The season is less than two weeks old, but the ottoneu waiver wire is as busy as ever. The sample sizes of early performances are microscopic, but if you want to snag the next breakout or “popup” performer the early bird gets the worm. In what will be a recurring feature again this year, let’s look at the ottoneu most added (and cut) players in the early going.
|Player Name||Owned %||Add % Change (7 Days)|
Keynan Middleton had an auspicious appearance in last night’s game against the Rangers, picking up his second save but also fracturing the elbow of Elvis Andrus on an errant fastball. He’s not the designated closer for the Angels just yet, but he’s in the mix and has been pitching well (1.17 ERA and 2.79 FIP, but with a 4.49 xFIP). I think he’s a cautious add in FanGraphs points leagues.
Adam Ottavino is clearly behind Wade Davis in the bullpen pecking order for the Rockies, but so far this young season he has been electric (18.0 K/9 and a 0.34 xFIP). He’s not likely to get many saves, but there’s still quite a bit of value in a setup role if he continues to pitch well, and given his struggles with command last year that’s no guarantee. He’s a solid add, but I would temper my bids (<$5).
Right now Preston Tucker is keeping the LF seat warm for Ronald Acuna, but he’s staking his claim for a longer look with the Braves (.229 ISO, .366 wOBA in 39 PA). Preston isn’t as well regarded as his younger brother Kyle, and given the playing time issues he’ll likely face the rest of the way I’m not making any bids for him.
Jordan Hicks might be the hardest throwing pitcher in MLB, but he’s in a crowded bullpen with Greg Holland, Bud Norris, Dominic Leone, and Luke Gregerson. He’s also struggled with command, with five walks in 7.1 IP. The good news is that velocity coupled with his 60%+ groundball rate suggests continued run suppression, but there’s sure to be growing pains for the young pitcher making the jump from High A. Hicks is worth a speculative add if he’s still available.
April is National Small Sample Overreaction Month, and owners are in the spirit as they add Matt Davidson (5 HR, .469 wOBA) and Brian Anderson (.402 wOBA, more walks than strikeouts). It’s worth adding players that have surprising performances in the early going, especially if they’re young, but be careful investing too much cap space. Ride these guys while they are hot, and be prepared for a quick cut if they turn back into pumpkins.
Let’s briefly look at the players who have been cut over the past week:
Dominic Leone and Luke Gregerson are victims of Greg Holland signing with the Cardinals (and a DL stint in the case of Gregerson). I still believe both these pitchers have skills just as good as Holland does, and Leone especially has been pitching well despite some poor batted ball luck (15.88 K/9 with a 6.35 ERA/6.40 FIP/1.05 xFIP). I understand why owners would be cutting, but I’d also be looking to scoop these two up at a discount.
In addition to Gregerson, Flowers/Neshek/Swarzak/Healy are all cuts driven by injuries. I would pay close attention to Swarzak’s rehab from his oblique strain, as he profiles as a $2 or $3 RP rest of season, so he could be worth a cheap add.
Jorge Soler had a fair bit of sleeper hype after a strong spring training, but owners seem to be jumping ship too early. Soler hasn’t hit for any power in the early going (.040 ISO), but he’s walking at a 15.6% clip and making decent contact (21.9% strikeout rate), giving him a .311 wOBA (96 wRC+) even with just a single extra base hit. I think the hype got too far out of control before the season, but I think the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction. Soler may not keep these plate discipline gains, but I’m pretty confident the power is coming soon.
Justin is a life long Cubs fan who has been playing fantasy baseball for 20+ years, and an ottoneu addict since 2012. Follow him on Twitter @justinvibber.