Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 13
Welcome back to the weekly piece that looks to shine a light on some underowned names that are worth an add given their recent performances. With June nearly tapped out and many impatient owners starting to look toward fantasy football season and lazily double the current statistics to get a sense of how the whole season will play out, now is the time to strike with those savvy midseason moves.
No matter where you stand, these names should be able to offer some assistance in your quest for a fantasy title moving forward in 2017. Ownership levels are taken from Yahoo leagues and, along with the stats, are accurate through June 27.
Priority Pickups – <30% Owned
Michael A. Taylor (OF – WSH): 21% owned
Whatever undisclosed injury forced Taylor to miss two games a few days ago wasn’t a lingering one, as the power-speed threat went on to bash two homers on a four-hit night in his first game back in the starting lineup. He then homered the next day as well before most recently going “just” two-for-four with a run scored on Monday. He’s batting .391 with three homers, 14 runs scored, 11 RBIs, and three steals over his last two weeks and has seven homers in the month of June alone.
Going back through May, he’s hitting over .280 with nearly 200 at-bats to his name. The strikeouts will still come at a >30-percent clip, but that hard-hit rate around 37 percent with a mere 10.9 percent soft-contact rate is helping it all click right now.
Sean Newcomb (SP – ATL): 29% owned
Newcomb is slated to face the Padres on Tuesday, which is likely all one needs to know to make the move. No? You need data or something? Fine, fine.
While the rookie’s first three career starts haven’t yielded a win, he has posted a marvelous 1.96 ERA and 1.04 WHIP with 13 strikeouts over 18 1/3 innings. All three of those outings have been quality starts. And while his long-term prospects in the 2017 rotation are far from solidified, his facing San Diego next — a team that is hitting .228 over the last weeks — makes him a strong add.
Jason Hammel (SP – KC): 21% owned
Hammel’s most recent start against the Blue Jays wasn’t fantastic — two earned with six strikeouts over five innings — but it does mean he’s now given up three or fewer earned runs in each of his five June starts. He’s allowing a measly .228/.269/.354 slash line to opposing hitters and has walked only four batters in his 32 1/3 innings of work this month (compared to 10 walks in 29 1/3 May innings and 13 walks in 21 2/3 April frames).
He’s allowing hard contact just 25 percent of the time en route to his 2.51 ERA and 1.02 WHIP over his last five trips to the mound. Given his career’s solid track record, his heating up should be taken seriously.
Curtis Granderson (OF – NYM): 26% owned
Granderson looked — and hit — like a zombie over the first month and a half of the season. He was drawing walks at a poor 7.9 percent clip and had just 11 XBH to his name over his first 140 plate appearances. He showed some life in the second half of May by hitting safely in 11-of-14 games and has had that success spill over into June.
In fact, since May 16 the 36-year-old has delivered a .340/.450/.679 line with a 16.8 percent walk rate — more than doubling his early marks. Of course, what’s really helped is going 10-for-21 with three homers over his last five games.
But the other stats are to show that this isn’t just a random spike. And then there’s the fact that Terry Collins seems to love the guy. If another little cold streak rears its head then he should maintain his spot in the lineup and be given ample opportunities to work through it.
Josh Reddick (OF – HOU): 18% owned
Reddick had done quite well for himself to kick off June — hitting .310 over 44 PAs — but had hit zero homers, plated just two runs, and swiped one bag in those 10 games. Then he went on the seven-day concussion DL and missed a week.
Since being activated on June 20, he has gone 9-for-18 with three doubles, a triple, two homers, eight runs scored, four RBIs and a steal. Consider how the Astros’ 424 runs pace the American League this season, and it shouldn’t take much convincing to pick up a hot bat in one of the greatest run-scoring environments in 2017.
Ben Gamel (OF – SEA): 19% owned
So, last week we spoke about how Gamel’s contact tool was playing well but the modest power was quite the limiting factor. Well, now I have egg all over my face as Gamel roped two homers over the last weeks — which for him was really just five games since he’s now dealing with a minor groin issue. While his 15-game hitting streak is no more, this is a guy who is hitting toward the top of a potent lineup that is finally getting healthy.
I realize in this day and age where it seems like everyone and their grandmother is hitting 20 homers that the three homers we have Gamel slated to hit for the rest of the season might be uninspiring, but the .305 RoS average should prove to be mighty helpful with so many swinging for the fences.
