D.J. Short

Waiver Wired

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Waiver Wired: Adding Ohtani?

Thursday, July 5, 2018


As his story with the Mets came to a sad conclusion back in May, Matt Harvey didn’t look like a major league pitcher anymore. The stuff was diminished and so was the confidence. It was certainly worth a shot for the Reds to take a chance on a turnaround, but there was little there to indicate that it would actually materialize. But here we are, at least for the moment.

After posting a 5.07 ERA through his first seven starts with his new team, Harvey has bounced back with a 1.47 ERA and 14/2 K/BB ratio in 18 1/3 innings over his last three outings. He tossed 5 2/3 scoreless innings against the Brewers in his most recent start last Sunday and now has three straight wins for the first time since 2015.

It’s true that Harvey’s velocity is on the upswing. He’s averaged 94.7 mph (per FanGraphs) with his fastball during this recent three-start stretch, so he’s up a couple of ticks from where he was with the Mets to begin the year. For context, Eno Sarris of The Athletic noted earlier this week that no major league starter has added more velocity since April. It’s more than that, though. Harvey is also getting more whiffs on his slider, a pitch that was a key for him during his days with the Mets. He’s not quite blowing batters away these days, but he’s throwing strikes and keeping the ball in the ballpark.

It’s important not to overreact based off three starts, which is why I want to stress the difference between being a useful major league pitcher and a useful fantasy option. Harvey is still on the outside looking in as far as standard mixed leagues. However, it’s certainly fair to speculate whether he’s just finally feeling stronger after all of his recent health woes. The road back from surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome is a treacherous one, so it would be pretty cool to see a high-profile success story, even if Harvey is never quite the pitcher he was before. In the interim, the pesky Reds have an interesting trade chip rounding into form at just the right time.



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Have specific questions about your roster? Ask @djshort on Twitter.

MIXED LEAGUES

(Percentages are from the morning of Thursday, July 5)

Shohei Ohtani UTIL, Angels (Yahoo: 43 percent owned)

Who knows when we’ll see Ohtani pitch again, but he was activated from the disabled list on Tuesday after missing four weeks with a Grade 2 sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. An MRI last week showed improvement in the elbow, so he’ll be used exclusively as a hitter for now. We should find out later this month whether the Angels will map out a plan for him to pitch again this season. After going hitless in his return on Tuesday, Ohtani went 2-for-4 with a double and two runs scored on Wednesday. He’s certainly lived up to the hype as a hitter so far, producing an impressive .287/.365/.525 batting line with six homers over 36 games this season. It’s unclear how often Ohtani will be in the lineup — and who knows, he could be shut down eventually — but he’s shown enough as a hitter to be worth scooping up in leagues where he was dropped.

Joe Jimenez RP, Tigers (Yahoo: 30 percent owned)

While Jimenez blew a save chance before getting the win on Monday against the Blue Jays, he’s set to function as the primary closer while Shane Greene is sidelined with a shoulder injury. The severity of Greene’s issue isn’t yet clear, but we should know more following an MRI on Thursday. Still, Jimenez could be poised to run away with this job. The 23-year-old has scuffled a bit recently, but he still holds a fine 2.93 ERA and 45/12 K/BB ratio over 40 innings this season, a big improvement from what we saw last year. The best-case scenario always was that Greene would turn into a useful trade chip, but this injury puts the kibosh on that situation. Jimenez is clearly the closer of the future. It’s just a matter of whether the future starts now.

Steven Souza OF, Diamondbacks (Yahoo: 21 percent owned)

Souza’s season just hasn’t gotten off the ground, but he’s moving in the right direction during his minor league rehab assignment. Coming back from his nagging pectoral injury, Souza has hit .400 (10-for-25) with three homers, two triples, and one double over six games between Double- and Triple-A. He was initially eased into action as the DH, but he began playing right field on Monday. It shouldn’t be much longer before he’s cleared to rejoin the Diamondbacks. Souza might not help much in batting average, but he’s available in far too many leagues considering that he amassed 30 homers and 16 steals over 148 games last season.

