MLB FAAB Factor: Waiver Pickups of the Week

MLB FAAB Factor: Waiver Pickups of the Week

This article is part of our MLB FAAB Factor series.

This FAAB article is in addition to the AL and NL FAAB articles that run Sunday. Bids are based on a $100 FAAB budget. Throughout the season, this column will have two goals:

1. Identify FAAB targets for fantasy managers in leagues with Thursday FAAB.

2. Offer a preview of FAAB targets ahead of Sunday's columns.

More save chances have emerged for some talented relievers in recent weeks, while there are plenty of starting pitchers and position players worth considering for short-term and long-term fantasy value. Ramon Laureano headlines the options as he prepares to return from his suspension Sunday, but there are ample options elsewhere who have been productive while carving out consistent playing time early in the season.

Starting Pitcher

Drew Rasmussen, Rays: Although Rasmussen's average fastball velocity dropped from 97.1 mph in 2021 to 95.6 in 2022, he's maintained good movement on his pitches with a 23.1 percent strikeout rate, and he has been effective while serving exclusively as a starter early in the season. The right-hander has lasted at least five innings in three of his last four starts and has a 3.13 ERA and 0.87 WHIP in 23 innings this year. Rasmussen was productive while serving as both a reliever and starter last year, but his fantasy value has increased now that he's part of the Rays' rotation. FAAB: $9

Corey Kluber, Rays: Kluber had a rough outing April 22 in which he gave up four runs in five innings, but he's rebounded

This FAAB article is in addition to the AL and NL FAAB articles that run Sunday. Bids are based on a $100 FAAB budget. Throughout the season, this column will have two goals:

1. Identify FAAB targets for fantasy managers in leagues with Thursday FAAB.

2. Offer a preview of FAAB targets ahead of Sunday's columns.

More save chances have emerged for some talented relievers in recent weeks, while there are plenty of starting pitchers and position players worth considering for short-term and long-term fantasy value. Ramon Laureano headlines the options as he prepares to return from his suspension Sunday, but there are ample options elsewhere who have been productive while carving out consistent playing time early in the season.

Starting Pitcher

Drew Rasmussen, Rays: Although Rasmussen's average fastball velocity dropped from 97.1 mph in 2021 to 95.6 in 2022, he's maintained good movement on his pitches with a 23.1 percent strikeout rate, and he has been effective while serving exclusively as a starter early in the season. The right-hander has lasted at least five innings in three of his last four starts and has a 3.13 ERA and 0.87 WHIP in 23 innings this year. Rasmussen was productive while serving as both a reliever and starter last year, but his fantasy value has increased now that he's part of the Rays' rotation. FAAB: $9

Corey Kluber, Rays: Kluber had a rough outing April 22 in which he gave up four runs in five innings, but he's rebounded with back-to-back quality starts, and he's allowed just one run while striking out 13 in 12 innings during those two appearances. The right-hander has taken advantage of some favorable matchups, but he's proven effective in his age-36 season with a 2.36 ERA, 25:6 K:BB and 1.05 WHIP in 26.2 innings. Fantasy managers shouldn't prepare for the same results he had with Cleveland during his prime, but he's been a reliable starting option. FAAB: $7

Austin Gomber, Rockies: Gomber sputtered in his first two starts this season, allowing eight runs (seven earned) in nine innings. However, the southpaw has bounced back since, posting three consecutive starts with a 1.93 ERA and 0.86 WHIP in 18.2 innings. The caveat with every Rockies starter is that they have to pitch their home games at hitter-friendly Coors Field, but Gomber was relatively effective in his first year with the team in 2021 and has developed a rhythm following a slow start in 2022. FAAB: $5

Kyle Bradish, Orioles: Bradish had a strong start to the season at Triple-A Norfolk, posting a 1.20 ERA and 0.73 WHIP in 15 innings over three starts while improving his walk rate to 5.3 percent. His first two major-league starts have left something to be desired, as he's given up seven runs (six earned) in 10 innings over two outings. There's a chance the 25-year-old is sent back down once Baltimore's rotation is healthier, but Bradish is a solid prospect for the Orioles who will be one of the top candidates to fill a back-end rotation spot this season if the team's starters continue to deal with injuries. FAAB: $5

Michael Wacha, Red Sox: Wacha has underlying numbers that suggest his early season success can be somewhat attributed to luck, but he hasn't allowed more than two runs in any of his first five starts and has rattled off three consecutive wins. The right-hander has a 1.38 ERA and 0.92 WHIP in 26 innings this year, which makes up for his lackluster 19.0 percent strikeout rate. Although Wacha doesn't induce many whiffs with his 92.9 mph average fastball velocity, he's held some talented lineups in check. FAAB: $4

