Fantasy Baseball Weekend Preview: Waiver-wire targets plus Hunter Greene and everything to watch this weekend

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Scott White has you covered with what you need to know for Week 4 of the Fantasy Baseball season with his two-start pitcher rankings and top sleeper hitters and pitchers , but before we get there, we have a whole weekend’s worth of games to get through. We’ll have reactions to the weekend’s action in Monday’s waiver-wire recap, but what we’re going to do every Friday this season is preview the upcoming weekend, with waiver-wire pitchers and hitters to keep an eye on and pounce on if they perform well, players on the cut watch list, closer situations to watch, plus some updates on injuries heading into the weekend.

Here’s what you need to know for this weekend’s games:

Waiver-wire starting pitchers to watch

Jordan Hicks made his first career start Thursday against the Marlins and he averaged 99.8 mph with his fastball over 46 pitches — his last fastball was 100.6 mph, so the converted closer held his velocity well over his three innings. It might take a while for Hicks to get built up to the point where he can throw 90 pitches and go deep into games, but he has plenty of upside if he can sustain his stuff in a starter’s workload.

friday

  • Hunter Greene vs. STL: Greene might just be the hardest throwing starting pitcher we’ve ever seen – his 39 pitches over 100 mph in his most recent start are the most ever tracked. Greene is pretty close to universally rostered at 89%, but I haven’t seen any reason to think he shouldn’t be 100%. Let’s hope he doesn’t give us reason tonight.
  • Jameson Taillon vs. CLE: Taillon has looked pretty solid in the early going, and it’s fair to wonder if he might be more effective a full year further removed from Tommy John surgery. What we want to see from him this time around is more swinging strikes like he had in his first start, not like his second of him, when he had just three. I would be willing to stream him in this matchup.
  • Reid Detmers vs. BAL: Detmers has struggled in the early going, just like he did last season. That’s disappointing, especially after a very strong spring. The issue has been his fastball from him, just like last season, which raises a question about whether the pitch will ever be good enough. If it isn’t against Baltimore, it’s going to be hard to justify continuing to stash him. He’s streamable for this matchup, but risky.
  • Nick Martinez vs. LAD: Martinez looked good in his first major-league start since 2017, with six strikeouts to one walk over five one-run innings, but then he was tagged for four runs — including three homers — in his second outing. The Padres like Martinez enough to give him a multi-year guaranteed deal this offseason, but he needs to show more to be worth rostering.

saturday

  • Matt Brash vs. KC: Like Greene, Brash is widely but not universally rostered, and I don’t see a good reason why he shouldn’t be. I have concerns about how many innings you’re going to get from him in the long run, given that he threw just 97.1 last season, but I’m pretty confident he’s going to be good when he’s in the rotation, armed with the kind of swing-and-miss stuff he has. Add him and start him in daily leagues, because this might be your last chance to.
  • Nestor Cortes vs. CLE: Cortes isn’t quite as young and interesting as Greene and Brash, but it’s a similar situation otherwise. He has struck out nearly half the batters he has faced through two starts and has a 2.64 ERA and 1.046 WHIP in 102.1 innings since the start of the 2021 season. He’s worth adding and starting in all formats.
  • Dylan Bundy vs. CWS: Bundy is rostered in 47% of leagues, and that number is almost certainly too high. He’s down to an 89 mph average fastball velocity with just a 20.5% strikeout rate through two starts. This is smoke-and-mirrors stuff, and I would prefer not to start him if I had him — though the White Sox’ injuries might make me reconsider if Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert are out.
  • Elieser Hernandez @ATL: Against a better matchup, I might feel pretty good about starting Hernandez, but I don’t trust him against this Braves lineup. However, if he does well against them, it’s worth considering adding him in some 12-team leagues.

