Valuable options abound on fantasy waiver wires
Hitters Gomes and prospect Polanco, pitchers Lincecum, Colon likely available
This week's piece offers insight on many talented young hitters who could break through during the summer months. The coming week is a bleak one for two-start pitchers, and the few quality options who are sitting on waivers should be snapped up by smart fantasy owners before the competition looks for hurlers at the last minute.
Catcher, Yan Gomes (Indians): The 26-year-old can hit for power without sacrificing his batting average. With Carlos Santana on the 7-day concussion DL, Gomes will likely handle an even heavier workload in the coming days.
First baseman, Mark Reynolds (Brewers): Reynolds is one of the streakiest hitters in baseball, and he is hot right now with 12 homers in less than two months. When he cools off, he tends to go ice-cold, so owners should be ready to pull away quickly when the wheels come off of this free swinger.
Second baseman, Tommy La Stella (Braves): Those in shallow formats would be better off to target Kolten Wong, who can offer more speed and power. But La Stella, who was recently promoted from Triple-A, is a great addition to deep-league rosters. La Stella lacks the ability to hit homers or swipe bases, but he should be able to hit for average and post a high walk rate right away. If the 25-year-old can get a lineup spot near the top of the order, he could score plenty of runs.
Shortstop, Chris Owings (D-backs): The 2013 Pacific Coast League MVP is showing signs of figuring out Major League pitching, as he has a pair of three-hit games and a four-hit effort in his past 11 contests. Owings has recorded three homers and two steals this month, and he often hits in front of fantasy stud Paul Goldschmidt. He could score plenty of runs this summer if he can maintain his .276 batting average.
Third baseman, Lonnie Chisenhall (Indians): It is true that Chisenhall's .358 batting average is being propped up by a high BABIP, but he showed the ability to record a high hit rate in the Minors, so he could keep his average fairly high. The Indians are using him exclusively against right-handers, which should allow him plenty of productive days and limit his 0-for-4 efforts.
Outfielder, Gregory Polanco (Pirates): Until fantasy owners add Polanco in droves, the drum will continue to bang loudly in this space. The prized prospect owns a .412 on-base percentage and 43 RBIs in 52 Minor League games. His chance with the Bucs is likely coming soon.
Outfielder, Junior Lake, (Cubs): The 24-year-old owns a subpar strikeout-to-walk rate, but he is a good athlete who can provide power and speed. As long as he can keep his batting average close to his .276 career mark, he can help mixed-league owners.
Outfielder, Khris Davis (Brewers): Like Lake, Davis lacks plate discipline. But the 26-year-old possesses terrific power, and he is red-hot right now, with five homers in his past nine games. He has shown improved patience in the past week, so he may be ready to take a permanent step forward.
Starter, Jake Arrieta (Cubs): Arrieta has struck out at least five batters in four of his five starts, and he has walked two batters or fewer in four of those five outings. Next week, the 28-year-old will work at home twice against the light-hitting Mets and a Marlins offense that does not travel well.
Starter, Tim Lincecum (Giants): The 29-year-old is inconsistent, but he has made four quality starts in a row, and he tossed five no-hit innings in his most recent outing. Next week, he will face a Reds squad that is working without their best player before returning to his pitcher-friendly home park to take on the Mets.
Starter, Henderson Alvarez (Marlins): Assuming that elbow soreness does not impact his schedule, Alvarez lines up for two starts next week. He has allowed zero runs in four of his past eight outings, and his mediocre strikeout rate is less of an issue when he makes two appearances in one scoring period.
Starter, Bartolo Colon (Mets): Colon and his 52-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio are not getting enough attention from fantasy owners. Outside of difficult road starts against the Angels, Yankees and Rockies, he has pitched very well this season. Next week, he will face the last-place Phillies on the road before taking on the Giants in pitcher-friendly AT&T Park.
Starter, Zach Wheeler (Mets): The second-year hurler got off to a slow start this season, but he has looked much better in his past two starts. A high strikeout rate gives Wheeler plenty of upside, especially in two-start weeks such as his upcoming stanza, when he will face the Cubs and Giants.
Starter, Charlie Morton (Pirates): Fantasy owners should ignore Morton's 1-7 record and take a look at his 3.29 ERA and 1.29 WHIP. Next week, he will face the offensively challenged Padres in pitcher-friendly Petco Park before returning to his home confines to take on the Brewers. If there was ever a week to consider Morton, this is it.
Reliever, Zach Britton (Orioles): Britton blew his most recent save chance, but it was his first blown save of the season, and manager Buck Showalter is using the southpaw as a specialized stopper. Because of his 0.94 ERA and 0.91 WHIP, Britton should get a fairly long leash.
Reliever, Chad Qualls (Astros): Qualls has taken over as the team's full-time closer, and his 19-ot-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 16 1/3 innings suggests that he can keep the job. The Astros are playing better baseball of late, and if that trend continues, Qualls could get additional save chances in the coming days.
Reliever, Dellin Betances (Yankees): Owners in shallow leagues will have no use for Betances, because he will not rack up saves or wins. But those in deep mixed formats should strongly consider the massive 26-year-old because he will likely strike out more 120 batters and provide low ratios this year.