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Hello, all of you Fantasy fanatics and welcome to the Week 8 Waiver Wire.

This week’s theme is dedicated to one of the greatest rock songs of all time, “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple. In addition to being one of the greatest songs in rock history, it is also one of the first songs that aspiring guitarists learn first as they start to play the guitar. It is one of the most recognizable riffs in rock history and fairly easy to play.

The lyrics of the song tell a true story:  On December 4, 1971, Deep Purple was in Montreux, Switzerland where they had set up to record an album at the entertainment complex. The band was going to record their album after a Frank Zappa concert, but someone fired a flared gun at the ceiling during Zappa’s show, which set the place on fire.

Deep Purple watched the blaze from a nearby restaurant, and when the fire died down, a layer of smoke had covered Lake Geneva, which the casino overlooked. This image gave bass player Roger Glover the idea for a song title: “Smoke on the Water.”

Let’s see which players are covered with a layer of smoke and are on fire, including Blue Jays’ first baseman Justin Smoak. Let’s get to the Week 8 Waiver Wire.

Week 8 Waiver Wire

Catcher

Austin Hedges, San Diego Padres

 

Austin Hedges is hitting only .214/.273/.435 this season. So why is he on this list?

Hedges is tied with Salvador Perez for most home runs by a catcher with eight this season. In addition, he has always been known as a defensive specialist, but he is a serious threat in the power department.

With the talent pool being so thin at the catcher position, consequently, the power production that Hedges provides is invaluable. The remaining stats that he provides is underwhelming, to say the least. Fantasy owners looking for power numbers should add Austin Hedges on their rosters in NL-Only and deeper leagues.

On-Deck (Players you should consider)

  • Welington Castillo, Baltimore Orioles
  • Tom Murphy, Colorado Rockies

 

First Base

Justin Smoak, Toronto Blue Jays

It seems like Fantasy owners have been talking about Justin Smoak forever now as the 30-year-old was a top prospect with the Texas Rangers several years ago.  While he will never reach the ceiling that some project, he is one of the best hitters for the Blue Jays this season. He has batted fourth or fifth in 17 straight games.

Smoak is slashing .279/.344/.537 with nine homers and 28 RBI on the season. He has been on a tear as of late including hitting three homers in his past four games and four in the past week.

In an interesting stat irony, he is walking less but he’s also striking out less. His swinging-strike rate has gone down. Perhaps Smoak has improved through a more aggressive approach. He has cut his strikeout percentage all the way down to 20.3 after posting a 32.8 mark last year, which is an encouraging sign that his recent uptick is sustainable.

Justin Smoak has been a bright spot for the Blue Jays this season.  He is a legitimate Fantasy contributor in all of the power categories and should be in owned and started in all type of leagues and formats.

On-Deck (Players you should consider)

  • Justin Bour, Miami Marlins
  • Matt Adams, Atlanta Braves

 

Second Base

Ian Happ, Chicago Cubs

 

With the myriad of injuries to the Cubs’ starting lineup, they called up their latest hitting phenom Ian Happ. He has started six of the Cubs seven games since being promoted. He is 7-for-21 with two homers, two doubles, four RBI and five walks.

The 22-year-old is slashing .333/.462/.714 and perhaps playing his way to stay up in the majors even after the regular starters have returned. He has batted cleanup in the last four games and has manned all three outfield spots. In addition, he has been taking practice reps at the corner infield spots. He should earn eligibility at multiple positions making him very valuable.

Even if he doesn’t play every day when the regulars come back, he will play enough to produce roster-worthy stats. Ian Happ has proven in his short stint that he belongs in the big leagues, it’s up to the Cubs to find him a spot in the daily lineup and they will. Ian Happ should be a high priority player to add in all Fantasy leagues.

On-Deck (Players you should consider)

  • Neil Walker, New York Mets
  • Devon Travis, Toronto Blue Jays

 

Third Base

Hernan Perez, Milwaukee Brewers

When Ryan Braun (calf) was placed on the DL, it opened up a daily spot in the lineup every day. Perez took advantage of it by hitting .317, one home run and five RBI. With Ryan Braun now back, Perez will go back to his super-utility role where he has been a valuable Fantasy asset.

He is slashing .272/.319/.504 along with five home runs, 18 RBI, 17 runs scored and has two stolen bases so far this season. He does not have a regular position but he averages three starts per week. In most leagues, he is eligible at four positions: third base, outfield, shortstop and second base.

