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Fantasy baseball priority waiver pickups to replace yet another group of injured stars

·4-min read
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Listen, um ... if we're being honest here, you're probably not gonna fix your Jacob deGrom problem with a quick trip to the free-agent pool. You aren't solving your Bieber, Glasnow, Bellinger or Bregman issues, either. Guys like that aren't just hanging around un-rostered.

But with any luck, perhaps we can find a few potential adds who can remain healthy and reasonably productive as we stagger into the all-star break. Let's just try to patch up our rosters and continue to compete. Fantasy baseball tends to reward the grinders, so let's get to it ...

James Kaprielian, SP, Oakland Athletics (34% rostered)

We're now six starts into Kaprielian's season and he's only pitched one game in which he allowed more than two runs. The right-hander has a four-pitch arsenal with mid-90s heat and an impressive slider, plus he does his pitching for a division leader in a friendly home environment. He's struck out 35 batters over 32.1 innings while delivering a 1.18 WHIP and 2.51 ERA. There's a lot to like here.

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Kaprielian's upcoming matchup against the Yankees is less than ideal (as is his walk rate), but this is a talented arm who deserves consideration as more than a streaming option. With so many starters suddenly sidelined, he deserves a look.

Shane McClanahan, SP, Tampa Bay Rays (31%)

OK, so it hasn't been a completely smooth ride with McClanahan at all times. But he has a triple-digit fastball, terrific breaking stuff and he's missing plenty of bats (10.7 K/9, 17.5% swinging-strike rate). As is the case with Kaprielian, McClanahan is another young guy attached to a winning environment.

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His next scheduled start is Sunday at Seattle, so you have a window to add him ahead of an appealing matchup. McClanahan's strikeout potential should keep him in the fantasy conversation all season.

Anthony Bender, RP, Miami Marlins (2%)

First of all: Excellent name for a guy with a filthy slider.

Bender reaches the high-90s on the gun and his stuff has cartoonish movement. It's been a journey for him to reach the majors, but he's thriving now. He still hasn't given up an earned run through 17.2 MLB innings and he's allowed just eight hits while striking out 22 batters. It's easy to imagine the 26-year-old as a closer down the road. If you're speculating on future saves, make the add.

Brandon Belt, 1B/OF, San Francisco Giants (23%)

Hey, not every pickup can be a young ascending talent. Sometimes an old, boring player can get you through a rough patch. Belt has gone 7-for-11 over his last three games with a homer, four runs scored, and four RBIs. He's living on base this season (.371 OBP), which is no great surprise, and he's also demonstrated that last year's power surge wasn't completely a fluke. Belt has homered nine times in 49 games played, matching his power total from the 2020 mini-season. He's a good bet to establish a new career-high in home runs if he can simply remain healthy. Considering where the rest of baseball is at in terms of batting average, you can certainly live with his .248 number.

Bobby Bradley, 1B, Cleveland Indians (17%)

OK, this is more like it. Bradley is eight years younger than Belt, far less predictable, and thus (arguably) more fun. His power credentials are well established, as he banged out 33 homers at Triple-A Columbus back in 2019. When he hits 'em, they are fully hit:

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Bradley has been raking since being recalled by Cleveland. He entered Thursday 11-for-31 with three bombs and three walks (and then went deep against the O's while I was writing him up). There's nothing in his major or minor league history suggesting he'll continue to hit for average, but, again, the power is definitely real. Go get him.

Cesar Hernandez, 2B, Cleveland Indians (17%)

Hernandez has already gone deep 10 times in 64 games, which leaves him only five homers shy of his single-season career-best. He's also scored 42 runs so far, hitting atop Cleveland's batting order. Hernandez hasn't actually had much luck on balls-in-play this year (.246 BABIP vs. .332 lifetime), but he's been a reliable bat in terms of average and OBP throughout his career. It seems as if his days as a base-stealer might be behind him, but he's still capable of contributing in three of five standard hitting categories.

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