12 Early Waiver Wire Pickups (2019 Fantasy Baseball)

Mar 25, 2019

Brandon Woodruff has breakout potential now that he’s starting for Milwaukee

Baseball will be back in full swing this Thursday! Even though the regular season hasn’t started for most teams yet, there are already certain guys who are already gaining traction off the waiver wire. Matt Strahm and Julio Urias have been hot adds lately, but they are a little too highly owned to be highlighted in this piece.

Instead, we want to focus on high-upside players who are more readily available. To prevent you from having to search through your league’s waiver wire and research the best pickups, we’ve already done the legwork for you. Our featured pundits have come to your aid by naming their favorite pickups who have under 25% consensus ownership.

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Q1. What one starting pitcher should fantasy owners pick up that is owned in less than 25% of leagues?

Brandon Woodruff (SP/RP – MIL)
“The starting pitcher I am targeting here is Woodruff. Woodruff was phenomenal out of the pen for Milwaukee last season and has been even better in the starting rotation this spring. He has pitched to the tune of a 1.84 ERA with a 0.81 WHIP, and has 20 strikeouts in 14.2 spring innings. He throws hard, he induces ground balls at a great rate (over 50% ground ball rate in 2018), and he is opening the season with a rotation spot. Grab him while you still can.”
– Michael Petropoulos (BRoto Fantasy)

Brandon Woodruff should be getting more love in leagues than he is. Last year in the bullpen he posted a fantastic 2.03 ERA and 0.98 WHIP. He also had a 32% K-rate, leading to 34 strikeouts in 26.2 innings. Coming off a very strong spring, Woodruff is poised to breakout this season as a starter.”
– Joe Bond (Fantasy Six Pack)

Reynaldo Lopez (SP – CWS)
“Lopez made giant strides in his first full season. In 2018, he pitched to the tune of 188.2 innings, 3.91 ERA, and a 1.27 WHIP. With a White Sox team that should be improved this season, Lopez has an opportunity to continue his rise to fantasy relevance. He improved his strikeout rate from 14.5% in 2017 to 18.9% last season, while dropping his HR/9 from 1.32 to 1.19. Barring injury, Lopez will start every fifth day, providing quality production from the waiver wire.”
– Joe Buttgereit (Fantasy Sports Nerdz)

Trevor Richards (SP – MIA)
“Richards has the makings of a breakout candidate after throwing 165 innings in 2018 (39 at Triple-A and 126 in the majors). The Marlins aren’t going to help him reach double-digit wins, but Richards’ career minor league ERA is 2.44 and he had a 9.26 K/9 ratio. His ERA was inflated for the Marlins in part due to a .309 BABIP, and if he can reduce his walks to his minor league numbers, Richards should see his ERA drop below four to supplement his strikeout rate (which was in line with Indians trio Corey Kluber, Mike Clevinger, and Shane Bieber).”
– Jamie Steed (The Fantasy Fix)

Domingo German (SP/RP – NYY)
“German needs to be owned while he fills in for Luis Severino and C.C. Sabathia in New York’s starting rotation. At the very least, German will be a quality source of strikeouts. In 2018, his above-average O-Swing percentage and swinging strike rate led to a 10.72 K/9. Granted, last year’s production came in part as a reliever, but his starting experience in the minors yielded similar strikeout upside. Perhaps most importantly for fantasy, German has appealing potential for wins thanks to backing from the Yankees’ offense and bullpen, which respectively should build and protect leads for the young hurler.”
– Greg Smith (The Fake Baseball)

Freddy Peralta (SP – MIL)
“Peralta made the Brewers’ rotation, which means he is suddenly my #1 late-round starting pitcher. Last season there were four pitchers who finished top 10 in K/9 and top five in batting average against. They were Blake Snell, Chris Sale, Max Scherzer, and Peralta. Granted, it was a smaller sample size and there are control concerns, but you can’t teach dominance, and Peralta has true ace upside, similar to Snell this time last season.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Q2. What one hitter should fantasy owners pick up that is owned in less than 25% of leagues?

