Jay Bruce is getting his shot with the Yankees. (Sports Illustrated)
Welcome back to another season of Fantasy baseball. Long-time readers will know by now that in The Wire Troll — our weekly Fantasy baseball waiver wire picks column — we always like to dig a bit deeper and offer you options that are actually available in your leagues. We will never recommend players with an ownership higher than 50 per cent in either ESPN or CBS leagues.
This week, Zack Greinke looked really sharp in Houston’s opener as the boos rained down on the Astros; Washington’s season opener was postponed thanks to positive Covid tests; and Justin Turner‘s baserunning gaffe cost Cody Bellinger a home run.
And now, let’s get to our first batch of 2021…
Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Picks
Jay Bruce, OF, New York Yankees (ESPN: 2.6 per cent; CBS: 9 per cent): The last time we checked in on Bruce, we correctly projected that he’d been much better in 2017. Unfortunately, he’s alternated good seasons and bad seasons since, which makes him due for a bounce back this year. And with Luke Voit on DL to start season, Bruce has a great chance to get off to a nice start as the starter at first base for the time being. Bruce managed a walk in the opener and he’ll face some competition from Mike Tauchman for the job, so this is definitely no sure thing. Bruce’s one-time modest speed has evaporated, so don’t expect anything there, but if he sees enough PT, that massive power will prove useful. The good news is he’s feeling healthy for the first time in quite a while (see video below), so let’s see what’s left in the tank here.
Josh Harrison, 2B/3B, Washington Nationals (ESPN: 0.5 per cent; CBS: 2 per cent): Harrison is another player that’s been thrust into a starting role at the beginning of the season, although for him it wasn’t because of an injury, but rather the ineffectiveness of Carter Kieboom. Keiboom was farmed out to Triple-A, opening the door for Harrison to man second base everyday for now. We recommended Harrison in early-September and he saw more PT down the stretch, but didn’t deliver as we expected. Well, we’re back to give him some more love for deeper NL-only leagues, but it’s important to note that he won’t be in action until Monday given the Nats’ Covid situation. Harrison is capable of delivering a solid BA, putting up some nice run and ribbie numbers and offering decent power and speed. His extra-base pop bounced back somewhat last season, so we’ll have to see if he can carry that into 2021 given the opportunity he has at the outset of the campaign.
Jazz Chisholm, 2B, Miami Marlins (ESPN: 5.3 per cent; CBS: 31 per cent): As we anticipated when we slotted him 31st in our Top 100 Fantasy Baseball Prospects, Chisholm did in fact win the second base competition for the Marlins. The first Bahamas-born player to be on an Opening Day roster since MLB began releasing annual data, he was hitless in the opener, but had a pair of hits (including a triple) and a run on Friday. In his first taste of the bigs last year, Chisholm had his struggles, but an extremely low BABIP was dragging his average down. Recall that after getting dealt to Miami at the trade deadline in 2019, he hit .284 at Double-A down the stretch, so he’s capable of better. And given Chisholm’s stolen base potential, he needs to be grabbed to see if he can take the job and run with it.
- True three outcome poster boy Joey Gallo had a nice debut Thursday, going 2-for-3 with a run, a pair of ribbies and three walks. Oh, and zero strikeouts! Gallo really struggled to hit for average last year (even for him, that is), but if he can return to his 2019 form and not kill your team BA, he’s going to be a lot of fun to own this season.
- Although he enjoyed somewhat of a bounce back last year, Travis Shaw has pretty much been in free fall mode since 2018. But now that he’s back in Milwaukee where he enjoyed his best seasons, perhaps he’s worth another look. Shaw went 2-for-4 with a huge rally-capping double, a walk and three RBI in the opener — not bad for a dude that had to settle for a minor league deal despite experiencing a recovery with his extra-base sock last year.
- Matt Harvey will make his season debut on Saturday, taking the bump for the Orioles after signing a minor league deal this winter with them and then making the team out of Spring Training. Believe it or not, it’s now been eight years since he was an All-Star. You’ve got to figure this is pretty much Harvey’s last shot at redemption.
- Another hurler we’ll be watching on Saturday is Tampa Bay’s Rich Hill. Now 41, the southpaw managed to secure a one-year deal with the Rays despite a middling record in Minnesota last year. Tampa Bay is Hill’s 10th team.
- Speaking of the Rays, Joey Wendle has never really been much of a Fantasy factor, but he was the man on Friday, spanking a three-run homer as part of a massive ninth inning rally to lead Tampa Bay over Miami. He’s coming off a season in which he actually played in a high percentage of the team’s games as a super utility infielder, and while he slightly upped his walk rate, he also fanned more often. In 2018, Wendle offered some value, so if he can approach those totals again, he’ll be worth a look.
RotoRob Tune of the Day
Originally from London, acid jazz legend Jamiroquai enjoyed a major breakthrough in 1996 with its third album, Travelling Without Moving — one of the decade’s finest discs. From this effort, the fourth single was “Alright.”