Daniel Vogelbach and Kevin Pillar highlight this week’s waiver column as I give you some players to add and matchups of the week.
Kevin Pillar (OF – San Francisco Giants)
Ownership: Yahoo 9% ESPN 27% CBS 17%
The San Francisco Giants had acquired outfielder Kevin Pillar in a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays on April 2nd after he had gotten off to a dreadful start. The Blue Jays had been looking to make room on their roster to begin the influx of young talent they have at the minor league level. Pillar has certainly been a welcome addition to San Francisco with three home runs and two steals all coming in the last week. Pillar’s average currently sits at .151 but comes with an extremely low .114 BABIP. After getting only one hit in five games with Toronto, Pillar has hit safely in seven of his last eight games with San Francisco and has regularly hit near the top of the order. San Francisco is in a position right now where they may be sellers at the trade deadline and have already shown that they are willing to make moves under new GM Farhan Zaidi. I wouldn’t be surprised if after three seasons with at least 14 steals, they continue to give Pillar the green light to run in order to showcase his talents for potential trade partners. Not only has Pillar stolen at least 14 bases in the last three seasons, he’s also hit at least 15 home runs in the last two. Now, Oracle Park is no Rogers Centre in Toronto, but the NL West has an abundance of left handed starters. Pillar has hit left handed pitchers significantly better than right handed pitchers with a career .279 average against them. Pillar has shown the desire so far to pull the ball more and is barreling the ball at a career best 8.5%. Pulling the ball to the left side of the field is Pillar’s best chance at putting it over the fence at Oracle Park. Pillar should be able to replicate numbers close to his previous two seasons with mid-teens home runs and steals and could turn out to be a value play at the outfield position in any roto league that uses five outfield positions, even in a 12-team league.
Freddy Galvis (SS/2B – Toronto Blue Jays)
Ownership: Yahoo 40% ESPN 15% CBS 27%
Toronto Blue Jays short stop Freddy Galvis has gotten off to a great start slashing .375/.412/.708 with four home runs in 14 games. Galvis has mostly been underwhelming after coming up as one of Philadelphia’s top prospects years ago but has shown to be one of the more durable players in the league playing all 162 games for the last two seasons. Galvis has flash some power before, hitting 20 home runs in 158 games for the Phillies in 2016 and has chipped in as many as 17 steals in a season before. His soft contact rate is at a career low so far. How much of it is due to a possible juiced ball is unknown, but he’s certainly making use of it. Toronto might have picked Galvis up as a stop gap player while their stable of prospects make their way up but he has taken advantage of his opportunity and the Blue Jays have rewarded him by moving him up in the order. Since April 6th he’s batted first or second in the order after starting the year at the bottom and this week he gets seven games against Minnesota and Oakland with Jose Berrios being the only tough matchup. Galvis could be a good middle infield play this week. I question Galvis as a season long viable play because his plate discipline remains in line with his career numbers, so his average is bound to fall, but it should be noted that he has a career high launch angle and exit velocity. Playing a much more home run friendly park this season than Petco, we could see Galvis approach or surpass his career high home run total this season given the playing time.
Daniel Vogelbach (1B/DH – Seattle Mariners)
Ownership: Yahoo 61% ESPN 44% CBS 40%
In this week’s edition of trendy Mariner, we take a look at Daniel Vogelbach. Vogelbach has a slash line as robust as he is going .400/.513/.1.133 with six home runs in ten games played for the Mariners. Yes, that’s a slugging percentage of over 1.000. Vogelbach has been a statcast darling and breakout hopeful for a couple years now, but hasn’t had the opportunity to get going at the MLB level. Seattle GM Jerry Dipoto said himself this spring that he wanted to make sure Vogelbach gets his share of at-bats this season after showing he has nothing left to prove in AAA hitting 20 home runs in 84 games last year. Vogelbach is currently tied for second in the league in average exit velocity at 96.6 MPH and is hitting the ball in the air at a 56.5% rate. He’s always shown good plate discipline with the ability to walk but this season he’s walking at a Votto-esque 17.9% rate with nearly a 1:1 walk to strikeout ratio. As long as he continues to get playing time he should be a must add in every format. The Mariners have plenty of bats they need to get into the lineup but despite Jay Bruce’s start, he’s questionable to stay healthy all season. The Mariners have sat Vogelbach against left handed pitching, which could skew his batting line but this week the Mariners play seven games, all of which should come against right handed pitching.
