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10 Under-the-Radar Waiver Pickups (Fantasy Baseball)

Apr 13, 2018

Jose Pirela has the upside and stability you want from a deep waiver pickup

With injuries and slumps, the waiver wire is already becoming many fantasy owners’ best friend. As is often the case, savvy managers will grab the top options off waivers before others can and that leaves what can appear to be less desirable players. The truth, though, is it’s more than possible to find a diamond in the rough, especially early on in the season like this.

Sorting through all the names can be difficult so we’ve asked our featured experts below to name who their favorite under-the-radar pickups are with less than 25% consensus ownership.

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Q1. What one hitter should fantasy owners look into picking up that is owned in less than 25% of leagues?

Jose Pirela (OF – SD)
“Pirela had a nice season last year while getting his first extended look at the majors, hitting .288 with 10 home runs and a .837 OPS in 312 at-bats. I thought he’d still be usable this year even if he took a step back, and while his power has been lacking so far, it’s hard to argue with a .316 average. With Pirela locked into a premium lineup position, I think he’s worth taking a flyer on. He may even pick up 2B eligibility down the road.”
– R.J. White (CBS Sports)

Jose Pirela had a respectable 10 homers and .288/.347/.490 line across 344 plate appearances last season. His play from the second half carried over to the spring where he racked up six extra base hits and finished with the second highest average (.385). His 18 hits so far in 2018 are tied for the third most in baseball as are his six multi-hit games. The outfielder has appeared in the one, two, three and four spot this season with the injury to Wil Myers, but he began the year as the Padres’ cleanup hitter. Despite zero home runs so far, Pirela has 15/15 upside, and shouldn’t hurt you in the average category.”
– Chris Meaney (FNTSY Sports Network)

Nick Senzel (3B – CIN)
“Senzel needs to be owned in every single league at this point, and likely will be within two or three weeks. The Reds are expected to call him up any day now after Eugenio Suarez went to the DL. Cincinnati moved him back to third base to tune him back up for his debut. When Senzel arrives, he will immediately become the favorite to win NL Rookie of the Year even over Kingery. He can produce in all five categories right away and has the ceiling of a true superstar.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Franchy Cordero (OF – SD) | Nick Senzel (3B – CIN)
I have basically spent the past few days running around with a sign over my head that reads, “Add Nick Senzel and Franchy Cordero. Now!” Yes, I’m cheating by listing two players here, but they piggyback nicely off one another. Cordero is what Senzel should be soon: a fantasy asset with major upside ready to contribute. We may have to wait a short while longer for Senzel, but the recent injury to Eugenio Suarez opened the door, and it isn’t closing. Cordero was destined to hit with the Padres but had his season debut delayed by an injury. Now healthy and immediately slotted atop the lineup, his exit velocity and raw speed make him a dual-threat whose stock will rise rapidly. Buy now.”
– Mario Mergola (Sporfolio)

Mallex Smith (OF – TB)
“With Kevin Kiermaier already banged up and aging vets Carlos Gomez and Denard Span struggling, Mallex Smith has a golden opportunity to seize a starting role in Tampa Bay. The outfielder has 34 stolen bases to his name in just 529 MLB plate appearances. While he’s just 2-for-5 on theft attempts in the early going, Smith’s speed and on-base ability make him a great waiver wire option for owners in need of SB.”
– Kyle Bishop (RotoBaller)

Marcus Semien (SS – OAK)
“For those looking for an Elvis Andrus replacement, Marcus Semien has got to be at the top of your list. In a way, he’s sort of the ‘Andrus-lite’ with a four-category (sans-AVG/OBP) resemblance. He’s had a hit in all but one of his 13 games this season while currently riding a nine-game hitting streak. Additionally, he’s been hitting first or second in the order for Oakland in every game of the season thus far. Given these last two bits of information, he provides a consistency that normally isn’t seen from waiver wire material.”
– Tyler Thompson (Fantasy Six Pack)

Q2. What one starting pitcher should fantasy owners look into picking up that is owned in less than 25% of leagues?