He is a very valuable commodity in Fantasy, especially in deeper leagues where his multi-position eligibility is golden. In addition, his bat makes him a very useful piece on Fantasy rosters. He should be a starter in deeper leagues and 100% owned in all other Fantasy leagues.

On-Deck (Players you should consider)

  • Danny Valencia, Seattle Mariners
  • Josh Harrison, Pittsburgh Pirates

 

Shortstop

Dansby Swanson, Atlanta Braves

 

Going into this season, Dansby Swanson was the odds-on favorite to win the NL Rookie of the Year. He finished with a .302/.361/.422  line in 129 at-bats in 38 games last season, leaving him just shy of the rookie cutoff.

Swanson started the season hitting out of the two-hole and it looked like all of the hype got to him. In the first 15 games, he was only hitting .131/.159/.197 with a homer, three RBI and a 16/2 K/BB ratio. He was promptly dropped to the eighth spot in the lineup to hopefully get him on track. He scuffled for the rest of April which led to Swanson being dropped in most Fantasy leagues. It seems like when May came around, his bat woke up.

His bat has started to heat up, hitting .326 (14-for-33) with 10 RBI over his last 12 games, which has prompted his move back up to the second spot in the lineup recently.

Consequently, this is the perfect time to pick him up. He might be available in your league. This is the Dansby Swanson that all the hype was about. Fantasy owners need to take advantage of it and pick him up immediately.

On-Deck (Players you should consider)

  • Freddy Galvis, Philadelphia Phillies
  • Didi Gregouris, New York Yankees

 

Outfield

Keon Broxton, Milwaukee Brewers

Keon Broxton was a huge sleeper coming into this season because of his speed/power combo. Unfortunately, he had a rough start of the season. In his first 15 games, he was hitting just .133 (6-for-45) with 21 strikeouts and three walks.

Many Fantasy owners could not wait or didn’t expect Broxton to bounce back so he ended being dropped in leagues everywhere. Broxton was even staring at being sent down to the minors so he can get back on track.

When the calendar flipped to May, it looks like he flipped the switch. He has hit safely in 17 of his past 20 games and is hitting .362 with three homers, 10 RBI, 17 runs and seven steals in that span. He also raised his OPS from .410 to .773.

While he does strike out a ton, Broxton provides ideal speed/power combo that every Fantasy owner covets. Now that he is proven that he is on the right track, he should be owned and started in all leagues and formats.

Delino DeShields Jr., Texas Rangers

 

DeShields won the starting left field job out of spring training after having an outstanding spring. He hit .323 with a .442 on-base percentage and lead the majors in stolen bases with 14.

He started the season not hitting or getting on base as he was slashing .238/.360/.238 over his first 11 games. In the past week, DeShields recorded four multi-hit efforts in his last six starts. This has pushed his slash line on the season to .282/.347/.341 to go along with seven stolen bases.

While DeShields is not going to save your team, he can be a useful addition to teams looking for OBP and stolen bases in AL-Only leagues. He is the type of player that owners look for to assist on specific categories. If you need speed, on-base percentage, and average, DeShields will help your team.

Bradley Zimmer,  Cleveland Indians

Bradley Zimmer is the Indians’ top prospect coming into this season. He looked excellent this spring when he hit .348/.400/.587. He is touted as a well-rounded prospect with speed and power but with a propensity to strike out too much.

When Abraham Almonte (biceps) hit the DL, the Indians looked to Zimmer to help the big league club. He was hitting .294/.371/.532 with five homers and nine steals through 33 games this season in Triple-A.

Zimmer had a forgettable major league debut. He struck out all three times at the plate. He has settled down since then to the tune of 267/.389/.533 with one home run, three RBI and one stolen base in five games. The young outfielder has also struck out eight times in 15 at-bats, unfortunately.

His power/speed combo is a tantalizing Fantasy asset that should be welcomed to every Fantasy team regardless of format.

On-Deck (Players you should consider):

  • Leury Garcia, Chicago White Sox
  • Tommy Pham, St. Louis Cardinals
  • Domingo Santana, Milwaukee Brewers

 

Starting Pitcher

Jose Berrios, Minnesota Twins

WOW! Jose Berrios has looked impressive in his first two starts of the season. He is 2-0 with a 0.59 ERA, a 0.39 WHIP and a 15-to-2 K/BB ratio. Each start was against great offenses in Cleveland and Colorado.

After flopping in his stint last season (3-7, 8.02 ERA), Berrios dominated the minors before he got promoted. He recorded a 1.13 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, and a 39/8 K/BB ratio over 39 2/3 innings in six starts at Triple-A.

