Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 14
Welcome back to the weekly piece that looks to shine a light on some names who appear to be underowned and worth an add given their recent performances. The calendar has flipped to July and the All-Star break approaches, meaning those midterm evaluations are due. Check your needs, check in on your opposition’s needs and make the necessary moves to crush them come September. No matter where you stand, these names should be able to offer some assistance in your quest for a fantasy title in 2017.
Ownership levels are taken from Yahoo leagues and, along with the stats, are accurate through July 3.
Priority Pickups – <30% Owned
Manuel Margot (OF – SD): 20% owned
After going 0-for-4 in his first game off the disabled list on June 27, Margot was shifted from the leadoff slot to the two-hole the next day and has been on fire for five straight games now — going 10-for-19 with a homer and four steals since. Yes, we all know that little spikes where a guy hits above .500 are not going to last, but the main reason you’re here is for the speed. It surely isn’t going to be for the runs or RBIs with San Diego’s lineup around him, but it was only last season that the 22-year-old stole over 30 bases in roughly 600 plate appearances between Triple-A and the bigs. He just might be able to flirt with a .300 average and swipe 15-20 bases in the second half of 2017 — it’s certainly in his pedigree.
Orlando Arcia (SS – MIL): 21% owned
The day was May 17, 2017. The 22-year-old Arcia had just gone 0-for-4 to drop his batting average to .208 through his first 38 games of the season, with four homers and just one steal (with three caught-stealings) to show for it. But then, something clicked. He quietly went on an 11-game hitting streak through the end of May. Then, he hit .326 in 92 June at-bats while going 4-for-5 on steal attempts. Sure, the seven runs scored and eight RBIs weren’t great, but the bat was finally catching up to his name. And all he’s done in July is go 8-for-12 with two homers, four runs scored and three RBIs in three games, meaning he’s a likely candidate to be moved up in the order soon from the eight-hole. Be there if/when it happens. Unlike Margot, Arcia has a better surrounding cast, home ballpark and power pedigree alongside the 25-to-30 steal upside.
Tommy Pham (OF – STL): 14% owned
Pham was brilliant yet again on Monday night, going 3-for-3 with a triple, two runs scored, two RBIs and two walks. He was caught stealing because nobody’s perfect, but he’s still 9-for-12 overall on swipe attempts in 2017. The 29-year-old has provided a spark in St. Louis lately, hitting .340 with four homers, 14 runs scored, 11 RBIs and three steals over the past two weeks while hitting in the upper-third of the order. He is playing well enough where he should see the starting lineup over Randal Grichuk even after Dexter Fowler returns, though he is still unable to wear cleats at this point.
Dinelson Lamet (SP – SD): 16% owned
Lamet’s 5.35 ERA is rough, but may just be what all fantasy owners will be thanking when they scoop him up for peanuts thanks to lazy owners not looking underneath the hood. The rookie’s ERA is inflated, yes. That 1.95 HR/9 rate and 56.6 percent strand rate have been most unkind, but his ridiculous 13.9 percent swinging-strike rate has led to a beautiful 12.16 K/9 and fuels a 3.21 SIERA. Pair that rate with his 1.11 WHIP and the 50 Ks in just 37 innings, and you’ve got a frontline starter even if the wins won’t flow out of San Diego.
Jhoulys Chacin (SP/RP – SD): 12% owned
Speaking of San Diego, we once again have to speak on Chacin. The Pads’ Opening Day starter has been brilliant lately, and just recently shut down the red-hot Dodgers with five innings of shutout ball on Sunday. This lowers his ERA since June began to 2.61, and also drops his incredible home ERA to 1.68 through 59 innings — the second-best home ERA in the Majors (Gio Gonzalez – 1.64). Not only has he pitched well through some rough matchups (@CHC, LAD) to allow three or fewer earned runs in each of his last six outings, but he gets to face the Phillies next to close out his first half.
Mike Foltynewicz (SP – ATL): 26% owned
There’s no avoiding that Foltynewicz got shelled by the Nationals in mid-June, but there’s also no avoiding that he’s given up just four earned runs combined over his five other starts since June began. In those 33 innings, Folty has struck out 35 with just two homers allowed, though he has walked at least two in each of those outings. The 25-year-old is far from perfect, but the fact that he’s starting to show improved consistency with the upside for 8-to-10 strikeouts in any given start means he’s above the “bar of relevancy” in all 12-team formats.
Whit Merrifield (2B/OF – KC): 19% owned
While he isn’t going to steal three bases (as he did on Sunday night) often, it’s pretty special that Merrifield has hit .283 with seven doubles, a triple, six runs scored, seven RBIs and four steals over the last two weeks without much fanfare. In this day and age of juiced ball this and juiced ball that, it’s difficult to make a compelling case for someone who hasn’t left the yard since May 29, but Whit’s 20-steal, .300-hitting potential from the leadoff spot should be worth something with his middle-infield eligibility.
