Gregory Polanco is back and the Cleveland Indians look to get going in this week’s waiver wire column.
Gregory Polanco (OF – Pittsburgh Pirates)
Ownership: Yahoo 44% ESPN 26% CBS 77%
Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Gregory Polanco is two weeks back now from offseason shoulder surgery. Polanco has been a polarizing player for fantasy owners for years now, as he flashes so much potential but finds his way on and off the injured list. So far in 13 games back he’s hitting .308 with two home runs and has turned it on recently with five multi-hit games in his last five, including the two home runs he’s hit to go along with three doubles. His shoulder seems to have recovered well, in a limited sample size so far he has the highest average exit velocity of his career at 91mph. Polanco will be fixture at third in the batting order for the Pirates and should be owned in all 10 team leagues and deeper.
Mitch Garver (C – Minnesota Twins)
Ownership: Yahoo 46% ESPN 29% CBS 67%
If you don’t have one of the top five catchers, you should absolutely looking to be playing the hot bat at the position and not get too attached to the one you have. This week’s featured catcher is Minnesota Twin Mitch Garver. Garver is hitting a ridiculous .364/.440/.788 with eight home runs in only 21 games. Garver has started the last four games as the Twins try to keep his hot bat in the lineup. This week would be a good week in particular to stream Garver if he is available as the Twins play seven games with three at home against the Angeles and a four game series to end the week in Seattle against the Mariners. Any catcher swinging the bat this well right now is relevant in all leagues.
Jorge Soler (OF – Kansas City Royals)
Ownership: Yahoo 36% ESPN 24% CBS 55%
We’ve seemed to have been waiting for Kansas City Royals outfielder Jorge Soler to break out since his days as a Chicago Cub prospect. It’s probably passed that time to call him a breakout, but he’s certainly coming around as a usable player in fantasy. Solar got off to a slow start in April but in the last two weeks is hitting .327 with four home runs and ten RBI while cutting down on his strikeouts at 23% during that stretch. The Royals offense has been a surprisingly good one so far this season and have a good schedule this week with three games at home against the Texas Rangers and a three-game series to end the week on the road against the Los Angeles Angels. Soler could be added in 12 team leagues and deeper and should be a fixture in 15 team roto leagues for teams that need power.
Christin Stewart (OF – Detroit Tigers)
Ownership: Yahoo 3% ESPN 6% CBS 46%
Detroit Tigers OF/DH Christin Stewart made his return from a strained quad. Stewart’s overall numbers this season haven’t looked great with only a .220 average but in the week leading up to his injury had hit .308 with a home run and three doubles. Stewart has a track record of on-base ability and big power with 27 home runs in the minor leagues last season and consistent double digit walk rates. The Tigers have had Stewart hitting sixth to start the season but in his two games back has hit second in the order. Stewart has the ability to hit 30 home runs this season with a good OBP. I think Steward has the upside to be a decent third outfielder or utility option in 12 team leagues and deeper.
Hunter Pence (OF/DH – Texas Rangers)
Ownership: Yahoo 20% ESPN 13% CBS 25%
Texas Rangers outfielder Hunter Pence is enjoying a late career resurgence after leaving the San Francisco Giants hitting .329/.407/.657 with six home runs and a stolen base in 24 games. He’s shown great plate discipline with a 12.3% walk rate and a 16% strikeout rate. A lot of the underlying numbers seem to indicate what Pence is doing right now is sustainable with only a .327 BABIP, 51% hard hit rate, and a average exit velocity in the top 6% of the league at 92.7mph, a career high. Pence spent his offseason working on his swing in the Dominican Winter League and it looks to have paid dividends. Not too many players are easier to root for than Pence. Being back home in Texas, in a good park, with plenty of opportunity, Pence could be added in 12 team leagues and deeper.
Matchups of the Week
St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals play six games this week starting with a three game series in Atlanta before going to Texas to play the Rangers for three games. Five of the six games should come against right handed pitching, and the Cardinals are the best in the league against righties with a collective .272 average. Mike Soroka should present the toughest challenge for the Cardinals but then face the Rangers staff that sports the third worst team ERA. A favorable schedule in favorable parks gives the Cardinals offense a major boost this week.
One of these days, the Indians are going to score more than two runs. My money is on sometime this week as they get two games in Chicago against the White Sox followed by a four game series against the Baltimore Orioles in Camden Yards. Baltimore has been a pitching staff to target this season and this week is no different, even if it’s the stagnant Indian’s offense.
Kansas City Royals
The Kansas City Royals offense has performed better than expected this season thanks to a breakouts from Hunter Dozier and Adalberto Mondesi, consistent production from Whit Merrifield, and a resurgence from Alex Gordon. This week they get favorable matchups playing the Texas Rangers for a three game series at home followed by a three game series on the road against the Los Angeles Angels. Both the Rangers and Angels are in the bottom six in the league in team ERA.