Welcome to the 2023 Fantasy Baseball Week 8 Waiver Wire.
This week on the waiver wire, we have a batter with a 12-game hit streak, a former first-overall pick who may be the new leadoff hitter for the Angels and two slugging corner infielders. Along with these batters, we have a veteran lefty starter who recently got activated off the injured list and a rookie lefty starter who has the stuff to stick around with the big-league club.
Last week we highlighted MJ Melendez, who didn't fit our requirements to make the waiver wire, but we still thought his roster percentage was too low. We're doing it again this week, but the player is Nolan Gorman of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Gorman is the hottest hitter in the game right now, but according to FantasyPros, his roster percentage is just 64%. This is madness for a player slashing .295/.386/.629 with 12 homers, 18 runs, and 36 RBI. He's tied with the fourth most home runs and the fifth most RBI. Gorman also has the third-best OPS (1.014) in the league. The big question mark with his game has been facing left-handed pitchers, but after his recent success against lefty Julio Urias, he should be getting more starts against them.
At this point, Gorman should be rostered in even the smallest of leagues. If it came down to it, I would pick him up in a two-team league. He will be an MVP candidate at the end of the season and finish as the top second baseman in Fantasy Baseball. Let's get that roster percentage to 99% by the end of the week.
2023 Fantasy Baseball Week 8 Waiver Wire
Bryan De La Cruz, OF, Miami Marlins
Bryan De La Cruz sends one out! pic.twitter.com/Co4jn3ZP90
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) May 18, 2023
Miami Marlins outfielder makes the Waiver Wire after extending his hit streak to 13 games. He's batted fourth or fifth in the lineup in 10 of these 13 games. This is important because he is batting right behind the on-base machine, Luis Arraez. This will likely result in more run production for Cruz.
|13-Game Hit Streak||54||.373||.407||.647||8||9||9||18.5%||5.6%|
|Before the Hit Streak||103||.250||.291||.365||7||8||9||35%||5.8%|
Cruz is an entirely different player during this hit streak. His on-base percentage is a stellar .407, his strikeout rate is a very good 18.5%, and his power numbers are way up. Over the last seven days, Cruz has been a top-20 hitter in MLB, and it wouldn't surprise me if he stayed in the top 20 for at least another week.
Miami has a favorable hitting schedule in week eight as they play the Colorado Rockies in Colorado and the Los Angeles Angels in Los Angeles. There is 100% a correction coming for Cruz, but he is worth the add for now.
Mickey Moniak, OF, Los Angeles Angels
The number one overall pick from the 2016 MLB draft is finally finding a home in MLB. After spending some time in the majors each of the last three seasons, Mickey Moniak looks like he is settling into a full-time role with the Los Angeles Angels.
The Angels recalled him on Friday, May 12. Since then, Moniak has made four starts and one pinch-hit appearance. In each start, the 25-year-old was the leadoff batter. In this time frame, he is 9-for-19 with one walk, five runs, three RBI, and seven strikeouts. Similarly to Cruz, Moniak has been a top-20 batter over the past seven days.
Before being recalled, Moniak was plenty impressive in Triple-A as well. He slashed .308/.355/.585 with 15 extra-base hits, 27 runs, and 23 RBI in 141 plate appearances.
Moniak wasn't always with the Angels. The Philadelphia Phillies were the team that selected him first overall back in 2016. They tried to give him a chance in 2020, 2021, and 2022 before trading him to the Angels for Noah Syndergaard. Moniak's time with the Phillies was disastrous, but he's been much better with the Angels.
James Paxton, SP, Boston Red Sox
James Paxton struck out 9 batters in his first game since April 6, 2021 👏👏👏
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) May 13, 2023
Here is a guy that every fan and Fantasy manager has waited patiently for. Paxton hasn't pitched since April 2021 and made just five starts in 2020 with a 6.64 ERA. Despite this, we know he has the talent to be a solid pitcher and Fantasy asset; we just haven't seen it in quite some time.
He averages 9.95 strikeouts per nine innings for his career with a 3.59 ERA and 3.30 FIP. Paxton also allows just 0.97 home runs per nine innings (just under the league average).
