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The Wire Troll: Ex-Yankee Hurlers Edition

March 15, 2024 | By RotoRob | comment on this post
Frankie Montas will start Opening Day for the Cincinnati Reds.
Frankie Montas seems relieved to have shed his pinstripes. (Yahoo Sports)

Welcome back to another season of Fantasy baseball. With the schedule technically starting next week, we’ve got an early batch of waiver wire picks for you, and will return when the campaign launches in earnest at the end of the month. This season, we’ve switched it up a bit, and will now recommend players owned in a maximum of 50 per cent of ESPN leagues and 55 per cent of CBS leagues.

This week, the San Francisco Giants — trying to end a streak of two straight declining seasons in which they averaged just 80 wins — suffered another blow when they lost out in the Dylan Cease sweepstakes; Corey Seager (sports hernia surgery), currently +1200 to win the AL MVP as per FanDuel, took some light swings but it’s still unclear when he’ll return to game action; and Brewer closer Devin Williams has a stress fracture in his back (see below for the Fantasy opportunity this presents).

And now, let’s get to the first batch of 2024…

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Picks

Frankie Montas, SP, Cincinnati Reds (ESPN: 3.3 per cent; CBS: 41 per cent): The last time we checked in on Montas he was suspended for PEDs, and it’s been a roller coaster ride since. He struggled in his return the following season, had a career year in 2021, and has gone downhill since — a process helped along by plenty of injuries. Montas is now in Cincy and has been pegged to be the Opening Day starter, a development which we can only imagine is making Yankee fans throw up in their mouths. That’s right… he went from pitching just 1 1/3 IP for New York last year in the wake of a shoulder injury to be the presumed ace of the Reds. Montas is having a tough spring so far (yet he’s more than taking it in stride — see video below), but the key takeaway is that he’s healthy, so the wins will come in time. He has a sturdy enough body that he should be able to log plenty of innings if he can avoid the IL.

Mike Tauchman, OF, Chicago Cubs (ESPN: 0.2 per cent; CBS: 2 per cent): Tauchman was a Wire Troll All-Star last season, and while he’ll be hard-pressed to duplicate his 2023 effort, there is a window for him as the starter vs. righties with Brennan Davis, Pete Crow-Armstrong and Kevin Alcantara all being sent down, and Cody Bellinger likely manning first base. Tauchman is by no means a great hitter, but he did a bit better in this regard while proving he can be a useful Fantasy asset last season. Don’t forget that run he had with the Yankees back in 2019; if he can come close to duplicating that, he’ll more than just a deep league asset.

Tyler Wells, SP, Baltimore Orioles (ESPN: 2.0 per cent; CBS: 25 per cent): Wells has looked very good this spring and has a great opportunity to earn a rotation spot with both Kyle Bradish and John Means hurting. Wells was used mostly as a starter last year, putting up a better ERA with a fantastic sub-1.00 WHIP, but he really struggled in the second half. Consider him an early-season sleeper.

Joel Payamps, RP, Milwaukee Brewers (ESPN: 3.9 per cent; CBS: 18 per cent): As alluded to in our intro Williams will be out for a while, so why not grab his primary setup man from a year ago? Payamps is coming off a career season in which he enjoyed a winning record and personal bests in ERA, WHIP, IP, Ks, holds and saves. Based on his batted ball results, Payamps is most similar to Danny Coulombe, who just enjoyed a career year himself. Trevor Megill and Abner Uribe will also be in the mix for saves in Milwaukee in what’s currently projected as a closer-by-committee situation, but we’re most bullish on Payamps.

Others to Consider

Luis Severino, SP, New York Mets (ESPN: 4.4 per cent; CBS: 50 per cent): Given that former Yankee Severino’s offerings that were in or around the plate were swung at more often than the average hurler’s pitches suggests he was not really fooling anyone with his stuff last year. But based on his strong spring, we think he’s worth rostering to see if he’s capable of bouncing back this season.

Yuki Matsui, RP, San Diego Padres (ESPN: 9.7 per cent; CBS: 55 per cent): This southpaw reliever has been slowed by back soreness this spring, but he’s healthy now and has been mowing down hitters with his fastball, splitter and slider mix. Matsui was a dominating closer in Japan, so it’s worth rostering him to see how that translates to the bigs.

Eddie Rosario, OF, Washington Nationals (ESPN: 1 per cent; CBS: 8 per cent): No. 71 in our Fantasy Outfield Rankings last year, Rosario did his part with a nice boune back effort in 2023, but surprisingly was only able to secure a minor league deal with the Nats. Still, all indications suggest he’s going to break camp with a starting gig, and while he does chase way too often at the plate, he still has much more range than most outfielders.

RotoRob Tune of the Day

Los Angeles alt rock band New Radicals didn’t last very long, remaining active for just two years (1997-1999). In 1998, they released their only studio album, Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too, and among the deep album tracks is “Gotta Stay High.”

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