Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 24
I know that the NFL’s opening weekend captivated many of you, so let’s take a deep breath and head back to the baseball diamond. You know, that place that’s been there for you each and every day for nearly six months now? By now, you’re either waist-deep in head-to-head playoffs or the stretch rotisserie run. Whatever your needs are, we’ve got you covered!
Ownership levels are taken from Yahoo! leagues and, along with the stats, are accurate through September 10.
Priority Pickups – <30% Owned
Franmil Reyes (SD – OF): 29% owned
In the last three weeks (Aug. 19-Sept. 9), Reyes’ whopping .498 xwOBA trails only Christian Yelich (.520) out of hitters with at least 30 PAs in that span. This shouldn’t be particularly surprising, as he’s hit safely in 13 of his last 14 games with four homers sprinkled in. The 23-year-old slugger has been unlucky with the ribeyes, he’s knocked in just 23 despite bashing 15 homers, but such is life on the 2018 Padres. His power is incredible and the contact is trending upwards, so don’t be afraid to buy into the surge.
Steven Matz (NYM – SP): 28% owned
Maybe you didn’t hear me last week, or maybe our readership here is the entire 28% of Matz’s ownership. Either way, his recent efforts bear repeating! Since getting lit up in his return from the DL on Aug. 16, the 27-year-old southpaw has destroyed the Giants twice, the Phillies and the Nationals with 31 strikeouts against just five walks with six earned in 24 frames (2.25 ERA, 2.51 xFIP). He’s slated to face the Marlins next on Sept. 13. You interested?
Adalberto Mondesi (KC – 2B/SS): 19% owned
If you want to win, put Mondesi in. The speedster has earnestly added pop to his repertoire this season and now has three homers and three steals with 15 R+RBI and a .333 average thanks to six multi-hit efforts over his last 11 games. If speed kills, then power and speed banish opposing fantasy owners to the shadow realm. I know he’s on the Royals, but he’s a must-add where available — he has seven homers and 20 steals in just 202 PAs!
Mike Minor (TEX – SP/RP): 29% owned
Minor posted yet another quality start on Monday night, this time tossing six innings of one-run ball against the Angels to pick up his sixth win in seven starts. That only outing where he’s given up more than two earned in that stretch was against the Yankees in the Bronx — a start no one would’ve used him for. He won’t blow anyone away with electric whiffs, but he’s proving reliable just when it matters most and draws a start against the Padres in San Diego next.
Niko Goodrum (DET – 1B/2B/3B/SS/OF): 17% owned
It’s only appropriate that a guy eligible at nearly every position on the baseball field is also delivering in all traditional fantasy categories, right? I know the .236 average isn’t enticing, but 16 homers and 12 steals on top of his robust versatility make him a solid plug-and-play when the bat is going. Considering how he’s hit safely in nine of his last 10 contests, I think it’s fair to say that this is one of those times.
Yoshihisa Hirano (ARI – RP): 13% owned
Jake Diekman (ARI – RP): 1% owned
Brad Ziegler (ARI – RP): 9% owned
Brad Boxberger has been a trainwreck lately, taking the loss in three of his last four appearances in exceptionally-horrendous fashion. Sunday saw him enter with a 4-3 lead, but he allowed back-to-back singles before yielding a three-run shot to Ender Inciarte for a big, fat “L.” It’s no surprise that he’s been removed from the closer role, but manager Torey Luvollo says no one man will be the closer moving forward.
Hirano is my favorite with Archie Bradley also struggling lately, as Hirano’s blanked opponents over the last two weeks with seven strikeouts in 6 1/3 IP. Jake Diekman has been solid with two earned and six Ks in 4 2/3 IP over that span, while veteran stopper Brad Ziegler has given up just one run in five innings in those two weeks.
Matthew Boyd (DET – SP): 26% owned
Boyd has been teetering between greatness and staying in just a shade too long over the last two months, but I’d say striking out a season-high 11 batters on Saturday while allowing just one run on two hits and a walk across seven frames qualifies as greatness.
That makes four quality starts in his last six tries, but he still went six innings in the non-quality starts and was outstanding outside of one bad inning in each. A 37/7 K/BB ratio is helping offset the homer-per-start pace he’s run in that span. He’ll need his control to be on point against a tough Indians squad on Sept. 14.
