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Waiver Wired

Go for the Winder

by Ryan Boyer
Updated On: May 12, 2022, 11:26 am ET

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MIXED LEAGUES

(Players rostered in under 50 percent of Yahoo leagues)

Note: Percentages are from the evening of Wednesday, May 11

Josh Winder, SP, Twins (Yahoo: 38 percent rostered)

Winder has ascended rapidly through the Twins’ system and his stuff has continued to tick up along the way. He wound up cracking the Twins’ Opening Day roster as a reliever, but a need in the rotation arose earlier this month and he’s responded with back-to-back brilliant starts. In outings against the Rays and Athletics, Winder has allowed a total of one unearned run, five hits and one walk while striking out 15 over 12 innings. The right-hander has used his slider more than any other pitch and so far it has a robust 37.3 percent whiff rate.

Juan Yepez, 1B/3B, Cardinals (Yahoo: 33 percent rostered)

Cardinals fans are clamoring for a Nolan Gorman promotion after Paul DeJong got sent down. They already have one top hitting prospect up and performing, though, in Yepez. The 24-year-old had a breakout 2021 season between Double- and Triple-A, posting a .969 OPS with 27 home runs and 77 RBI. He followed that up with a .974 OPS and nine long balls in his first 22 Triple-A games in 2022 to earn a call-up. Yepez hasn’t been fazed by major league pitching, going 12-for-27 (.444) with two homers, three doubles and four RBI in his first seven big league contests. He’s started every game since his promotion, seeing time at designated hitter and also in the corner outfield spots.

Alek Thomas, OF, Diamondbacks (Yahoo: 22 percent rostered)

Thomas has emerged as one of the better all-around prospects in the game. He’s always boasted a superb hit tool and added more power to his profile last season, popping 18 home runs and slugging .559 between Double- and Triple-A. Thomas got off to another nice start at Triple-A Reno this year and earned a promotion to the major league roster at the ripe age of 22. The outfielder popped his first major league home run Wednesday and has gone 5-for-13 at the dish in his first four contests. Thomas has been stuck at the bottom of Arizona’s batting order, but he could easily move up soon considering he’s probably already one of the team’s best hitters.

Josh Naylor, 1B/OF, Guardians (Yahoo: 38 percent rostered)

Considering the catastrophic nature of the leg injury Naylor suffered last June, it’s admirable that he’s even healthy enough to play right now. The Guardians eased him into game action with a short rehab assignment, but he took no time at all to get rolling at the plate with multiple hits in five of his first six games. More recently, Naylor followed up a two-homer, eight-RBI game on Monday with another dinger Tuesday. The 24-year-old’s batted ball data has been excellent, and while he doesn’t draw walks, he also rarely strikes out. Lefties have given Naylor problems at times and he hits too many ground balls, so it’s not a perfect profile. Still, there’s a lot to like.

Brandon Drury, 2B/3B/OF, Reds (Yahoo: 46 percent rostered)

I must admit that I don’t feel great about listing Drury in this space. He’s still just 29 but can be considered a journeyman at this point who is long removed from the days he intrigued as a youngster with the Diamondbacks. Drury had a solid run as a part-timer with the Mets last year, though, and in 2022 he’s put up a .912 OPS with six homers over 26 games. The Statcast data has pretty much backed it up, too, with Drury’s 17.7 percent barrel rate in particular impressing. He’s hit second consistently for the Reds and comes with multi-position eligibility.

Paul Sewald, RP, Mariners (Yahoo: 26 percent rostered)

The Mariners have been a disappointment so far, particularly the last couple weeks. Still, it’s surprising to see that no one on their team has more than one save. The last one went to Sewald, who closed out Tuesday’s win over the Phillies by recording the final four outs. Sewald had a breakout season out of the Mariners’ bullpen last season with 104 strikeouts and he’s carried that over with a nice start in 2022. I’m not confident that manager Scott Servais will stick with one guy, but Sewald is arguably their best reliever right now.

Deeper Dandies:

(Players rostered in under 10 percent of Yahoo leagues)

Kyle Bradish, SP, Orioles (Yahoo: 3 percent rostered)

The Orioles’ pitching has been surprisingly competent this season. Bradish made his major league debut less than two weeks ago, but he’s already making a nice impression, particularly in his last outing on Tuesday in St. Louis. In seven innings against the Cardinals, Bradish struck out 11 batters, didn’t walk anyone and produced a robust CSW rate of 41 percent. The young right-hander put up an 11.1 K/9 rate in the minors, so he’s used to missing bats.

