Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Shane Baz's debut makes clear he's a must-add pitcher this week



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James Wood was the biggest prospect callup of the past week – arguably of the season as a whole – but Fantasy Baseball players need to make sure they don’t overlook the big promotion from the pitching side of things: Shane Baz of the Rays, who made his season debut Friday against the Rangers. 

Baz is already rostered in 74% of CBS Fantasy leagues, but that probably needs to be 100% now that he’s locked into the Rays rotation for the foreseeable future. His debut wasn’t overwhelmingly dominant, as Baz allowed three runs over six innings of work, but there was still plenty to be optimistic about. Most notably, Baz threw 92 pitches in his first MLB start back from Tommy John surgery, a sign that the notoriously conservative Rays may not be treating him with kid’s gloves. 

Baz averaged 96.2 mph with his four-seam fastball and generated five whiffs with it, with another four coming on his slider, as both pitches worked pretty well. The rest of the arsenal wasn’t quite as sharp, but he still ended up with six strikeouts and only one walk in the start, a very solid performance given all Baz has been through. He underwent Tommy John surgery back in 2022 and missed all of last season, and clearly needed some time to get his footing on his minor-league rehab assignment; Baz allowed 14 runs with 13 walks in his first 16.1 innings of work for Triple-A Durham. However, he locked in during his final five starts, striking out 35 over 23 innings with a 1.57 ERA, lowering his career ERA at Triple-A to 2.65. 

Baz has nothing left to prove in the minors, so the hope here is that this weekend’s start was the beginning of his emergence as the Rays’ ace for the next half-decade or so. He has top-20 SP upside, both in the long run and in the immediate future, and deserves to be rostered in all leagues right now. Don’t wait to add him if you’re in one of the 26% of leagues where he is available, because this week will be your last chance. 

Here’s who else we’re looking to add this week: 

Catchers

Ben Rice, Yankees (59%) – The Yankees have tried Rice out as their leadoff hitter in recent days, and he responded with a huge three-homer game Saturday against the Red Sox. He has started 13 of 17 games since he was recalled, including four against a lefty, which gives him a similar playing time split to most of the high-end catchers. Given that, he’s looking like a must-roster player anywhere he’s eligible at catcher – but is probably just a 15-team CI option if not. 

Deep-league target: Freddy Fermin, Royals (7%) – Fermin doesn’t have the playing time edge, but with 19 starts in the team’s past 32 games, he’s not falling behind the competition. And in that time, he’s hitting .313/.373/.508 and has been a well above-average hitter for the catcher position since the start of last season. He’s a fine No. 2 option at the position. 

First Base

Nate Lowe, Rangers (64%) – Lowe still isn’t where he needs to be, but he’s riding a nice little hot streak right now, with 14 hits, including four homers and 14 RBI, over the past 10 games. The Rangers offense as a whole seems like a good bet to play better moving forward, and Lowe should be a big part of that. 

Deep-league target: Brandon Drury, Angels (15%) – Drury hasn’t done much of note this season, but I’m willing to bet injuries have playing a big part of that – he got off to a cold start and never got a real chance to pull out of it because he missed most of the past two months. He had 54 homers and an OPS north of .800 over nearly 1,100 plate appearances in 2022 and 2023, so I’m still willing to bet on him being pretty useful.

Second base

Colt Keith, Tigers (40%) – We’ve seen flashes from Keith, including a big Week 15 that saw him homer three times and rack up three straight multi-hit performances. Keith’s strikeout rate is still a very solid 18.7%, and his underlying numbers on the whole are better than his actual production – including a very solid .333 expected wOBA over the past 100 plate appearances. Keith still has some upside as either a MI or CI for Fantasy these days.   

Deep-league target: Spencer Horwitz, Blue Jays (26%) – The Blue Jays have mostly shielded Horwitz from lefties, which surely plays a role in his gaudy .311/.446/.473 line. But he hasn’t exactly been hopeless against lefties, hitting .318 with a 14.3% strikeout rate including the minors this season, and he recently got his first start against a southpaw, a sign the Blue Jays are starting to trust him a bit more. He has started all seven games in July as of Sunday, and has gotten on base in five of six, so I don’t see much reason to think his playing time is going away. I wish there was more power or speed in the profile, but his spot near the top of the Blue Jays lineup should keep him Fantasy relevant as long as he keeps hitting. 

Third base

Jose Miranda, Twins (72%) – As I’m writing this, Miranda just got up as a pinch-hitter for the Twins and extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a line-drive single to left field. He’s been one of the biggest breakout hitters of the season, and has been absolutely red hot over the past month-plus, hitting .402 with 26 RBI since the start of June. With injuries all around the infield for the Twins – Carlos Correa left Sunday’s game after a hit-by pitch on the hand – Miranda should be in the lineup everyday moving forward, and absolutely deserves to be rostered in all Fantasy leagues right now. Even zooming out from the hot streak, he now has a career-best .349 expected wOBA. 

Deep-league target: Miguel Sano, Angels (2%) – Sano has done almost nothing since coming back from the IL in late June, and there might not be much playing time cushion for him here if he doesn’t get going soon. But he remains a hard-hit rate standout (54.2%) and can be a cheap source of power in deeper leagues.

Shortstop

Brooks Lee, Twins (52%) – There are some quality of contact issues in Lee’s minor-league profile that make it questionable whether he’ll have a significant ceiling at the major-league level. He’ll need to make a bunch of contact and pull the ball in the air to tap into much power, and at least early on, that’s what he’s doing, going 9 for 20 with a homer in his first five career MLB games. That homer was hardly crushed – he hit it 99.8 mph and it went 395 feet, but he did hit it to the pull side. The bet on Lee is a bet on pedigree, talent, and polish mattering more than ceiling. He probably isn’t a superstar for Fantasy, with probably a 20-homer, 10-steal ceiling, but if he can consistently hit for average, he’ll be useful in all formats with an everyday role locked in. 

