Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 19
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. Aside from Mike Trout homering once again on his birthday, we’ve got many traditional mid-August fantasy trade deadlines approaching. While attempting to address needs through trading can land you a stud or two, the waiver wire has plenty to offer at little cost.
Ownership levels are taken from Yahoo leagues and, along with the stats, are accurate through August 7.
Priority Pickups – <30% Owned
Carlos Gomez (TEX – OF): 30% owned
While Gomez continues to bat in the lower third of Texas’ lineup, he’s still hitting .279 with three homers and four steals over his last 14 games. The American League takes some of the bite out of batting low, though fantasy owners would surely enjoy more oomph than six runs scored and seven RBIs in that window for their troubles. Still, letting the hard-hit rate north of 40 percent and 24 percent line-drive rate of late match up with his plus speed for one’s fantasy team in the summer months is a wise move.
Blake Treinen (OAK – RP): 26% owned
Treinen looks to be leading Oakland’s closing committee with two saves over their last seven games, and his lone “blown save” came in a tough seventh-inning situation in which he was clearly tapped as the best arm in the ‘pen. Santiago Casilla is unlikely to suddenly start dominating on a consistent basis and push Treinen out, making Mr. Blake a decent scoop for speculators.
Brad Ziegler (MIA – RP): 25% owned
After missing a month, Ziegler was immediately thrust into the closer’s role with the departure of A.J. Ramos and an injury to Kyle Barraclough. He’s made two appearances since returning and notched the save with each chance, walking none along the way. The job should be his to lose throughout the remainder of 2017, and fantasy owners shouldn’t turn their nose up at the sidearmer.
Hernan Perez (MIL – 2B/3B/SS/OF): 29% owned
The versatile Perez keeps on finding his way into the lineup, and is now hitting .314 (11-for-35) with a homer and three steals over the last two weeks and may finally be recapturing a bit of the zest that led to 34 swipes last season. His ownership level reflects that of a bat who is drawing regular starts — and he isn’t just yet — but Milwaukee shouldn’t turn away his hot bat being just one game back in the NL Central.
Dinelson Lamet (SD – SP): 16% owned
After getting torched in back-to-back four-inning starts on July 6 and 18 — at CLE and COL, respectively — Lamet has ripped off three wins in a row and now owns a 3.68 SIERA underneath his 5.12 ERA. While we have to acknowledge that he’s beaten the Giants and then a double dip against the Pirates, the rookie may be rebounding after facing some turbulence as his learning curve approaches its upper limit. Let’s not forget that he still has 80 strikeouts in 63 1/3 IP on the whole for an 11.37 K/9 that rates out as the eighth best for any Major League arm with at least 60 innings under their belt. The bumps and bruises of one’s first year are going to be part of the equation here, but he’ll look to keep this upward trend going against the Reds on Aug. 10 in Cincinnati next.
Jarrod Dyson (SEA – OF): 20% owned
The speedy Dyson has recovered after missing nearly a week with five steals and a .367 average (11-for-30) over a nine-game stretch. With Ben Revere (6% owned) likely ceding his cheap-steal opportunities to the AL’s King of Speed, Cameron Maybin, Dyson’s widespread availability becomes all the more important.
Matt Belisle (MIN – RP): 13% owned
So, it looks like Belisle is ahead of Taylor Rogers and Trevor Hildenberger for ninth-inning duties as of now, despite Minnesota’s insistence that it remains a full-blown committee approach. Despite the 37-year-old’s 4.43 ERA in 44 2/3 frames this season, he hasn’t allowed a single run since July began. His 14-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio has helped him stand out and should lead to more opportunities down the stretch even as his .179 BABIP floats back up a bit.
Andrew Cashner (TEX – SP): 24% owned
I feel dirty writing this due to his abysmal strikeout rate, but there’s no disputing that Cashner’s last five starts have been of the “quality” variety. Those outings — against Boston, Tampa Bay, Seattle, and Baltimore twice — have yielded a 4-1 record with a 2.20 ERA, but only 19 Ks in 32 2/3 IP (5.23 K/9). While he’s done well to help himself with a 52.1 percent ground-ball rate over that span, there’s no doubting that an unsustainable .221 BABIP is also lending a hand. This can be seen in his 4.28 FIP and 4.77 xFIP from the same time window, but an Aug. 8 start against the Mets in New York makes for a decent matchup for a guy dancing around regression.
