45 Players to put on Waiver Wire Speed Dial (Fantasy Baseball)

by Bobby Sylvester | @bobbyfantasypro | Featured Writer
Mar 29, 2019

The waiver wire is crawling with potential breakout stars

Drafts are behind us but that doesn’t mean we need to go into cruise control. Rather, your league’s championship could be determined in the next few weeks by whichever team can scoop us this year’s Aaron Judge or Blake Snell. Every year has a handful of league-winner types that come off the waiver wire and the vast majority are added within the first few weeks. I’ve got 45 names for you to keep a close eye on as the season gets underway. I’ll break down my favorites from each range of ownership while giving you a little taste of all the others.

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35 to 55% owned

Matt Strahm (SP – SD): 40% owned
My guess is that after just one start, this number will quickly climb to 75% ownership. Strahm is that good, as evidenced by a 2.90 career ERA with a 1.15 WHIP and 10.4 K/9 through 118 innings. Those are Noah Syndergaard type numbers. Granted, it was out of the bullpen, but let’s not forget that Chris Sale and Carlos Martinez started off in the pen too. Strahm was exceptional this spring with a 2.25 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 25 Ks in 20 innings pitched. Don’t be surprised if he is this year’s Mike Clevinger.

  • Chris Paddack (SP – SD) – potential rookie of the year, beginning the season in the rotation
  • Tyler Skaggs (SP – LAA) – former top prospect with flashes of #2 type stuff at times last year
  • Nick Senzel (3B – CIN) – top prospect who could be a week away from becoming a five-category asset
  • Alex Colome (RP – CWS) – the current closer for the White Sox
  • Pedro Strop (RP – CHC) – likely the closer until at least May when Morrow comes back from the IL
  • Joe Musgrove (SP – PIT) – two plus pitches makes him a breakout candidate worth keeping an eye on
  • Carlos Martinez (SP – STL) – may return to the bullpen, but if he claims a rotation spot, we’ve got a total steal
  • Mychal Givens (RP – BAL) – the closer in Baltimore with no competition whatsoever
  • Seranthony Dominguez (RP – PHI) – a lock-down setup man who could take over the closer job from Robertson
  • Francisco Mejia (C – SD) – made the opening day roster and well worth owning if he starts most games
  • Pete Alonso (1B – NYM) – polished rookie with plus power and a competent BA expected from the get-go
  • Trevor May (RP – MIN) – 50/50 chance at Twins’ closer job, could be an elite fantasy RP
  • Julio Urias (SP – LAD) – former top prospect with future award-winning stuff, made the rotation
  • Brandon Morrow (RP – CHC) – coming back from the IL in 4 weeks, should be the Cubs closer
  • Garrett Hampson (2B – COL) – if he starts at second, we are looking at a 15/40 type line with a useful BA
  • Greg Holland (RP – ARI) – named the closer for the Diamondbacks, big upside as we’ve seen before

20 to 35% owned

Ryan Brasier (RP – BOS): 24% owned
Much like running backs in fantasy football, closers have a shorter lifespan and the best ones can often come out of nowhere. This time last year, no one had heard of Josh Hader. The year before, the same was true of Edwin Diaz. We may be saying the same thing about Brasier a year from now, as he is the odds-on favorite to close games for the defending World Series champs. He might not be Craig Kimbrel, but with 45 save opportunities, we could be looking at a top 10 or even top 5 closer this year. Brasier isn’t so bad either. He did carry a 1.60 ERA with a 0.77 WHIP last season after all.

  • Miguel Sano (3B – MIN) – injured for at least the first month, but has Hoskins-like upside once he returns
  • Maikel Franco (3B – PHI) – former top prospect who finally put it together in the second half last year
  • Jeremy Jeffress (RP – MIL) – tremendous reliever last year who has a chance at closer job if Knebel shut down
  • Luke Weaver (SP – ARI) – tons of hype last year because of killer rookie campaign, ideal post-hype sleeper
  • Ryan McMahon (2B – COL) – potential .300 hitter with 20+ homers as a rookie, think Corey Dickerson 2.0
  • Brad Boxberger (RP – KC) – expected to be the Royals closer to open the season

10 to 20% owned

Trevor Richards (SP – MIA): 11% owned
Richards is much more of a gamble than Strahm, who should be owned everywhere already. Richards may grow into that category within the next few weeks, however. He has the best changeup in all of baseball and once his usage of the pitch jumped from 20% to 40% in the closing months of the season, Richards’ slider suddenly became a plus pitch as well. Richards might not have a fastball worth writing home about but he was baffling hitters all spring again with a 1.76 ERA, 0.62 WHIP and 20 Ks in 19 innings.

  • Freddy Peralta (SP – MIL) – made the rotation by a hair after dominant rookie performance, major upside
  • Matt Kemp (OF – CIN) – has continued to produce, but will need at-bats to be worthy of a roster spot
  • Jung Ho Kang (3B – PIT) – had a great spring to claim a starting job in Pittsburgh
  • Jorge Soler (OF – KCR) – was finally surging before another injury last year, had a terrific spring too
  • Ryan Pressly (RP – HOU) – the top handcuff closer in baseball, would be a top-tier fantasy reliever
  • Drew Steckenrider (RP – MIA) – has the closer job locked down in Miami with no competition
  • Ian Happ (3B – CHC) – opened season in minors but just an injury away from a 20/10 season
  • Domingo German (SP – NYY) – happened to fall into a rotation spot, excellent upside
  • Ryan Zimmerman (1B -WSH) – just one year removed from hitting .303 with 36 dingers
  • Keone Kela (RP – PIT) – one bad week from Velasquez away from becoming top-10 fantasy closer
  • Steve Cishek (RP – CHC) – could fill in as closer for Cubs if Strop gets shut down for a few weeks
  • Joe Jimenez (RP – DET) – had an all-star first half, could take over Tigers’ closing job before long
  • Dakota Hudson (SP – STL) – won a rotation job and could become another Mikolas-type asset

Less than 10% owned

Chad Pinder (2B – OAK): 4% owned
The big winner of the Matt Olson injury news is Pinder, who prior to the injury was looking at another 200 at-bat utility role. Now, the statcast legend should see everyday at-bats and could breakout into a 25 or even 30 homer middle infielder, similar to what Max Muncy did last year. He isn’t exactly worth owning yet, but if he begins to rake like his upside suggests he can, don’t hesitate to claim him before it is too late.

  • Christin Stewart (OF – DET) – sleeper for AL ROY, 25+ homer upside, batting in middle of order
  • Teoscar Hernandez (OF – TOR) – huge statcast data with upside if he can fall into enough at-bats
  • Blake Parker (RP – MIN) – 50/50 chance at winning Twins’ closer job which may afford 40 save opps
  • Caleb Smith (SP – MIA) – was off to an extraordinary start before injury last season, huge k-rate
  • Pablo Lopez (SP – MIA) – impressive spring has fantasy analysts keeping a close watch
  • Martin Perez (SP – MIN) – former top prospect with a big jump in velo this spring

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Bobby Sylvester is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Bobby, check out his archive and follow him @BobbyFantasyPro.

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