Fantasy Baseball Pickups: Houston, we have (another) elite pitcher

Fred ZinkieYahoo Fantasy Contributor
Yahoo Sports

With an abbreviated schedule, fantasy managers will need to get aggressive on the waiver wire this year. Whether in need of power, speed, strikeouts, or saves, here is a wide array of options that are available in more than half of Yahoo leagues.

Trent Grisham, SD (OF, 28 percent rostered)

Grisham has already gone deep twice this season, and the 23-year-old recorded twice as many steals than homers in his Minor League career. The outfielder has the potential to be an on-base machine (career .376 OBP in Minors) who consistently contributes in all five categories. He’s also hanging out in Colorado right now, waiting to take advantage of the thin air at Coors Field this weekend.

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Mike Yastrzemski, SF (OF, 49 percent)

Speaking of Coors Field, Yastrzemski is set to play four games there at the start of next week. The slugger should be ready to take advantage of the offense-inducing surroundings, as he so far owns a spectacular .423/.531/.808 slash line this season. Although Yaz is arguably the best long-term option in an otherwise unspectacular Giants lineup, his teammates such as Wilmer Flores (3 percent rostered) could also succeed while in Colorado.

Cesar Hernandez, CLE (2B, 46%)

Hernandez is hitting well this season (.304 average), but his zeros in homers and steals are likely keeping him on waivers in shallow leagues. Still, the veteran is cemented as Cleveland’s leadoff man, and he has the on-base skills (career .385 OBP) to rank among the league leaders in runs scored while hitting in front of stars Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez.

Teoscar Hernandez, TOR (OF, 29%)

With a quartet of homers and a pair of steals in seven games, Hernandez has been an elite fantasy contributor in this young season. The all-or-nothing slugger with a career .239 average could be maddening at times this summer, but he is going to play every day and has the power skills to rank among the league’s long-ball leaders.

Mark Canha, OAK (1B/OF, 48%)

Although Canha hasn’t totally taken flight this season (.821 OPS), he was spectacular in the second half of last year (.943 OPS) and deserves an extended opportunity to prove himself in shallow leagues. The multi-position asset plays in a good lineup, is in no danger of surrendering playing time, and occupies a spot in the heart of the order.

Willy Adames, TB (SS, 11%)

A potential add in deep leagues, Adames is hitting .333 with as many walks as strikeouts. The shortstop is one of the few Rays who has risen above their platoon-happy strategy, and he combines solid power (20 homers in 2019) with more speed than is indicated by his 11 career steals.

Cristian Javier, HOU (SP, 16%)

After posting eye-popping numbers in the Minors last year (1.74 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 13.5 K/9 rate), Javier dominated a tough Dodgers lineup in his first MLB start on Wednesday (5.2 IP, 1 ER, 8 SO). The 23-year-old ranks sixth among Houston prospects on MLB Pipeline, and his career Minor League numbers (2.22 ERA, 1.03 WHIP) are outstanding. He could be one of this year’s biggest waiver-wire gems.

Do the <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/mlb/teams/houston/" data-ylk="slk:Astros">Astros</a> have yet another elite SP on their hands? (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Do the Astros have yet another elite SP on their hands? (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Zach Plesac, CLE (SP, 40%)

Plesac was absolutely dominant in his 2020 debut, striking out 11 White Sox across eight scoreless innings. And his dominant outing comes on the heels of a solid rookie season in which he logged a 3.81 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP across 21 starts. Plesac does not have the peripheral numbers to suggest that he can be a dominant starter, but he is part of an organization that has produced so many pitching gems in recent years, so he deserves attention.

Matt Shoemaker, TOR (SP, 20%)

Shoemaker is typically effective when healthy (career 3.79 ERA, 1.18 WHIP) and threw six innings of one-run ball in his initial 2020 start. With effective starting pitching at a premium, fantasy managers should take a shot at this injury-prone veteran and hope that he can make 10-11 more appearances.

Daniel Hudson, WSH (RP, 37%)

Sean Doolittle doesn’t seem quite right and was deployed early in games during each of his initial two outings. Hudson is clearly the Nats closer right now, and he has the skills (2.47 ERA, 1.14 WHIP in 2019) to hold the role all season.

Nick Burdi, PIT (RP, 13%)

With a save and four whiffs across two scoreless innings, Burdi can be regarded as both the Bucs best reliever and closer. The 27-year-old has little Major League experience, but he possesses elite fastball velocity and the Pirates have nowhere else to turn at the moment. With Keone Kela still away from the team, there is a real chance that Burdi serves as closer all season.

James Karinchak, CLE (RP, 19%)

Karinchak picked up a save on Thursday and could be Cleveland’s best reliever at the moment. Closer Brad Hand is struggling with his fastball velocity, stumbled on Wednesday, and is likely one more ugly outing from moving to low-leverage situations. Karinchak will help fantasy managers with their ratios and could also wind up permanently working the ninth inning.

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