Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 15
Just when I thought summer being in full swing felt quick, I turn around and suddenly we’ve got All-Star rosters set (mostly) and everyone’s worried about Max Muncy ruining his swing in the Home Run Derby. This is a good time to remind you to calmly realize that over half the season is in the books and you need to stop ignoring your needs. I also assume everyone is aware of Kyle Tucker‘s presence, but I implore you to not overlook his teammate Josh Reddick, who is 35% owned and a five-category contributor when hot. Now, onto the rest of these waiver-wire hooligans.
Ownership levels are taken from Yahoo leagues and, along with the stats, are accurate through July 9.
Priority Pickups – <30% Owned
Collin McHugh (HOU – SP/RP): 27% owned
McHugh has been electric out of the bullpen lately. That’s not to say he started poorly, but he’s ramped it up over the last month thanks to scoring three relief victories (#VultureTheWin) with a 0.39 WHIP and 17 strikeouts in 12 2/3 scoreless innings. His overall 2.20 SIERA is the eighth-best mark for a reliever with at least 30 IP in 2018, nestled just behind Adam Ottavino on the leaderboards. He’d also be a desirable add should any rotation slot open up due to injury thanks to his performance thus far and Houston’s solid offensive support.
Andrew Toles (LAD – OF): 1% owned
With Yasiel Puig shelved due to an oblique injury, Toles was the call-up over Alex Verdugo (who some presume is being shielded as a trade chip) and should see mixed-league viable playing time in the outfield for LAD. His hamstring has plagued his Triple-A campaign thus far, but he’s produced a .326/.363/.500 line when healthy (146 PAs) and owns a career .824 OPS across 217 career MLB PAs heading into his ’18 debut on Tuesday night — where he went 2-for-3 with a double, two runs scored, two RBI and a walk. Nifty!
Anibal Sanchez (ATL – SP): 27% owned
You may never be able to trust Sanchez on the mound, but Atlanta does and it’s yielded a 3.12 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 35 strikeouts over 34 2/3 IP the past 30 days. The three wins also help fantasy owners and illustrate the power of pitching for the Braves, though none of those Ws came against the Mets or Marlins. Still, he has an enviable position on a good team in a weak division. But he also twirled a quality start against the Yankees in New York and then spun another QS against the Brew Crew at Miller Park, so let’s give him some credit beyond circumstance here.
Mark Reynolds (WSH – 1B): 22% owned
While everyone gets caught up on Reynolds’ 10-RBI game, they might be missing that he’s already smashed 10 homers in just 111 at-bats. Not only that, but he’s nearly hitting .300! The 34-year-old slugger took a while to latch onto a team in ’18 despite delivering 30 homers with a .839 OPS for Colorado last season, but here we are in Washington. Ryan Zimmerman is nearing a rehab assignment, but Reynolds should be useful for daily-moves owners who can tiptoe around his off days until Zimmy returns.
Vince Velasquez (PHI – SP): 24% owned
Knock, knock. That’s the sound of another NL East pitcher that should be scooped up for his return to the hill on (most likely) Wednesday. While I normally caution throwing a pitcher coming off of the disabled list, VV just missed the minimum after displaying one of the more badass reactions to getting drilled by a comebacker that I can recall and he faces the Mets. Yes, please.
Trevor Cahill (OAK – SP): 15% owned
Those who have been reading my work in 2018 know that I’m a huge fan of Cahill when he’s healthy enough to take the mound. It appears that after a lengthy DL stint due to an Achilles injury, he’s set to rejoin Oakland’s rotation on Thursday against the Astros. This means you can avoid the horrible matchup and let him shake off the rust in one fell swoop.
Steven Souza (ARI – OF): 22% owned
Souza’s ugly 0-for-7 line from Arizona’s 16-inning loss on Sunday really sinks a stat line when you’ve only been back for four games. Still, Souza has already homered and stolen a base in that timeframe, hitting fifth in all four contests. You’re gambling on him to stay healthy, but he has a laughable .195 BABIP through 66 PAs despite a 45.2% hard-hit rate, so I’d buy in now before some better luck and the 30-homer form comes back around.
Victor Arano (PHI – RP): 15% owned
After nailing down two of the Phillies’ last few victories, Arano ended each of their Monday games against the Mets. The first ended in a blown save via a Wilmer Flores HR, and the second was a clean save appearance — he threw just 10 pitches in all and his closing seemingly teeters on who was due up for the opposition. While Arano is a strong pitcher — don’t forget he started the season by pitching a composite perfect game over several relief appearances — there’s little doubting Seranthony Dominguez remains the best RP that Philly has.