Tyler Skaggs (LAA – SP): 9% owned
Making his first start since April 28, the 26-year-old survived with one run through three frames before two runs would score in the fourth and end his night. His eight baserunners allowed were discouraging, but it’s safe to say that some rust was expected. He won’t be a recommended start in his next outing against the Mariners on Aug. 10, but the southpaw does possess strikeout-per-inning stuff (9.04 K/9 in ’16, 8.64 K/9 in ’17) with a 3.47 FIP behind the 4.32 ERA. If you’re in deeper waters and seeking a guy who can give the rotation a shot in the arm down the stretch, Skaggs might be your fella.
A.J. Griffin (TEX – SP): 6% owned
Facing the Twins in his return from a nine-week stint on the DL, Griffin allowed just one run on two hits and a walk over six crisp innings for the win. While the righty’s final two outings before landing on the DL were ugly, the 29-year-old did post a healthy 3.15 ERA with 30 Ks in his first 34 1/3 IP this season (alongside a 4-0 record). He’s throwing his curveball and changeup more often and leaning on his slider less in 2017, which seems to have added up to improved control (2.6 BB/9 thus far, 3.48 in ’16). He’ll look to improve to 6-2 on the season when he takes on the Mets in New York on Aug. 9.
Deep League Targets – <10% owned
Edwin Jackson (ATL – SP): 3% owned
So, it’s come to this. The year is 2017 and Jackson is a recommended fantasy pickup. No, you’re not taking crazy pills — but you are targeting the San Francisco Giants, his next opponent, with everything you’ve got. To Jackson’s credit, he’s kept batters relatively off-balance with only 20 hits and five walks allowed in 24 innings against 20 Ks. The resulting WHIP near 1.00 is lovely, but six of those 20 hits have cleared the fence. He’s nowhere close to perfect, but he’s backed by a strong Nationals offense and rejuvenated bullpen that should reward his efforts with a win. With his solid control and only glaring weakness being the long ball thus far, a matchup with the team that ranks dead last in the Majors in round-trippers is as bright as it gets.
Asher Wojciechowski (CIN – SP/RP): 2% owned
After his earlier foray into the starting rotation didn’t go so hot (four starts, 17 1/3 IP, 15 ER), Wojciechowski went on to allow just one run on four hits over 12 2/3 frames out of the bullpen. He also struck out 17 against just four walks, with the kicker being his rolling over that success into his latest start against the Cardinals. He gave up one run on three hits and one walk with five Ks in that one and will have a good chance at staying hot against the Padres in another home start on Aug. 9.
Kolten Wong (STL – 2B/OF): 3% owned
Wong’s four RBIs on Monday night paced the team’s 11-run outburst over Kansas City, though it was rather unusual considering his .128 ISO and .425 slugging percentage through 262 plate appearances this season. While the pop has been light, his .296 batting average and .383 on-base percentage are strong and his HR/FB rate — which sat at a paltry 1.7 percent before Monday — should regress toward his 6.9 percent career rate down the stretch. We also know he’s capable of stealing a useful amount of bags if St. Louis gives him the green light, but don’t count on that.
Willie Calhoun (TEX – 2B): 2% owned
Fresh off of a two-homer game on Sunday, Calhoun has already ripped off four long balls since being traded to Texas and now has 27 round-trippers overall on the season. This matches his 2016 power totals (at Double-A) despite having 126 fewer plate appearances to his name in ’17. His bat should see the Major Leagues by season’s end and produce a solid September flourish for fantasy owners with that sweet left-handed swing. He’s also batting .297 after delivering at a .254 clip in ’16, which speaks to his growth as a player and being more than just a “raw power” stash.
Anthony Banda (ARI – SP): 1% owned
After making his debut against a tough Nationals squad (four earned over 5 2/3 IP), Banda shut down the Giants (not a surprise if you’ve been paying attention here) with six innings of one-run ball and seven whiffs for his first Major League victory. The 5.13 ERA and 1.41 WHIP from 107 Triple-A innings are still concerning, but it was a hitter-friendly league and his progress is worth monitoring as he takes on the baseball buzzsaw that is the 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers in his next outing on Aug. 10. Perhaps he sticks around when Robbie Ray returns, which makes for a decent gamble in deep formats.