John Aurora, Contributor
Blake Snell, SP
Last week I wrote that Blake Snell was my streamer of the week Snell exceeded my expectations and validated my pick posting a 2-0 record, 1.46 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, and 19 K! Although this came against mediocre teams, this type of production is what we expect of Snell, especially the high K rate. He did have a game with 5 walks, but followed it up with 0 walks the next game. Expect Snell to be inconsistent at times, but should be owned universally as he can produce stud numbers with favorable matchups.
Edwin Encarnacion, 1B
Encarnacion has been as cold as Cleveland, Ohio over the last week. He has only 1 hit over his last 21 at-bats and is hitting .146 overall (you trying hitting in frigid Cleveland). Encarnacion historically starts off slow as he has not hit above .250 since 2012. Yes father time will catch up to him at some point, but I don’t think this will be the season as he will be a sure bet for another 30/100 campaign. Expect him to turn it up as the weather warms up, so buy low if you can.
Waiver Wire Pickups (<50% owned in ESPN leagues)
1. Nick Pivetta, SP (38.9% owned)
Coming off a rocky first season, Pivetta has rebounded nicely posting a solid 1-0, 2.70 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and 19 K. Great things happen when walks aren’t issued as he has only walked 2 players in 16.2 innings this year, which is very different from 2017 where he walked 3.9 players per 9 innings. Don’t expect Pivetta to go too deep in games as Kapler has notoriously been pulling his pitchers early, which will ultimately limit his wins upside. Overall, Pivetta is my top pickup this week due to his strikeout potential, solid ratios, and great upcoming matchups.
2. Mallex Smith, OF (15.5% owned)
If there is one player I’m excited about watching this week it’s Mallex Smith. Kevin Kiermaier will be out 2-3 months, so this is Smith’s chance to showcase his skills. Despite Smith hitting 9th, he’s been hitting a blistering .409 to start the year. Expect Smith’s average to regress to his career .270, but I’m more interested to see how many bases he steals in Tampa Bay’s lackluster offense. He can be the sparkplug they need, so be ready to buy if Smith begins getting the green light.
3. Albert Pujols, DH (48.9% owned)
An oldie-but-goodie, Pujols is still producing in a rejuvenated Angels lineup. Pujols quietly hit 23 homers and 101 RBIs in 2017, and has started the year well batting .282-3 HR-9 RBI-8 R. In addition, he is already half way to first base eligibility, which is a bonus given that first base is rather shallow this year. Expect Pujols to maintain a low batting average this year, likely in the .240 range; however, he’ll once again be a sleeper for producing power numbers.
4. Jose Pirela, OF (42.9% owned)
Ah I remember the days when Yankees fans thought Pirela would be a seamless replacement for Robinson Cano in 2014. Even Mr. October, Reggie Jackson, said Pirela was the best hitter in the Yankees System. Four years after his debut and now in his third season with the Padres, Pirela has looked good batting .308 with 10 RBIs, 12 runs, and 2 stolen bases. Pirela can be a good source of runs scored, especially with Wil Myers coming back to give the offense a huge boost. For now Pirela, is a good option for an owner in need of a DL replacement.
5. Keynan Middleton, RP (41.9% owned)
Fantasy baseball Rule #1: don’t pay for saves. Every year players from nowhere take over the closer position at some point in the season and can go on to be a top 10 closer. Middleton may be that player as gone 4 for 4 in save opportunities for the hot Angels. I’m not convinced yet that Middleton can be a breakout as his control has been shaky, especially the last couple outings. If you’re in need of saves scoop up Middleton, as he soars up the closer rankings.