Welcome Fantasy friends and foes to the 2021 Fantasy Baseball Week 5 Waiver Wire.
I am back from my vacation and ready to provide some sound Fantasy advice (hopefully?!?). I want to thank my fearless leader Joe Bond for pinch-hitting on last week's Waiver Wire.
Here we are, Fantasy managers, one month into the 2021 season. What's more surprising?
The struggles of both the New York Mets & Yankees or the success of the Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants?
I have a few surprises in my Week 5 Waiver Wire recommendations. Which catcher should Fantasy managers target? Which rookie hitter should Fantasy manager pick up immediately? Who are the bounceback pitchers that Fantasy managers should look to add?
Find out the answers to those questions and a whole lot more in the 2021 Fantasy Baseball Week 5 Waiver Wire.
2021 Fantasy Baseball Week 5 Waiver Wire
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Kyle Higashioka, C, New York Yankees
Kyle Higashioka’s fourth home run of the season:
Exit velocity: 104.1 MPH
Distance: 396 feet
— Bronx Bombers News (@NewsBronx) April 28, 2021
New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone said earlier this week that catcher Kyle Higashoika "just earned more playing time -- simple as that." Higashioka has also earned to be owned in more than 14 percent of Fantasy leagues as well.
Kyle Higashioka has gained the team's confidence, which can be exhibited by the Yankees starting Higashioka in five of their seven playoff games last season.
Gary Sanchez has been provided with multiple opportunities to keep his starting catching duties. However, his troubles in making contact, the brutal defense behind the dish, and poor attitude have resulted in Sanchez's liability to the team. Sanchez is currently hitting a woeful .180/.324/.295 with only two homers.
Higashioka is hitting .258/.378/.710 with four homers and a team-high 1.088 OPS. Fantasy managers should invest in the Yankees catcher to promote more playing time, allowing him to be a solution to catcher position woes in your lineups.
Tyler O'Neill, OF, St. Louis Cardinals
Tyler O'Neill is now tied for the #STLCards home run lead, and we're pretty sure he's also the team leader in home run trot time. #STLFLY
TV: Bally Sports Midwest
App: Bally Sports app (transitioning from FOX Sports GO)
Stream: https://t.co/9A1G98c2Rz pic.twitter.com/BSF3eQ7GFb
— Bally Sports Midwest (@BallySportsMW) April 30, 2021
After an underwhelming 2020 season, Tyler O'Neill earned the left-field starting job for the St. Louis Cardinals this season after a blistering spring where he slashed .356/.383/.556 with two homers, 10 RBI, and three stolen bases in 16 Spring Training games.
Unfortunately, that hot bat didn't carry over into the regular season. O'Neill was hitting only .143/.172/.286 when he was placed on the 10-day injured list with a right groin strain. It looks like that time off rejuvenated O'Neill. Since he returned from the IL, O'Neill is hitting .407/.407/.852 with four homers in 27 at-bats in his last seven games.
His overall stats will not stand out for Fantasy managers but don't let that stop you from adding O'Neill. O'Neill will play every day due to his Gold Glove defense, and Fantasy managers should take advantage of his hot stick in deeper leagues.
Pavin Smith, 1B/OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
Tie game! Pavin Smith RBI double! #Diamondbacks pic.twitter.com/QsEZ6rk6mu
— Lunch Break Baseball (@LunchBreakBB) April 30, 2021
The former top Arizona Diamondbacks prospect Pavin Smith has stepped up for the Diamondbacks while the team is faced with plenty of injuries. The Arizona outfield has suffered the losses of veteran Kole Calhoun (hamstring) and the speedy Tom Locastro (finger). In their absences, the former 2017 seventh-overall pick has worked himself into the starting outfield spot while creating a spark on top of the Diamondbacks lineup.
Smith is hitting .289/.333/.511 with a .844 OPS and eight runs scored as the Diamondbacks leadoff hitter. He is also sporting an 89th percentile hard-hit rate along with an 86th percentile xBA.
The left-hand hitting Smith provides the bonus of dual eligibility at first base and outfield. Smith should be on the radars of all Fantasy managers with his ability to hit for a high average and assist in OPS and runs scored.