Lonnie Chisenhall (OF – CLE): 15% owned
Chisenhall just keeps on chipping in, delivering another six RBIs since last week’s column listed him in the deeper pickups section. Those in regular 5×5 leagues might not have been impressed since he tallied just four hits over that span, but let it be known that he also drew six walks and registered a .455 OBP in that six-game span. He’s hitting the ball well and appears to be Cleveland’s regular six-hole hitter now. He even seems to have overcome his split disadvantage against lefties, as his .248 career average (.270 vs. RHP) is creeping up thanks to a .353 average in 2017 (12-for-34).
Scott Feldman (SP/RP – CIN): 20% owned
I’m extremely skeptical, but Feldman has been rather exceptional at inducing grounders lately (50 percent ground-ball rate or higher in four of his last five starts) with a lowly 2.25 ERA (3.36 FIP, 3.48 xFIP) over his last five trips to the hill. The 28-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio over those 32 innings is noteworthy as well. While his 87.7 percent strand rate will regress, those fielding-independent metrics holding in the mid-threes would still yield a useful arm in many leagues.
Andrew Moore (SP – SEA): 14% owned
While Moore impressed with just five hits scattered over eight strong innings on Monday night, two of those hits left the yard and did enough damage to hand him a tough-luck loss. Now 1-1 through his first two starts, Moore hasn’t skipped a beat since being promoted. The 23-year-old had posted a 0.94 WHIP through 53 Triple-A innings thanks to a robust 1.36 BB/9 and low .253 BABIP, and all he’s done in 15 Major League innings is log a .182 BABIP and walked, well, nobody. While that BABIP will surely rise and eventually he’ll issue a free pass, this is an arm with the command necessary to be a nice mid-rotation type with decent Ks. He is a fly-ball pitcher and will need to keep the homers under control, but he checks off enough boxes to be worth mixed-league attention heading into his next start against the A’s on June 8.
Stephen Vogt (C – MIL): 16% owned
Vogt isn’t suddenly going to be an everyday starter for Milwaukee, but it is worth noting that he’s hit safely in each of his three starts for the Brew Crew thus far — with his two-homer game to close out June being the obvious standout. The 32-year-old is only two years removed from an 18-homer campaign in a much less power-friendly environment, so those in two-catcher leagues seeking out some relief could certainly do worse.
Deep League Targets – <10% owned
Raimel Tapia (OF – COL): 2% owned
The Rockies are starting to see their depth tested in earnest here, meaning Tapia should continue to find playing time in left field now that Carlos Gonzalez is back and Ian Desmond is on the DL. All the rookie did on Monday to make his case was flirt with a cycle by going 3-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI, missing out on the feat by a homer. That means he’s hit .400 with a homer and two steals over the last week, which should ensure that he sees the field given how the Rockies are ranked dead last in team wOBA over the last two weeks with a mere .255 mark. Their struggles are deep-leaguers’ gain.
Luke Weaver (SP – STL): 5% owned
The Cardinals recalled Weaver from Triple-A to provide the big-league club with some bullpen relief, which is sensible given their state of affairs and the way they handle young arms. While that’s not what most fantasy owners who have him stashed want to hear, he’s now that much closer to stepping into the rotation should injury befall one of St. Louis’ pitchers and/or Michael Wacha slips again. Considering Weaver had a 7-1 record, 1.93 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 60 strikeouts in 56 innings on the farm, it was pretty clear he had nothing left to prove there. Remember when he K’d up 39 Major Leaguers in just 31 innings with a 3.48 ERA through his first six starts last season before fading at the very end? That was fun.
Daniel Gossett (SP – OAK): 1% owned
When it comes to blisters, most people just think about how the injured pitcher is affected. But they overlook the arms who were slated to face the Braves — who rank 29th in team wOBA over the last two weeks — but are then shuffled up to face the Astros — who rank second in team wOBA — because Jharel Cotton’s finger isn’t healed. Such was life for Gossett, who tried his best to tame Houston in their home park but allowed five runs with just one strikeout over five innings. This came after two quality starts, one of which was against Houston in Oakland’s spacious park, and the other against his next opponent, the White Sox (they rank 15th in team wOBA, for what it’s worth). Given the more manageable matchup and the fact that it’s a home start, those in deeper formats should give Gossett another whirl here.
Anibal Sanchez (SP/RP – DET): 3% owned
Sanchez has fallen quite a bit since being a beast back in 2013, so the fact that he’s posted a 3.12 ERA (3.32 FIP) in his three starts since joining the Tigers’ rotation on June 19 may have missed many of you. Granted, he’s riding a fragile .208 BABIP, but he has walked just one without allowing a homer over his last two starts after elevated walk and homer rates were his downfall. This isn’t about blindly picking him up and starting him, but with a favorable matchup on deck against the Giants, this makes for a nice speculative grab.
T.J. Rivera (1B/2B/3B – NYM): 1% owned
We know who Rivera is at this point — a guy who should be able to kick in a batting average around .290 with decent pop (~15 HRs) and decent counting stats when not buried in the lower-third of the batting order. Lately, he’s been hitting sixth more often than not and has now hit safely in five straight games, which should be more than enough for those in deeper formats to make the move. Consider his infield versatility a bonus.