Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Why you should suddenly care about the Nationals

The MLB trade deadline rocked the fantasy world, altering the rest-of-season value of so many players. Today's edition of waiver wire tips is full of those who saw their value increase at the deadline. And I managed to sneak in a few other players who are included due to favorable upcoming schedules. One note before we start: while MLB fans mostly focus on the acquisitions by contending teams who loaded up at the deadline, wise fantasy managers know that the best values in early August are typically players on losing teams who now have an enhanced role due to the departure of certain teammates.

Luke Voit (1B, Washington Nationals, 35 percent rostered)

Voit has undeniable power, having led the Majors in long balls during the shortened 2020 season. He had some success with the Padres (13 HR) but could fare better now that he is the regular cleanup hitter on a losing team that will likely face many mediocre relievers late in games down the stretch. At the very least, those who need power numbers should give Voit a bench spot.

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Jean Segura (2B, Philadelphia Phillies, 45%)

Segura returned from the 60-day IL just in time to for a weekend series against a Nats pitching staff that ranks last in the Majors with a 5.17 ERA. The 32-year-old has a balanced skill set (6 HR, 8 SB, .272 AVG in 169 AB) that is needed to contribute in multiple ways down the stretch, and pretty much anyone from Philadelphia’s lineup is set up for short-term success.

Kolten Wong (2B, Milwaukee Brewers, 45%)

Wong is swinging a hot bat in the second half (.429 AVG) and has fleet feet (11 SB in 2022). He should score plenty of runs this weekend when the Brewers take on a Reds team that ranks 29th in ERA and traded their two best pitchers at the deadline.

Tommy Pham (OF, Boston Red Sox, 48%)

Pham has the power-speed blend that fantasy managers covet, although he didn’t show his best form in his final weeks with the Reds. Still, there is plenty of potential when combining the 34-year-old’s skill set with a premium lineup spot on a Red Sox squad that features some of baseball’s premier hitters. At the very least, Pham is worth a short-term addition until we see how his new role shakes out.

Victor Robles (OF, Washington Nationals, 4%)

One of four Nats in this article, Robles is getting another opportunity to work as the team’s leadoff hitter. There are legitimate questions as to whether he has the plate skills to hold a prominent role, but the Nats have nothing to lose by giving him an extended look down the stretch. And his speed is undeniable, as Robles is one of 13 players to swipe at least six bags since July 1.

Yadiel Hernandez (OF, Washington Nationals, 5%)

I promise you that my account has not been overtaken by a Nats fan! Hernandez is yet another interesting option in a revamped Washington lineup, as he should now have a full-time role in the absence of Juan Soto. Since the outset of 2021, the 34-year-old has hit .274 with 17 homers and five steals in 537 at-bats, which shows that he can be a replacement-level asset in 12-team leagues.

Braxton Garrett (SP, Miami Marlins, 39%)

Garrett has been one of baseball’s best strikeout pitchers of late, accumulating 37 whiffs across his past four starts. And punchouts haven’t been the left-hander’s only contributions, as he has posted a 3.03 ERA and a 0.81 WHIP across six outings since the outset of July. Overall, Garrett looks like a long-term contributor in all formats.

Spenser Watkins (SP, Baltimore Orioles, 11%)

Since being recalled on June 25, Watkins has logged a 1.85 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP across six starts. And his resume doesn’t stop there, as he has pitched at least six innings in three of those contests, while enjoying his success without unsustainable batted ball luck (.282 BABIP). I’m not ready to fully endorse Watkins just yet, but I’d happily start him in any league for his Sunday home start against the Pirates.

Chris Flexen, Marco Gonzales (SP, Seattle Mariners)

I’ll combine two Seattle streaming options for this weekend, as both players are in the 25-30% range for roster rate and will make starts against an Angels squad that ranks 29th in baseball in OPS since July 1. Flexen (3.73 ERA) can be streamed on Saturday, with Gonzales (3.95 ERA) ready to help on Sunday.

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Justin Steele, Drew Smyly, Adrian Sampson (SP, Chicago Cubs)

These three Cubs pitchers are the NL version of Flexen and Gonzales — weekend streamers who are set to face the lineup (Marlins) that has been the worst in baseball since July 1. All three are less than 15 percent rostered, making them strong deep-league options. I’ll rank them in this order: Sampson (Sunday), Steele (Friday), Smyly (Saturday).

Felix Bautista (RP, Baltimore Orioles, 49%)

The O’s are in a great spot to produce a new fantasy closer down the stretch, as they are good enough to have a winning record thus far but dealt their ninth-inning man (Jorge Lopez) at the deadline. Bautista has been their best reliever this year (1.81 ERA, 0.87 WHIP) and has a bright future in the organization. He could lead a closer committee and eventually have the ninth inning all to himself.

Kyle Finnegan (RP, Washington Nationals, 32%)

Finnegan was in this column a week ago, and he is now much more valuable after staying with Washington through the trade deadline. In comparing him to Bautista, Finnegan has been less effective this year (3.38 ERA, 4.21 FIP, 1.10 WHIP) but has the advantage of already being confirmed as the closer by his manager. For this reason, he is the safe route for managers who need saves right now.

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