Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Cruising Cubbies
Another week, another report from Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire here on FantraxHQ. No matter what style of league you play in and what time of the season we should always be looking to improve our fantasy teams. Whether you’re looking to catch the next scorching breakout, find an injury replacement, or improve in a specific stat category, the Waiver Thread can help you accomplish it all. This week’s report is filled with Cubs, a few safety nets and young arms.
Fancy Baseball Waiver Yarn
Frank Schwindel (1B – CHC)
He is back! That’s right, the adorable Cubs first baseman with the contagious smile is back to a level worth enrolling in the 12+ team leagues. Schwindel burst onto the scene last season as one of the most productive hitters in the 2nd half of the season, but got off to a cold start for the 2022 season that even saw him briefly demoted to Triple -A (for about two hours). At the time of this demotion on May 8, Schwindel was down 0.209/0.250/0.308 and he was down to 0.200/0.240/0.295 after his May 10 game. But since May 11, Schwindel has been a completely different hitter.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 4, 2022
During that span, Schwindel is slashing .281 / .337 / .528 with five home runs, 18 RBIs and 13 runs scored with a .247 ISO, .372 wOBA and a 15.3% strikeout rate. This is the Schwindel we expected to see this season. He doesn’t have the most impressive quality of contact metrics, but Schwindel has proven he can hit for a good AVG with solid power and execute production worthy of an infield corner or utility spot in more of 12 mixed leagues per team. He settled back into the middle of a Cubs roster that has ranked 5th in wOBA over the past 14 days.
Alejandro Kirk (C–TOR)
The big question for most of the season north of the border has been whether there was enough PA for two Toronto receivers to have fantastic relevance. As we enter June, that answer seems to be yes. The duo of Kirk and Jansen have split catching duties since Jansen returned to the roster and Kirk has also taken time off DH as well. Over the past month, Kirk has batted a solid .343/.413/.571 in 80 plate appearances with three home runs, 11 RBIs and 15 runs scored.
On top of that, Kirk has more walks than strikeouts over that span and for the season as well. Overall, Kirk hits .301 with an OBP of 0.379, a zone contact rate of 89.2% and a strikeout rate of 9.2%. That’s the profile Kirk has shown in the minor leagues, so I have faith in him to maintain a level around this development. He’s going to be good for high AVG/OBP, low strikeouts, and solid power/run production. What else could you ask of a receiver for fantasy purposes?
Danny Jansen (C-TOR)
This must be a first. There have been a few times where I’ve recommended two receivers in the same waiver thread article, but NEVER two receivers in the same article from the same team. But hey, it’s certainly warranted this week. Since returning from an oblique injury on May 14, Jansen has crushed five home runs with 10 RBIs in just 46 plate appearances and reduced .260/.315/.700 for the season. That’s certainly a small sample size, but Jansen has a ridiculous 24.4% barrel rate this season with a 46.3% hard hit rate while significantly reducing his smell and strikeout rates. Even if his barrel rate returns to Earth, Jansen’s ability to hit for power with a solid average makes him worthy of being in mixed single-receiver, 12+ team leagues right now.
Tyrone Taylor (DE–MIL)
With Hunter Renfroe on the IL with hamstring strain since mid-May, Tyrone Taylor has been given daily playing time and has truly blossomed. Over the past 14 days, Taylor has reduced .275/.321/.588 with four homers and 14 RBIs with a .314 ISO, .385 wOBA and just a 14.3% strikeout rate. Taylor has started mostly in right field since Renfroe’s injury, but has also played a lot in center and some on the left this season. Even with Renfroe due to return next week, it will likely be others who lose playing time and not Taylor. Andrew McCutchen is the likeliest candidate for reduced playing time as the former MVP has struggled a lot this season and been limited to DH duties due to his short reach and defensive abilities.
Christophe Morel (2B/3B/OF – CHC)
Who would have thought before the season that Christopher Morel would be a hot waiver lead addition and leadoff hitter for the Cubs in early June? With Chicago struggling with injuries, they called Morel straight from Double-A where he has a .306/.380/.565 slant line and he hasn’t missed a beat in the Majors so far. In Morel’s first 77 plate appearances with Chicago, he homered twice and stole six bases with a respectable .262/.364/.446 slash line. Morel’s flexibility has also been huge for Chicago who’s thrown him to 2nd base, 3rd base, shortstop and center field so far.