Daulton Varsho, C/OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
Daulton Varsho... man of many talents!@Dbacks | #RattleOn pic.twitter.com/NPrWDCEXQo
— Bally Sports Arizona (@BALLYSPORTSAZ) May 2, 2021
One of the most intriguing waiver wire options for Fantasy managers is the Arizona Diamondbacks Daulton Varsho. Varsho possesses catcher and outfield eligibility and started the season 4-for-9 with three doubles. His skill set provides 15-homer and 15-steal potential
Varsho still is struggling to put it all together, hitting .188/.287/.366 with three homers and three stolen bases in his major league debut last season. He followed that poor showing by hitting .136/.174/.295 this spring and was sent to Triple-A to start this season.
Varsho has appeared in every game since his call-up and will continue to receive playing time in the outfield with multiple injuries to the Diamondbacks outfield. Varsho is worth a look in two-catcher leagues as a sneaky waiver wire Fantasy option in all Fantasy formats.
Rafael Dolis, RP, Toronto Blue Jays
🔥 Rafael Dolis's splitter is low-key unhittable. My goodness.#BlueJays take the first game at the Trop! Let's win the series tomorrow lads! pic.twitter.com/hGrLqqplng
— Jason (Hanshin) Lee (@Jasons_JaysHub) April 24, 2021
The Toronto Blue Jays bullpen has suffered many injuries, including former favorite waiver add Julian Merryweather (oblique) and Jordan Romano (elbow), who has since returned from his stint on the injured list.
Rafael Dolis has emerged as the Blue Jays closer, converting all three of his save chances. Since given the closer opportunity, Dolis owns a 1.35 ERA and a 0.60 WHIP, including five strikeouts across 6.2 innings. For the season, the right-hander has produced a 2.84 ERA and 0.87 WHIP. He has struck out 13 batters in 12.2 innings, and batters are a hitting minuscule .075.
Dolis has been the go-to option for the Blue Jays, even with the return of Romano. He is getting the saves, and as long as he is in the mix for saves, he should be owned in more than 25 percent of Fantasy leagues.
Domingo German, SP, New York Yankees
Domingo German 95 mph heat 🔥 pic.twitter.com/lMWiNvTbCR
— Talkin' Yanks (@TalkinYanks) April 29, 2021
Domingo German started his comeback this spring after missing all of 2020 under the league's domestic violence policy. German impressed this spring by owning a 1.38 ERA and 0.769 WHIP while striking out 17 in 13 innings.
German was battling for the fifth starter job, and his splendid performance won him the position to start the season. Unfortunately, he struggled in his first two starts, going 0-2 with seven runs allowed on 12 hits in seven innings. He was immediately optioned to the alternate site after his second start. After working on some mechanical issues, German returned to pitch for the Yankees.
The right-hander tossed six innings, allowing two earned runs on seven hits while striking out six with only one walk against the Cleveland Indians in his return start. When German threw seven scoreless innings, the improvement continued in his start, allowing just three hits while striking out six.
German has an uphill battle to continue his ascension to his 2019 18 win season, but he will produce strikeout numbers along with providing good walk ratios and wins for your Fantasy roster. He is a must-add in AL-only leagues and streamer-worthy in all other Fantasy formats.
Shane McClanahan, SP, Tampa Bay Rays
Shane McClanahan, Unfair 101mph Fastball Movement. 😳 pic.twitter.com/QblvS2qcR0
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 29, 2021
Fantasy managers are excited about the next Tampa Bay Rays pitcher to make his MLB regular-season debut, left-hander Shane McClanahan. In his debut last week, he delivered as advertised. McClanahan struck out five batters in four innings of work. The southpaw prospect got 15 swings and misses among his 59 pitches. He showcased a 100-plus MPH fastball and a slider that generated a 58.8 percent whiff rate.
McClanahan is a strikeout machine including a career 31.6 percent strikeout rate in 127.2 innings in two seasons in the minors. The Rays will ease the prospect in slowly by not allowing him to go deep into games but he is a valuable weapon for the Rays and Fantasy managers.
His upside is ridiculous and the buzz surrounding McClanahan will push his Fantasy ownership sky high. Don't be left behind with McClanahan will probably the most added pitcher this week. Fantasy owners should grab him immediately.
Nick Pivetta, SP, Boston Red Sox
Another impressive start from Nick Pivetta tonight.
His final line:
Pivetta now has a 2.81 ERA through 5 starts. THANK YOU CHAIM BLOOM!#RedSox | #DirtyWater| #MLB pic.twitter.com/siu7ClYaJU
— Tyler Milliken ⚾️ (@tylermilliken_) April 29, 2021
Who would have guessed that Nick Pivetta would be the best pitcher in the Red Sox rotation thus far in the 2021 season? Based on his career numbers, there is no way to predict the production of the former top Philadelphia Phillies prospect.