The Twins have figured that Berrios had nothing more to show in the minors and with them being in first place, they welcomed the young phenom as their fifth starter. Hopefully, this helped ease the pressure that was placed on him.

Jose Berrios is a must-add in all leagues if he is somehow still available.

Nate Karns, Kansas City Royals

 

Nate Karns earned the fifth spot in the Royals’ starting rotation out of spring training. Karns had a rough start to this season. He went 0-2 with a 6.26 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP in April. He averaged fewer than five innings per start.

Karns turned it around in May with a 2.01 ERA, a 0.94 WHIP and a  32:4 K/BB ratio over 22 1/3 innings in his four starts. In his last start, he notched a career-high 12 strikeouts in a very impressive outing, which gave him back-to-back outings with double-digit strikeouts.

While Karns has momentum and is Fantasy relevant, he seems to be no more than a streaming option in deeper mixed leagues.

Zach Godley, Arizona Diamondbacks

When Shelby Miller (elbow) was placed on the DL, Zach Godley was called up from the minors. He earned the promotion with a 2.55 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP over 17 2/3 innings at Triple-A.

He has gotten off to a fabulous start so far this season. Through four starts, he has a 1-1 record with a 2.45 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and a 20/10 K/BB ratio over 25 2/3 innings.

With Shelby Miller out for the season and his hot start, Godley has solidified his hold on a starting spot in the rotation. He is definitely a starter in NL-Only leagues and a streamer in deeper mixed leagues.

Matt Garza, Milwaukee Brewers

Well, it has been a gamble to count on Matt Garza in Fantasy in years past. This season, it might be a little different.

Garza has come off a DL stint and has posted four straight quality starts. He has a 2-0 record with a 2.43 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP along with 22 strikeouts in 29.2 innings.

He is hard to trust even with this hot start. However, with all of the injuries to starters in the league this season, you might not have many options. He is a streaming option in all leagues and owners need to hope that he continues his hot streak. I don’t buy it based on his career numbers.

 Zach Wheeler, New York Mets

Most of all, Zach Wheeler should be applauded for all of this hard work and dedication after coming back from Tommy John surgery and not pitching in two seasons.

Zach Wheeler squeezed out the fifth spot in the rotation after spring training with Steven Matz going on the DL.

Wheeler has been solid this season for the Mets.  He has a 3-2 record with a 3.74 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP along with 40 strikeouts in 43.1 innings. Additionally, he has proven to be quite durable as he has gone six innings or more in all but one start.

Zach Wheeler is an attractive streamer option in deeper leagues.

Warming Up (Players to consider)

  • Jordan Montgomery, New York Yankees
  • Amir Garrett, Cincinnati Reds
  • Jimmy Nelson, Milwaukee Brewers
  • Alex Meyer, Los Angeles Angels
  • Eddie Butler, Chicago Cubs

Relief Pitcher

Matt Bush, Texas Rangers

What else does Matt Bush have to do?

He has been extremely dominant since taking over the Rangers’ closer role when Sam Dyson got injured. He has a record of 2-0 with an intimidating 1.10 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and 21 strikeouts in 16.1 innings pitched. Furthermore, he is 5-for-5 in save opportunities so far this season.

Can anyone in the Fantasy world explain how he is still under 50% owned in ESPN Fantasy Leagues?

Corey Knebel, Milwaukee Brewers

 

On May 12, Neftali Feliz was removed from the closer’s role as a result of his team-worst ERA (6.19), along with giving up six home runs and nine walks in 16 innings.

Brewers’ Manager Craig Counsell immediately named Corey Knebel the closer based on his outstanding work in the set-up role. He impressed with a 1.00 ERA and a 29/8 K/BB ratio over 18 relief innings.

Corey Knebel has not disappointed in his new role and continues to be dominant. He has converted on all three of his save opportunities that have presented itself. In fact, he actually has lowered his ERA to 0.98 this season. In addition, he has a 1.05 WHIP and has struck out 38 batters in 22 innings pitched.

Corey Knebel should be owned and started in all Fantasy leagues.

Warming Up (Players to consider)

  • Brad Hand, San Diego Padres
  • Steve Cishek/Tony Zych, Seattle Mariners

 

Dennis Sosic
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Dennis Sosic

Dennis Sosic is from Cleveland, Ohio and a HUGE sports fan including NFL and college football (GO BUCKEYES), MLB (GO TRIBE), NBA (GO CAVS), and MMA. WOW! Dennis finally did it! He broke down and gave in! Dennis joined the Twitter Universe! Please do all of us a favor and follow Dennis @ CALL_ME_SOS.
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