Fantasy Baseball 2021: Waiver-Wire Advice for Injured MLB Players for Week 11
Injuries have become especially pervasive for pitching staffs around the league in recent weeks. Just ask the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Redbirds lost ace Jack Flaherty to an oblique injury after placing Miles Mikolas on the 60-day injured list (forearm) and also losing left-hander Kwang Hyun Kim (lower back).
St. Louis is suddenly scrambling for rotation depth, though the Cardinals are hardly the only club doing so. Chances are, many fantasy baseball managers are doing the same.
There is no avoiding the injury bug in fantasy, particularly when physical issues have been more prevalent this season than any in history. That makes adding through the waiver wire more important than ever.
Here are three waiver-wire additions to consider for managers needing to bolster their rotations, including a Cardinals hurler who is still healthy.
RHP Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals
Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright's days of being a true ace are in the past. Yet, he is still a tremendously effective starting pitcher.
Wainwright has been especially good in the past few weeks, throwing seven or more innings in three of his last four starts and compiling a 3.00 ERA during that stretch. He is not going to dazzle with velocity but gets outs with his effectiveness and "pitchability."
The three-time All-Star commands the zone and can keep hitters off balance with a curveball he throws in just about any count. Steady usage with the breaking ball helps his heater get up on opposing hitters that much quicker, even allowing him to work up in the zone.
Wainwright's ability to mix and match has also led to soft contact. He entered Thursday's action ranked above the 65th percentile both in average exit velocity and hard-hit rate. Perhaps even more importantly, the ground-ball rate is inching closer to 50 percent.
Wainwright is far from flashy, but he will eat innings and provide a lot of quality starts for managers. He is available in just over 40 percent of ESPN leagues, and managers dealing with some injuries should jump at the chance to add him at least in the short term.
LHP Tucker Davidson, Atlanta Braves
The Atlanta Braves have desperately needed a boost in the rotation with Mike Soroka and Huascar Ynoa both on the shelf. Tucker Davidson has provided that boost as of late.
Davidson was excelling in Triple-A ball before being called up to the bigs, giving up just two runs and eight hits in 20 innings of work. The left-hander has shown excellent stuff in his first three starts, posting a 1.53 ERA and throwing six scoreless innings against the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday night.
Although the 25-year-old will not blow opposing hitters away with overpowering fastball velocity, his breaking balls are excellent offerings.
Davidson's slider is especially nasty. He comes at hitters with a slider that can get into the upper-80s with excellent bite at the bottom of the zone. Look what he does to New York Mets outfielder Dominic Smith here. He has Smith downright bewildered.
The slider is going to make Davidson's fastball more dangerous going forward, particularly if he can repeat his delivery and harness his command. Managers should jump to add Davidson while he's still flying under the radar. He is available in just under 16 percent of ESPN leagues.
RHP Vladimir Gutierrez, Cincinnati Reds
The Cincinnati Reds are another National League Central club that has needed reinforcements with Jeff Hoffman and Sonny Gray both out.
Young right-hander Vladimir Gutierrez is like Tucker Davidson in that he doesn't have the liveliest fastball but wipes hitters out with his breaking stuff.
Gutierrez has won two of his first three starts with the Reds, posting a 2.65 ERA and notching a ground-ball rate over 50 percent. The 25-year-old threw seven innings against the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday night, giving up two earned runs and striking out seven in the process. He will go after right-handers with a fastball-slider combination while using his curveball and changeup more heavily against lefties.
A concern with Gutierrez is the command. He has walked eight opponents in 17 innings against just 13 strikeouts. Still, his wipeout breaking stuff plays so far and, as might be the case with Davidson, could make his fastball more of an asset.