It sure seems like the Yankees are gearing up to make a closer change.
Clay Holmes was never officially removed from the role and even received a vote of confidence from manager Aaron Boone after nearly blowing his second game in as many outings Wednesday. But he hasn't appeared in the ninth inning since, working a scoreless eighth inning Saturday and a scoreless seventh inning Sunday.
The Saturday outing actually served to set up another reliever for a save, Ian Hamilton, and Hamilton's numbers are good enough to make him of some interest in leagues where you're looking to speculate on saves. But he wouldn't be my first choice to replace Holmes if the Yankees are indeed going that direction.
It's time we talked about Michael King.
Michael King RP
NYY N.Y. Yankees • #34 • Age: 28
King has two saves already, but since both were of the multi-inning variety, you might assume that's just his niche. A report came out this weekend, though, saying the Yankees were preparing to use him with greater frequency and in shorter spurts, and it didn't shy away from nominating him as a closer-in-waiting. "We could get there at some point," manager Aaron Boone said. Combine that with the fact that presumptive closer Clay Holmes' past two appearances have come prior to the ninth inning, and "some point" may be just around the corner. Ian Hamilton was the reliever who followed Holmes for a save Saturday, but likely just because King needed a day off. He has been the Yankees' best reliever two years running even while missing some time with a fractured elbow.
STL St. Louis • #21 • Age: 26
Hasn't Nootbaar done everything we asked him to do? Since returning from those two weeks he missed with a jammed thumb, he's started every game but one, mostly batted leadoff, and reached base at a .429 clip. Things couldn't be going much better for maybe the trendiest outfield pick of draft prep season, and yet here he is available in nearly 30 percent of CBS Sports leagues. OK, so it took a 10-for-18 (.556) performance the past four days to get his numbers where they are, and his run scored total is surprisingly lacking given everything else. But the point is he seems to be rounding into exactly who we wanted him to be, and my prediction is he'll combine the best of Christian Yelich and Brandon Nimmo the rest of the way.
Bryce Miller SP
SEA Seattle • #50 • Age: 25
Second verse, same as the first. Miller once again limited a major-league club to just two hits in six innings, only this time it was the Astros rather than the Athletics. He didn't pile up whiffs at quite the same rate, but all eight came on his fastball, which appears to be an absolute banger with the optimal vertical approach angle for the modern game. The fact he leans on it 70 percent of the time could become an issue as he makes his way around the league, but the way to get away with having so limited an arsenal is to have a fastball that good. And given the state of pitching around the league right now, what we've seen from Miller should be enough for you to make your move, provided you haven't already.
Esteury Ruiz CF
OAK Oakland • #1 • Age: 24
Ruiz stole 85 bases in just 114 minor-league games last year, so perhaps it's no surprise the rookie leads the majors with 16 now, having swiped 11 in his past 11 games. He doesn't bring much else to the table offensively, but he gets on base at a good enough clip that the Athletics seem to have settled on him as their leadoff hitter, which will maximize his run-scoring opportunities as well. So what's his utility, then? Is he just a steals specialist in Rotisserie leagues, or something more? Fact is that stolen bases in such quantities can have a real impact in points leagues as well, and indeed, Ruiz now rates as a top-15 outfielder in that format. I'm skeptical he can sustain it, but there's no harm in using him now.
Bailey Ober SP
MIN Minnesota • #17 • Age: 28
With Kenta Maeda and Tyler Mahle both sidelined for the foreseeable future, Ober is about to get more run than ever, and he continued to show he deserves it with seven shutout innings Friday at Cleveland. It gives him a 2.66 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 8.1 K/9 in 14 starts between this year and last. His trademark is keeping baserunners to a minimum with pinpoint control and weak contact in the air. Granted, Friday's start was only his second of seven-plus innings and sixth of six-plus innings in 34 career chances, but efficiency clearly isn't the issue. It's just that the Twins have always handled him with kid gloves, but again, that's likely to change given their pitching deficiencies right now. How does a poor man's Triston McKenzie sound to you?
ARI Arizona • #12 • Age: 29
How do you go from afterthought to prime waiver wire pickup in just one weekend? Well, you bat .727 (8 for 11) with four home runs in that weekend, raising your batting average from .265 to .310 and your OPS from .685 to .885. Gurriel of course had a three-year run of Fantasy significance from 2019 through 2021 in which he batted .283 with an .830 OPS and a per 162-game pace of 30 home runs, but the power basically evaporated last year. He then went on to have wrist surgery after the season, offering hope that maybe he'd regain said power. Suddenly, it's more than just hope.
TEX Texas • #20 • Age: 24
Duran has made it so the Rangers hardly miss Corey Seager, batting .369 (24 for 65) with four home runs and two stolen bases in his past 17 games. Recent reports suggest Seager (hamstring) is only about a week away from returning to game action, so it may seem like a waste to pursue Duran now. But the second-year player has likely positioned himself to get extensive playing time in left field after Seager returns. He has his flaws as a hitter, as exemplified by him having only one walk so far, but he's emerging as the same sort of power/speed threat he was in the minors. And the triple eligibility (outfield, shortstop, third base) could certainly come in handy.
MIN Minnesota • #19 • Age: 25
I realize we all probably have Kirilloff fatigue by now, what with his ongoing wrist saga only occasionally interrupted by productive play. But he had his most extensive surgery yet to address the issue last year and has finally recovered to the point that the Twins are welcoming him back to the lineup. His minor-league numbers while working his way back were predictably good, and if you need a reminder of his upside, he has hit .322 with a .900 OPS across six minor-league seasons. We have yet to see how much the Twins will play him (he bats left-handed, after all), not to mention if the wrist will hold up, but if you're looking to gamble on upside in a five-outfielder league, you can't ask for much more than right here.