Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Preview
The Pittsburgh Steelers had an interesting 2017 season, but they once again failed to win the Super Bowl. How will they respond in 2018?
Once again, here are five fantasy baseball waiver wire adds for the coming week.
All stats through games on April 14.
5. Mallex Smith, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
Over his last five games, Smith is 9-for-19 (.474) with two RBI, two stolen bases and two walks. He's also been caught stealing three times in that span, but all Smith needed was some playing time to have the clear green light on the bases.
Smith hit leadoff for the first time this season on Saturday, and went 2-for-4 with a run scored, so more opportunities to be atop the order should be coming.
Kevin Kiermaier returned to the Rays' lineup after only missing a couple games with a foot issue, which creates a question about Smith's playing time. But Smith has strictly played the corner outfield spots so far this year, which leaves him with Carlos Gomez and Denard Span as primary competition for playing time.
Smith's speed (32 steals over 153 total games in 2016 and 2017) will play well in fantasy leagues, and if he maintains his early gains in on-base percentage he'll be in the lineup regularly. He's a worthy add in AL-only and deeper mixed leagues.
Yahoo! Ownership: 17% ESPN Ownership: 8.7%
4. Dansby Swanson, SS, Atlanta Braves
Swanson struggled in his first significant big league action last year, with a .232/.312/.324 slash-line, six home runs and 51 RBI over 551 plate appearances. But a strong August (.309 average, .848 OPS), after a demotion to the minors, foreshadowed this season's hot start (.357 average, .961 OPS with 10 RBI and nine extra base hits).
Fortune has smiled on Swanson so far this year, with a .442 BABIP, so a correction is coming. But he's also hitting more line drives and fly balls than he did last year, along with fewer ground balls, so there's a certain sustainability to his overall batted ball profile and thus his overall traditional numbers.
Fantasy owners have latched onto fellow Braves' middle infielder Ozzie Albies from the start this season. But Swanson is pretty widely available, and a good add in mixed leagues.
Yahoo! Ownership: 56% ESPN Ownership: 53.4%
3. Jurickson Profar, OF/IF, Texas Rangers
With Rougned Odor on the DL with a left hamstring strain, and Elvis Andrus expected to miss 6-8 weeks with a fractured right elbow, Profar has started five of the last six games for the Rangers at either second base or shortstop. Over the last three games, he's 5-for-12 with two runs scored, one stolen base and one RBI while occupying the No. 2 spot in the lineup.
Profar is only eligible as an outfielder right now in most fantasy leagues (12 games in 2017), but he's on track to add eligibility at shortstop (four games), second base (five games) or both in pretty short order.
With Andrus' return timetable sitting in late-May at the earliest, Profar has some sustainable fantasy value and is a worthy mixed league addition. But Once Odor and Andrus are both back, the best bet for his value over the rest of the season probably lies in a trade. If Profar can take advantage of his opportunity, the Rangers can sell him at peak value to a team that needs a middle infielder.
Yahoo! Ownership: 2% ESPN Ownership: 2.3%
2. Keynan Middleton, RP, Los Angeles Angels
Middleton has seized the closer role for the Angels, with three saves in the last four days and four saves in six April appearances. He has been a little shaky, with a walk issued in four of five appearances before Saturday, but Middleton had a clean ninth inning against the Royals to certify himself for save opportunities in the short-term at least.
Blake Parker and Cam Bedrosian will continue to linger as options to close games for Mike Scioscia. But Middleton is the guy now, and as long as he avoids a string of bad outings there's a chance he keeps fantasy relevancy as the closer for what looks to be a good team.
Yahoo! Ownership: 55% ESPN Ownership: 26.4%
1. Nick Pivetta, SP, Philadelphia Phillies
In **his first three starts this season, Pivetta has a 2.70 ERA, a 0.96 WHIP and a 19:2 K/BB ration over 16.2 innings. Over his last two starts, against admittedly weak lineups from the Reds and Marlins, he has struck out 16 of 47 batters faced with zero walks.
Pivetta had a 6.02 ERA over 26 starts for the Phillies last year, with a good strikeout rate (9.5 K/9) but equally concerning control issues (3.9 BB/9). A more effective curveball, and more usage of the pitch that is elite among curveballs in terms of spin rate in an early sample, helps explain the better surface results that Pivetta probably deserved in 2017.
Pivetta will be challenged to prove himself against better lineups going forward. But he's flashed ace potential over his last two outings, and fantasy owners have to pay attention before it's too late to add him.
Yahoo! Ownership: 26% ESPN Ownership: 27.2%