sunday

  • Josiah Gray vs. SF: Gray probably needs to see his roster rate jump after his most recent outing, as he limited the Diamondbacks to one run in 5.1 innings with eight strikeouts. Command and control remain something of an issue for him — his fastball tends to get pummeled if he leaves it in the strike zone — but he has a whiff rate over 50% on both his curveball and slider so far. I can see a poor man’s Shane Bieber path for Gray. If he gets through this outing without getting bombed, he’s going to be universally rostered.
  • Nick Lodolo vs. STL: Lodolo struck out eight with two walks in his second start, and I’m excited to see where he goes from here. Despite surrendering three homers in his first two starts, Lodolo has allowed just a 21.4% hard-hit rate, with both his curveball and changeup sporting whiff rates over 40%. That’s a good base to build on, though I wouldn’t necessarily want to trust him against the Cardinals.
  • Yusei Kikuchi @HOU: I don’t like this matchup for Kikuchi, who has to do a lot to earn our trust back after the way the second half of last season went — and the lack of strikeouts in his first two starts is a concern. However, I remain intrigued by his skill set, so I’ll continue to keep an eye on him. An impressive start here would certainly do wonders for my confidence in him.

Waiver-wire hitters to watch

  • Seth Beer: Beer is hitting the ball hard and he’s hitting a ton of line drives, and he’s doing so without an exorbitant amount of strikeouts. I’m hoping he can start to mash his way into everyday at-bats so we can see what he’s really capable of.
  • Alec Bohm: Bohm has struck out just once in his first 29 plate appearances entering play Thursday, and he’s paired that with a 50% hard-hit rate. That’s the skill set we want to see from him, and if he keeps hitting like this, he’s going to force the Phillies to keep him in the lineup despite his defense of him.
  • Brandon Marsh: Marsh hit the ball hard last season, but his 35% strikeout rate overshadowed the good that he did. In the early going so far, he’s striking out just 20% of the time, with a whiff rate and chase rate that are both below average, and he’s doing that while continuing to hit the ball very hard. There’s always been talent here and it’s hard to ignore what he’s doing right now.
  • Josh Naylor: Naylor hasn’t done much
  • Anthony Santander: The most interesting thing about Santander’s start to the season is definitely the 20.4% walk rate he’s sporting. It’s too early to know if that is for real, but improved plate discipline is a good sign from someone who already does pretty good damage when he puts the ball in play.
  • Aaron Hicks: Hicks has been hitting leadoff at times for the Yankees, and you don’t need to know too much more than that, right? He’ll get on base and will steal the occasional bag, but you’d like to see Hicks hitting the ball harder to generate more power — otherwise, he’s likely only going to be a plus in runs.
  • Jurickson Profar: Profar is off to a hot start with four home runs in the early going, already matching last season’s total and more than half of what he managed in 2020. I don’t necessarily buy it, but it’s worth noting it has come along with a new more pull-heavy approach, so maybe there’s something there.
  • Isiah Kiner-Falefa: Kiner-Falefa got off to a slow start, but he has his average up to .289, with an expected average of .309. You’re never going to get much power from him, but if he hits for average and runs a bit — two steals in a recent game — he can be a useful category league option.
  • Austin Nola: The Padres have taken to batting Nola leadoff on occasion, which is always a good thing to see. The results haven’t been great overall, but Nola is hitting the ball pretty hard and making a lot of contact, and the extra plate appearances from his handful of leadoff opportunities could be pretty valuable. I like him as a No. 2 catcher if that trend continues.

The cut watchlist

Closer situations to watch

Injury report updates

  • Luis Robert left Thursday’s game with a groin injury. An IL stint is possible.
  • George Springer was not in Thursday’s lineup after getting hit by a pitch on his forearm Wednesday night. He’s in question for this weekend.
  • Byron Buxton was back in the lineup as the DH. I have finished 1-4 with a single.
  • Luis Urias will begin a rehab assignment with Double-A on Saturday. He is 78% rostered and probably needs at least a week, if not more, before he’ll be ready.
  • Josh Bell’s MRI on his knee came back clean after leaving Wednesday’s game early. He was back in the lineup Thursday.
  • JD Martinez was not in the lineup Thursday with a groin injury and is unlikely to play Friday as well.
  • Jon Gray was placed back on the IL with a low-grade MCL sprain.
  • AJ Pollock will join the White Sox on Friday in Minnesota and figures to be back in the lineup. Hopefully, that doesn’t make it even harder for Andrew Vaughn to get in the lineup.
  • Garrett Whitlock is likely starting Saturday against the Rays unless he’s used in relief Thursday or Friday.

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