Morel has consistently shown a strong power/speed mix in the miners and that showed with a 12.5% barrel rate, 43.8% hard hit rate and 93rd percentile sprint speed. His power/speed mix, big roster spot, and multi-position eligibility make Morel a desirable target in mixed 12+ team leagues and maybe even some deeper 10 team leagues.
Riley Greene (OF – DET)
If it hadn’t been for a broken foot in March, Riley Greene would have been on Detroit’s opening day roster with Spencer Torkelson and would have made about 150 plate appearances in his Major League career. Instead, we’re still waiting for its debut, but luckily it shouldn’t be far off. Greene returned to action a week ago and cut .318/.400/.500 with a home run and a steal in six games, four in Lo-A and two in Triple-A.
Greene is coming off a stellar performance in 2021 where he pared .301/.387/.534 with 24 home runs and 16 interceptions, and projects himself as a .280/25/15 offensive threat long-term. It’s not like he’s stuck either, as Detroit mostly started Willi Castro, Daz Cameron and Harold Castro in their outfield. Greene should be up in the next few weeks, so now’s the time to stash him if you have the space.
Zach Eflin (SP–PHI)
After missing about two weeks with COVID earlier in May, Zach Eflin pitched effectively in all four of his starts. One of those four starts was a 6 IP/7 ER clunker, but his other three starts were all quality starts, including eight shutout innings Friday against the Angels. Another start was a 7 IP, 2 ER, 12 K gem against the loaded Dodgers on May 22. Overall, Eflin quietly put together a solid season with a 3.88 ERA in nine starts with ERA metrics all below that, including a 2.53 xERA and 3.05 FIP.
Eflin has done an amazing job limiting barrels and hard contacts this season with a 4.6% barrel rate, 28.9% hard hit rate and an AVG EV allowed at 84.5 mph, which is all rank in the top 18% of the league. His strikeout rate remains a bit of a disappointment at 21.6%, but Eflin also has a low walk rate of 4.8% and I think there is more strikeout capability if he throws his curve ball more. It’s been huge for Eflin this season as he’s really revamped his arsenal.
Eflin increased his use of the curveball and cutter while nearly ditching his ineffective slider from last season. The cutter wasn’t great, but Eflin’s curveball certainly was. If he continues to increase his use of the curve, we might see Eflin’s smell and takedown rates increase a bit.
Caleb Kilian (SP-CHC)
While the Cubs’ offense has picked it up recently, their pitch continues to struggle. For the season, the Cubs rank 24th in the ERA and have a 5.40 ERA in the last 15 days before their double-header on Saturday. So naturally when your pitching team struggles like that and you have one of your best pitching prospects who excels at Triple-A, you give them the call to try to stop the bleeding. Caleb Kilian broke out in 2021 and carried that momentum through 2022 with a 2.06 ERA in nine Triple-A starts.
Kilian mixes a strong four-pitch arsenal headlined by a mid-90s fastball and big curveball and has demonstrated more or better command and control as a professional. The upside might not be huge here, but Kilian has all the makings of a solid mid-rotation starter at the Major League level who can provide decent ratios and strikeouts. If he pitches well in his debut, Kilian should stay with the Cubs in the future.
Edward Cabrera (SP-MIA)
Miami Marlins fans and fantasy managers have been clamoring for weeks for either Edward Cabrera or Max Meyer to get the call. And with Meyer struggling and now injured, Cabrera won that battle, making his 2022 season debut Wednesday in Colorado against the Rockies. Cabrera went six shutout innings allowing one hit and four walks with nine strikeouts. he also posted an impressive 47% puff rate and 43% CSW on this outing, including puff and over 40% CSW on his four seams, curveball, and shift.
Edward Cabrera is handling his first MLB season debut for the @Marlins.
8 K in 4 aimlessly! pic.twitter.com/PYVDS2ED9r
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) June 1, 2022
Throughout his pro career, Cabrera has displayed an impressive arsenal with an upside-down No. 2 starter, but control has been a slight concern and has appeared in this debut with four walks. Since the start of the 2021 season, Cabrera has posted a combined walk rate of 12.2% in 115.1 combined innings between the minors and the majors. This also comes with a stellar 32.8% strikeout rate, which shows just how good Cabrera can be when on the go. For 2022, the ratios could now be spectacular, but they could be strong enough with a strikeout rate in the range of 27-30%, which makes Cabrera an attractive target for the mixed league going forward.
Media credit: MLB Pipeline, Baseball Savant, Chicago Cubs
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