With just one waiver wire column this week and little time remaining in the 2021 fantasy baseball season, I’m going to tout as many players as possible who can help your team right now. Let’s get started:
Alejandro Kirk (C, 16 percent rostered)
Without a doubt, Kirk is one of the best pure hitters at the catcher position. The stocky 22-year-old has logged a lifetime .288 batting average and an .861 OPS across 56 career games, and he has recently experienced an uptick in opportunities on a Toronto team that is trying to surge into a postseason spot. With his talent and lineup support, Kirk could be a top-five catcher in September.
Nicky Lopez (2B/SS, 46 percent)
At this point, Lopez should be rostered in virtually all leagues. The infielder has hit .330 since June 1 while also improving his speed game by swiping 11 bags since the beginning of August. His summer success has landed Lopez the No. 2 lineup spot, and he should be an excellent source of runs scored this month.
Yonny Hernandez (2B/3B, 1 percent)
Hernandez has done what was expected of him in his Major League debut, holding his own at the plate (.264 average, .356 OBP) and regularly flashing his superior speed (eight steals in 87 at-bats). The rookie has a Minor League track record for producing steals and can be considered by anyone who needs help in that category. That being said, managers should be aware that Hernandez will not produce any power.
Leody Taveras (OF, 12 percent)
Having produced six homers and 15 steals in 217 career at-bats, Taveras has the power-speed mix that fantasy managers covet. Unfortunately, the speedy outfielder strikes out far too often and has batted just .189 as a Major Leaguer. Still, Taveras is hitting leadoff on a Texas team that is looking ahead to 2022 and could be a valuable source of runs and steals during the final weeks.
Lane Thomas (OF, 10 percent)
After struggling to succeed in brief opportunities with the Cardinals, Thomas may have found a home with the Nats. The outfielder has thrived in an injury-depleted Washington outfield since being recalled on August 15, posting a .932 OPS and regularly occupying the leadoff spot. In comparing Thomas to Taveras, I prefer Taveras if looking for steals and would opt for Thomas if chasing balanced production.
Kevin Pillar (OF, 8 percent)
With Brandon Nimmo on the IL, Pillar will be the Mets' regular center fielder for the foreseeable future. And the timing is great for Pillar, who has turned a slow start to the season around by producing a respectable .763 OPS since the All-Star break. The 32-year-old consistently offers a useful blend of power and speed, and he surely knows that his September performance will greatly impact his free-agent opportunities this winter.
Yadiel Hernandez (OF, 3 percent)
The second Y. Hernandez in this article, Yadiel will offer less speed but better plate skills than Yonny. The outfielder has been effective in the second half (.864 OPS), and like Thomas, he is now a regular member of a Nats outfield that was decimated by injuries and trades during the summer. Those who are looking for an outfielder but don’t need steals should choose Hernandez over the other options in this article.
Paul Blackburn (SP, 2 percent)
Overall, this is not a great weekend for streamers, as the best teams to target with opposing pitchers are primarily facing starters who are already rostered. Blackburn has been decent (4.12 ERA, 1.42 WHIP) since joining the A’s rotation on August 18 and has solid win potential in a home start tonight against Texas. Just don’t expect many strikeouts from Blackburn, who has a lowly career 4.8 K/9 rate.
Steven Matz (SP, 55 percent)
Matz has been dynamite since the beginning of August, going 3-1 with a 1.63 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP across seven starts. And his success most recently includes spinning six innings of one-run ball in a tough matchup at Yankee Stadium. Fantasy managers should be eager to stream Matz in all leagues for a start against the Orioles on Sunday, and they could choose to retain his services until he faces the Twins next weekend.
Eric Lauer (SP/RP, 27 percent)
Lauer has far exceeded expectations this season, producing stellar ratios (3.18 ERA, 1.18 WHIP) and 91 strikeouts across 96.1 innings. He is on a tear right now (14 IP, 1 ER across his past two starts) and should continue to limit the opposition when he faces the Tigers at the outset of next week.
Paolo Espino (SP, 5 percent)
Espino hasn’t been effective overall since joining the Nats rotation on June 28, posting a 5.37 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP across 14 outings. But he has mixed in his share of respectable starts, and he could have another successful appearance when he faces the lowly Pirates on Sunday. Still, my recommendation of Espino is purely for those in 12-team leagues who need to take chances.
Sean Nolin (SP/RP, 1 percent)
After initially struggling as a member of the Nats rotation, Nolin has produced respectable results (10.1 IP, 4 ER, 9 SO) across his past two outings. The left-hander has an incredible set of matchups for an upcoming two-start week, working at home against the Marlins and Rockies. Based on those opponents, he needs to be considered in weekly leagues.
A.J. Alexy (SP, 11 percent)
Alexy’s MLB career is off to a stellar start that includes 11 strikeouts across 11 scoreless innings. He has faced two manageable offenses (Rockies, Angels) and gets a pair of tough lineups (Astros, White Sox) next week, but the right-hander is the type of high-upside play that managers who aren’t in first place should chase in September.
Rowan Wick (RP, 20 percent)
I’m not ready to refer to Wick as the Cubs’ full-time closer, but after collecting three of the team’s past five saves he is starting to look the part. The right-hander is not going to be a dominant fireman, but he has just enough control and strikeout ability to hold the role for the rest of the season.