Madison Bumgarner, Diamondbacks: Bumgarner was ejected from Wednesday's game after a controversial encounter with the first base umpire, but the southpaw had been quite productive at limiting runs during his first five starts of the season. Prior to Wednesday's outing, the 32-year-old had a 1.17 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 23 innings. His underlying numbers tell a bit of a different story, as his 4.34 FIP and 16.0 percent strikeout rate suggest his ERA and WHIP might not be sustainable. Although fantasy managers shouldn't expect Bumgarner to be the pitcher he once was in the long term, he's a decent short-term option if he can continue to limit runs. FAAB: $3

Chad Kuhl, Rockies: Kuhl has the disadvantage of playing his home games at hitter-friendly Coors Field, but he's posted quality starts in his last three outings and has a 1.90 ERA and 0.85 WHIP in 23.2 innings over four starts. While the right-hander's 19.3 percent strikeout rate doesn't jump off the page, he's been effective at inducing grounders. He had a 4.44 ERA in the last four seasons, and his 3.62 FIP this year suggests he's been somewhat lucky. However, Kuhl is a decent option for fantasy managers in deeper leagues who need a short-term fill-in option. FAAB: $2

Relief Pitcher

Ryan Helsley, Cardinals: Helsley has been used in a high-leverage role early in the year, and he picked up his first save of the season by striking out four in two scoreless frames against the Diamondbacks on Sunday. The right-hander's average fastball velocity has increased to 99.2 mph, and he has a 61.5 percent strikeout rate in 8.1 innings in his first seven relief appearances this year. Giovanny Gallegos picked up the save Monday after allowing four runs in two-thirds of an inning April 25, but Helsley should have additional save chances if Gallegos has any more rough outings. FAAB: $7

Joe Barlow, Rangers: Manager Chris Woodward officially named Barlow the Rangers' closer in late April, and the right-hander has converted three saves in his last three outings. Barlow has gone five consecutive outings without allowing an earned run, as he's given up just one unearned run in 5.1 innings in his last five appearances. While the Rangers aren't expected to be a particularly strong team in 2022, Barlow is in line for most of the team's save chances. FAAB: $6

Jhoan Duran, Twins: Duran's talent level wasn't a concern heading into the season, and he has a 100.3 mph average fastball velocity and 43.2 percent strikeout rate in 12 innings in his first eight major league outings. In spite of his strong results, he was eased into high-leverage work. While the Twins likely will still give Emilio Pagan some save chances, Duran has picked up three holds and a save in his last five appearances. The right-hander has more value in leagues that score using saves+holds, but his fantasy value is growing now that he's being used in high-leverage situations. FAAB: $6

Clay Holmes, Yankees: Aroldis Chapman has plenty of job security as the Yankees' closer, but Holmes has been used in high-leverage situations this year and has two saves, six holds and two wins with a 0.69 ERA and 0.85 WHIP in 13 innings this year. Although Chapman will continue to serve as the primary closer, Holmes is likely the next man up if Chapman gets hurt, and manager Aaron Boone has shown that he's willing to give Holmes the occasional save chance even when Chapman is healthy. Holmes is worth considering, particularly in deeper leagues, for fantasy managers in need of a slight boost to their ratios. FAAB: $2

Catcher

Ryan Jeffers, Twins: Jeffers has had to compete with Gary Sanchez for at-bats early this season, but the former has seen relatively consistent playing time and has swung a hot bat recently. In his last nine games, the 24-year-old has slashed .333/.379/.815 with three home runs, four doubles, nine RBIs and seven runs. Jeffers' batting average has never been a significant strength, but he's had opportunities to produce runs as part of Minnesota's talented lineup early in the season. FAAB: $3

MJ Melendez, Royals: Melendez had a slow start to the year at Triple-A Omaha but was called up Sunday after Cam Gallagher landed on the injured list with a Grade 2 hamstring strain. Melendez has drawn back-to-back starts, going 2-for-6 with a walk. The 23-year-old is coming off a 2021 season in the minors in which he hit 41 homers between the Double-A and Triple-A levels, so he has plenty of upside as long as he can carve out playing time alongside Salvador Perez. If Melendez performs well early in his big-league career, he should be in the mix to remain on the active roster once Gallagher is healthy. FAAB: $3

First Base

Eric Hosmer, Padres: Hosmer has become more widely rostered this week, but he's worth picking up in leagues where he's still available. The 32-year-old is in the midst of a nine-game on-base streak in which he's batted .414/.564/.759 with three home runs, a double, 12 RBIs and seven runs. He's been an everyday player for San Diego while hitting in the heart of the order, and he should maintain consistent playing time with plenty of opportunities to produce runs. FAAB: $8

