Hopefully the weather cooperates, but next week will finally feel like the baseball season is hitting its stride. There have been a ton of day games to start the season, and the last of the home openers were finally played this past week.

The excuses of a short spring training should be over as well, as pitchers have had multiple starts to get stretched out and everyday players have accumulated more than 50 plate appearances. The month of May is right around the corner, so it’s time for the players who are off to slow starts to snap out of it and perform better.

Waiver-Wire Targets

Arizona Diamondbacks Starting Pitcher Merrill Kelly — This is a pleasant surprise, as Kelly was an afterthought during draft season but has pitched himself into fantasy relevance to begin the year. The 33-year-old has made three starts and has only allowed one earned run. Kelly has also struck out at least five hitters in every one of his starts and has totaled 18 for the season. This is a pitcher with a career ERA of 4.13, so we know he can’t keep this up. However, we need to ride the hot streak and see if he can settle in as a back-of-the-rotation option for the remainder of the year. Kelly is currently 54 percent owned in Yahoo! Sports leagues, so this will be the last chance to acquire the veteran.

Minnesota Twins Starting Pitcher Dylan Bundy — Another widely-available veteran is the former first-round pick. Bundy has pitched into the fifth inning in both of his starts and has allowed one earned run. After recording two strikeouts in his debut, Bundy finished with five against the Boston Red Sox. Bundy is averaging a career low in fastball velocity (his average fastball is 89.3 mph), but his reliance on his slider and changeup has helped him navigate through a batting order. The 29-year-old struggled in 2021 but was solid in 2020. If he can come close to the latter this season, he will make for a decent back-of-the-rotation option for fantasy owners.

St. Louis Cardinals Starting Pitcher Miles Mikolas — It’s not often that when it comes to starting pitchers on the waiver wire, it’s the veterans who are being recommended. The 33-year-old is our third veteran starting pitcher on this list. In three starts, Mikolas has allowed three earned runs while striking out 13. Mikolas pitches on the best team of the three veterans, so he has a better chance to rack up wins. The right-hander was really good in 2019 as he pitched to a 2.83 ERA, but it will be hard to duplicate that. Mikolas is also striking out a career-high 7.6 hitters per nine innings. All three pitchers have track records of being solid options, but never to this level. We’ll temper our expectations and hope they can be pitchers who will rack up innings while helping in the strikeout department and avoiding any blowups that will kill our pitching ratios.

Baltimore Orioles Reliever Jorge Lopez — The Orioles may not win many games, but when a closer is less than 15 percent owned we need to take advantage. Lopez demonstrated his electric stuff on April 20 when he pitched 1.2 innings and struck out three while picking up his second save. Lopez is being used in high-leverage situations, which could lead to a few cheap wins. The righty has strikeout ability and has already struck out nine in seven innings pitched. We’re at a point in baseball where teams rotate closers and for now, Lopez is solidified in his role, which is fantasy gold. Lopez could eclipse 15 saves while adding a few wins, which makes him a strong waiver-wire target.

Chicago Cubs Infielder/Outfielder Patrick Wisdom — Wisdom has collected nine hits, two home runs and seven RBIs in his last six games. Wisdom is also eligible at multiple positions, something we always want to target. Wisdom hit 28 home runs in 2021, so the power is legit. If he can hit for a higher average than the .231 finish last year, the 30-year-old could be a viable fantasy option this season. Wisdom is currently batting .263 and did rack up four steals in 2021, so there’s a chance he can chip in a couple this season.

Toronto Blue Jays Catcher Zack Collins — It’s difficult to find offensive catchers so if there’s a chance to acquire one off the waiver wire, fantasy owners should seriously consider it. Collins is batting .333 with two home runs and has collected eight hits in his last five games. Even more impressive, Collins is batting in the middle of a potent Blue Jays lineup. I don’t know if that will last, but if Collins can provide any offensive production, he’s an immediate waiver-wire target due to the position he plays.

Photo Credit: Colin Murphy/PressBox

Phil Backert

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