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Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Adam Duvall Rising & Joey Votto Heating Up

Sports Illustrated logo Sports Illustrated 4/17/2021 Shawn Childs

Five-time high-stakes champ Shawn Childs helps you at the waiver wire to bolster your fantasy squad

Weekly Waiver Wire Report

Note: My waiver wire report digs a little deeper and is slanted toward high-stakes leagues (15 teams)


The free catching pool in 12 and 15 leagues is full of have-nots. Fantasy owners will have an ongoing battle of playing the hot hand or rostering the best possible players with upside. My bet this season has been on Daulton Varsho. Still, I can’t sell you on him with no minor league stats or any indication by the Diamondbacks that he will be called up.

Luis Torrens, SEA

Over the last week, the Mariners leaned on Torrens at catcher while also starting him at DH due to some injuries. He has seven hits over his previous 24 at-bats, but Torrens is still looking for his first home run in 2021 while delivering only one RBI. His bat flashed at AA in 2019 when he hit .300 with 15 home runs and 62 RBI over 350 at-bats. If my team has an issue at C2, Torrens would be my top choice this week on the waiver wire.

Jacob Stallings, PIT

Stallings had a quiet first week of the season (2-for-14 with one RBI). The Pirates started him in six of their last seven games at home, leading to eight hits over 19 at-bats with four runs and five RBI. Over this span, he even had more walks (6) than strikeouts (5), which shows he is seeing the ball well. His ceiling is relatively low in power (nine career home runs in the majors over 465 at-bats), pointing to some frustrating weeks. Stallings is a "ride him while he is hot" player.

First Base

Rowdy Tellez, TOR

Heading into Friday’s action, Tellez has a four-game hitting streak (6-for-16) with one home run and three RBI. The Blue Jays have had him in the starting lineup in their last five games due to some injuries and Covid issues. He projects more of a platoon option, which makes him a weaker play in shallow leagues. His only home run in 2021 did come off a left-handed pitcher. Since 2019, Tellez held his own vs. lefties (.275 with seven home runs and 28 RBI over 159 at-bats). He looks like a better fit in deep leagues, but his swing may play well over the next couple of weeks in all formats.

Joey Votto wearing a football uniform © Provided by Sports Illustrated

Joey Votto, CIN

Heading into the draft season in the high-stakes market, Votto was on my fade list based on his direction over the past three seasons. Over 12 games of action in 2021, he doesn’t have more than one hit in any game. His bat did show a spike in power in his three games in San Francisco (3-for-12 with two home runs and three RBI), which puts him in the flier category in shallow leagues with potential buy and hold upside.

Second Base

Luis Urias, MLW

After starting the season with two hits over 27 at-bats with only one RBI, Urias found his approach and swing over three games vs. the Cubs. He only went 2-for-4, but he walks six times with a home run and six RBI. Over his first 403 at-bats in the majors, Urias only hit .218 with seven home runs, 46 RBI, and four steals. He did have success at AAA in 2018 and 2019 when he combined for 27 home runs, 95 RBI, and nine steals over 745 at-bats while hitting .303. A sneaky gamble if Urias can continue to show patience at the plate.

Rougned Odor, NYY

Video: Verducci: Carlos Rodon's Offseason Adjustments Pay Off with a No-Hitter on Wednesday (Sports Illustrated)

This draft season, Odor was nothing more than a flier in deep leagues. Over his previous 675 at-bats, he’s only hitting .196, but he scored 94 runs with 40 home runs, 125 RBI, and 11 stolen bases. The move to Yankee Stadium should translate well to his swing path, and New York has had him in the starting lineup in his first four appearances (2-for-15 with two RBI and one strikeout). From 2016 to 2020, Odor had 121 home runs over 2,346 at-bats. His power is real, but his contact rate and approach need to be cleaned up to earn a full-time starting job. In 15-team leagues, I’d be willing to roster him for a couple of weeks on my bench to see if the new home on a winning team lights a candle under his bat.

Third Base

Maikel Franco, BAL

In 12-team formats, Franco is owned in about 60 percent of leagues in the high-stakes market. Over his last five games, he hit .267 with one home run and seven RBI—his approach grades well (seven walks and seven strikeouts over 53 plate appearances). From 2016 to 2018, Franco hit .250 with 71 home runs and 232 RBI over 1,589 at-bats. He bats in a favorable ballpark, and the Orioles will have him somewhere in the middle of their lineup. Franco had the talent to hit .260 with a 20/80 skill set.

