Fantasy Baseball

2021 Fantasy Baseball Week 1 Waiver Wire: First Pitch

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Welcome Fantasy friends and foes to the 2021 Fantasy Baseball Week 1 Waiver Wire.

The weekly 2021 Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire will be filled with hitters and pitchers for Fantasy owners to add who are owned in less than 40 percent of Yahoo and ESPN leagues. Additionally, I will be Going Deep where I highlight players to add that are owned in less than 10 percent of Fantasy leagues.

The excitement and intrigue of the 2021 MLB season are overwhelming and with fans allowed in the stands again, this season will be even more thrilling to watch.

So what have we learned in the first few games of the season? Who has stayed hot as we head into the regular season? The answers to those questions and a whole lot more will be answered in the 2021 Fantasy Baseball Week 1 Waiver Wire: First Pitch.

2021 Fantasy Baseball Week 1 Waiver Wire

Looking for a Fantasy advantage? Get the ultimate in-season edge with customized Fantasy Baseball advice for your team using MyPlaybook from FantasyPros.

Hitters

Jazz Chisholm, Jr., 2B/SS, Miami Marlins

Fantasy managers are typically not targeting any Miami Marlins offensive player outside of outfielder Starling Marte. However, don’t hesitate to look at the Marlins’ second baseman Jazz Chisholm. Chisholm was acquired by the Marlins from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for right-hander Zac Gallen in the summer of 2019.

Chisholm struggled mightily in his MLB debut last season. He slashed .161/.242/.321 in 21 games and struck out 19 times in 62 at-bats. He arrived this spring training battling highly regarded prospect Isan Diaz for the everyday job as the Marlins’ second baseman in 2021.

Chisholm won the second base job with a solid spring slash line at .268/.333/.488. He hit three homers and stole four bases while playing electric defense at second base.

The left-handed-hitting Chisholm has pop in his bat and owns plus speed. He has already swiped two bases through the first three games of the season. His hot streak continues for Chisholm who will be a hot waiver add and a valuable contributor for every category Fantasy manager.

Enrique Hernandez, 2B/SS/OF, Boston Red Sox

Enrique Hernandez was the catalyst and super-utility player for the champion Los Angeles Dodgers last season. In 2021, Hernandez jumps over to the American League after signing a two-year deal with the Boston Red Sox.

Hernandez has played every position except for catcher in his six years in the big leagues. However, the Red Sox have Hernandez set in the second base role for the Fenway faithful.

Additionally, Hernandez can add a leadoff hitter to his baseball resume. The Red Sox are utilizing Hernandez as their primary leadoff hitter this spring. He excelled in his new role, hitting .327/.450/.592 with three homers and seven RBI in 60 plate appearances. More impressively, he led the team with 10 walks and amassed more free passes than strikeouts (8).

He owns a subpar 9.2 BB% for his career so the increase and adaptation to a table-setter are very encouraging. While Hernandez looks locked at second base for Boston, he still adds superb versatility to your Fantasy roster, especially in those formats where daily lineup changes are allowed.

Jonathan India, 3B, Cincinnati Reds

There is certainly plenty of buzz surrounding Cincinnati Reds rookie second baseman Jonathan India. The 2018 No. 5 overall draft pick made the roster and secured a prominent role in the Reds lineup with a tremendous spring. India slashed .313/.441/.604 with three homers, two stolen bases, and 7 RBI in 59 plate appearances.

His spring production and energy allowed India to win Cincinnati’s everyday second baseman job. In fact, his great performance forced the shuffling of the Reds infield to move Eugenio Suarez back to shortstop and Mike Moustakas over to third base.

According to MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon, he’ll be the first Reds rookie to make his major league debut on Opening Day at second base since Pete Rose did so in 1963.

India became the first Reds rookie to start his career with back-to-back multi-hit games since Ken Griffey Sr. in 1973. In his first three games, the rookie is 5-for-11 with a double and two RBI to go along with stalwart defensive plays.

