9 Under-the-Radar Waiver Pickups (Fantasy Baseball)

Apr 11, 2019
Merrill Kelly

Merrill Kelly’s should owned in more leagues than he currently is

Waiver wire action during this time of the year is fast and furious. Even names like Yandy Diaz have likely been swooped up by one of your leaguemates already. The point is, there’s no doubt that we’re all in the same position hoping to overturn our roster pieces that didn’t hit at the end of our draft like we expected. Known commodities are going to cost more and may not be available at all, so in order to get ahead of the curve, we asked our featured experts below to find some values that should be readily-available in most leagues. Here is who the pundits would like to target as their under-the-radar pickups with less than 25% consensus ownership.

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Q1. What one starting pitcher should fantasy owners look into picking up that is owned in 25% of leagues or less?

Merrill Kelly (SP – ARI): 11% Owned
“I have been on the Merrill Kelly hype train since he first signed with Arizona, and I wish fantasy owners would get on board. Kelly isn’t a special pitcher, but he can touch 94 miles per hour with his fastball and has four pitches to keep hitters off balance. When you are filling out the back of your pitching staff, starters who can give you reliable quality innings are rare. Kelly, who acquitted himself well in the KBO, should be able to do just that, and should be owned in the majority of leagues.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)

“There are so many in this range worth monitoring from Drew Pomeranz and Jimmy Nelson to Caleb Smith and Ryan Pressly but my favorite is Merrill Kelly. After a rough go in spring training, most gave up any hope that Kelly would break camp with Arizona, but they gave him a chance and we’ve now got a steal from the waivers. Kelly was the best pitcher in the KBO last season and should carry that success over into a quality MLB campaign this year. I liken his skillset to a right-handed version of Jose Quintana, and while that may not excite many people, that makes for a reliable #4 type of fantasy starting pitcher.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Caleb Smith (SP – MIA): 10% Owned
“It’s hard to believe there’s much fantasy value in Miami these days but among all their young starters, Caleb Smith intrigues me the most. He’s got swing-and-miss stuff that has translated into 15 Ks over his first 11 innings. He posted a 27% K-rate in his first full season in the majors in 2018 and could see that figure jump with improved command. The wins may be hard to come by but Smith could provide a big boost in strikeouts without hurting your ratios.”
– Pierre Camus (RotoBaller)

Matt Moore (SP – DET): 3% Owned
“Moore is injured right now, but it doesn’t seem serious. He has looked really good to start the year and you can even do a 2-for-1 waiver wire stash if you have extra DL spots. Depending on how deep your league is, Michael Pineda has looked good coming back from injury as well. Both are high-end speculative adds.”
– Dennis Esser (Coach Esser)

Jimmy Nelson (SP – MIL): 8% Owned | Nick Margevicius (SP – SD): 32% Owned
“Nelson is currently available in 88% of Yahoo leagues and is a great DL stash if you can afford to preemptively add the injured hurler. While he’s rehabbing he is expected back in the next few weeks and could be a valuable SP in a rotation for the reigning NL Central Champion Milwaukee Brewers. As recently as 2017, Nelson was a valuable SP2 as he posted 12 wins and a 3.49 ERA and a 1.249 WHIP across 29 starts. More importantly, he managed an impressive 10.2 K/9 along with a minuscule 2.5 BB/9. As long as he’s totally healthy he could again put up SP3 or even SP2 numbers for your fantasy team. If he’s available in your league you should consider stashing him now while you still can. I also really like Nick Margevicius. He’s above the cutoff at 32% consensus ownership, but he’s only owned in 17% of Yahoo! leagues even though he has pitched surprisingly well for the Padres thus far. Over his three starts he’s only notched one win and one QS, but he’s allowed just one run in each of those starts. Through those three starts and 16 IP Nick has posted 12 K’s and a solid 1.69 ERA with a minuscule 0.63 WHIP. A talented young player on a team with a pitcher friendly Park, Margevicius deserves a look in every deep league, and in shallower formats as well. He could very well turn into a pumpkin, but the price is right when it’s free off the waiver wire, and thus far the results have been quite solid as well.”
– Justin Klein (The Fake Baseball)

Q2. What one hitter should fantasy owners look into picking up that is owned in 25% of leagues or less?

Chad Pinder (2B/OF): 11% Owned
“Pinder is only owned in 16% of Yahoo specific leagues even though he’s sporting an 8/3/8 R/HR/RBI line with a .318 AVG and .931 OPS. That’s good enough to make him a top 100 player thus far in any format. With eligibility at 2B, 3B and in the OF, Pinder makes for a versatile bench bat or temporary fill-in; especially in deep leagues.”
– Justin Klein (The Fake Baseball)

Chad Pinder is my favorite among this bunch now that the A’s came around to playing him versus both righties and lefties. He has always been a statcast king, and like most others who came before him, that is likely to translate to a quality season’s worth of statistics. Pinder has been raking early on with 3 homers, 8 RBIs and a .318 batting average in just 44 at-bats. I’m expecting him to finish the season around .270 with 20-25 homers which is fantastic coming from a guy who qualifies at 2B, 3B and OF.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Jung-Ho Kang (3B – PIT): 13% Owned
“Despite his slow start, Kang should be relevant this year in any mixed league that has a corner infield position. Remember, this is a player whose 162-game average is .268-71-25-83-5 and, after turning his life around, is getting everyday playing time with the Pirates. He hasn’t suddenly turned into someone with the 15% hard-contact rate or nearly 30% strikeout rate that he’s shown thus far. After nearly two full years away from major-league ball, it’s only natural for Kang to need some time to get his feel for the game back. But it will come, and fantasy owners should pick him up now to get ahead of the curve.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)

Christian Walker (1B – ARI): 22% Owned
“He’s no Goldy, but Christian Walker has done a fine job filling his shoes so far in Arizona. Jake Lamb will be out for several weeks, so Walker is going to remain a fixture at first base, typically batting fifth. Walker has plus power, as he showed by smashing 32 homers in Triple-A two years ago and followed up with 21 in 373 at-bats last year between the majors and minors. It’s a bit of a late-age breakout at 28, but Walker is just now getting the opportunity he’s always deserved.”
– Pierre Camus (RotoBaller)

Mitch Moreland (1B – BOS): 10% Owned
“Mitch Moreland What?! I’m recommending a platoon player? Yes, I am! Moreland has really come into his own as a power hitter in Boston and he is always on my mind in DFS, but should be on more benches in season long. Look ahead at the week and check the lefty-righty starters facing Boston and plug and play a middle of the order hitter.”
– Dennis Esser (Coach Esser)

Thank you to the experts for naming their under-the-radar 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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