Jeff McNeil (NYM – 2B/3B): 19% owned
The Mets got rained out on Monday, but McNeil’s been nothing but a ray of sunshine on an otherwise pretty dreary squad. He’s recorded three hits in his last two games and is 12-for-27 (.444) with a swipe in his last seven games. He’s hit second in five of those games (six starts), which has helped him amass six runs in that stretch. The 26-year-old Met did pop 19 homers in 384 minor-league games prior to the promotion, so the homer totals should get a slight bump in the long term.
Touki Toussaint (ATL – SP): 14% owned
Toussaint is wearing his rookie lumps rather well, as he held Arizona to two runs on two hits despite lacking control and issuing five walks with five strikeouts on Sunday. He kept the D-backs off the board until the sixth inning, which reads similarly to his holding Boston without a hit through four innings before they got to him.
It’s no surprise that sequencing and facing a big-league lineup more than once could be challenging for a rook, but September could be Touki season if he polishes that up before his Sept. 16 start against the Nationals.
Framber Valdez (HOU – SP/RP): 19% owned
Valdez appears primed to work about five innings max, but he’s yielded just one run in each of his three major league starts thus far (@LAA, LAA, MIN) after picking up the win in a 4 1/3 IP relief appearance with zero earned on Aug. 21 against Seattle. Sounds perfect, right?
Well, his 15/10 K/BB ratio in 19 2/3 IP is scary, as he’s riding a .196 BABIP to success with a 4.28 xFIP and 4.27 SIERA underneath the surface. But Houston is great at maximizing their pitchers and Valdez had 129 punchouts in 103 minor league innings this season, so his being slated for a road date with the Tigers today (Tuesday) makes him a nice add.
Kevin Kiermaier (TB – OF): 27% owned
Kiermaier is pulling a bit of a “Byron Buxton” here in delivering a dynamic September that’ll rope me into drafting him late once again come 2019. He’s gone 15-for-35 (.429) with three homers over the last two weeks, though he’s out of Monday’s game with an illness. Now, his BABIP is about .500 there, but a 41% hard-hit rate and mere 9% soft-contact rate can create incredible luck in small sample sizes. If you need a hot hand then here you are.
Deep League Targets – <10% owned
Felix Pena (LAA – SP/RP): 8% owned
Peña’s velocity has been climbing back up lately, posting back-to-back starts of seven frames against Houston and the ChiSox as he gears up to face the Rangers on Wednesday. He mainly throws a slider and sinker, with that slider yielding a “chase” (out of the zone swing) one out of three times since it’s ramped back up toward 82 mph. Armed with a 37/8 K/BB ratio over his last six starts (37 2/3 IP), he’ll face the Rangers next, whose 32.5% O-Swing rate over the last 30 days is 11th-highest in baseball.
Rowdy Tellez (TOR – 1B): 2% owned
Tellez made history by becoming the first rookie in the American League to rope six doubles in any three-game window since some guy named Joe Dimaggio in 1936. He followed that up by bashing his first major league homer on Saturday in just his third start and has seemingly settled into the five-hole of Toronto’s order. With the Blue Jays set to play in the hitter-friendly venues of Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium over the next week, perhaps you should get Rowdy?
Brandon Lowe (TB – 2B/OF): 6% owned
Lowe hadn’t been spectacular on the farm in 2016 or ’17, but he started off ’18 with eight homers and eight steals with a .291/.400/.508 line in 240 PAs at Double-A before crushing 14 homers with zero steals and a .304/.380/.613 slash in 205 Triple-A PAs.
He made his MLB debut on Aug. 5 and went hitless in his first seven games, oof. However, he’s now on a 16-for-43 (.372) stretch with three doubles, four homers and two steals in his last 16 games. His .458 xwOBA in the last three weeks is ninth-best and validates he’s swinging the stick well, though hitting in the lower third does dent his value.
Jose Urena (MIA – SP): 9% owned
I respect folks who manage with principles, but I mostly just want the stats. You can hate the guy for his throwing at Braves phenom Ronald Acuña Jr., but I see a pitcher coming off of seven strong innings against the Phillies to take on the Mets in New York on Tuesday.
He takes a 2.45 ERA/0.77 WHIP over his last three starts into that matchup, and some beggars can’t be choosers. While not a big strikeout machine, his seven Ks against Philly in his last start did tie a season-high mark.
Daniel Norris (DET – SP): 1% owned
Man, I had it bad for Norris heading into 2017. A lot of poor outings and rehab starts have occurred between then and now, but he’s quietly struck out 14 batters in just 9 1/3 IP over his first two starts off the DL to kick off September. He’s taken on the Yankees and Cardinals thus far, with his next assignment at home against Houston likely being his toughest yet, but should draw the Twins and Royals after that.