Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 15
Welcome back to the weekly piece that looks to shine a light on some names who appear to be under owned and worth an add given their recent performances. While Aaron Judge warmed our hearts with several bombs topping 500 feet en route to his Home Run Derby title, this is still a bizarre time where no actual games are being played for the first time in over three months. With your team sitting stagnant in the standings, let’s check on some widely-available names on the wire that should be able to help out in the second half of 2017.
Priority Pickups – <30% Owned
Tommy Pham (OF – STL): 30% owned
Hopefully, Pham’s right hip tightness isn’t anything serious — he’s day-to-day for now — as he’s been one of baseball’s hottest hitters lately. His 14/2/12/5/.383 line over the last 14 days is the fifth best production out of a batter in that time span, and the righty is hitting better against lefties (.348, 4 HRs in 46 at-bats) than he is against RHP (.285, 7 HRs in 158 ABs).
As you can see, that does not mean that he’s struggling against right-handed arms. He should continue to find the starting lineup without a platoon split tugging at his bat. 2017 has seen a dramatically different approach at the dish from Pham, which pairs nicely with more aggression on the base paths to produce a legitimate fantasy stud.
Byron Buxton (OF – MIN): 24% owned
Buxton coasted into the All-Star break with a neat little five-game hitting streak to his name, but this came after a 3-for-30 stretch over his previous 10 starts. He hit just .184 (16-for-87) in June and is leaning on a .476 BABIP thus far in July. Have I sold you yet? On a serious note, his (small sample) 36.4 percent hard-hit rate in July is over 10 percentage points above his June mark, as is his 52.4 percent ground-ball rate.
Hitting the ball hard and on the ground tends to play well for speedsters, but another unheralded piece of intel from an otherwise unimpressive June was that he slashed his pop-up rate from 28.6 percent in May (37.5 percent in April) to 9.1 percent. He hasn’t hit one in July thus far. We’ve seen what he can do when locked in (nine HRs in September last season) and we know he has speed to burn, making him the perfect lottery ticket coming out of the break.
Patrick Corbin (ARI – SP/RP): 21% owned
Despite going 1-3 over his last five starts, those same 29 1/3 innings have provided fantasy owners with 33 strikeouts against just seven walks alongside a 3.07 ERA (2.50 FIP). He’s switched his approach on the rubber a bit and suddenly looks like the southpaw who flirted with being a solid SP3 type back in 2014. Now, his three best outings of that five-start stretch did come at home, continuing a trend he’s shown all season of pitching better at Chase Field (3.15 ERA) than away from it (7.57 ERA). To be fair, he’s had 30 more innings at home than away, but it’s still good to note for fantasy owners moving forward.
Jhoulys Chacin (SD – SP/RP): 19% owned
Owning even more ridiculous splits than Corbin (1.68 ERA at home, 7.95 ERA away), Chacin has been a top-25 arm since we turned the calendar to June. Hopefully, you read about him last week and were able to enjoy his victory over the Phillies (on the road!) in which he allowed just three hits and two walks in 6 1/3 innings. Now 4-3 with a 2.44 ERA and 39 Ks over his last seven starts, this is a Padre to take seriously. Maybe we shouldn’t have all laughed at the 29-year-old being an Opening Day starter.
Luis Castillo (CIN – SP/RP): 16% owned
Castillo is one of the more exciting rookie arms heading into the season’s second half, as he hits the All-Star break fresh off of his finest start. The 24-year-old went into Chase Field — a notorious hitter’s park — and shut down the potent D-backs with 6 2/3 shutout frames, fanning eight and allowing just three hits. After showing his electric stuff but walking five in a roller-coaster debut against the Nationals, he’s struck out at least eight in each of his following three outings and has walked just one in each of his last two. There are likely going to be growing pains for the youngster, as another name in here can attest to, but this is an arm fantasy owners are not going to want to be late on.
Bradley Zimmer (OF – CLE): 13% owned
I understand that Zimmer has hit just one homer in his last 31 games after ripping off four of them in his first 18 games, but he’s also hit .290 over that 31-game window while going a perfect 6-for-6 on steal attempts. Not only that, but after getting a vote of confidence against left-handed pitching he has hit the break having hit safely in seven of his last eight games for a .333 average with either a run scored or RBI in each of his last four contests.
The 24-year-old has always possessed solid power and impressive speed — averaging a 15 HR/40 SB season between 2014-15 in the minors — but a low batting average was making his bat a double-edged sword. Well, now he’s pretty much delivering on his potential except he hit .294 at Triple-A before carrying over that improved contact into the majors, yet he’s receiving little love. Rectify this.