Phillies manager Gabe Kapler seems to know this and has used him in the eighth against the heart of opponent’s orders, leaving Arano to lock down saves against six- and seven-hole hitters. Dominguez pitched two innings in the opener of the doubleheader, in case you’re curious. All told, save-needy owners shouldn’t be picky and Arano’s no slouch.
Zack Wheeler (NYM – SP): 23% owned
Wheeler got smacked around by the Phillies on Monday, but he had been lights out for over a month prior to that and I’m not going to bury him after one bad day. He had brought in a top-10 soft-contact rate over the past month into the outing and was one of just two on the list with a soft-contact rate higher than his hard-contact rate. Zach Eflin was the other. Wheeler may not be on the “fun” side of the NL East, but he still gets to face the Marlins for now and if he’s traded then perhaps the wins will start following his strong efforts.
Tyler Mahle (CIN – SP): 21% owned
Mahle’s stock continues to slowly climb as he continues to conquer his homer demons and now sits at 4-0 in his last seven starts. He still has a 1.46 HR/9 overall, but after giving up 13 longballs over his first nine starts of ’18, he’s surrendered just three taters in his past eight trips to the hill. While he still has some control issues (4.31 BB/9 in that seven-start stretch), he’s at least bringing strikeouts alongside it (9.3 K/9 in the same span) and has a 3.55 FIP/3.97 xFIP underneath the 2.04 ERA.
Nick Kingham (PIT – SP): 9% owned
Kingham’s ownership took a big hit when he got shelled by the Dodgers (3 IP, 7 R, 5 ER, 3 HR) in his first start back in the bigs after a month-long vacation in the Minors. He rebounded with six innings of one-run ball against the Phillies on Sunday, scattering four hits and a walk with five strikeouts. He’ll face the Brewers on July 13 as he looks to assert himself in Pittsburgh’s rotation for the stretch run while others are injured.
Deep League Targets – <10% owned
Wilmer Flores (NYM – 1B/2B/3B): 6% owned
As much as I want to just copy and paste my blurb on Flores from last week, we’ll reset and note how Wilmer’s continued tear has raised his seasonal slash line to .272/.325/.476 with eight homers, a .204 ISO and 16 walks against just 21 strikeouts through 212 PAs this season. That 10% strikeout rate has helped him enjoy better batted-ball luck lately and he’s now popped seven doubles and five homers while playing nearly every day since returning to action on June 15.
Harrison Bader (STL – OF): 4% owned
Bader is pushing the defensively-challenged Jose Martinez and the ice-cold Dexter Fowler into more part-time duties thanks to his all-around play. It’s hard to sell him in weekly leagues, but if I told you he’s gone 12-for-34 with a homer, three steals and 12 R+RBI over the last two weeks then I bet you’d sign up for that.
Ryan Borucki (TOR – SP): 5% owned
Borucki entered Sunday’s start against the Yankees having looked shaky versus Houston in his first MLB start and then fantastic against Detroit in his second. The “rubber match” between good and bad tilted good’s way when he allowed the Bronx Bombers to plate one run over seven solid innings. While they aren’t nearly as potent on the road, it’s still impressive. The strikeout upside is low but he could be useful for ratios in plus matchups, which does not include his next slated turn against Boston. Such is life in the AL East.
Sandy Leon (BOS – C): 2% owned
With Christian Vazquez out due to a fractured pinkie, the hot-hitting Leon should be Boston’s “1A” backstop for the short-term future as Blake Swihart backs him up. Many of you are shuffling any C-eligible bats showing life right now and Leon is hitting .310 with two homers over the last two weeks — good enough for a spot in the top-10 at the position in that span. Boston’s lineup makes for a fun offensive environment to latch onto, so why not?
Adalberto Mondesi (KC – 2B/SS): 1% owned
Mondesi is unlikely to produce much by way of counting stats from the bottom of Kansas City’s lineup, but it should give him a chance to flash his one elite talent: speed. Though his batting average is poor, he’s actually averaged a hit per start over the last two weeks and scored runs in seven of those 10 contests. He’s yet to go on a speed tear that puts him on mixed-league grids, but the upside is at least worth monitoring for SB-needy folks.