Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 17
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. When we next chat, we’ll be in the midst of August and officially in the final third of the fantasy baseball season. The Trade Deadline will also be in the rear-view mirror, so please be sure to keep tabs on all things trade in the coming days. With that said, let’s check in some widely-available names on the waiver that should be able to help out down the stretch.
Ownership levels are taken from Yahoo leagues and, along with the stats, are accurate through July 24.
Priority Pickups – <30% Owned
Patrick Corbin (ARI – SP/RP): 24% owned
Corbin shouldn’t be an eligible name for this column anymore. The lefty just embarrassed the Reds over 7 1/3 strong frames for a victory on short notice when Taijuan Walker was placed on the paternity list, and now owns a 2.81 ERA, 2.89 FIP and 3.01 xFIP over his last seven starts. He just so happens to possess a 45-to-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio over that span as well, with a 53.3 percent ground-ball rate to boot. He’s someone that’s suffered at the hands of a .347 BABIP despite a mere 27.1 percent hard-hit rate and excellent 23 percent soft-contact rate. 2013 wasn’t all that long ago, after all.
Nick Williams (PHI – OF): 20% owned
Williams’ last week of play has brought fantasy owners five runs scored, two homers, 12 RBIs, and a .367 (11-for-30) batting average. The rookie’s overall .315/.350/.616 slash line (10 runs, four homers, 18 RBIs) through his first 80 Major League plate appearances is quite impressive, and those sweating his .358 BABIP should note that he posted an identical mark at Triple-A through 306 PAs. While he doesn’t steal a ton, his speed is still easily on the “plus” side, and he has regularly posted line-drive rates between 22-25 percent over the last three seasons. Believe in the bat.
German Marquez (COL – SP): 17% owned
Marquez racked up his third win in a row on July 22, beating the Pirates in grand fashion (7 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 9 K) with his second consecutive nine-strikeout start. The 22-year-old has quietly been one of Colorado’s most consistent assets. The rookie has posted a 3.53 ERA (3.78 FIP) over his last 13 starts (8-2 record) with 72 punchouts in his last 74 frames. Realizing that Coors Field is a natural barrier to perceived fantasy value, fantasy owners could very easily enjoy the run support he receives, nearly a strikeout per inning, and an ERA much lower than the altitude he plays at.
Jhoulys Chacin (SD – SP/RP): 28% owned
Eight of Chacin’s last nine starts have now resulted in a quality start after he outdueled Madison Bumgarner for a victory on July 20. The only reason the ninth outing wasn’t a quality start is that he only threw five innings of shutout ball, falling short of the six-inning requirement. As much as I love his 52.3 percent ground-ball rate, his .243 BABIP is too low to sustain his current performance, and his 4.37 FIP and 4.12 xFIP reflect that. That said, his 2.72 ERA over that span has rewarded fantasy owners who bought in weeks ago and a 27.1 percent soft-contact rate does go a long way in terms of creating one’s own good fortune.
Anthony Swarzak (CWS – RP): 19% owned *Update: Traded to the Brewers, no longer in position to close.
Tyler Clippard has blown his first two save chances for the South Siders, continuing his run of ineffectiveness in 2017, but Swarzak remains strong. In fact, he just recorded a four-out save on Monday night against the Cubbies and is now in possession of a 2.23 ERA (2.34 FIP) with a 9.68 K/9 out of the ‘pen. While he isn’t safe in the least from being traded himself, his stats will only help fantasy owners as they get a handful of saves and maybe, just maybe, get the White Sox closer for the rest of the season.
Ben Gamel (SEA – OF): 20% owned
All Gamel has done this season is hit .323 with 50 runs scored over 330 plate appearances, as it turns out that hitting second (while hitting well) does quite a bit for one’s fantasy stock. I understand that his lack of power (.143 ISO) doesn’t help highlight his name on the waiver wire, let alone in this day and age of round-trippers, yet this guy is on an 11-game hitting streak and doing his darndest to stand out.
