Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 10
Welcome, waiver-wire warriors. We’ve got a lot to digest with over two months’ worth of data in the books. Those of you in the upper third of your standings feel like you belong, while those at the bottom seek a spark. Or perhaps you’re like my friend, Ben, who is juggling seven DL players at a time and needs all the productivity he can get out of a warm body.
No matter what your lot, we can always get better! Don’t let these guys wind up helping your opponents.
Ownership levels are taken from Yahoo leagues and, along with the stats, are accurate through June 4.
Priority Pickups – <30% Owned
Harrison Bader (STL – OF): 15% owned
Bader’s five homers and six steals are discounted when you look at his stat line and say, “he’s played 45 games” so far because he’s only logged 100 at-bats and 112 plate appearances. The Cardinals’ depth chart logjam has meant the 24-year-old outfielder has entered games late to inflate that games played tally, but his power-speed combo (with an average that won’t hurt you) makes for a strong add.
Mike Soroka (ATL – SP): 19% owned
Soroka’s first rehab start saw him twirl a perfect 3 2/3 innings as he begins the warpath back to the Majors. The 20-year-old rookie has been done in by a .408 BABIP in the bigs thus far, causing that 1.70 WHIP despite a modest 5.8% walk rate. The Braves do boast a deep rotation but Soroka should oust Anibal Sanchez with ease once he’s ready. It doesn’t hurt that Luiz Gohara simply looks off, that six-run relief appearance on Monday night was ugly, so Soroka’s rotation spot should be safe.
John Ryan Murphy (ARI – C): 25% owned
Have you checked out the Baseball Savant Barrels per Plate Appearance leaderboard lately? Here’s the link. This leaderboard may/will change come Monday, but as I write this on Sunday night I am seeing a Mr. Murphy at number one. I would also love to recommend Max Stassi (15% owned) but I’m very worried about his prospects of being fantasy viable once Brian McCann returns.
Ryan Tepera (TOR – RP): 20% owned
Not much has changed since we spoke of Tepera last week. Roberto Osuna remains on the administrative leave list and the Blue Jays haven’t seen a save opportunity since May 27, when Tepera nailed down the ninth in a 5-3 victory. He’s made two appearances since then, allowing three baserunners and a run while striking out five over 2 2/3 frames. This is not meant to tout him as dominant and I still think Seunghwan Oh could get a piece of the closing action here and there, but Tepera is my “1A” in the ‘pen.
Kyle Gibson (MIN – SP): 23% owned
Gibson rode his electric slider to seven strikeouts on Sunday, inducing five whiffs on 20 slide pieces to boost his strikeout total to 73 over 68 2/3 innings. While the 30-year-old righty hasn’t won a game since March 31, I remain encouraged by his confidence in the secondary offerings and especially the resurgent control of late. He had walked four batters in back-to-back starts on May 12 and 18 but has only issued a combined four free passes over the following three starts.
Max Muncy (LAD – 1B/3B/OF): 20% owned
After posting a .905 OPS in 379 Triple-A PAs last season, Muncy has lept out to a .901 OPS over 126 PAs with the big fish in LA. There are some stark differences beyond that, of course, as he swatted only 12 homers and put together a .387 BABIP in ’17 and yet he already has nine dingers but a .254 BABIP in ’18. But the walk rate above 13% has been there at every step of his career and his 46.1% hard-hit rate is helping that 25.7% HR/FB rate stay so high. I expect the power to slow and the BABIP to rise to create a decent profile.
Nick Kingham (PIT – SP): 18% owned
Kingham persevered through an ugly first inning in which Marcell Ozuna socked a grand slam after a would-be double play was booted by Sean Rodriguez. The rookie would settle down and fire off four scoreless innings after the four-run first, but fantasy owners and Kingham himself will be disappointed all the same. But he still has an elite 30-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 29 innings and his 4.03 ERA has a neat 3.47 FIP and 3.52 xFIP behind it.
Jaime Barria (LAA – SP): 17% owned
Don’t be discouraged by Barria getting optioned after his latest start, as the Angels are just utilizing the flexibility offered in the youngster’s contract. The 21-year-old Halo owns a cool 2.48 ERA and 1.05 WHIP over seven starts (36 1/3 innings) despite dealing with the yo-yo act of traveling between the Majors and Minors. He’s gotten a tad lucky, but the 12.4% swinging-strike rate should yield more whiffs than we’ve seen as the year plays out.