Yandy Diaz, TB

With Yoshi Tsutsugo swatting flies when he’s at the plate (.154 over 39 at-bats with 17 strikeouts), Diaz looks poised to seize a better opportunity going forward. Over his last six games, he hit .389 with two runs and two RBI while taking seven walks. Diaz isn’t an impact player, and his upside power is only about 20 home runs. His best value will come in deep leagues as a week-to-week injury cover.


Nick Ahmed, ARI

After battling a right knee issue late in spring training, Ahmed returned from the injured list on April 10th. He only has two hits over 21 at-bats. When healthy, Ahmed can be a neutral player in runs, home runs, and RBI just by being in the starting lineup on most days. He is more of a bridge player in deep leagues until a better option emerges in the free-agent pool.

Erik Gonzalez, PIT

Gonzalez has a five-game hitting streak (7-for-18) with two runs and four RBI. The Pirates have had him in their starting lineup in seven of their last 10 matchups. His ceiling in the majors has been extremely low based on his stats (.248 with 10 home runs and 61 RBI over 604 at-bats). Gonzalez only makes sense as an injury cover while he’s swing the ball well.


Adam Duvall, MIA

Fantasy owners in 12-team leagues or smaller most likely missed on a great game (4-for-5 with four runs, two home runs, and seven RBI) by Duvall this week. He was started in 33 percent of leagues in this format in the high-stakes market. Despite starting in three of his last five matchups, Duvall has a five-game hitting streak (8-for-15) with three home runs and nine RBI. He has a streaky bat with some batting average risk paired with 30+ home run upside.

Yonathan Daza, COL

a man in a blue shirt © Provided by Sports Illustrated

From 2017 to 2019 in the minors, Daza hit .342 over 1,130 at-bats with 188 runs, 18 home runs, 164 RBI, and 47 steals. Colorado gave him a start on Thursday night, which led to three hits in four at-bats. He now has five hits over his last seven at-bats. The Rockies play the next eight games at home, giving Daza a chance to offer matchup value upside. His ceiling in power and speed have been limited so far in his pro career, but he did tease in 2019 at AAA (11 home runs and 12 steals over 387 at-bats).

Oscar Mercado, CLE

The hometown fans have been clambering for Bobby Bradley to get called up to add some pop at first base, with Jake Bauer only having three hits in 21 at-bats with eight strikeouts. The better move for the team would be to add Mercado to the outfield and shift Josh Naylor to first base. Mercado helped fantasy teams in 2019 (.269 with 15 home runs, 54 RBI, and 15 steals over 438 at-bats), but he failed to find his swing last season (11-for-86 with 27 strikeouts). Mercado has plus speed and developing power, which would work well for Cleveland as they search for an answer in centerfield. His skill set would be very attractive to fantasy teams in all formats if Mercado can work his way into a starting job in the majors. I’m keeping an eye on him for any team that I’m slow out of the box in steals.

Starting Pitching

Kyle Wright, ATL

Over the last week, the Braves placed Max Fried and Drew Smyly on the injured list. Wright received the call on Friday afternoon to start vs. the Cubs. He allowed two runs over 4.1 innings with a pair of walks and five strikeouts. Over his first 19 games in the majors, Wright battled his command (43 walks over 63.2 innings), which led to an insanely high ERA (6.22) and WHIP (1.66). Over 60 appearances in the minors, he posted a 3.70 ERA and 267 strikeouts over 267.1 innings. Wright is only a week-to-week option in deep leagues until he starts throwing more strikes.

Ryan Weathers, SD

Dinelson Lamet should regain his starting job in the next five to 10 days after tossing 70 pitches in a simulated game on Thursday. The Padres will turn to Weathers as their fifth starter on Friday night. His season started with one run allowed over six innings with seven strikeouts. Weathers never pitched above A-ball before this year. Over his 29 starts in the minors, he posted a 3.78 ERA and 108 strikes over 114.1 innings. This year's high pitch count is 38, which puts him at least two starts away from pitching five innings. With a first-round pedigree in 2018, Weather is only a player to follow if the Padres have an injury to one of their starters.

Alex Wood, SF

The Giants will have Wood on the mound Sunday after battling a back issue in spring training. Over his first six seasons in the majors, he went 52-40 with a 3.29 ERA and 738 strikeouts over 803.1 innings. Injuries led to a disappointing last 16 games (5.96 ERA). Wood will be picked in deep leagues in the high-stakes market, with his value determined by his outing on Sunday night. His home ballpark is a significant factor in his playable value.

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