collateral ligament injury. Uh oh. It sounds like Tommy John surgery is a fait accompli here. Kahnle made great strides with his control last year; who knows how long it will take him to get that back now.
  • On Friday, Detroit starter Spencer Turnbull addressed the wildness he showed in his season debut, tossing six innings of three-hit ball for his first win of the season. He flashed some promise in his first full season in the rotation last year, and early on he’s looking like a potential breakout performer.
  • Ross Stripling wasn’t nearly as dynamic Thursday as he was in his season debut but man, what an impressive start he’s off to. After seeing his rotation chances dwindle last year, he looks like a fixture now despite his command not being quite as dominant as usual.
  • Mark Melancon — a Wire Troll All-Star last year — is clearly feeling better after missing some time with a bad back last week. He notched a pair of saves against the Rays and is now a perfect 13-for-13 in save chances for Atlanta since being acquired last year. Despite the talk Will Smith (Covid-19) is nearing a return, we’d say Melancon has bought himself some rope as the Atlanta closer.
  • Adam Engel‘s three-run jack on Friday accounted for all the offense for Chicago as he has now recorded extra-base hits in back-to-back games. After showing improvements as a hitter last year — despite seeing less action — he’s making a case for more PT in the early going in 2020 with some impressive pop (four extra base hits in 15 at-bats).
  • After recording three hits in his first two games as a D-Back, Kole Calhoun headed into action Friday in an 0-for-17 skid over the last five. On Friday, he did make this catch, so there’s that, but after enjoying a power breakout and a career best walk rate last year, Calhoun has just one extra-base knock through his first seven games with Arizona.

RotoRob Tune of the Day

Pianist Ludwig van Beethoven died in 1827, but not before changing the world of music. From the 1992 release, The Best of Beethoven comes “Romance No. 2 in F Major,” originally written in 1798, but not published until 1805.

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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