Jose Urena (SP – MIA): 19% owned
Urena is fresh off of six shutout innings against the defending champs and now gets to face the Mets at home, so what’s not to like? Mix in that he has a solid 3.60 ERA since joining the rotation on May 7 (against the Mets, with six innings of one-hit ball) and has gone 5-0 over his last seven starts, and one has to be intrigued. Well, obviously he’s still eligible to be written about here so something must be up.
On top of simply not being a buzzy name, Urena has struck out just 36 in his 55 innings as a starter (5.89 K/9) and owns a fuzzy 5.23 FIP and 5.67 xFIP over that span. While his 20.4 percent soft-contact rate is healthy, it really can’t explain away the .225 BABIP. Tread carefully, but the matchup is a nice one.
Howie Kendrick (1B/2B/3B/OF – PHI): 20% owned
A hamstring injury currently limits Kendrick, yet the guy has still entered as a pinch-hitter twice over the last several days and gotten a hit each time. This means he’s hit safely in his last six games and owns an overall .373/.429/.494 slash line with two homers, 10 runs scored, eight RBIs, and seven steals since coming off of the DL on May 29.
While the .460 BABIP won’t last, he’s using all fields and has turned in a lowly 12.3 percent soft-contact rate with a robust 27.7 percent line-drive rate over the last 30 days. When you mix in his incredible multi-position eligibility, one can look past the whole “being on the Phillies” thing and make the add.
Bradley Zimmer (OF – CLE): 15% owned
In a world where everyone goes gaga over young talent, Zimmer has flown under many radars without much noise. He’s owned in fewer leagues than Barreto even, and that is not simply due to being an outfielder versus a shortstop. While he hasn’t gone yard since June 6, he has gone 16-for-43 (.372) with five runs scored, eight RBIs, and three steals over the last two weeks.
He hits in the lower-third of the order and doesn’t play every day yet as Cleveland continues to shy away from lefties, though this should open up more as the season progresses and Terry Francona realizes the rookie can handle it all. We currently have him slated to hit nine homers with 15 steals alongside a .256 average the rest of the way, but I can see that average projection rising as the improvements continue to hold.
The trepidation is understood, but he’s shown a much-improved hitting tool in 2017 after barely hitting .250 between Double-A and Triple-A last season. With 20/20 talent, Zimmer shouldn’t be ignored.
Franklin Barreto (SS – OAK): 17% owned
One can’t avoid talking about Oakland’s No. 1 prospect who was recently called up only to homer in his first big-league game, right? He’s now gone 2-for-5 in each of his first two games, though one has to wonder where he fits in once Jed Lowrie and Chad Pinder regain their health. Barreto himself hit .281 with eight homers while successfully swiping just four bags on nine attempts across 309 PAs at Triple-A before the promotion.
The talent is there — one can simply just watch that home-run swing from Saturday to see that — but the opportunity may be difficult to come by outside of this very short-term window. Marcus Semien is working back from his wrist injury and cracked 27 homers last season, Jed Lowrie is simply dealing with a minor knee injury and even came in to pinch-hit on Sunday as his renaissance 2017 campaign continues, and Chad Pinder can play practically everywhere on the diamond. Barreto is likely heading back to Triple-A to continue getting regular work soon, but this is still a notable welcoming party — and maybe, just maybe, he leapfrogs others with his play and sticks around.
Jhoulys Chacin (SP/RP – SD): 12% owned
Chacin shed his road demons to post a quality start against the Cubbies at Wrigley Field last week, though he still owns a dramatic split at and away from Petco Park. At home, he’s been a lights-out frontline starter with a 1.72 ERA and just nine extra-base hits allowed over 47 IP. Away, he’s been lit up to the tune of a 9.08 ERA with 19 extra-base hits allowed in just 36 2/3 IP. He has also allowed a .303/.392/.552 slash line to lefties with just 22 strikeouts in 34 1/3 IP while mowing down 50 righties with a .218/.270/.328 triple slash over 49 1/3 IP.
Splitsville, USA is not where one finds a reliable pitcher, but at nine percent and with a home date against the Braves on deck, Chacin will really only have to work around Ender Inciarte and Matt Adams in a favorable start. That 4.63 ERA RoS projection we have for him may not entice anybody, but digging deeper can reveal helpful situations compared to the overall picture.
Deep League Targets – <10% owned
Delino DeShields Jr. (OF – TEX): 8% owned
Here are DeShields’ numbers over the past three weeks (since June 6): 16-for-46 (.348) with 13 runs scored and 10 stolen bases. He hasn’t been caught on the basepaths once. Now, the obvious issue here is that he’s accrued just 46 at-bats over a three-week span in which he hasn’t dealt with an injury.
