Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 26
One is never really mentally prepared for the end of a marathon — or at least, I sure never am. Many clicks have become automated and after this week, your muscle memory clicking of fantasy baseball links will be in vain. Well, there’s always playoff DFS, but it’s not the same! But a championship makes it all better! Let’s dig into the waiver wire and see who can help in this, the final stretch of the final stretch. I’ll focus more on bats since most streaming pitchers have likely already been scooped up with the finish line in sight.
Ownership levels are taken from Yahoo leagues and, along with the stats, are accurate through September 24.
Priority Pickups – <30% Owned
Josh James (HOU – SP/RP): 22% owned
Last week, we talked about how if James was being given a start then you need to pay attention. He shut down the Mariners with 5 1/3 scoreless innings on Sept. 18 (last Tuesday) with seven strikeouts. He now gets to face Sam Gaviglio and the Blue Jays in Toronto on Tuesday and has an outside shot at picking up Houston’s final start on Sunday depending on their rotation plans for the playoffs. It’ll probably be Dallas Keuchel still, but it’s possible.
Franmil Reyes (SD – OF): 26% owned
Reyes’ September average exit velocity of 92.9 mph sits at 12th out of hitters with at least 25 batted balls. His overall .275/.332/.508 slash over 260 PAs may not leap out to you, but that slugging percentage is potent and he now has 32 combined homers over 510 Triple-A and MLB PAs. Padres Triple-A numbers deal with some inflation, but they’ve carried over to the bigs with ease. Points-leaguers have to stomach the 29% strikeout rate, but he has at least one hit in 25 of his last 30 games for an average above .350 since Aug. 21. Premier pop and a stout batting average? Sign. Me. Up.
Ramon Laureano (OAK – OF): 17% owned
It feels like just yesterday I was writing up a dynasty blurb about Laureano, and now it looks like the bat is catching up with his defense. We’re all familiar with his arm-cannon thanks to his highlight-reel throw from the center-field wall to first, but he’s also batting .300 with five homers and seven steals over 158 PAs. With two swipes in the last week and the sporadic leadoff appearance sprinkled in, Laureano shouldn’t be a stranger by now.
Ryan Borucki (TOR – SP): 27% owned
While Borucki owns a troubling 4.51 xFIP and 4.70 SIERA over his first 91 MLB innings, he’s looked much better in September thanks to four consecutive quality starts. In fact, the southpaw has tossed a QS in 11-of-16 outings so far. Three of his non-QS starts have come at the hands of the Red Sox and Yankees — hardly starts you’d have expected returns in. He’ll look to finish 2018 on a high note against the Rays in Tampa Bay on Saturday.
Harrison Bader (STL – OF): 17% owned
Bader rides a seven-game hit streak that housed two homers into Tuesday, as the youngster is looking to finish strong on his five-tool rookie campaign. He’s still limited by hitting seventh or eighth most of the time, but the blend of modest power and speed makes him a solid fantasy asset in 5OF leagues. The 27.1% line-drive rate is nothing to scoff at.
Willians Astudillo (MIN – C/3B): 22% owned
Once again, Astudillo is doing one job very well: putting the bat on the ball. He doesn’t boast spectacular power or any speed, but his average is up to .338 overall and he’s 13-for-34 (.382) in the last two weeks. Most of you are just begging for a rogue homer or sac fly from your catcher slot, so why not get someone who’s actually a plus in a category?
Joc Pederson (LAD – OF): 20% owned
You know the deal with Joc by now. He is strictly a platoon player and requires a deep bench to stomach the off days, but when he’s hot look out. As you likely guessed, he’s currently hot. The 26-year-old slugger has bashed five homers in his last eight starts while going 14-for-35 in that 11-game span (he’s entered late three times). His platooning has helped whittle down a strikeout rate that sat at 29.1% in ’15 and 27.3% in ’16 down to 18.4%, so don’t be afraid to ride a hot streak into the sunset.
Mychal Givens (BAL – RP): 18% owned
Givens has notched a pair of saves in Baltimore’s last five contests and hasn’t allowed a baserunner in four consecutive appearances — including a two-inning appearance against the Yankees on Saturday. He’s had a tough season but is finishing strong in a stripped O’s bullpen that has little competition for the ninth.
Alex Gordon (KC – OF): 14% owned
As of my writing this on Monday night, Gordon ranked 47th per Yahoo’s 5×5 scoring over the last 30 days thanks to three homers, five steals, a .265 average (27-for-102) AND 33 R+RBI. He improves to 34th over the last two weeks, as he’s batting 16-for-51 (.314) in that span from Kansas City’s three-hole. Hitting third behind the red-hot Whit Merrifield and Adalberto Mondesi is a great place to be, so why not ride their coattails with Gordon?
Steve Cishek (CHC – RP): 21% owned
Don’t forget about the Cubs, who haven’t generated a save opportunity since Sept. 15. Why, yes, Cishek was the reliever to notch that save. With Pedro Strop hurting and both Carl Edwards Jr. and Randy Rosario not looking sharp of late, Cishek should be the clear No. 1 option for any save opp that comes the Cubbies’ way.
Wily Peralta (KC – SP/RP): 27% owned
Hate it or love it, Peralta’s getting saves. The man has a 1.50 WHIP thanks to 22 walks over 33 1/3 IP but hasn’t actually blown a save in 2018. You aren’t adding him for anything but cold-blooded saves. As long as Adalberto Mondesi and Whit Merrifield are producing like top-10 hitters, the Royals could see a surprising amount of save opps.
Deep League Targets – <10% owned
Victor Robles (WAS – OF): 9% owned
The Nationals are hitting Robles leadoff, and he’s drawn starts in six of their last eight contests. The highly-touted rookie has hit safely in each of his last seven starts, going 9-for-32 (.281) with two homers and a steal over that stretch excluding the two fruitless pinch-hit appearances. At just 21 years old, his 70-grade speed can play now as he grows into the 70-grade hit tool and modest 45-50 caliber power.
Rowdy Tellez (TOR – 1B): 3% owned
I promise I’m not a Blue Jays fan, but I did go see them for myself when they came to Fenway recently. Tellez made headlines by seemingly hitting doubles at will to open his MLB career and currently owns a .365/.377/.712 through 53 PAs. This comes after he’d hit 13 homers with a .155 ISO through 444 Triple-A PAs, though the 23 homers and .233 ISO from Double-A in ’16 align a bit more closely. Again, this is the last week! Don’t dismiss a hot bat!
Brock Holt (BOS – 2B/3B/SS/OF): 5% owned
Holt has started six of Boston’s last eight games — a big step up from his usual role — due in large part to hitting .444 (12-for-27) with three homers, a steal, and 15 R+RBI over the past two weeks. The Red Sox offense is a great one to target — their collective team .337 wOBA leads the Majors — and Holt’s versatility helps him get into the lineup if desired and makes him the perfect fantasy bench bat for those with shallower rosters.
DJ Stewart (BAL – OF): 0% owned
Yahoo says he’s 0% owned, but I know that’s a lie because my desperate friends have already scooped him in our leagues. The former first-round draft pick (from 2015) had a five-game hit streak with two homers and a steal going before Monday’s 0-for-2 ended it, which is going to put you on radars this late in the game. He hit 12 homers with 11 steals and a .235/.329/.387 slash across 490 Triple-A PAs this season, so do note the low floor of this mini lightning-in-a-bottle attempt.