Fantasy managers should highly target India in their first waiver runs in the 2021 season. India was drafted as a third baseman but the second base eligibility will arrive shortly for Fantasy managers. The dual eligibility should allow Fantasy managers to insert India in either their middle or corner infield slots which will allow you to enjoy the impressive Reds rookie.

Josh Rojas, 2B/OF, Arizona Diamondbacks

Josh Rojas was projected to be a bench bat with the versatility to play second base, third base, and shortstop. His track record suggests that Rojas is nothing more than a utility player with minimal Fantasy impact. In his 58 MLB game career, he owns a .206 batting average with two homers, 18 RBI, 26 RBI, and five stolen bases while possessing an unimpressive 57/25 K/BB ratio.

However, Rojas has opened some eyes this spring by hitting .347/.405/.583 with four homers and 15 RBI. Rojas has gained that momentum by working on his hitting mechanics which has resulted in an enormous spring.

The Diamondbacks are hoping that his hot spring translates over into the regular season as they deal with an injury to shortstop Nick Ahmed (knee). Rojas has earned the at-bats and fill in for Ahmed for now and looks to be their starting second baseman when Ahmed returns.

Rojas is in line for playing time to start the season around the diamond. His versatility will provide daily at-bats. He should be considered in deeper formats as an attractive option for the MI or CI slots in your lineups.

Pitchers

Ian Kennedy, RP, Texas Rangers

As our 2021 Fantasy Baseball Week 1 Pitching Planner stated, Ian Kennedy, will be part of a bullpen committee along with Matt Bush for the Texas Rangers. This is the result of closer Jose Leclerc forced to undergo Tommy John surgery and being lost for the 2021 season.

The Rangers signed the veteran right-hander to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. Kennedy was signed to provide bullpen depth and a veteran presence to a young Rangers bullpen. However, the injury to Leclerc and Kennedy’s performance this spring has resulted in him being the front-runner of a projected bullpen committee.



Kennedy pitched 6.2 hitless innings while striking out eight batters this spring. He looks to be fully recovered from a Grade 2 left calf strain that ended his season before September last season.

The former starter found success as the Kansas City Royals closer in 2019. Kennedy saved 30 games and posted a 3.41 ERA along with 73 strikeouts in 63.1 innings.

Ian Kennedy is no lock to be the Rangers’ closer but for Fantasy managers hungry for saves, he is worth the roster spot and doesn’t cost a thing. If he fails to produce, move on to your next saves hopeful.

Yusei Kikuchi, SP, Seattle Mariners

Yusei Kikuchi followed up an excellent Spring Training with a dominant first start to begin his 2021 campaign. The southpaw threw six innings and allowed three runs on six hits and one walk with a career-high ten strikeouts. More importantly, Kikuchi was regularly hitting 97 mph with his fastball.

The improvements started last season with improved mechanics and a deep dive in his stats displays this development. His 3.30 FIP was nearly two points below his alarming 5.17 ERA. Also, his 1.1 WAR suggests that there was a lot of bad luck associated with his less-than-ideal ERA output. His K/9 boosted from 6.46 to 9.00 last season and cut his home run rate in half after allowing the second-most in the American League in 2019.

I targeted Kikuchi for all of my Fantasy teams. Shockingly, he was rostered in less than 30% of Fantasy leagues but that number is at the lowest owned you will see this season. Kikuchi is a must-add in all Fantasy formats. A breakout-type season is in the cards for Kikuchi.

Logan Webb, SP, San Francisco Giants

Logan Webb has shown flashes of talent but has been largely inconsistent in his two seasons for the San Francisco Giants.  Webb has developed a change-up for this season and his spring numbers might indicate positive signs as we head into 2021.

Webb has the pedigree of a potential young gun in the Giants rotation. He has struck out more batters than innings pitched across his five minor league seasons. In 63.1 minor-league innings, he held opponents to a 1.85 ERA and powered to a 9.8 K/9.

