Time has just about run out on the second full month of the Major League Baseball season, meaning we’re about a third of the way through the regular season. There are two teams in special situations in the coming week to make sure to take note of. The Colorado Rockies are lined up to play six games at home at Coors Field, and the Chicago White Sox are scheduled to play eight games in the next seven days. As you look on the waiver wire, target options from those two squads if available.
If your season-long fantasy baseball team needs some help off the waiver wire, you can find my top two hitters and top two pitchers to target on waiver wires below, along with some specialty options if you're looking to give your team a boost in a specific category. Throughout the week, I’m available for lineup and waiver wire advice on Twitter at @ZT_Sports, where I’ll also send out streaming starting pitching options along with pickup alerts. As always, remember to consider your specific team needs and league rules when making your pickups.
OF Tyler O’Neill, St. Louis Cardinals (at LAD, vs. CIN)
O’Neill missed 10 days with a fractured middle finger, but he has returned to the Cardinals’ lineup and picked up his breakout season right where he left off. O’Neill has ripped three home runs and gone 6-for-14 with seven RBI in his three games since returning and has established himself as a big bat in the heart of St. Louis’ batting order.
While it’s probably safe to say he won’t homer in every game the rest of the season, O’Neill brings great power production with a .351 ISO and .390 wOBA over his 33 games this season. He improved both those numbers in May with a .432 wOBA and .400 ISO with just two games left in the month. He has also added a career-high four stolen bases this season, so there’s a little speed potential as well. His hard-hit rate is elite at 50.7%, per Statcast, which is an increase of over 10 percentage points from last season’s rate.
1B/OF Garrett Cooper, Miami Marlins (at TOR, at PIT)
Cooper started the season slowly but has become a key bat in the Marlins’ lineup, usually batting cleanup. The former Yankees’ top prospect has a .163 ISO and .337 wOBA on the season but had a .197 ISO and .394 wOBA in May by increasing his hard-hit rate over 10 percentage points from April to May.
Over his past nine games, Cooper has gone 14-for-28 (.500) with two doubles, a triple, three home runs and nine RBI. He did get scratched last Wednesday due to an oblique injury but was able to pinch-hit Thursday and start Friday and Saturday, so it doesn’t appear to be an issue to worry about. He and the Marlins will head to Buffalo to help the Blue Jays open their time in the Triple-A stadium, which was one of the most hitter-friendly venues last season.
SP Merrill Kelly, Arizona Diamondbacks (vs. NYM, at MIL)
It’s been a brutal season for Arizona, and the Diamondbacks have dropped 13 straight games coming into Sunday’s series finale against the Cardinals. However, Kelly has been one of the few bright spots. He has allowed three earned runs or fewer in seven consecutive starts while striking out more than a batter per inning during that stretch and compiling a 3.50 ERA.
Kelly has posted a 1.21 WHIP and 3.48 FIP in his 30 2⁄3 innings in May and should be set up to start June strong as well since he’ll be facing two struggling offenses this week. Getting wins with such a struggling offense behind him is tricky, but Kelly should be a good source of innings, strikeouts and ERA if he can keep on rolling.
SP Alek Manoah, Toronto Blue Jays (vs. MIA, vs. HOU)
Manoah dazzled everyone with his dominant MLB debut on Thursday giving up just two hits over six scoreless innings against the Yankees while striking out seven and picking up the win. He’ll start the opener in Buffalo for the Blue Jays against Miami and looking down the road could be lined up for a two-start week next week. He won’t be on your waiver wires long, though, so act now if it isn’t already too late.
The hard-throwing righty is 6-foot-6 and was dominant in three Triple-A starts this year, going 3-0 with a 0.50 ERA, 0.56 WHIP and 27 strikeouts. He used all four of his pitches very evenly and effectively in his debut and looks to be ready to lock himself into a rotation slot for years to come for the young, on-the-rise Blue Jays, who now look like they have a hot young arm to go with all the young hitting talent in their lineup.
Specialty pickups to consider
AVG/hits Pickup: 1B/OF Pavin Smith, Arizona Diamondbacks
Counting Stats Pickup: 2B Nick Madrigal, Chicago White Sox
OBP/Runs Scored Pickup: OF Tommy Pham, San Diego Padres
SB Pickup: 2B/OF Jurickson Profar, San Diego Padres
HR Pickup: 1B C.J. Cron, Colorado Rockies
Change of Scenery pickup: SS Willy Adames, Milwaukee Brewers
Turn-back-the-clock Pickup: 3B Evan Longoria, San Francisco Giants
C Pickup: C William Contreras, Atlanta Braves
Early Addition Before Callup: OF Jo Adell, Los Angeles Angels
Two-start Streamer: SP José Urquidy, Houston Astros
Saves Pickup: RP Lucas Sims, Cincinnati Reds
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