He's made two starts thus far this season. The first came last Friday at home against the St. Louis Cardinals. Paxton pitched five innings, struck out nine batters, and allowed four hits and one walk for two earned runs.
The next start came this Friday on the road against the San Diego Padres. Paxton pitched six innings allowing just one run off five hits and two walks. The lone run came off a solo shot from Fernando Tatis Jr. Paxton also struck out five batters and earned a quality start.
Nick Pratto, 1B/OF Kansas City Royals
Nick Pratto seemed to be the heir apparent for the first base job in Kansas City until Vinnie Pasquantino took over in 2022. In 2022, Pasquantino was the Royals' number-two prospect, while Pratto was their top prospect. Then Pratto struggled while Pasquantino surged. This led to Fantasy managers falling in love with Pasquantino while seemingly forgetting about the Royals' former top prospect, Pratto.
In 2023, Pratto is breaking out hugely and forcing his way into an everyday role. He's started 12 games at first base and nine in the corner outfield spots. Pratto is slashing .314/.400/.471 with seven extra-base hits, 11 runs, and 13 RBI.
The biggest issue with Pratto is the strikeout rate (33.8%), which Pasquantino (11.2%) doesn't do very often. The second most significant issue is the team he plays for. The Royals have the second-worst on-base percentage (.297) in the league, which has limited their run production mightily.
Despite these problems, Pratto is still a solid Fantasy Baseball asset due to his slugging and ability to get on base.
Matthew Liberatore, SP, St. Louis Cardinals
Matthew Liberatore, Pretty Curveballs. 😍 pic.twitter.com/gRuDWdlarw
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 18, 2023
With a curveball reminiscent of teammate Adam Wainwright's beautiful Uncle Charlie, Top-100 prospect Matthew Liberatore turned heads in his season debut on Wednesday, May 17, against the Milwaukee Brewers. The 23-year-old lefty pitched five shutout innings, struck out five batters, allowed three hits and three walks, and earned the win. Milwaukee, however, is one of the worst teams against left-handed pitchers (.643 OPS).
Liberatore's next start comes Tuesday, May 23, against the Cincinnati Reds in Cincinnati. The Reds are also bad against left-handed pitchers (.701 OPS), so this looks like another favorable matchup for Liberatore.
Before being called up, the lefty made eight starts in Triple-A and posted a 4-1 record, 3.13 ERA, and 10.96 strikeouts per nine innings.
Previously in 2022, Liberatore pitched in nine games for the Cardinals. He posted a 2-2 record, 5.97 ERA, and 7.27 strikeouts per nine innings.
The most significant change I noticed in Liberatore's start, compared to 2022, is the increase in his fastball and curveball usage. In 2022 he used them at 34.5% and 23.2%, respectively. Against the Brewers, he used them 50.5% and 35.8%, respectively. This is an excellent sign, as Liberatore seems to be gaining confidence in his two best pitches.
|Period||Fastball velo (MPH)||Curveball velo||Sinker velo||Slider velo||Changeup velo|
The second most significant change I noticed is the velocity of his pitches. Liberatore has increased the speed on each pitch in his arsenal by at least 1.5 MPH. These changes should go a long way in the rookie left-hander having a breakout season.
Jake Burger, 3B, Chicago White Sox
Jake Burger is the real deal
— Sox On 35th (@SoxOn35th) May 18, 2023
Jake Burger made the Week 4 Waiver Wire but got injured on May 3. Thankfully this was just a minor injury, and he missed 11 days. Since his return on May 14, he is 9-for-17 with three home runs and one triple. He's also scored three runs and six RBI.
After this recent stretch, Burger is slashing .279/.344/.709 with 16 extra-base hits, 14 runs, and 20 RBI in 96 plate appearances. The third baseman has the second-best barrel rate (25%) and second-best sweet-spot rate (48.2%) among batters with at least 50 plate appearances.
Keith Lott ranks Burger 14th among third basemen in his 2023 Fantasy Baseball Rest of Season Rankings. I would go as far as ranking him 10th or 11th as of right now. Burger needs to be added in every league because he is here to stay.
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