Webb allowed only one earned run and struck out 22 batters in his 17 innings across five starts this spring. The 24-year-old right-hander earned the number three starter for the Giants. He will look to improve on a disappointing 2020 season when he finished with a 5.47 ERA.

He should be a valuable Fantasy contributor with strong strikeout potential. Webb should have more owned in leagues to start this season. Logan Webb will be a hot pickup after his first couple of starts. Get ahead of your competition and add Webb now.

Going Deep

Taylor Trammell, OF, Seattle Mariners

One of the most impressive players in 2021 Spring Training was Seattle Mariners outfield prospect Taylor Trammell. Trammell was red hot in Spring Training collecting 14 hits, three home runs, nine RBI, and a pair of stolen bases. Not bad for a player who has never played above the Double-A level.

With outfielder Kyle Lewis (knee) sidelined for the first few weeks of the season, Trammell has stood out by hitting for average and power while adding a speed element to the Mariners’ lineup.

Trammell is worth a flier in adding in deep leagues or five outfielder formats. Trammell will be an OBP/steals asset and Fantasy managers should look into buying into Trammell’s Fantasy stock.

Carlos Rodon, SP, Chicago White Sox

The former third overall draft pick was signed to a one-year, $3 million deal after being non-tendered this offseason. Carlos Rodon has never lived up to the lofty expectations due to his past injury history. He has only started nine games the last two years and has just 41 starts in the past four seasons.

Rodon owns a 5.76 ERA over the last two seasons and his career appeared to be over. However, Rodon was given his last opportunity by new Chicago White Sox pitching coach Ethan Katz, who noticed issues with his mechanics before spring training started.

The change in mechanics has resulted in Rodon sporting an impressive 1.32 ERA and 0.732 WHIP in four appearances while striking out 16 batters this spring.

The southpaw won the fifth starter job in the White Sox rotation. Rodon will have a strong team behind him and will look to build upon his impressive spring when he takes the mound twice in Week 2. It is full stream ahead for Fantasy managers for at least Week 2. Add Rodon now before he potentially breaks out next week!

Cesar Valdez, RP, Baltimore Orioles

Fantasy managers who punt saves during their drafts have their eyes set on keeping tabs throughout the big leagues for saves opportunities. Taking advantage of being aggressive in adding those bullpen arms leads to Fantasy championships.

All Fantasy eyes should be taking a look at the Baltimore Orioles bullpen where Cesar Valdez has emerged as the Orioles’ closer. Valdez has picked up saves in back-to-back days to help Baltimore gain victories in the first two games in 2021.

Initially, Baltimore Orioles manager Brandon Hyde mentioned that the Orioles will implement a closer by committee approach to replace injured closer Hunter Harvey. However, it is evident that Hyde’s first choice is the 36-year-old Valdez.

The veteran right-hander finished saving games last season for the Orioles. He saved three games and finished with a 1.26 ERA and 2.14 FIP in 14.1 innings. Valdez profiles as a soft-tossing and crafty pitcher whose dead fish changeup was utilized 83.2 percent of the time last season. His changeup is one of the slowest in the majors, while his fastball averages less than 86 mph. A pitching profile that typically doesn’t scream closer.



The Orioles doesn’t possess significant arms in the bullpen. This allows Valdez to stand out as the front-runner for plenty of high leverage and save opportunities. Every Fantasy manager is desperate for saves so grab Valdez and ride the wave of saves until the next tide washes them away.


Check out the rest of our 2021 Fantasy Baseball content from our great team of writers.

About Dennis Sosic

Dennis Sosic is from Cleveland, Ohio and a HUGE sports fan including NFL (GO BROWNS!) and college football (GO BUCKEYES!) MLB (GO TRIBE), NBA (GO CAVS!) and MMA. He has been called a Sports Geek by friends and foes alike and that fits him perfectly. He has been competing in fantasy sports, mainly fantasy football and baseball for over 20 years. Please do all of us a favor and follow Dennis @ CALL_ME_SOS.

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