Marcus Semien (OAK – SS): 19% owned
Sometimes shaking off the rust takes a bit, as Semien’s first nine games since returning from his broken wrist (4-for-34, .118 with one homer and steal) can attest to. His last five games, however, have seen him go 8-for-20 (.400) with six runs scored, a homer and two steals. While batting average is far from his forte — he only hit .238 last season and .244 throughout his career — his neat blend of power and speed (27 HRs, 10 SBs in ’16) make for a nice combo meal out of the middle infield.
Cory Spangenberg (SD – 2B/3B/OF): 14% owned
Spangenberg’s multi-position eligibility is a solid plus, and before Monday’s 0-for-3 showing he had hit safely in eight straight games with three long balls housed in that hot streak, so he automatically becomes a person of interest to us. The Star Spangled Hammer has cracked eight homers and stolen six bases over 72 games thus far, putting his flexible bat on pace for a 15/12 season (and ideally more, if this recent trend continues).
Josh Tomlin (CLE – SP): 13% owned
Tomlin has enjoyed interleague play, going 3-0 over his last three outings against the Padres, Giants, and Reds to lower his seasonal ERA from 6.17 to 5.59 in the process. Perhaps he will fade back into fantasy irrelevance now that he’s due to face the White Sox next, but the 32-year-old did post a 3.34 SIERA between 2014-15 and holds a 4.37 FIP and 4.15 xFIP overall this season. It’s not much, but it’s something.
Deep League Targets – <10% owned
Phil Maton (SD – RP): 1% owned
Brad Hand (31% owned) currently stands as the nicest bullpen piece to own for the Padres, but he’s likely to get traded in the next week and that leaves Maton and Kirby Yates (2% owned) as the real names of interest (currently in the Majors). Yates is more intriguing from a skills standpoint with his 49 Ks in 32 1/3 IP, but he’s also six years Maton’s elder and doesn’t sport as much long-term appeal given San Diego’s sudden youthful surge.
Yes, Carter Capps (2% owned) is throwing well down at Triple-A and is worth a stash of his own, but Maton looks to be the savvy in-between move here between buzz and reality. His own 15 percent swinging-strike rate has led to a crisp 3.63 ERA (2.81 SIERA) and 0.92 WHIP, yet he shows stellar command on his stuff with only two walks on the season thus far.
Parker Bridwell (LAA – SP/RP): 9% owned
Bridwell’s teammate, Alex Meyer, was going to be a key piece in this article but is now on the 10-day DL with a shoulder injury (he’s had plenty of shoulder issues in the past), but Parker is here to make it alright. All he did was follow up his eight-strikeout quality start against the Rays on July 16 with seven innings of two-run ball against a talented Red Sox team, allowing only six baserunners in the victory. The 25-year-old has had his bumps and bruises, but five of his seven trips to the hill have yielded a QS and he owns a 1.86 ERA through three July starts. Opponents are hitting just .211 against him since June ended — a trend he’ll look to continue in his next start against the Blue Jays in Toronto.
Zach Granite (MIN – OF): 1% owned
Granite has started each of Minnesota’s last seven games, going 9-for-25 (.360) with two runs scored, three RBIs and two steals in that window. The 24-year-old likely won’t get on the homer board all that often (three long balls in 259 Triple-A PAs), but did go 18-for-24 on the Minor League base paths this year after swiping 56 bags in 2016. He has the tools to hit .300 with plus speed, which should be more than enough to play up in more than one percent of leagues.
Jorge Bonifacio (KC – OF): 2% owned
After enduring a homerless streak that lasted from June 27-July 21, Bonifacio has now gone yard in three straight contests to remind everyone of his pop. He’s swatted 14 of those in 305 total PAs, putting him on pace to flirt with 30-homer form if given a full season of work. That doesn’t impress as much in 2017 as it once did, but this is a rookie who has shown decent pop in the Minors and might be finding his groove.
Ben Revere (LAA – OF): 1% owned
With Cameron Maybin on the shelf, Ben “Paul” Revere has gotten a chance to flash his wheels again. The speedster has stolen four bases over his last six games and six in the month of July — though he only has nine hits in 38 plate appearances. While his days of being a .300 hitter appear long gone thanks to a 100-point BABIP drop against his career norm, his batted-ball rates do appear to be climbing back toward his 2015 levels and his fleet feet haven’t gone anywhere. He’s nothing but a short-term speed rental for now, but that’ll play in some circles.