Jeff McNeil (2B/3B – New York Mets)
Ownership: Yahoo 24% ESPN 31% CBS 67%
Jeff McNeil isn’t exactly an exciting player blowing the fantasy world away with power and speed, but certainly knows how to hit as shown with his .359/.444/.487 batting line this season. Injuries to Jed Lowrie and Todd Frazier opened the door for McNeil and all he’s done is consistently hit. The ability to get on base and not strike out is ideal for hitting atop the order, and a cold start from Nimmo could give McNeil the opportunity to lead off as he did in last night’s game against the Atlanta Braves where he went two for five with a single, double, and two RBI. A line drive rate of 32.4% this season is ideal for elite batting average, as it lends itself to a higher BABIP. A .345 career hitter against right handed pitching, McNeil and the Mets get six right handers on the week going to Philadelphia and St. Louis. It remains to be seen how the returns of Lowrie and Frazier could shake things up but with Lowrie still a ways away from a return I would confidently play McNeil in a middle or corner infield spot where I need batting average help or in a points league this week as he could be on to score plenty of runs if the Mets decide to let him run with the leadoff spot.
Christin Stewart (OF – Detroit Tigers)
Ownership: Yahoo 4% ESPN 11% CBS 66%
Detroit Tigers outfielder Christin Stewart was a player I was high on coming into the season. I believed that it was time for the Tigers to see what they had in Stewart after he flash great power, putting up 25 home runs across the minor leagues last year. Stewart started the season with only one hit in his first seven games, that lone hit being a home run on opening day. He has turned it on recently with seven hits in his last 23 plate appearances, five of those hits going for extra bases that includes two doubles, a triple, and two home runs. Hitting mostly from the sixth spot in the order, the Tigers today moved him into the cleanup spot given his recent success. This week, the Tigers get two games at home to the Pittsburgh Pirates before hosting the Chicago White Sox who outside of Carlos Rodon, the lone lefty they will face, have struggled collectively as a whole as shown by their league worst 6.88 team ERA. If you play in a daily lineup league, that would be the only game I consider benching Stewart for, otherwise he should be a decent play in all mixed leagues. I expect his strikeout rate to remain in the mid-twenties and his walk rate to stay above ten percent for a Justin Upton-like profile without the steals.
Brandon Lowe (2B – Tampa Bay Rays)
Ownership: Yahoo 20% ESPN 7% CBS 45%
After a breakout season in the minors hitting .304 with 14 home runs in 46 AAA games, the Tampa Bay Rays called up Brandon Lowe for 48 games last year where he continued to flash his breakout power with six home runs. The Rays rewarded Lowe with a 24 million dollar extension over six year and made him their everyday second baseman. Lowe has hit cleanup or fifth in the order in just about every game this season and has really turned it on at the plate hitting .400 in the last seven days with eight hits that include three home runs and two doubles. The 54% hard hit rate shows those numbers are no fluke. With a high strikeout rate of 26.8% throughout his minor league career and limited MLB experience, hot streaks like this will come and go, but now is a perfect opportunity to take advantage. Lowe and the Rays have excellent matchups this week where they will play two three game series at home against the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox. The Rays are expected to face right handed pitching in all six games this week so I expect this hot streak to continue for Lowe. Given the second base landscape, he could be a good play in all formats at the position.
Matchups of the Week
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers play a three-game set at home against the Cincinnati Reds before going on the road to play the Milwaukee Brewers at home run friendly Miller Park. The Brewers have given up home runs at the fourth highest rate in the league with a 1.90 HR/9 and will throw all right handed pitchers against the Dodgers, who lead the league against right handed pitching with a .293 average. Joc Peterson should continue to get run in lineups across all formats and look for Cody Bellinger to continue his home run binge.
The Minnesota Twins get seven games on the week with a four game series against the Toronto Blue Jays before going on the road for a three game series against the Orioles in Camden Yard. Nelson Cruz was a sit this week with all of the Twins games coming on the road against NL teams where they didn’t have a designated hitter. Look for Cruz to get back on track, especially for the weekend series in Baltimore. The Twins offense as a whole gets a boost from me this week.
The Phillies are one of ten teams with a full slate of seven games with three games at home against the Mets before going to Colorado for a four game series with the Rockies. Any time a team outside of the NL West finds their way to Coors Field, they must be highlighted. All seven games come in a hitter friendly venue and they’re lucky enough not to have to face DeGrom with the Mets. The Phillies offense gets a big boost as a whole this week, especially the final four days in Colorado.
Tampa Bay Rays
The Tampa Bay Rays make it into my matchups of the week for the second straight week as they play six games, three games apiece against the Orioles and Red Sox at home. The pitching staffs of both teams have struggled to start the season and find themselves in the bottom three in team ERA, most notably the Red Sox after coming off a World Series win. All six games should come against right handed pitching so Austin Meadows should once again be a must play, especially after the tear he has been on of late. Brandon Lowe should be another good play this week at second base and even has outfield eligibility in Yahoo.