Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 18
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. The non-waiver Trade Deadline has come and gone, and while folks can still be traded in the following month, the biggest moves have likely already landed. AL-only owners have seen a few players get plucked while NL-only owners with their full FAAB wallet are salivating. We even have some prospect news, as Amed Rosario (34% owned) is being called up! What a lovely day.
Ownership levels are taken from Yahoo leagues and, along with the stats, are accurate through July 31.
Priority Pickups – <30% Owned
Brent Suter (MIL – SP/RP): 28% owned
All Suter did in July was post a 1.50 ERA and 1.00 WHIP with 25 punchouts in 30 innings. Four of his five starts were of the quality variety and he has a 2.40 ERA overall in 45 innings. He even has a nice 2.88 FIP to support things, though his 3.97 xFIP is giving that 0.4 HR/9 the side-eye. This is somewhat understandable, especially when you consider how the majority of his whiffs are coming on pitches high in the zone (and typically away from righties). While the optimist in me thinks this is solely due to changing levels and sequencing well, I’m keeping both feet on the ground here (but I’m quite optimistic on the whole). He’ll look to carry his success into August with a home start on Aug. 3 against Cardinals.
Luis Castillo (CIN – SP/RP): 23% owned
Castillo finally got to start against a team that isn’t classified as an offensive juggernaut, and look what happened! He took down the Marlins in Miami with eight innings of one-run ball, allowing only four baserunners to give him a 3.62 ERA and 1.04 WHIP on the month despite having faced Colorado at Coors, Arizona twice, Washington and the Yankees in the Bronx. That’s good for anyone, let alone a rookie. Like Suter, he also gets to face the Cardinals — whose 23.8 percent strikeout rate over the last two weeks is the seventh-highest mark in the Majors — at home next.
Michael Taylor (WAS – OF): 29% owned
Taylor is set to begin his Minor League rehab assignment with High-A Potomac and should be able to rejoin the Nationals within the week as long as he avoids any setbacks. In case you forgot, Taylor turned his season on after a cold April, hitting .287 with 12 homers and 10 steals in 226 plate appearances from May 2 on. Even with a strikeout rate above 30 percent, the 26-year-old has plenty to offer fantasy owners when healthy.
Manuel Margot (SD – OF): 25% owned
Over the last two weeks, Margot has gone 16-for-42 (.381) with three homers and a steal, though his six runs scored from the leadoff spot are a tad disappointing. The 22-year-old has opened the second half with a crisp 37.2 percent hard-hit rate and a line-drive rate north of 28 percent, which allows his speed to take the wheel for extra bases. While he’s striking out more now than he did at the beginning of the season, he shaved nearly five percentage points off his June strikeout rate in July and is almost back to where he started (around 20 percent). He won’t overwhelm in any one category but should continue growing into decent pop with legs capable of stealing upwards of 25 bases per season.
Parker Bridwell (LAA – SP/RP): 23% owned
I hope you’ve been listening on this guy and can scroll past this without having to fight anyone on the waiver wire, because one of the hotter arms of late gets to face the Phillies on Aug. 3. Glossing over how I just jinxed that outing, there’s simply no writing off Bridwell’s 1.69 ERA and 0.90 WHIP over the last 30 days. His 20 strikeouts in those 26 2/3 innings may not blow anyone’s doors down, but it isn’t going to dig you into a hole either. Plus, his current 10.2 percent swinging-strike rate has some room to grow considering that mark sat above 15 percent at Triple-A prior to his promotion.
Arodys Vizcaino (ATL – RP): 22% owned
With the word out that Jim Johnson is no longer Atlanta’s primary closer, Vizcaino becomes the arm to own in their bullpen. Braves’ manager Brian Snitker said Viz was going to get the save opportunity on Sunday if it surfaced, which is sensible given the 2.63 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 9.8 K/9 that he sports. The save opps may be few and far between, but at least there is some talent here to help with ratios in non-save situations, unlike some other names we’ll encounter in a bit.
Taylor Rogers (MIN – RP): 14% owned
Rogers is the likeliest closer in Minnesota now that Brandon Kintzler has been traded, though his 3.79 ERA and 1.29 WHIP (4.61 FIP, 4.36 xFIP, 4.18 SIERA) have been trending the wrong way lately. Opportunity is one thing, but he’s allowed at least one run in each of his last five appearances. He’s also a southpaw, so there’s that. Trevor Hildenberger (0% owned) remains a dark-horse candidate, as he’s carried his success from the Minors over into the Majors with a 3.12 ERA/1.10 WHIP (2.57 FIP, 2.85 xFIP and 2.63 SIERA) through his first 17 1/3 frames. Roster Rogers if desperate, but just don’t be surprised. If Matt Belisle (4.64 ERA, 1.34 WHIP) gets tabbed, I’m just avoiding altogether.