Jose Iglesias, SS, Rockies (Yahoo: 6 percent rostered)

An argument can be made that Iglesias has been pretty underrated throughout his career, at least from a real-life perspective. The ceiling in fantasy is low, but that’s elevated this year by Coors Field, even though he’s strangely hit much better away from home thus far (.939 OPS versus .539 OPS). Iglesias has always been a pretty good bet for average even without the Coors boost, and he was recently pushed up to the No. 2 spot in the Rockies’ lineup. Also, while he’s yet to attempt a stolen base this season, Iglesias has proven capable of notching double-digit thefts in the past.

Wade Miley, SP, Cubs (Yahoo: 7 percent rostered)

The cost-cutting Reds let Miley go for free over the offseason and the Cubs gladly scooped him up. He missed the first month of the season with an elbow issue and didn’t pitch well in his season debut earlier this week. That said, there’s a lengthy track record of Miley being a solid starter, particularly since 2018 when he started going cutter-heavy, as he boasts a 3.53 ERA since then. He won’t help you in the strikeouts department, but the veteran left-hander should provide a solid ERA with a pretty sizeable workload.

Weekend Warriors:

Jordan Lyles, SP, Orioles (Yahoo: 5 percent rostered)

A couple poor outings have Lyles’ overall numbers pretty underwhelming this season, but the right-hander has pitched well more times than not. That’s particularly been the case the last two times out when Lyles has yielded a total of three earned runs over 13 1/3 frames against the Red Sox and Royals. This weekend Lyles gets to face off against a Tigers lineup which has been shut out in three of their last four games while scoring just one run in one of those other contests.

Kyle Freeland, SP, Rockies (Yahoo: 9 percent rostered)

I’m not normally in the business of recommending streaming pitchers at Coors Field. However, the combination of Freeland pitching very well of late and the Royals not hitting anyone (save from a rare eight-run outburst Wednesday) makes the left-hander a viable option this weekend. Freeland boasts a 1.57 ERA over his last four starts, and only the Tigers have scored fewer runs than the Royals this season. There’s obvious risk here, but it’s a sensible play on paper.

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AL ONLY

Alex Faedo, SP, Tigers (Yahoo: 1 percent rostered)

A former first-round pick, Faedo fell off the prospect radar for a while after missing two straight seasons due to the pandemic and then Tommy John surgery. He has looked excellent so far this year, though, holding a 1.72 ERA and 20/3 K/BB ratio over 15 2/3 innings in the minors and most recently garnering seven strikeouts and 17 swinging strikes on 83 pitches in a spot start Tuesday versus the A’s. Faedo was sent back down after the outing, but the expectation is that he’ll be back Monday for a start against the Rays.

Zach Logue, SP, Athletics (Yahoo: 2 percent rostered)

The casual fan might have trouble recognizing most of the names on the A’s roster these days, and Logue is probably included among that group. The pitching staff has been solid, though, and Logue has been a part of that of late. After limiting the Twins to two runs over five innings last week, Logue spun seven shutout frames against the Tigers on Wednesday. Logue doesn’t throw hard, but he had a 144/27 K/BB ratio over 125 innings in the minors last season and so far in the majors has gotten a lot of whiffs on his slider (34.6 percent) and curveball (37.5 percent).

NL ONLY

TJ Friedl, OF, Reds (Yahoo: 0 percent rostered)

With Nick Senzel (COVID-19) on the sheld, Friedl has been used as the Reds’ regular center fielder of late. He’s even been elevated to the leadoff spot in each of their last four games and on Wednesday had three hits, scored three runs and stole a base. The 26-year-old’s speed is his best asset and he also popped 12 home runs last season in the minors. Friedl could prove to be a useful deep-league option, especially while he’s perched at the top of Cincinnati’s batting order.

Luis Garcia, 2B/SS, Nationals (Yahoo: 1 percent rostered)

Alcides Escobar is currently sidelined by a finger injury and, more importantly, has been positively dreadful at the plate this season while also showing decline defensively. Meanwhile, Garcia has spent most of his time playing shortstop this season at Triple-A Rochester, where he’s sported a ridiculous .357/.415/.652 batting line with seven home runs. Garcia has struggled during his time in the majors, which isn’t terribly surprising since he’ll turn just 22 in a few days. He still has significant upside, though, and the Nats surely will have to give him another look before long.