Travis Jankowski (SD – OF): 17% owned
Jankowski’s batted-ball luck wasn’t going to stay in the stratosphere forever, but the man is still hitting .300 with 10 steals and is on pace for 50 swipes (if given a full season’s workload). Don’t get attached to that total, but it can help illustrate how well a player does versus preseason expectations. I realize he has just one homer and a single-digit RBI tally, but he’s hitting into enough stolen-base opportunities to remain startable in most 12-team formats.
Clay Buchholz (ARI – SP): 15% owned
I understand that the humidor in Chase Field may have turned things pitcher-friendly, but are conditions so favorable to hurlers that Buchholz is truly relevant again? His early success over three starts (1.50 ERA/0.67 WHIP) may make you think so, but his .163 BABIP and 97.8% strand rate don’t mix with lower velocity (91-92 MPH fastball compared to 94 in his prime). The early 10.4% swinging-strike rate likely says more about the quality of opponent thus far.
In terms of team wOBAs over the last month, he’s picked on the Mets (.304, 19th), Marlins (.294, 26th) and Athletics (.292, 29th). His next start is at San Francisco, a pitcher-friendly park but one that yields the squad with the fifth-best team wOBA (.331) over the last month. Don’t buy into the familiar name here.
Nathan Eovaldi (TB – SP): 16% owned
Nasty Nate Eovaldi returned to the mound in style last week, twirling six innings of no-hit ball against the A’s in his first start since August of 2016. He was understandably upset at being pulled, though pulling him remains the most reasonable move given his history. Let’s see how he looks against the Nationals on Tuesday compared to battling Oakland, but fantasy owners shouldn’t be too dismayed by his pitching for the Rays. If he’s still pitching well enough to be on fantasy radars come the Trade Deadline then he’s almost sure to be moved elsewhere for younger parts.
Carlos Rodon (CWS – SP): 14% owned
Rodon made it through his final rehab start without any hiccups and he’ll hit the Majors in 2018 having struck out a whopping 28 batters against just five walks and three earned runs over 17 2/3 innings. Simply put, the southpaw has obliterated the Minor Leaguers in his way and is ready to return to the top level of baseball competition. We always have to remain on high alert when it comes to durability and command here, but I’m excited to see if he can make the one- and two-month bursts of greatness into a more consistent offering.
Deep League Targets – <10% owned
Anthony DeSclafani (CIN – SP): 5% owned
Because what’s better than having one injury-risk arm coming fresh off of an impressive rehab assignment? Two of them! This segue is the only reason Rodon was “last” in that first section. Tony Disco posted a 22-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio over his 19 1/3 innings (four starts) after missing the beginning of 2018 with an oblique strain. I highly doubt he stays healthy for the rest of this season, but there are many of you wading through waivers (see, Buchholz being owned in triple the amount of leagues) while this upside is just hanging out.
Daniel Palka (CWS – 1B/OF): 4% owned
The lefty-swinging Palka continues to make elite contact off of opposing pitchers and now has three homers, a steal and a .298 average over the last two weeks. The White Sox shouldn’t be picky about where their production is coming from, though worrying about the 4.5% walk rate versus a 24.3% strikeout rate is valid. But this is 2018 and we can stomach big whiffs if it comes with hard-hit rates north of 40%, so Palka’s place on that barrels-per-PA leaderboard means he deserves a place on your team.
Dustin Fowler (OAK – OF): 4% owned
Fowler was given the keys to the leadoff spot on Sunday and the rookie delivered with his second three-hit game in his last three contests. I understand that the .241/.308/.448 slash through 65 PAs isn’t special, but three homers and four steals over that span should signal how great he can be. And while the results haven’t been there, his 13.8% strikeout rate shows that he’s not getting overpowered in the bigs. Rather, his .234 BABIP despite the hard-hit rate above 40% tells me we could see a power-speed monster get unleashed shortly.
Yairo Munoz (STL – SS): 7% owned
It would seem the Cardinals just have an endless supply of shortstops that come out of nowhere to perform like a viable fantasy bat. Over the last two weeks, we’ve seen him crank two homers with eight RBIs and a steal while hitting .318. He hit nearly .300 last season with a combined 13 HRs and 22 SBs between Double- and Triple-A last season, so the “out of nowhere” part is more about St. Louis’ capacity to support another bat. Paul DeJong won’t go anywhere (once healthy), but Kolten Wong is hardly a hurdle at second and we could see the party continue throughout ’18.