Will Smith SP/RP, Giants (Yahoo: 29 percent owned)

Sam Dyson got the first crack as Giants’ closer after Hunter Strickland went down with a fractured right hand last month, but the pecking order has changed following some shaky recent appearances. Smith notched a save with a scoreless ninth inning against the Diamondbacks last Friday before coming back on Sunday for a one-out save. The 28-year-old southpaw has been great in his return from Tommy John surgery, posting a dominant 1.11 ERA and 34/7 K/BB ratio over 24 1/3 innings. The Giants figure to be careful about his workload, so there will still be opportunities for others here. Tony Watson (Yahoo: 20 percent owned) is the most appealing alternative, especially if Smith hits a rough patch.

Jorge Polanco SS, Twins (Yahoo: 13 percent owned)

Polanco rejoined the Twins on Monday after completing an 80-game suspension for a positive PED test. Such a suspension might cause some fantasy owners to reevaluate what Polanco has done in the past, but he had some fantasy appeal coming into the spring after racking up 13 homers, 13 steals, 74 RBI, and 60 runs scored over 133 games last season. Granted, the bulk of his production came over the final two months of the season, but those are some useful counting stats. He hit second in his season debut before moving to the No. 5 spot for the past two games, so the opportunity should be there to keep it going. Don’t forget about him if you need a middle infielder in deeper leagues.

Tyler Clippard RP, Blue Jays (Yahoo: 33 percent owned)

Clippard is back on the mixed league radar after fill-in closer Ryan Tepera landed on the disabled list last week with right elbow inflammation. The veteran reliever was actually at the top of the depth chart following Roberto Osuna’s arrest in May, but he quickly ceded the role after a few rough appearances. However, he’s pitched better of late and has locked down two saves in the past week. Tepera is still resting, so it appears that his absence could stretch until at least the start of the second half. Seung Hwan Oh looms as an alternative and Osuna is expected to get his old closer job back when he completes his domestic violence suspension on August 5, but Clippard should have some short-term value in mixed leagues.

Miguel Sano 1B/3B, Twins (Yahoo: 47 percent owned)

Given their surprise run last year and the expectations after an active winter, the Twins might be the biggest disappointment in baseball this season. Sano is a big part of that. After reporting to spring training out of shape following offseason surgery on his left leg, the 25-year-old struggled miserably with a .203/.270/.405 batting line and seven homers through 37 games prior to being demoted all the way down to High-A Fort Myers last month. Sano has always been prone to swinging and missing, but he was striking out more than ever before while drawing fewer walks. Working on his conditioning was part of the reason behind the move, but Sano has at least swung the bat well in the minors, hitting .333/.429/.444 with a homer, a double, and an 11/6 K/BB ratio in 42 plate appearances through 10 games. Stashing him now could require some patience on the part of fantasy owners, but Sano figures to get a chance to turn his season around during the second half. Take note if you need some pop.

Suitable Streamers:

Nathan Eovaldi SP, Rays (Yahoo: 23 percent owned)

I’m not crazy about Eovaldi as an every-start option in mixed leagues, but it’s a pretty easy call to pick him up/start him for a matchup against the Mets on Sunday. The Mets’ offense has been better over the past couple of weeks, but that’s really not saying much. It’s a bad bunch. As for Eovaldi, he holds a 3.92 ERA and a 35/6 K/BB ratio in 41 1/3 innings through seven starts in his return from Tommy John surgery. The home run ball has hurt him at times, so he isn’t without risk, but I like his chances of shutting the Mets down. It’s also unclear who will oppose Eovaldi on Sunday, so that could be a favorable spot for Rays’ hitters.  

Kyle Gibson SP, Twins (Yahoo: 30 percent owned)

Gibson actually has two favorable outings coming up, first against the Orioles on Saturday before making his final start before the All-Star break next Thursday against the Rays. The 30-year-old has allowed nine runs (eight earned) in 12 innings over his last two starts, but he still owns a fine 3.58 ERA and 96/42 K/BB ratio over 100 2/3 innings on the year. His velocity has been up and he’s getting more whiffs than ever before. His strikeout percentage (22.6 percent) blows away anything he’s done in the majors before. He was at 17.5 percent last year and 15.9 percent in 2016. Gibson is somehow 2-5 this year, but better luck could be around the corner.


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D.J. Short is a Rotoworld senior baseball writer and hosts the Rotoworld Baseball Podcast. You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook.
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