Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 19
The dog days of summer are upon us and while some of you gear up for a stretch-run push in roto leagues, those of you in head-to-head formats have eyes on playoff spots. All of you, though especially the latter, need to keep your eyes peeled for fringe contenders forced into painful drops of players they simply can’t hold due to roster crunches or cold streaks. But we can’t just sit around waiting for gifts either, so let’s see who’s making some noise.
Ownership levels are taken from Yahoo leagues and, along with the stats, are accurate through August 6.
Priority Pickups – <30% Owned
Eloy Jimenez (CWS – OF): 25% owned
The man is slashing .376/.425/.679 with eight homers and a mere 11.7% strikeout rate in 120 Triple-A plate appearances, so I really have no choice but to lead off with him. He’s only stepped up his game since being promoted from Double-A — where he slashed .317/.368/.556 with 10 longballs in 228 PAs — and I cannot see any more boxes that he needs to check. I don’t expect his batting average to sit nearly as high in the bigs, but the power should translate into immediate production. The 21-year-old prospect and his 70-80 grade power needs to be stashed in most formats.
Brad Peacock (HOU – SP/RP): 29% owned
With Lance McCullers on the DL, Peacock or the 44%-owned Collin McHugh are likely candidates to step into the rotation spot. They’ve both been great, with 17 strikeouts apiece over the last 30 days entering Tuesday night, though Peacock has done so in 2 2/3 fewer IP. Peacock also hasn’t allowed a baserunner across his last three appearances, racking up eight punchouts over those four frames (and a win). Speculate away, we all know the value of a pitcher in this rotation is immediately in “must-add” territory.
Nick Ahmed (ARI – SS): 27% owned
Personal faith in Ahmed aside, his performance over the last two weeks demands a blurb. He’s gone 15-for-44 (.341) with four homers, two steals and 23 R+RBI from the sixth and seventh slots in the lineup. He’s hitting over .300 going back to July 1, with over half of his hits in that span going for extra bases (.300+ ISO). And you know what? He’s done it with a hard-hit rate around 50% and a scorching line-drive rate around 30%, so I’m here for the pop. Ride the wave until he cools, but this isn’t some series of pure flukes.
Jose Leclerc (TEX – RP): 25% owned
Texas shipped its closer Keone Kela to Pittsburgh and then swiftly swapped Jake Diekman to the D-backs after that, clearing a path for Leclerc to seemingly take the ninth inning for himself. I highly doubt Alex Claudio rears his head often, as he owns an ugly 4.60 ERA and 1.68 WHIP compared to Leclerc’s pristine 2.16 ERA and 0.98 WHIP. Plus, Leclerc has 30 more strikeouts in six fewer innings (58 total) and has given up just one home run in 41 2/3 IP. That’s the kind of makeup that could fuel a top-10 closer output for the rest of the season.
Derek Holland (SF – SP): 17% owned
I’m fairly certain that Holland wouldn’t be under the ownership cutoff for this article if he were simply getting wins for his strong efforts. Alas, his lack of wins (not losses!) are your gain because now a pitcher with a 2.73 ERA, 3.46 FIP and 3.24 xFIP and a 67-to-18 strikeout-to-walk ratio over his last 56 innings (going back two months) is widely available to you.
This all comes after the southpaw made a marked change in where he toes the rubber, shifting to the first-base side from the third-base side, making for change I can believe in for a guy in a pitcher-friendly park on a team that doesn’t let him get pummeled by facing a lineup three times. He’ll look to stay hot against Pittsburgh at home on Aug. 11 in his next start.
Aledmys Diaz (TOR – SS): 15% owned
There’s no denying Diaz is red-hot right now, as he’s mashed five homers over his last eight games, which includes a pinch-hit tater! In fact, he’s got six homers since the All-Star break (45 PAs) after clearing the fence eight times in 229 pre-ASB PAs. This should make you quite skeptical, but it’s worth noting he’s also struck out just twice and carries a soft-contact rate below 10% since the ASB. Like Ahmed, his production is coming from the six- and seven-hole in the lineup and is unlikely to sustain, but those looking for a shot in the arm at MI would do well to tango with these two.
German Marquez (COL – SP): 24% owned
I realize that Marquez’s next start (today, Tuesday) against the Pirates is at home, but he’s won his last two home outings (against Arizona and Oakland) with strong quality starts and is fresh off a stellar nine-strikeout, seven-inning gem against the Brewers. His bullpen couldn’t hold onto the lead, but that’s not on him. He’s won four of his last six with five QS and a beautiful 2.73 SIERA and 2.45 xFIP to show for his hard work. A 57.1% groundball rate in that stretch has helped mitigate the woes of Colorado, except he hasn’t traded in strikeouts to get grounders (45 in 39 1/3 IP). I hope to see these trends continue today against Pittsburgh and I hope you’re right there with me.
Austin Hedges (SD – C): 22% owned
After missing two-plus months due to right elbow soreness, Hedges is back and on a tear at the dish. I know several of you could use some life behind the plate, so how about his .300 average with four homers and a steal over the last two weeks? Yeah, that does sound good. His hot hitting has been rewarded with a promotion in the batting order, with a recent move to fifth from eighth. Follow the opportunities and good things will follow.
