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Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Dude, you’re getting Adell

Imanaga's early brilliance with Cubs is no fluke
Fantasy managers who gambled on Shota Imanaga in drafts should hold onto the impressive 30-year-old, who has dazzled through seven starts with a 1.08 ERA.

Here are this week’s recommended additions.

Jo Adell - OF Angels - Rostered in 33% of Yahoo leagues

A hot pickup a couple of weeks ago, Adell has since been dropped in a bunch of leagues after a five-game hitless streak to begin May. Things, however, are looking up again the last few days, with the Angels outfielder homering Wednesday and reaching three times Thursday. Also, Adell has no playing time concerns with Mike Trout sidelined and Aaron Hicks gone.

Of course, we’ve all been waiting for Adell to develop for several years now, but it seemed like his progress completely stalled after he reached the majors in 2020 and struggled mightily. What was encouraging was the way he improved his walk and strikeout rates in Triple-A last year, even if he was again a complete bust in 17 major league games. He’s made obvious gains this season, with his contact rate up to 76% from 67% previously and his strikeout rate dropping from 35% to 23%. His exit velocity numbers are better as well, and while his .265/.330/.506 line is plenty good as is, Statcast actually has him with an xBA of .313 and an xSLG of .564.

After a brief look as a No. 2 hitter, Adell has resumed hitting in the bottom half of the order since that hitless streak. Still, it’s good that Ron Washington is open to moving him up. Adell has also been a frequent, if not efficient, basestealer this year, going 7-for-12. He makes more mistakes on the basepaths and on defense than anyone would like, but the Angels have little choice other than to deal with it. Maybe the batting average won’t be there in the end, but Adell is a top-50 fantasy outfielder right now.

David Robertson - RP Rangers - Rostered in 38% of Yahoo leagues

One month after his 39th birthday, Robertson is throwing as well as he ever has in a terrific career that’s seen him amass a 2.85 ERA in 825 1/3 innings over 16 seasons. So far this year, he has three times as many strikeouts (27) as hits allowed (nine). His 34% strikeout rate would be his highest mark since 2017. The stuff backs it up, too; his cutter has averaged a career-high 93.6 mph, and while he’s barely used the pitch, he’s unleashed a few very impressive 95-mph sinkers. He legitimately looks like one of baseball’s best relievers right now, which is part of why it’s surprising he’s not closing for Texas.

Alas, the Rangers picked Kirby Yates over Robertson as their closer when José Leclerc needed replacing, and the results have been great. Yates did blow his first save of the year on Wednesday, but the Rangers won anyway, and the run Yates allowed then was the only one he’s given up in 16 innings to begin the season. Meanwhile, Robertson, who despite his age, doesn’t need be handled quite as carefully as Yates, has a 0.87 ERA in 20 2/3 innings. He’s gotten at least four outs on seven occasions. The Rangers will hope the current arrangement holds up, but Yates is a big injury risk and his control issues might cause problems at some point. Robertson is throwing so well that he’s worth rostering even while picking up sporadic saves, and there’s still a real chance he’ll be asked to take over the full-time job at some point.

Iván Herrera - C Cardinals - Rostered in 5% of Yahoo leagues

Herrera was already getting a fair amount of playing time with Willson Contreras often DHing for the Cardinals, but he’s looking at an enhanced role now as a result of the veteran’s broken forearm, and he should serve as at least a top-15 fantasy catcher while Contreras is out.

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That may seem like a reach, but Herrera has been quite unlucky to be sporting a .232/.276/.377 line to date. His exit velocity numbers are mostly within the top 20% of major leaguers this season, he’s getting the ball into the air more than he did in the past and his strikeout rate is a little better than the league average. Statcast thinks he should be hitting .259 and slugging .458. This isn’t coming out of nowhere, either; Herrera hit .297/.451/.500 as a 23-year-old in Triple-A last year. He also swiped 11 bases then, though he’s yet to attempt a single steal in 48 games as a major leaguer.

What will hold Herrera back is the Cardinals offense, but even with Contreras gone, the lineup doesn’t figure to be quite this bad forever. Plus, once Herrera’s numbers improve a bit, he might get a chance to hit higher in the order. He has a history of terrific OBPs and he runs pretty well, so he might be the team’s best option to replace Contreras as the No. 2 hitter.

Quick Hits

- It’s become less likely that Adbert Alzolay will reemerge as the Cubs’ closer in the short-term, and while the team has defaulted to Héctor Neris since Alzolay’s exile, there’s very little to like about Neris’s 12/13 K/BB ratio in 14 innings. Mark Leiter Jr. (11% rostered) looks like the better closing option from here and is worth stashing.

- The Royals might consider ramping up speedster Dairon Blanco’s playing time with their other outfield options sputtering. Although there’s good reason for skepticism regarding Blanco’s offensive abilities, we’re talking about someone with 35 steals in 99 games as a major leaguer; if he plays regularly at any point, he’ll be awfully valuable. He’s rostered in just 1% of Yahoo leagues at the moment, even though he’s 10-for-11 stealing bases.