There are currently more qualified hitters batting below .200 than are hitting over .300 in baseball. There are a lot of theories as to why, but regardless, we’re a week away from the middle of May and many offensive players are struggling. If we get a chance to ride a hot streak from a hitter off the waiver wire, that may turn into the strategy we need in 2022.

Waiver-Wire Targets:

Minnesota Twins Shortstop Royce Lewis — The exact diagnosis is still not known, but it’s believed Carlos Correa suffered a non-displaced fracture to a finger after being hit by a pitch on May 5. We don’t know the timetable for how long Correa will be sidelined, but it’s expected to be at least a few weeks. This is a big blow for fantasy owners but now opens the door for Lewis. The infielder was the No. 1 overall pick in 2017 but has dealt with numerous injuries throughout his career, which has stunted his timeline to making it to the big leagues.

All indications suggest Lewis will be the everyday shortstop while Correa is out, and we have to bet on the talent regarding his potential fantasy impact. Lewis is having a strong season at Triple-A as he’s hitting .310 with three home runs, 11 RBIs, 21 runs scored and eight stolen bases. Lewis remaining on the big league roster and playing consistently when Correa and other injured Twins players return will depend on how well he performs. I’m willing to take the risk and acquire the former top pick.

Baltimore Orioles Reliever Jorge Lopez — Lopez was spotlighted a couple weeks ago, but the fantasy world hasn’t caught on. The right-hander is over the 50 percent threshold, but he’s not nearly as rostered as he should be. Lopez is one of the better relievers in baseball and he’s available in 40 percent of fantasy leagues. He is pitching to a 1.32 ERA and 0.95 WHIP. Lopez has four saves this season as well, tied for 15th in baseball. However, since he’s also being used in high-leverage situations, the 29-year-old has three wins. Lopez is a must add. This will be the last time to even have a chance, as he should be over 90 percent in a few days.

Milwaukee Brewers First Baseman Rowdy Tellez — We need to chase hot streaks right now, which leads us to Tellez. The power-hitting first baseman has slugged four home runs this week and is batting .275 with seven home runs and 22 RBIs. Tellez did most of his damage against a very bad Cincinnati Reds team. That seems like it will be a trend for a lot of hitters, as the Reds have no interest in putting a competitive team on the field. The good news for Tellez is he has a chance to run it back next week with the Brewers slated to take on the Reds again. Tellez has a .951 OPS, which would be a career high, but he has shown power before in his career. We could easily be dropping the 27-year-old in a couple of weeks, but if you need power, he’s a fine target.

Texas Rangers Reliever Joe Barlow — If Lopez is not available but you need help in the saves category, Barlow is emerging as a nice target. The right-hander has earned three saves since April 30 and is pitching to a 2.16 ERA and 0.72 WHIP on the season. Like the Orioles, wins may be hard to come by for the Rangers, but acquiring a reliever who has a firm role is something that fantasy owners must do.

Kansas City Royals Starting Pitcher Brad Keller — There are a couple of factors working against Keller. First, the Royals aren’t a good team, so the wins we want will not necessarily be there. Second, he doesn’t strike out enough hitters for my liking. However, through five starts, Keller has pitched at least six innings four times while never allowing more than three earned runs. The right-hander has a 1.74 ERA and 0.84 WHIP, both of which rank in the top 10 in all of baseball. Keller is only 30 percent rostered in Yahoo! Sports leagues, putting him firmly on the fantasy radar.

Phil Backert

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