As April comes to a close, some fantasy managers will start to reach panic mode with their struggling players. This is a great time to acquire those who are in a slump, especially pitchers whose numbers may have been skewed by one bad start. You will find plenty of mid-level hurlers in this space, and my advice is to acquire them before their next outing.
Players to acquire
Andrew Heaney (SP, LAA)
Fantasy managers will initially believe that 2021 is more of the same for Heaney, who last produced an ERA under 4.00 in 2015. But the southpaw, who is in a contract year, has thus far produced career-best marks in K/9 rate (12.6) and FIP (2.18). Heaney’s control skills are in line with his career norms, and he will hit a hot stretch when his 53.8 percent strand rate moves towards his lifetime 73.1 percent mark.
Nathan Eovaldi (SP, BOS)
Those who look past Eovaldi’s 3.77 ERA might see someone who is on course for a special season. The right-hander struggled last time out, but he has been excellent overall, logging a 27:5 K:BB ratio while also limiting hitters to a lowly 25.9 percent hard contact rate. Backed by Boston’s excellent lineup, Eovaldi could win plenty of games while posting a low 3.00’s ERA.
Ryan Yarbrough (SP/RP, TB)
I believe that Yarbrough turned a corner in his past two starts. After a pair of disappointing outings, the Rays have used an opener in his past two outings and the results have been excellent. Having an opener ahead of Yarbrough gives him an even better chance to secure wins, as he now has until the sixth or seventh inning for his team to take a lead. Yarbrough continues to flash his trademark control skills and is also continuing a career-long pattern of limiting hard contact.
Raisel Iglesias (RP, LAA)
Smart managers may be able to make the case in trade talks that Iglesias is a failing closer (6.75 ERA, two blown saves) who is holding his ninth-inning gig by a thread. But Iglesias should turn things around right away, as his fastball velocity has not dipped and his 12:1 K:BB ratio is an elite mark. I entered the season with Iglesias valued as a top-5 reliever and haven’t yet seen anything to change my mind.
Players to trade away
Aaron Civale (SP, CLE)
Some consider Civale to be the next in a long line of Cleveland pitching gems, following the likes of Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Shane Bieber. But beyond posting a 2.42 ERA, the right-hander hasn’t done anything special this year. His strikeout rate and walk rate are both worse than his 2020 and career marks, and his 4.06 FIP paints a picture of a useful-but-unspectacular fantasy hurler. I don’t believe that Civale is a must-trade player, but I would market him as an ascending ace and see what the return could be.
Brandon Nimmo (OF, NYM)
I would try to trade Nimmo for two reasons. First, he leads the National League in BABIP (.513) and an inflated hit rate not only leads to an unrealistic batting mark but also more R+RBI than a player deserves. Second, Nimmo has a lengthy injury history and therefore a strong likelihood of winding up on the IL at some point. Overall, his 2021 trade value is likely peaking right now.
Randy Arozarena (OF, TB)
With a short track record and memorable postseason performance, Arozarena entered 2021 as one of the most volatile draft options. And while he is thus far off to a solid start on the surface (.301 average, .801 OPS) there is reason to believe that a downturn is coming. The 26-year-old has benefited from a .449 BABIP while showing terrible control over the strike zone (34.4 percent strikeout rate, 5.6 percent walk rate). His Statcast numbers (.217 xBA, .263 xwOBA) are that of a marginal fantasy outfielder, rather than someone who should be worth a major trade return.
Tim Anderson (SS, CWS)
I have to admit that I’m just not an Anderson believer. That being said, I have good reasons for picking this week to put him in this article. The shortstop is normally a high BABIP player, and in recent seasons he outperformed his xBA by about 40 points. This year he is outperforming his xBA by 90 points, which means that regression is coming. Also, I’m not convinced that Anderson remains a strong steals option. He stole just five bases last year. He has three swipes this season, but all three came in one series against Boston and one of the three occurred when the game was out of reach. Finally, Anderson doesn’t drive in many runs. His career-best RBI total is 64, and he has just four RBI this year.