Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 25
Salute to those of you still reading and fighting the good fantasy baseball fight. This means you’re either in the throes of championship matchups or the home stretch of your rotisserie derby. Or maybe you just really love this stuff, who am I to judge? Whatever your reasons, we’re here to talk about players who are bringing the heat as the summer days die down.
Ownership levels are taken from Yahoo leagues and, along with the stats, are accurate through Sept. 18.
Priority Pickups – <30% Owned
Franmil Reyes (SD – OF): 24% owned
I realize that Reyes hasn’t gone yard since his two-homer tilt on Sept. 3, but he’s still rocking a nine-game hit streak with an average sniffing .400 over the last two weeks. I know he spoiled us rotten with daily laser shows, but at least you know he’s capable of sending the ball 400+ feet with ease. The worst that happens here is that you only get a guy hitting over .300 with few R+RBI because of the Pads. That’s not the worst consolation.
Tyler Glasnow (TB – SP/RP): 20% owned
You all need to get over that Toronto shellacking that Glasnow took back on Sept. 5. You just have to — unless you want someone else to keep scoring big with his arm. The electric youngster shut down the Rangers with six scoreless frames to secure the win on Monday night, this coming six days after holding the Indians to two runs over seven strong innings. He lines up to face the Blue Jays in Toronto next, likely going head-to-head with some later names in this article.
Ty Buttrey (LAA – SP/RP): 20% owned
The Angels appear to have found a keeper in Buttrey, as he’s allowed just one run across 13 2/3 innings of relief for them with 16 Ks and a beautiful 15.8% swinging-strike rate. He’d struck out 64 hitters in 44 Triple-A innings for the Red Sox prior to coming over in the Ian Kinsler deal, so this isn’t out of nowhere. Now with three saves in his last five appearances, Buttrey can bring up the rear of your bullpen during this final push.
Jay Bruce (NYM – 1B/OF): 25% owned
Bruce has blasted four homers over the last two weeks, though he is still ceding a few starts to Dominic Smith at first base. Since returning to action on Aug. 24 after missing two-plus months with a hip injury, Bruce has compiled a Bruce-ian .254/.333/.537 slash over 76 plate appearances. He has four doubles and five homers out of the 17 hits so far, leading to a juicy .284 ISO. He said the hip had been plaguing him all season, so it’s not totally surprising to see his usual pop return now. Anyone looking for muscle, especially those in OPS leagues, should turn Bruce’s way.
Felix Pena (LAA – SP/RP): 14% owned
I can’t get enough of Pena and his 2.81 ERA and 1.09 WHIP over the last month. Hopefully, you already made the add ahead of his six scoreless innings against Texas on Sept. 12. You know, the outing that gave him four straight quality starts? He’s walked three hitters across those 26 innings and is not relying on crazy batted-ball luck to get by. He’ll look to make it five QS in a row against the A’s in pitcher-friendly Oakland on Sept. 19 next.
Yoshihisa Hirano (ARI – RP): 19% owned
Yes, the D-backs bullpen has been the source of many a joke lately, but Hirano has been strong outside of one rough appearance at Coors. His overall 2.12 ERA and 1.07 WHIP are no fluke, and he rebounded from his Sept. 12 loss to pick up the save on the 14th. The 34-year-old righty doesn’t need to save the world here, just to do enough to save some games. No one else in that ‘pen is challenging for the role.
Steve Cishek (CHC – RP): 21% owned
Randy Rosario (CHC – RP): 0% owned
Another week, another handful of relievers that are forming a September closer’s committee. Pedro Strop, the man replacing already-injured stopper Brandon Morrow, is out for the regular season with a strained left hamstring. Cishek locked down a one-out save on Sept. 15 after Rosario, a lefty, took care of Joey Votto.
As such, Rosario could fall into a few rogue saves in these final weeks if a lefty is due up as the final out. But my lean here has to be Cishek given his experience, though speculators can also go for Jesse Chavez (11% owned) if Cishek has been scooped and you don’t want to bank on one- or two-out saves from Rosario.
Willians Astudillo (MIN – C/3B): 15% owned
More than a meme, Astudillo has swung quite the stick in a part-time role. While he’s started in just seven of Minnesota’s last 12 games, he’s combined to go 10-for-28 with two homers and 11 R+RBI over that span. I know you’ll take that out of your catcher slot, considering he’s a top-five option in the last two weeks and a top-10 backstop-eligible player over the last month (per Yahoo’s traditional 5×5 scoring).
Ji-Man Choi (TB – 1B): 10% owned
Choi’s homer on Monday night not only snaps a brief three-game hitless streak, but it gives him four dingers in his last nine starts. The 27-year-old has been on a mission in September as he continues to deliver against right-handed pitching. He’s only 3-for-24 (.125) against southpaws in his MLB career, but is now hitting .280 against righties in ’18. He posted a 48% hard-hit rate in August, which has spilled over to a 55% hard-hit rate in September. I’m here for it, are you?