Rowdy Tellez, Brewers: Looking at Tellez's stat line from Wednesday, some might suspect the Brewers played a doubleheader. However, he was simply a driving force behind the team's 18-4 win against Cincinnati, going 4-for-6 with two homers, a double, eight RBIs and two runs. The 27-year-old now has six extra-base hits in his last five games, including four homers. Tellez's past results suggest his output isn't as sustainable as Hosmer's, but he's still worth rostering while he's swinging a hot bat. FAAB: $5

Second Base

Sheldon Neuse, Athletics: Neuse has started 14 consecutive games in the No. 2 spot in Oakland's batting order, and he's posted multi-hit performances in three of the last eight games. During that time, he's hit .313 with a homer, a triple, a double, six RBIs, three runs and two steals. Neuse's run-producing abilities are limited while playing for the rebuilding Athletics, but he's reached base consistently early in the season, and his production should get a slight boost once Ramon Laureano is cleared to return from his suspension. FAAB: $6

Cesar Hernandez, Nationals: Hernandez had a slow start to the year at the plate, but he has a 10-game hitting streak in which he's hit .390 with three doubles, six runs, four RBIs and two stolen bases. The 31-year-old hasn't yet gone yard in 2022 after hitting a career-high 21 homers last year, but he's been an everyday player at the top of the order and provides fantasy value for those in need of runs and better ratios. FAAB: $4

Third Base

Taylor Walls, Rays: Walls has been an everyday player for the Rays recently and has three extra-base hits in the last five games. Although he's hit just .200 during that time, he's now batting .232/.358/.375 with a homer, a triple, three doubles, six runs, three RBIs and four stolen bases in 21 games this year. While the 25-year-old hasn't been a significant run contributor, he's run more  and should continue to see increased playing time while Ji-Man Choi is on the injured list. FAAB: $3

Juan Yepez, Cardinals: Yepez made his major-league debut Wednesday and went 2-for-3 with two doubles and a run. The 24-year-old performed well in the minors, batting .300/.347/.722 with 11 home runs, five doubles, 28 RBIs and 17 runs in 23 games. He's more worthy of consideration in deeper leagues for now but could certainly earn consistent playing time with the Cardinals if he can translate his minor-league results to major league success. FAAB: $3

Shortstop

Ha-Seong Kim, Padres: Kim has logged more consistent at-bats recently and has hits in six of his last seven games. During that time, the 26-year-old has slashed .360/.448/.760 with two homers, four doubles, eight RBIs and six runs. Kim appears to have moved ahead of CJ Abrams on the depth chart and has hit sixth in the order in the last four games. If Kim can maintain his increased playing time, he has the potential to be a relatively well-rounded contributor, at least until Fernando Tatis is cleared to return. FAAB: $4

Outfield

Ramon Laureano, Athletics: Laureano dealt with soreness that forced him to miss a few minor-league games last week, but he's returned to the field recently and is on track to rejoin the A's on Sunday when he's eligible to return from his suspension. The 27-year-old has a decent combination of power and speed, as he hit 14 home runs while swiping 12 bags in 88 games last year. Laureano figures to be an everyday player for the rebuilding Athletics once he returns to the field Sunday, and he's worth rostering in most leagues. FAAB: $10

Max Kepler, Twins: Kepler was removed from Tuesday's lineup due to an illness and didn't play in Wednesday's loss to the Orioles, but he's still swung a hot bat recently. He has four multi-hit performances in his last nine games, and he's slashed .321/.424/.821 with four homers, two doubles, nine RBIs and five runs during that time. The 29-year-old has had a spot in the heart of the Twins' lineup and is worth considering as long as his illness doesn't turn out to be a significant concern. FAAB: $7

Tommy Pham, Reds: The Reds haven't had much success this season, but Pham has been a bright spot for the team recently. He's logged four multi-hit outings in his last nine games and has hit .406 with two homers, four doubles, nine runs and four RBIs during that time. The 34-year-old hasn't run as much with Cincinnati, but he posted double-digit steals in four of the last five seasons. Although Pham is unlikely to have as many opportunities to produce runs as he had with some of his past teams, he should maintain consistent playing time for the struggling Reds. FAAB: $6

Josh Naylor, Guardians: Naylor has put together a five-game hitting streak in which he's gone 7-for-17 with a home run, a double, six RBIs and two runs, and he's now hitting .340 in 15 games this season. The 24-year-old doesn't run much, as he hasn't recorded more than one steal in any of his first three major-league seasons. However, he's had consistent playing time since returning from the injured list and has been effective at producing runs while reaching base consistently. FAAB: $4

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jason Shebilske
Jason joined RotoWire in 2019 as his first position covering fantasy sports. In addition to RotoWire, he writes for Sports Broadcast Journal.
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