Mike Fiers (OAK – SP): 22% owned
Fiers going to pitcher-friendly Oakland is exciting! His run of five straight quality starts came to a halt after being forced from his Aug. 1 start by a second-inning liner that resulted in a left shin contusion. I readily admit that he’s not exciting to own — he has 87 strikeouts in 119 frames — but the ratio relief is there and Oakland’s park can help counter his main weakness, the longball. Detroit’s Comerica Park has our 11th-highest Park Factor rating, whereas the O.co Coliseum is 19th. Sorting specifically by homers, Detroit is 13th while Oakland is a beautiful 26th. This, plus a modest upgrade from the Tigers’ 12th-ranked defense per Fangraphs’ DEF ratings to the A’s at 8th, should help him continue his hot pitching.
Robert Gsellman (NYM – SP/RP): 23% owned
Gsellman lost some of his luster thanks to a rough July, but Jeurys Familia shipping off to Oakland and Anthony Swarzak going on the DL has laid out a red carpet to the closer’s role. He converted the save with a perfect 1 1/3 IP on Sunday against the Braves and should be owned in 12-team formats where saves are counted. For what it’s worth, he’s allowed a lowly 11.4% line-drive rate alongside a nice 63% groundball rate over his last 10 appearances. He may not look as dominant as he once did, but he’s still no slouch.
Tyler Glasnow (TB – SP/RP): 11% owned
The Rays have made many enemies in the fantasy community by ruining chances of wins or quality starts coming to fruition, but they’re also students of the data and looking to find edges that other teams can afford to gloss over. Maybe you love the “opener” thing, maybe you hate it and maybe you don’t care at all, but his Tampa Bay career started with three innings of one-run ball and five strikeouts against the Angels, so I’ll be watching intently as he toes the rubber versus the Orioles today (Tuesday).
Joe Musgrove (PIT – SP/RP): 26% owned
The good news is that Musgrove went to Coors Field and allowed just one earned over seven crisp frames, giving him three consecutive starts of seven innings with fewer than three runs allowed. The bad news is that he’s only struck out two batters in each of those three outings.
It’s rather impressive to post a 6-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio over a 21-inning stretch in the Majors, but he continues to pad his 21.2% soft-contact rate and skate by on respective BABIPs of .174, .217 and .174 in his last three starts. While I don’t love the way he’s getting there, I can’t deny the results and the momentum he has going from Coors to the complete opposite in AT&T Park for his next scheduled start on Aug. 11 (yes, against Holland).
Deep League Targets – <10% owned
Jeff McNeil (NYM – 2B/3B): 3% owned
McNeil hit second for the Metropolitans for the second straight game on Tuesday and went 3-for-4 with his second big-league homer to fuel their 6-4 victory. This comes two games after his 4-for-4 effort, which helps boost his small-sample-size slash line to .364/.462/.606 over 41 plate appearances. His high BA isn’t surprising — he hit .327 at Double-A and .368 at Triple-A this season — but it’s nice to see the power translate after he combined for 19 homers in 384 MiLB PAs. The Mets won’t turn away production and McNeil should be an everyday source of average with some pop and the occasional bag (six steals this season) for fantasy owners in need of an MI.
Justin Anderson (LAA – RP): 2% owned
Anderson pitched the ninth in a non-save situation (it was 6-2) on Monday night, tossing a clean frame with two strikeouts. I realize his overall 26 walks in 41 innings looks scary, but he has a more reasonable six walks over his last 14 innings with nearly a strikeout per inning and zero homers allowed to boot. Blake Parker has shown much better control, but has yielded three homers over his last six appearances and could start seeing Anderson get more cracks at the ninth moving forward. Those who don’t want to dive on Wily Peralta (25% owned), Mychal Givens (10% owned), Thyago Vieira (2% owned) could give Anderson a spin.
Adalberto Mondesi (KC – 2B/SS): 8% owned
I’d like to assume anyone in need of speed has already picked up Mondesi, but maybe some of you are still on the fence. Despite a pinched nerve in his shoulder suffered during a diving stab at a grounder on Friday, Mondesi entered as a pinch-runner on Sunday and swiped two bags to give him six steals over his last 10 contests. In a speed-strapped fantasy landscape, Mondesi is running often enough to warrant consideration on that alone, though he does offer some pop with eight homers in 240 combined PAs between the minors and majors thus far.
Ryan Borucki (TOR – SP): 8% owned
Borucki secured his first Major League victory on Saturday with eight strong innings in Seattle, allowing an unearned run and just four baserunners overall. The victory was well deserved, especially since this makes six quality starts for him in just seven career trips to the big-league hill. The lack of whiffs (30 strikeouts in 43 IP) and being on Toronto limit his appeal, plus he faces Boston next on Aug. 9, but he’s an above-average streamer right now.
Jake Marisnick (HOU – OF): 1% owned
Marisnick is comedically penciled in as Houston’s starting left and center fielder as of 7 PM eastern on Tuesday. It’s clearly an oversight with George Springer hitting the DL, but it underscores his spot in the starting lineup while Springer is out as Derek Fisher and Tony Kemp will likely man the third OF spot. He enters Tuesday having gone 4-for-11 with two homers and a steal in three starts (five games) this August, but his previous 71 games with Houston saw him fail to crack the Mendoza line. He’s capable of bursts and plays within a talented Astros lineup, which goes a long way.