Stephen Vogt (C – MIL): 18% owned
There’s something both impressive and sad about Vogt matching the four homers he hit with Oakland over 174 plate appearances in just his first 25 plate appearances for Milwaukee, but he’s earned it. The backstop has topped 99 mph with his exit velocity on 9-of-17 batted balls as a Brewer. You have to go back 42 batted-ball events for him with Oakland to reach that mark.
While he didn’t suddenly become a different player, there’s something to be said for changing things up while mired in a slump and playing two games at Great American Ballpark, four at Miller Park, one at Wrigley Field and two at Yankee Stadium. Those are some pretty friendly parks. Make the add if you want to catch lightning in a bottle, but be aware that he’s had some very favorable conditions and is still splitting time with an also-hot Manny Pina.
Dinelson Lamet (SD – SP): 12% owned
Lamet couldn’t keep his momentum rolling, as he was roughed up by the Indians to the tune of five earned runs over four innings on July 6. He walked four on the night after issuing just three free passes total over his previous four starts, but he still struck out five to show that he wasn’t totally lost. Like Castillo, Lamet houses immense strikeout upside but needs to have his command about him to be effective. He is unlikely to succeed on an off-night like others.
Deep League Targets – <10% owned
Brent Suter (MIL – SP/RP): 8% owned
Suter pitched himself into a second-half rotation slot thanks to limiting both the Orioles and the Yankees on Milwaukee’s AL East kick. With seven of his eight prior appearances coming out of the bullpen (and six of those seeing him avoid any earned runs), the 27-year-old portsider rung up 13 against just two walks with zero homers allowed over 12 1/3 strong frames in his starts. Milwaukee’s offense is clicking and their bullpen just took MLB.com’s Bullpen of the Week award, so the climate is perfect around him. Seriously, if Zach Davies and his 4.90 ERA/1.46 WHIP can sit at 10-4 then Suter should be okay here.
Raimel Tapia (OF – COL): 9% owned
Tapia continues to hit, going 7-for-17 since we last joined to speak a week ago. He now owns an impressive .323/.375/.490 slash line through 105 PAs, though he’s only swiped three bags after totaling 11 swipes in 166 Triple-A PAs. This is to be expected in Colorado, though, as that lineup is just so stacked that manager Bud Black has little reason to gamble with outs on the bases as often as other teams (Colorado’s 33 team steals rank 23rd in the majors). Still, his ability to hit in a lineup that — aside from the last couple of weeks — is usually one of baseball’s best should make him a decent fifth outfielder until Ian Desmond returns and pushes him back to the bench.
Nick Pivetta (PHI – SP): 6% owned
Ignoring a six-run clunker against the D-backs in Arizona — hardly a favorable setting for a pitcher — Pivetta has turned in four quality starts lately, with at least nine strikeouts in three of those trips to the hill. While he’s won only once, his 35 Ks in just 29 2/3 innings are reason enough to at least put the 24-year-old on your watch list. He’ll be tested in the first game back after the Midsummer Classic in a start against the Brewers, which might make for rough sailing with his fly-ball tendencies (44.4 percent). If he comes out of the gate hot, then look out.
Luke Voit (1B – STL): 2% owned
After hitting a blistering .322 with 12 homers and 48 RBIs across 70 games at Triple-A, Voit has kept it rolling against big-league arms with a .316 average and three homers in his first 14 games (41 PAs). The Cardinals are going to be forced into some interesting decisions when they get fully healthy, as Kolten Wong’s return could push Matt Carpenter back to first base and obviously, there is no DH slot in the NL to put Voit’s bat. It’s hard to imagine Voit getting sent down as long as he continues hitting like this, which makes him a nice low-cost power add for now.
Johan Camargo (2B/3B/SS – ATL): 2% owned
Camargo, Montego, baby why don’t we go…down to the waiver wire. We’ll add a guy who’s hitting .327 overall and .370 over his 79 PAs since being given the starting third-base job back on June 16. Now, the obvious statement is that Freddie Freeman is manning the hot corner and no amount of ungodly hitting could unseat him there. Matt Adams and Brandon Phillips are also playing well enough to hold onto their spots, but Dansby Swanson is hitting .221 overall and is on a 4-for-34 skid. Camargo can play all over the infield diamond, and as long as Atlanta can find a place to start him then you deep-leaguers should be able to enjoy a solid average.
J.T. Riddle (2B/SS – MIA): 1% owned
Ever since June 26 — when the Marlins traded shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria to the Rays — Riddle has owned the position by hitting safely in 11-of-13 games at a .340 clip, including taking an eight-game hitting streak into the break. Miami was a motivated seller looking to unload Hech after liking what they saw in the 25-year-old, and fantasy owners in deeper formats could benefit from following in their footsteps. Offering a solid 34.1 percent hard-hit rate on the season out of the middle infield, look for his 6.1 percent HR/FB rate to rise a bit in the second half.