With the last full week of April coming up, here are my top-five fantasy baseball waiver wire adds.
5. Jeff Samardzija, SP, San Francisco Giants
After a spring training pectoral injury delayed the start to his season, Samardzija made his 2018 debut Friday night against the Los Angeles. It was a brief outing, as expected, covering five innings and 80 pitches with four strikeouts and four walks, but better things should be coming.
Samardzija's 15 losses and 4.42 ERA last year probably turned off a lot of fantasy owners on draft day. But a closer look shows a career high in innings (207.2), an 8.9 K/9 rate, a career-best 1.4 BB/9 and a 3.61 FIP.
Samardziha straddles the line to eligible here, but he needs to owned in mixed leagues.
Yahoo! Ownership: 67%
ESPN Ownership: 56.3%
4. Jackie Bradley Jr., OF, Boston Red Sox
Prior to the Red Sox being no-hit by Sean Manaea Saturday night, Bradley had five hits over his previous 13 at-bats with two home runs and five RBI.
Bradley is streaky, so a downturn could come at any time. But for his career his highest slugging percentage (.460) and OPS comes in May (.807), followed closely by June (.452 slugging, .800 OPS). Quite literally, as the weather warms up so does Bradley's bat.
It's worth capitalizing on Bradley's good streak right now, especially in AL-only and deeper mixed leagues. If nothing else, he become of a peak-value tradeable asset over the next 6-8 weeks.
Yahoo! Ownership: 28%
ESPN Ownership: 42.2%
3. Bud Norris, RP, St. Louis Cardinals
Even with Greg Holland added to the mix, Norris has seized and kept the closer role for the Cardinals with five saves in five opportunities. He has allowed a run in two of his last three appearances, but with eight strikeouts and two walks over his last four outings Norris has been able to limit the damage.
Holland's lurking presence, and recent improvement (three scoreless appearances in his last four) has kept Norris far more available than he should be in fantasy leagues. But as long as he is converting saves without much issue, like he did unexpectedly for the Angels last year (19 saves), the ninth inning should be Norris'.
Yahoo! Ownership: 64%
ESPN Ownership: 38.7%
2. Chris Devenski, RP, Houston Astros
Astros manager A.J. Hinch has turned to Devenski to close games, and he has delivered with two saves in as many opportunities. Ken Giles has not gotten a save opportunity since April 9, and he just came back from a back issue that coincided with Devenski replacing him in the ninth inning.
Devenski has closer-worthy stuff (11.2 K/9 in 2017), and Giles rebounded nicely last year (34 saves, 2.30 ERA) after struggling in 2016. If Hinch goes with the “you can lose your job to injury” theory, Giles will be getting save opportunities again in short order.
Even without saves, Devenski can help fantasy owners in strikeouts, ERA and holds (24 in 2017). But if Giles' back issue lingers at all, or eventually brings a DL stint, he'll be closing for a good team. That upside is worth speculating on.
Yahoo! Ownership: 62%
ESPN Ownership: 31.7%
1. Gleyber Torres, SS/2B, New York Yankees
Now that the service time window has passed, Torres has been promoted from Triple-A and will make his major league debut Sunday against the Blue Jays. He carried a good spring training into the start of the season for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, hitting .347/.393/.510 with a home run and 11 RBI.
Torres is immediately eligible at shortstop in both ESPN and Yahoo! leagues. But he's in line for the majority of the playing time at second base and he could fill in at third base once in awhile while Brandon Drury (migraines) is sidelined.
Torres has less than 200 plate appearances above High-A ball, so his first taste of big league pitching could bring some struggles. But the Yankees can be patient and hit him lower in the lineup (he's batting eighth on Sunday) while he figures it out, and the upside is immense. Run, don't walk, to add Torres in all fantasy leagues.
Yahoo! Ownership: 50%
ESPN Ownership: 33.5%