Travis Demeritte is heating up for the Braves. (The Canadian Press)
Welcome back to another week of Fantasy baseball. The first month is just wrapping up, so there are still tons of gems to be found. Use your league waiver wire, peeps!
This week, Nolan Arenado and Genesis Cabrera were both suspended for their parts in a bench-clearing brawl; Ronald Acuna Jr. shook off concerns about his running game with two steals in his long-awaited return; and Manny Pina (wrist) landed on the IL, leading to the promotion of catching prospect William Contreras.
And now, let’s get to this week’s…
Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Picks
Madison Bumgarner, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks (ESPN: 22.5 per cent; CBS: 47 per cent): Heading into the 2020 season, we expressed concerns how Bumgarner would fare in a much less-friendly pitcher park, but it was hard to predict that he’d struggle to win this badly and have a tougher time throwing the ball by hitters. Despite a ton of losses, last year was better, but this season… wow. Bumgarner looks fantastic early on, with back-to-back scoreless outings before Friday and a ridiculous 1.17 ERA through five starts. On Friday, he even managed to earn his first win against a very hot St. Louis lineup. MadBum’s velocity is back near its 2019 levels, and he’s gone back to his fastball more after three years of declining usage. Better yet, his changeup has returned to being a strong offering after bottoming out last season. Sure, lots of luck has helped fuel this great start, but it looks like Bumgarner is again a very viable Fantasy option, one with great taste in music, to boot (check out his warm-up tune in the video below).
Travis Demeritte, OF, Atlanta Braves (ESPN: 0.3 per cent; CBS: 1 per cent): Originally drafted as a shortstop, it was clear even then Demeritte wasn’t going to stick there, and by the time he got to the majors, he had shifted to outfield. He’s received less and less opportunity each season since his debut in 2019, but with Eddie Rosario (eye) out for 8-12 weeks, the PT is suddenly available, and — so far — Demeritte has hit well enough to continue to get regular at-bats. On Friday, he took over the leadoff spot and delivered with two hits, two runs, a dinger and a walk. Pitchers have been attacking Demeritte with fewer fastballs than ever, so perhaps he’s being taken a bit more seriously as a hitter. Perhaps you should follow suit for the next few weeks.
Elieser Hernandez, SP, Miami Marlins (ESPN: 19.9 per cent; CBS: 27 per cent): Given an ERA close to 6.00, at first blush, Hernandez is off to a poor start despite a 2-1 record (after earning another win on Friday). However, his xERA is just 3.50, so he’s clearly been unlucky. And with nearly a K per frame and velocity as high as it’s ever been, he looks like a very nice buy low option.
- Expect to see Brewer SS/OF prospect Brice Turang make his MLB debut this season, perhaps soon if he keeps raking. He launched his first homer of the season on Thursday and then another on Friday, stretching his hit streak to nine games (with five runs and six extra-base hits). We’ve been waiting for Turang — the 18th overall pick in 2018 — to break out for some time, and it seems it’s finally happening this season.
- The Pads are rolling now, and the recent play of Ha-Seong Kim is a big reason why. He hit a tie-breaking three-run double on Thursday as part of a three-hit performance before going yard in a two-hit game Friday, and is now 6-for-11 with seven RBI, five runs, two doubles, two homers and two walks over the last three games. Given all the hype, Kim had a disappointing rookie season last year, but is hitting much better early on while showing dramatically improved pop.
- Colorado’s $182 million investment in Kris Bryant is certainly not paying early dividends. Through 65 plate appearances this season, he’s failed to go yard while driving in just four runs, and now back pain has sent him to the IL. Thankfully, Bryant has no structural damage, but for now, Sam Hilliard (two walks on Friday) looks like a nice play, especially in OBP leagues.
- Dylan Lesko, arguably the best arm available in this year’s MLB Draft, has undergone Tommy John surgery. Despite the setback, this kid may still go in the top 10 thanks to his mid-90s heat and filthy changeup. Dynasty league owners need to have Lesko on their radar.
- Tommy Pham went hitless Thursday, snapping a three-game hot streak in which he had gone 5-for-11, finally showing some life after a horrible start with his new team, the Reds. He bounced right back on Friday with a massive game (two doubles among his four hits) and he’s flashing his best extra base power since 2018. His BABIP was extremely low early on and is starting to normalize, so his BA should rise to more acceptable levels (he’s a career .264 hitter, don’t forget).
- Houston starter Luis Garcia looked good in his season debut, but has gotten progressively worse since despite some nice command. Still, he’s yet to lose, and it’s clear he’s pitched better than his ERA would indicate. A WHIP of 0.96 with a xERA of 2.88 paints a clearer picture, suggesting he’s a great buy low candidate.
RotoRob Tune of the Day
Scottish dream pop band Cocteau Twins got their start in 1979, and remained active until 1997. In 1993, they released their seventh album, Four-Calendar Cafe, featuring the track “Squeeze-Wax.”