Chris Stratton (SF – SP): 11% owned
Stratton most recently fired off a brilliant complete-game shutout against the Rockies (in San Fran, not at Coors) with seven strikeouts. He scattered two hits and two walks throughout the affair and has now tossed four quality starts in five outings since rejoining the rotation on Aug. 21. The .183 BABIP from that stretch will not last, but the 3.27 FIP/3.68 xFIP underneath are still worth a look compared to the 2.10 ERA he’s been flaunting. He’s set to face the Padres in San Diego on Sept. 19 in his next outing.
Adam Wainwright (STL – SP): 10% owned
After shaking off the rust in a rough first start off of the DL on Sept. 10, Wainwright was in classic form on Sunday night against the Dodgers. He led a 5-0 victory with six innings of shutout ball during which he rung up nine batters. His next start is set for Sept. 22 against the Giants, a team whose 28.2% strikeout rate over the last two weeks is the second-worst in the bigs with a third-worst 64 wRC+.
Francisco Mejia (SD – C): 16% owned
If Astudillo is owned already, then perhaps Mejia is available? The highly-touted backstop has logged at least one hit in each of his six starts for the Padres, launching a trio of homers in his 27 September at-bats. So far, he’s played a little less frequently than Astudillo but both are top-10 options at the moment. Playing the hot hand at catcher is fine by me. Or anywhere really, given how late in the game this is.
Wei-Yin Chen (MIA – SP): 10% owned
Chen is the master of his domain, alright. Through 71 innings at home in Miami, Chen holds a Cy Young-caliber 1.77 ERA with a 0.99 WHIP and laughable .545 OPS allowed. Compared to his 9.29 ERA with a 1.018 OPS surrendered outside of Miami’s city limits in ’18 and you’ve got a real Jekyll and Hyde act. He has some luck behind it, but his strikeout rate is nearly 10% higher at home and his 3.18 FIP is under half of the 6.58 FIP on the road, though the 4.11 home xFIP and 5.55 road xFIP are closer. He’s set to face the Reds at home next on Sept. 20.
Jose Urena (MIA – SP): 18% owned
Urena succumbed to cramping in his right (pitching) hand on Sunday and was forced from another strong start after five innings. He had allowed just one run against the Phillies, which wound up being enough for his third straight victory and fourth in five outings. Given his supporting cast, that should be worth bonus fantasy points. Since the Acuna incident a month ago, Urena’s been blessed with a .167 BABIP to help him post a 2.16 ERA and outrun the 4.63 SIERA. I get the temptation here but do be careful.
Deep League Targets – <10% owned
Jake Bauers (TB – 1B/OF): 7% owned
You were there when Bauers was party central for the Rays and his fantasy owners back over the summer, right? Then you were also there when the slump hit and his ownership rate plummeted, but perhaps he’s found his muscle again here with a pair of homers and a steal this past week. He’s only 5-for-21 in that stretch but has a skill set worth adding when hot as well as the pedigree to make any streak last.
Ryan Borucki (TOR – SP): 7% owned
Borucki blanked the Orioles over eight innings in Baltimore to give himself three straight quality starts after he’d limited the Rays and Red Sox to just two runs apiece in his prior two trips to the hill. He’s taken his lumps throughout the course of his rookie campaign, but young arms go through adjustments as they learn the ropes. He’s riding high right now and it’s worth noting the seven punchouts against the O’s are the most he’s rung up since his second MLB start back on July 2. He’ll face the Rays at home next, likely on Sept. 22.
Thomas Pannone (TOR – SP/RP): 4% owned
Borucki isn’t the only one making noise north of the border. Pannone had a tall order in facing the Indians at home and the Yankees in the Bronx over his last two starts, yet he walks away with well-deserved wins in both outings. He held both playoff-bound opponents to just two runs over 6 1/3 and 7 innings, respectively, and is set to face the Rays at home next. The AL East gauntlet is a tough one to run, and he has just 21 strikeouts in 31 frames, but he could provide ratio relief and a handful of wins down the stretch.
Josh James (HOU – SP/RP): 4% owned
I’m a simple man. I see Josh James is slated to start for the Astros, and I stream him. I know he’s likely to have a five-inning limit against the Mariners on Tuesday since he’s worked out of the ‘pen recently, but his top-notch strikeout stuff (17 in 10 2/3 IP) makes him worth adding nearly everywhere that you could use a win or some Ks.
Erick Fedde (WAS – SP): 6% owned
Fedde entered Monday night’s start against the Marlins with 16 strikeouts and a sub-1.00 WHIP over his last 10 2/3 innings, though the 25-year-old’s larger body of work has inspired moderate confidence. The peripherals all point to more, as he held a 2.68 FIP/2.94 xFIP behind his 4.41 ERA across 67 1/3 Triple-A innings this year and entered Monday with a 3.46 xFIP and 3.87 SIERA underneath the 5.12 ERA in 38 2/3 MLB frames.
While we all wanted more from a start against the Marlins, he did hold Miami scoreless over four innings before two walks kicked off the fifth and a two-run double ended his night early. The four overall free passes are disconcerting, but I’m willing to take his now 3.51 xFIP for another stream against the Mets in his next scheduled start on Sept. 23.