Pivetta owns a 3-0 record with a 2.81 ERA and 1.25 WHIP with 25 strikeouts in 25.2 innings pitched. Hitters are only hitting .176 against the right-hander. He has only given up one home run on the season, which is notable since he gave up 20+ home runs per season in three consecutive years for the Phillies.
One negative is the free passes. He leads the AL in walks with 17, but he has yet to allow those walks to haunt him.
It seems that Fantasy managers doubt his success as he owned less than 20 percent of Fantasy leagues. However, we have to believe in something, correct? Believe in Pivetta being a weekly starter; it will only cost you some FAAB. Ride the wave and get off if and when he goes downhill.
Willie Calhoun, OF, Texas Rangers
Willie Calhoun absolutely SMOKED this ball 🤯
— Bally Sports (@BallySports) May 2, 2021
Willie Calhoun had an awful 2020 season. He was devastated by injuries, including a broken jaw, strained oblique, and hamstring injuries. He slumped to a horrific .190/.231/.260 slash in only 29 games last season.
His bad luck continued to start the 2021 season when he started the season on the injured list because of a left groin injury. Calhoun is off to a great start off the injured list with the left-hand-hitting Calhoun hitting .333/.388/.489 with two homers. He also possesses a career-best eight-game hitting streak.
Calhoun, who was a .289 career minor league hitter, has the prospect pedigree, hitting .269 with 21 homers, and walked 23 times in 2019. The Rangers must keep his bat in the lineup. However, he is limited defensively and typically plays designated hitter. Fantasy managers in deeper leagues should look to add Calhoun before his stock continues to rise.
Garrett Richards, SP, Boston Red Sox
Garrett Richards, Bowel-Locking 78mph Curveball. 💩 pic.twitter.com/xnp390m3eK
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 28, 2021
Garrett Richards came into this season as a risk for the Boston Red Sox and Fantasy managers. Richards was always filled with potential but injuries and lackluster performances have resulted in Richards being labeled a journeyman pitcher.
After his first four starts with the Red Sox, Richards posted an 0-2 record with a 6.48 ERA and a 12/13 K/BB ratio. Red Sox Nation had to feel that Richards was guilty of stealing $10 million from the Red Sox.
To his credit, Richards kept working and attempted to fix his pitching woes. Red Sox pitching coach Dave Bush worked with Richards in fine-tuning his mechanics. Bush suggested that Richards work more out of the stretch, which will involve less movement while throwing towards the plate.
The immediate result was a significant reversal, with Richards dominating the New York Mets across seven innings. The right-hander gave up one run on just seven hits while striking out ten and allowing zero walks!
Richards followed that impressive start with another encouraging outing. The right-hander went five innings, allowing four hits and one earned run while striking out seven on Sunday. These performances should alert Fantasy managers to take another chance with Richards. He can still be a streamer option in deeper formats. If his current upward trend continues, Richards could be a sleeper and help Fantasy managers in strikeouts and wins.
Mike Tauchman, OF, San Francisco Giants
Mike Tauchman FOR THE LEAD pic.twitter.com/xOrE8572ED
— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) May 2, 2021
With outfielder Mike Yastrzemski (oblique) being placed on the 10-day injured list, the San Francisco Giants acquired another left-hand-hitting outfielder in Mike Tauchman from the New York Yankees for reliever Wandy Peralta.
Tauchman is thrilled about the trade because he will get plenty of playing time for the Giants. His playing time with the Yankees was sporadic, and he was the odd man out in the New York outfield with the Yankees looking for bullpen help. He was limited to 16 plate appearances and three starts while hitting just .214/.267/.286 thus far in the first 22 games of the season.
Tauchman shined in his Giants debut by going 3-for-4 with an RBI while patrolling centerfield. The Giants hope that his debut is a sign that they will see the 2019 Tauchman when he broke out, hitting .277/.361/.504 with 13 homers in 87 games. He failed to duplicate his breakout last season, hitting just .242/.342/.305 with zero homers.
Fantasy managers would be wise to make a speculative add for Tauchman, who should work his way into a starting role in an underwhelming Giants outfield even when Yastrzemski returns.
Check out the rest of our 2021 Fantasy Baseball content from our fantastic team of writers.