Texas’ lineup naturally boasts many bats, and DD isn’t going to crack it every day. But every other player that has stolen at least nine bases over the last 30 days is owned in at least 50 percent of Yahoo leagues, and DeShields can’t even crack the 10-percent barrier. Our projections say he’ll swipe 16 bags from here on out — the eighth most in the bigs — which is surely worth juggling in and out of lineups in daily-move leagues with four- or five-plus bench slot formats.
Brian Goodwin (OF – WSH): 2% owned
Long story short, Jayson Werth is still out and Goodwin is still hitting. Since June began, he’s smacked six homers and smacked 11 XBH (four doubles, a triple and six homers) with a healthy .292 average and .991 OPS.
Now, the injury situation around him is going to play a key role in his hitting the 12 rest-of-season round-trippers that we have him projected for, but there’s no doubting that he has that kind of power in his bat anymore. It feels simple because it is simple, you either need some short-term pop or you don’t.
Raimel Tapia (OF – COL): 2% owned
Carlos Gonzalez has been placed on the 10-day DL, retroactive to June 23, with a right shoulder strain and that means Tapia has a clear path to regular playing time in Colorado. While the rookie hasn’t made a ton of noise outside of his four-hit game on June 14 followed by his hot four-game series against the Giants, the opportunity here is a great one that deep-league owners need to be aware of.
The 23-year-old has nothing left to prove anywhere but the majors after hitting a ridiculous .359 with 11 steals in just 166 Triple-A PAs, and will get a chance to prove himself right here, right now.
Colorado is set to finish up their current series with the Giants before heading to Chase Field to face the D-backs, which usually yield absurdly high-scoring affairs. Then they’ll head back to Coors Field for seven games before the All-Star Break, so the time is ripe for a Tapia trial run. The .296 rest-of-season average that our system sees coming should yield some nice results in the Mile High City.
Austin Bibens-Dirkx (SP/RP – TEX): 2% owned
Bibens-Dirkx, the 32-year-old rookie whose name makes spellcheck work just a bit harder, most recently shut down the Yankees in Yankee Stadium with seven innings of one-run ball. The one run was a solo homer surrendered to Aaron Judge, which is nothing to be ashamed of.
While he has just 21 strikeouts in 36 2/3 IP, his 3.68 ERA and 1.01 WHIP showcase his plus control (2.21 BB/9) and, well, an untenable .194 BABIP. It’s true that this is more of a cautionary tale rather than a “go and get this guy!” type of blurb, as he posted a .284 BABIP in the minors before his call-up.
Daniel Gossett (SP – OAK): (SP – OAK): 1% owned
After a forgettable Major League debut on June 14, Gossett has looked stellar in his last two starts against the Astros and the White Sox, yielding just two earned runs with a sub-one WHIP over 12 2/3 IP. Like Chacin, he too draws the Braves at home for his next start (on June 30) and has pitched better at home and against righties in his tiny sample size. We have him pegged for a 4.44 ERA the rest of the way, but I’ll go out on a limb and say he can best that mark as his growing confidence allows his full arsenal to truly shine.
Tyler Wade (SS – NY): (SS – NYY): 5% owned
Wade appears to be the beneficiary of Starlin Castro’s’s right hamstring strain, which may or may not require a DL stint, as YES Network’s Jack Curry reports that the 22-year-old Wade will make his Major League debut in place of Castro. Wade, a lefty-swinging fourth-round pick from 2013, has taken his game to new heights at Triple-A this season with a .313 batting average (.259 at Double-A in ’16) with five homers and 24 steals (on 28 attempts) through 325 PAs.
Don’t expect a ton of power, though left-handed bats do play up very well at Yankee Stadium anyway, so who am I to kill your dreams. Those in deep formats seeking a speedy band-aid for either their own Castro vacancy or other middle-infield struggles should grab a piece of this Yankees’ offense in Wade.
Paul DeJong (2B/3B – STL): (2B/3B – STL): 1% owned
DeJong collected another three hits on Monday night and is now hitting a clean .326 with four homers, seven runs scored, and nine RBIs in his 11 games since rejoining the team on June 15. His age-23 bat has cranked 13 homers in just 48 Triple-A games, and he smashed 22 dingers at Double-A in ’16, so it isn’t as though the power is fluky and coming from nowhere. With Kolten Wong still on the shelf, DeJong should be able to contribute for NL-only owners for at least a couple more weeks.