Deep-league target: Xavier Edwards, Marlins (3%) – The scouting report on Edwards hasn’t changed at all over the years – he’s still just a slap … well, you know. He was hitting .330 in Triple-A with just 11 strikeouts in 119 PA, and he also had just one homer. He’ll put the ball in play and hope good things happen with his speed, and that’s what we’re looking for in Fantasy here, too. The Marlins are going to give him some leash, and he could be a useful source of speed and batting average in categories leagues if all goes right.

Outfield

James Outman, Dodgers (14%) – Outman slumped his way back to the minors at the beginning of the season, but he got the call back to the Dodgers this weekend after Jason Heyward’s knee injury landed him on the IL. Outman was hitting .279/.393/.531 back at Triple-A, and he figures to play pretty regularly against righties at least over the next couple of weeks. He was pretty much a must-start Fantasy option last season and I still think there’s that kind of upside here if Outman can keep the strikeouts in check. 

Jhonkensy Noel, Guardians (37%) – Noel isn’t an everyday player yet, starting six of 11 games since his promotion, but I do wonder how long it’ll be until he changes that. He has three homers in his first 28 PA, though with 10 strikeouts to go with it. And that’s going to be the balance he has to strike to get in the lineup – if he can get the strikeout rate down to around 30%, he might just be an everyday player. There’s potentially difference-making power here if he does that. 

Matt Wallner, Twins (5%) – Yeah, you can pretty much just copy what I wrote about Noel here. Wallner has shown that power upside before in the majors, hitting 14 homers in just 76 games last season, but he earned a trip back to Triple-A earlier this season with strikeouts in more than half his trips to the plate. Down in Triple-A, he hit 19 homers in 67 games, but also had a 30.6% strikeout rate. With his power, that might be passable for Wallner, and he’s worth a look in deeper leagues if you need power above all. 

Dane Myers, Marlins (1%) – Who? Hey, don’t be rude – that’s the Marlins’ sometime-cleanup hitter you’re talking about. No, really. Myers is a 28-year-old career minor-leaguer, which says a lot about the state of Miami’s offense these days. But he’s also been a pretty productive player in the high minors, and might be able to generate, say, 10 steals and a handful of homers the rest of the way if he plays everyday for the Marlins. That’ll matter in some deeper leagues if he can avoid a hurtful batting average. 

Starting pitcher

Reese Olson, Tigers (70%) – Olson has held steady around this roster rate pretty much all season, which makes sense because he has struggled to put together more than a few good starts at a time without a seemingly inevitable implosion. He’s in the midst of one of the good stretches right now, having allowed just five earned runs over his past four starts, and he’s done so while striking out eight or more in three of the four starts. The inconsistency in strikeouts has been a problem for Reese, but the upside has always been there; if he’s figuring it out, he could be a difference maker moving forward. 

Drew Thorpe, White Sox (37%) – I’m still pretty skeptical about Thorpe’s chances of being a difference maker for Fantasy, but his results so far have been solid enough, with two earned runs or fewer in four of five starts. He’s probably pretty matchup dependent, and he has a decent one this week with the Twins (or Pirates if the schedule shifts). He’s a viable streamer there. 

Andrew Heaney, Rangers (27%) – Heaney has added a couple mph to his slider over the past two starts, and it’s starting to look like the version of the pitch he was throwing in 2022 with the Dodgers, his best season. He has 17 strikeouts in 12.1 innings of work in those two starts, and that makes him a pretty interesting add right now. 

Spencer Schwellenbach, Braves (46%) – The overall production still leaves a lot to be desired, as Schwellenbach’s ERA sits at 5.02 despite limiting the Phillies to just one run in Saturday’s start. However, he does have six or more strikeouts in four starts in a row with just four strikeouts total in that span, and his xERA for the season is a much more impressive 3.89. I think he’s going to be pretty useful moving forward, if not a star. 

Yariel Rodriguez, Blue Jays (13%) – The key for Rodriguez is going to be control. The stuff is good enough to play in the rotation, and he has walked just two in each of his past two outings, allowing one run in 12.2 innings of work in the process. If he can keep that up, Rodriguez definitely has some appeal in deeper leagues. 

Edward Cabrera, Marlins (17%) – Remember that incredible run Luis Gil had in May? That’s basically the blueprint for Cabrera if he can just throw strikes consistently. He returned from his shoulder injury Sunday and while he only made it through 3.2 innings, he walked just one and struck out four while racking up 14 whiffs on 82 pitches. Cabrera still has the upside to be a must-start pitcher, even if he’s earned plenty of skepticism along the way. I’m still stashing him on my bench in deeper formats. 

Relief pitcher

Jeff Hoffman, Phillies (36%) – I don’t think the Phillies are ever likely to have just one closer, but things do appear to be tilting in Hoffman’s direction lately, as he has three of the team’s past four saves. They didn’t have many save opportunities in June before then, and Jose Alvarado will certainly figure into the team’s plans moving forward. But Hoffman has just been the better pitcher this season, and should be rostered in all formats where saves matter. 

Yimi Garcia, Blue Jays (28%) – Chad Green is the Blue Jays closer right now, but that seems like a short-term thing. Garcia is working his way back from his elbow injury and might be back as soon as this week after he began his rehab assignment Saturday, and he should be back in the closer role before long. Hanging on to Green for a little while makes sense, but Garcia should be the more valuable option here in the long run if he avoids a setback with his elbow. 





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