Blake Treinen (OAK – RP): 13% owned
Treinen was the one to close out the first game in the “Battle of the Bay” between Oakland and San Francisco on Monday night, so we have to give him the tentative nod over Santiago Casilla as the A’s current closer. He’s only given up an earned run in one of his last 12 appearances, so I’m perfectly fine with spending a few FAAB bucks on the 29-year-old. Ryan Dull (2% owned) has also made three scoreless appearances since being reactivated and could sneak into the mix at some point.
Anthony DeSclafani (CIN – SP): 14% owned
Nothing urgent here, just that DeSclafani tossed four innings of shutout ball with six Ks in his latest rehab start and should return to the Reds rotation by the end of August if no setbacks befall him. The 24-year-old is no game-breaker, but he did post a 3.28 ERA/1.22 WHIP last season and could help fantasy owners during the playoffs.
Jaime Garcia (NYY – SP): 23% owned
Nevermind that Garcia won his last three starts for the Braves & Twins (though that last one was a bit ugly against the Rays), this is all about a guy just needing to be serviceable with the Yankees at his back. The unfortunate news here is that Jordan Montgomery owners will likely need to find an alternative, but Garcia’s 55 percent ground-ball rate should play well at Yankee Stadium and in the treacherous AL East. Ideally, his 3.31 BB/9 will come back down below the 3.00 mark, but he stands a good chance of being useful in most matchups thanks to his pinstripes. He’s set to face the Indians in Cleveland on Thursday as of now.
Chase Headley (NYY – 1B/3B): 11% owned
Headley profiles a bit like Ben Gamel (21% owned), as in he’s hitting for average lately but that’s about it. Sure, he sprinkles in the very occasional home run or steal, but it’s mostly just chipping away with small ball. It might surprise some to learn that Headley hit .333 in July (30-for-90), but that’s what putting the bat on the ball can do. Given the strong lineup around him and a favorable hitter’s park to call home, don’t shy away from his hot bat.
Deep League Targets – <10% owned
Reynaldo Lopez (CWS – SP/RP): 6% owned
Lopez’s next Minor League start is scheduled for tonight (Tuesday night), while the big-league club will be trotting Mike Pelfrey out. This just doesn’t feel right, not for a team that has nothing left to play for in 2017 that has a young arm who has nothing left to prove in the Minors. Sure, Lopez allowed two runs in just five innings on July 26, but he struck out 10. His last six starts have seen him rack up 49 Ks against just eight walks with a 1.96 ERA. He’s ready.
Cameron Rupp (PHI – C): 8% owned
The catcher position has been dark and full of terrors, but Rupp appears to be shaking off the rust in the second half. The 28-year-old is 9-for-28 with four round-trippers in just eight games after he had totaled just six long balls in 173 first-half ABs, and sits as the sixth-best backstop in traditional 5×5 scoring formats over the last 30 days. Those who want to dig even deeper can scoop Kurt Suzuki (4% owned) given his eight homers and .356 average over the last month, but Rupp’s profile supports a sustained power surge more than Suzuki’s.
Lucas Sims (ATL – SP): 2% owned
It stinks that Sims’ Major League debut has to come against the Dodgers of all teams, but it’ll be an astounding test for the 23-year-old. He’s gone 7-4 with 132 strikeouts, a 3.75 ERA, and 1.14 WHIP in 115 1/3 innings at Triple-A this season — but does own a 1.48 HR/9. Big strikeout and homer totals will fit right in with the 2017 MLB season, though fantasy owners would like for much more of the former and not so much the latter. His 2.81 BB/9 signals a turned corner in control after posting a mark above 5.0 in ’15 and ’16, but he didn’t give back any of his whiffs. Monitor the start against the Dodgers and see what shakes out, but there’s no way Atlanta wants to turn back to Aaron Blair for this rotation slot.
Ben Revere (LAA – OF): 1% owned
I’m repeating this name from last week because it may have been laughed out of your browser, but now Revere has hit .306 with three steals and five runs scored over the last two weeks and the shoe is on the other foot. With Cameron Maybin still working back from injury and now Kole Calhoun dealing with some dings, Revere has notched a hit in his last five games and has struck out just once in 36 second-half plate appearances. The reward is low, but this is true clearance-rack shopping here.