Ryan McMahon (1B/2B/3B – COL)
“McMahon is still sitting on the waivers in over 75% of leagues and would make for a terrific addition to any team of any sized league. After batting .355 with 63 extra-base hits and 11 steals in 119 minor league games, he was a bit of a disappointment last fantasy season. The Rockies bounced him in and out of the lineup all year and he couldn’t get in the groove, but it seems likely he’ll be playing every day after batting .439 with 13 extra-base hits in 23 spring training games. McMahon is the ideal post-hype sleeper who could breakout in 2019.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Brett Gardner (OF – NYY)
“Gardner is the forgotten leadoff man in one of baseball’s most potent lineups. He’s found the Yankee Stadium power stroke recently, as he’s averaged 14.6 home runs over the past five seasons. In that same stretch, he’s amassed an average of 145.0 R+RBI, while also contributing 19.2 stolen bases. He possesses an excellent eye for the strike zone, producing a 10.7% walk rate, which helps him maintain a high on-base percentage. Put him in front of the likes of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton and you have the makings of a steal on the waiver wire.”
– Joe Buttgereit (Fantasy Sports Nerdz)

Chad Pinder (2B/3B/OF – OAK)
“Pinder makes for a great early-season addition to your fantasy squad. He tore up spring training, slashing .344/.400/.750 with three walks to only one strikeout across 35 plate appearances. Meanwhile, Pinder’s mutli-position eligibility is a benefit to fantasy owners and to the Athletics, who just lost first baseman Matt Olson to hand surgery. With playing time all but assured in the short term, Pinder deserves to be rostered in more leagues on the chance he sticks and delivers on his 20-plus homer upside.”
– Greg Smith (The Fake Baseball)

Brandon Belt (1B/OF – SF)
“This is a simple answer for me. Belt is the single player that I have the most exposure to in all my leagues this draft season and he is just 18% owned in Yahoo leagues and 11.5% owned in ESPN leagues. Belt was en route to a career year in 2018, with a .285/13/42/.383 line in the first half, before injuries derailed the rest of his season. He is fully healthy once again, evidenced by his monster spring (.405/4/8/.479), which makes him the perfect waiver wire addition (especially if you just lost Matt Olson). Make sure to grab him while you still can and reap the rewards, especially in OBP leagues ”
– Michael Petropoulos (BRoto Fantasy)

Jung Ho Kang (3B – PIT)
“Kang should be picked up everywhere. It seems like we have all forgotten that in 2015 and 2016 he hit a combined 36 home runs in 229 games. Now that he has officially won the starting third base job for the Pirates, thanks to mashing seven home runs this spring, he needs to be owned. This is especially true in leagues where you use a corner infield spot.”
– Joe Bond (Fantasy Six Pack)

Eric Thames (1B/OF – MIL)
“Thames is a BEAST when he plays every day, and that was the case in 2017 when he raked over 30 HRs, and he would have done it again in 2018 if it was not for a finger injury he suffered while playing defense. With only Jesus Aguilar and the often-injured Ryan Braun in front of him, Thames should see a lot of starts against righties, and if he gets it going, he could play every day.”
– Muntradamus (Beast Dome)

Christin Stewart (OF – DET)
“I was considering going for Jorge Soler or Jung Ho Kang, but wanted to delve a little deeper, so I have plumped for Stewart. His ability to take a walk means he is likely to hit in the two-spot for the Tigers in front of Nick Castellanos and Miguel Cabrera, so he should be a solid run scorer. His batting average won’t be harmful to your team and he’s got the pop for 20+ homers (25 is in play if he gets the regular playing time I expect him to). A late-round flier on Stewart should give you a guy who can score 80 runs and hit 20-25 homers, while being even more useful in leagues using walks/OBP.”
– Jamie Steed (The Fantasy Fix)

Thank you to the experts for naming their early waiver wire pickups. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter and subscribe to our podcast below for all the latest discussions this season.

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