Fantasy Baseball 2021: Players to Target on Waiver Wire for Week 6
The New York Yankees took a risk when they put Jameson Taillon and Corey Kluber at the back end of their 2021 rotation.
After one month, the returns have been promising, and the hurlers have turned into two of the best early stories of the season.
Taillon and Kluber are nowhere close to being long-distance, high-strikeout producers like Gerrit Cole, but they have been consistent enough to put the Yankees in spots to win and to be considered as fantasy baseball waiver-wire additions.
The upcoming matchups with the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals are not ideal, but if you look at the rest of New York's schedule in May, there are a few opportunities for both players to increase their fantasy value, which is why now is the time to go after them.
Jameson Taillon, SP, New York Yankees
Taillon produced his best outing of the season Saturday against the Detroit Tigers.
The right-handed hurler conceded one earned run on three hits over five innings and fanned a season-high eight batters.
Taillon has not gotten past the fifth inning in any of his five starts, but he does have 29 strikeouts compared to five walks and allowed two or fewer earned runs in three appearances.
Since he started Saturday, Taillon will only make one start next week when the Yankees take on the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals. That sets up him to make two starts against a combination of the Baltimore Orioles, Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers.
Texas and Tampa Bay are first and third in strikeouts, while Baltimore is 12th. Taillon had eight punchouts against Detroit's offense that is second in strikeouts.
If he can be as effective in those upcoming starts as he was against Detroit, Taillon could carry strong value as a back-end fantasy starter.
Corey Kluber, SP, New York Yankees
The same logic with Taillon applies to Kluber.
The right-handed hurler is scheduled to start on Sunday versus Detroit, so he may be worth the pickup to close out Week 5.
Kluber will only face one of Houston or Washington before New York embarks on its 10-game road trip to Baltimore, Tampa and Texas.
If the Yankees rotation remains in the same cycle, Kluber should start against Baltimore and Texas. He gave up one earned run in 6.2 innings in his most recent start versus the Orioles.
The length of that start was its most significant detail, as he went past the fifth inning for the first time in five starts. If Kluber continues to stretch out his starts and proves that his injury issues are in the past, he could be one of the best pitching additions in the American League.
As long as he and Taillon go five innings to be eligible for wins, they should get there with the Yankees bats heating up. New York has five or more runs in six of its past 10 games.
Austin Riley, 3B/OF, Atlanta
Austin Riley was already hopping on to the fantasy radar thanks to his recent hot streak, and he should have more eyes on him after Travis d'Arnaud's injury Saturday.
D'Arnaud suffered a thumb injury that Atlanta manager Brian Snitker deemed "serious", per The Athletic's David O'Brien.
Riley should be a candidate to move up in the Atlanta order to take over for d'Arnaud, and that puts him closer to Freddie Freeman, Marcell Ozuna and Ozzie Albies.
He had opportunities to drive them in before, but he had to wait one or two batters for that happen. The potential boost should put him in better situations.
Riley deserves the bump up the order after putting up a six-game hitting streak in which he had two multi-hit performances. If he stays hot, Riley should boost his RBI total—he only has three in the past six games.
In Yahoo leagues, Riley is listed at third base and outfield, so he comes with more positional flexibility than other options you may have in mind for the next week.