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The Wire Troll: Will Benson Cementing His Role for Reds

August 5, 2023 | By RotoRob | comment on this post
Will Benson has played his way into an everyday role for the Cincinnati Reds.
Will Benson’s emergence has flown under the radar. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Welcome back to another week of Fantasy baseball. We’re now over two-thirds of the way through the season, so you better put your foot to the metal and avail of that waiver wire.

This week, Sonny Gray continued to be inconsistent, but on Thursday, we saw the best of him; Shohei Ohtani had to exit his start early, yet stayed in as a hitter and smoked his 40th dinger; and the Atlanta Braves — the current World Series favourite as per FanDuel sportsbook — keep on rolling, moving 12.5 games up on second place Philadelphia.

And now, let’s get to this week’s…

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Picks

Will Benson, OF, Cincinnati Reds (ESPN: 5.1 per cent; CBS: 35 per cent): Benson flashed major power early in his minor leaguer career, but he’s been inconsistent in that regard over the last few years. However, what the rookie is doing now since moving into a full-time role in Cincy has been very impressive, and has flown under the radar to an extent given how many hyped freshmen the Reds have boasted this season. Benson slumped a bit towards the end of July, but seems back on track with hits in three of the last four before Friday, including two multi-hit efforts. Really, he’s been cooling since June, but his early pace did seem unsustainable, and even so, if you need runs and power, he’s a great add. Benson’s poor contact skills likely make his current BA tough to maintain, but he’s a very good athlete who could duplicate Jason Heyward‘s prime in time.

Dallas Keuchel, SP, Minnesota Twins (ESPN: 0.4 per cent; CBS: 1 per cent): Keuchel flamed out with three teams last year — Chicago, Arizona and Texas — but is going to get yet another crack at the bigs with Joe Ryan (groin) going on the IL. Keuchel is a former Cy Young winner, so don’t you dare ignore him, but we always worry about soft-tossing lefties when their control breaks down. Still, he looked great at Triple-A (IL Pitcher of the Month in July), so is worth considering — even if his results fell off a cliff after 2020.

Ryan Jeffers, C, Minnesota Twins (ESPN: 0.4 per cent; CBS: 3 per cent): After cranking a two-run jack on Thursday, the relatively unknown Jeffers now has a 10-game hitting streak (in games in which he’s started) and a whopping 1144 OPS over his last eight games. Minnesota has noticed, and has begun to give him a few more starts over No. 1 catcher Christian Vazquez. Jeffers got on base at a .455 clip in July and has done a great job in this regard all season (.385) while experiencing a bounce back in power as part of a career year. A second round pick by the Twins in 2018, he could be a sneaky AL-only league option and is making a play to be considered for a bigger role next year, even if Vazquez has two more years left on his deal.

Gregory Santos, RP, Chicago White Sox (ESPN: 2 per cent; CBS: 23 per cent): Liam Hendriks needs TJS, leaving the door open for Santos to take over the closer for the Pale Hose. Another dude that’s been off the Fantasy radar, Santos has had a couple of rough outings recently, but his bottom line results remained strong in July. Having finally broken through as a full-time big leaguer this season, he’s been enjoying a stellar rookie effort, going undefeated with a sweet ERA a nice sprinkling of holds (and now saves). Santos has been traded twice in his career (Boston to San Francisco to the White Sox), but seems to have finally found a home. Grab him if you need saves.

Paul Skenes, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates (ESPN: 1 per cent; CBS: 10 per cent): Skenes, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, recently got a whopping $9.2 million signing bonus — a new record. But damn… if anyone is worth it, it’s this kid. The 6’6″ righty out of LSU is the best pitching prospect since Stephen Strasburg, and while he’ll be limited to the FCL for now, there’s talk that Skenes is so advanced that he could easily be part of the Pirates’ rotation as soon as next year. It’s likely Skenes is already spoken for in most dynasty leagues, but he clearly has value as a keeper for 2024.

Quick Hits

  • Bobby Miller, who checked in just inside the top 50 of our Top 100 Prospects list this spring, looked untouchable over his first four starts, but has had his share of issues since mid-June. Still, the kid has proved he can win in the bigs while generally enjoying solid hit rates as a rookie.
  • J.T. Realmuto showed no ill effects from his bruised hand when he returned to action on Thursday, going yard and adding a single. It had been nearly a month since his last multi-hit game, yet his .240 BA in July represented his highest mark since April. Not surprisingly, Realmuto’s counting cats have dipped this season in the wake of his career year in 2022.
  • With Josh Bell dealt away and Josh Naylor landing on the IL, suddenly catcher David Fry is the starting 1B in Cleveland. However, it seems the more Fry plays, the more he’s exposed, so even with the extra PT, we can’t recommend him.

RotoRob Tune of the Day

Musical group the Bee Gees got their start in 1958, and through four total stints, remained active until 2012. In 1979, they released their 15th album, Spirits Having Flown, and the first single was “Too Much Heaven.”

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