Nick Pivetta (SP – PHI)
“It’s easy to overlook Phillies’ pitchers – between the hitter-friendly ballpark and generally lower expectations for 2018 – but this phenomenon has led to a fantastic start flying under-the-radar. Nick Pivetta may only have a single win on his record, but his first three starts of the season are nothing short of outstanding. He has allowed only five earned runs in total over 16.2 innings, is striking out more than one batter-per-inning (he did the same over 26 starts, last year, so his strikeout rate has lasting power) and, if you buy into FIP and xFIP, he is actually under-performing with his sparkling 2.70 ERA. Remember, that same ballpark that benefits hitters will give his own lineup a boost and put him in a position for more wins.”
– Mario Mergola (Sporfolio)

Nick Pivetta is off to a terrific start in 2018, with a 2.70 ERA and 0.96 WHIP through three appearances. He’s struck out 19 batters and walked only one. Pivetta was both bad and unlucky last season as a rookie, which led to some ugly ratios. He’s locating his curveball better and throwing it more often, while essentially abandoning his lousy changeup.”
– Kyle Bishop (RotoBaller)

Jack Flaherty (SP – STL)
“If you have a bench on which you can stash Jack Flaherty, pick him up immediately. He’s too good for Triple-A, and he looked great in his one MLB start this year. The Cardinals are going to need them in the rotation sooner or later, as no rotation makes it through the season completely healthy. And when he’s back up, you’ll be glad you stashed him.”
– R.J. White (CBS Sports)

Joey Lucchesi (SP – SD)
“I’ve received more questions about Joey Lucchesi than any player this year. I’m fairly certain my Twitter followers are going to fight each other to the death if someone disagrees with them. I come down on the side of Lucchesi being a quality pickup, at least for now. Typically when a pitcher makes his debut and has a funky delivery or an odd release point, it takes MLB hitters a few months before they get his number. Lucchesi has BOTH! I expect him to continue puzzling hitters until the All-Star break as a result, and you can count me in on riding him until then.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Sean Newcomb (SP – ATL)
“Newcomb’s ownership is most likely at 23% in Yahoo leagues because I own him in about a dozen spots. People are afraid of the high walk rate. I get that, but don’t let that fool you… Newcomb can pitch. His 11.1 swinging strike percentage in 2017 would of been a top 20 mark if he had a few more innings to qualify. He also showed a great O-Swing rate (30.9) and contact percentage (75.8). Newcomb struggled in his first outing against Washington, but was flawless in Colorado allowing only five hits over six scoreless innings. He punched out nine batters in that game and has 15 strikeouts over 10.1 innings. His 9.72 K/9 last season was no fluke as he had at least seven strikeouts in nine of his 19 outings. The 6-foot-5 southpaw can hit mid 90s with his fastball, has three other pitches to mix things up including a deadly changeup, and keeps the ball on the ground. I’m confident the Braves’ hurler will figure out his command as he gets more comfortable in the league. Newcomb is just one of many high upside studs inside the organization. ”
– Chris Meaney (FNTSY Sports Network)

Luiz Gohara (SP – ATL)
“I’m sure others will take Nick Pivetta here, as he’s garnered a plethora of praises from the industry (myself included). I’m going to go with a guy we haven’t seen on the mound yet in Luiz Gohara. With a couple of extended Spring Training rehab starts coming for him in the near future, we should see Gohara back on the mound for the Braves in late April or early May. With this type of talent, I’m willing to be ahead of the curve in a league where people be sleepin’. I mean, most leagues have DL slots, right? Make a prudent decision and stash him.”
– Tyler Thompson (Fantasy Six Pack)


Thank you to the experts for naming their under-the-radar pickups. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter and subscribe to our podcast below for all the latest discussions this season.

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