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

May 24, 2019

Outside of one horrible start, Pablo Lopez has lately been a sound starting pitcher

Major League Baseball received a league-wide shot in the arm over the last week and change as a slew of noteworthy prospects got called up to “The Show.” Names like Keston Hiura, Corbin Martin, Austin Riley, and Brendan Rodgers aren’t widely owned enough for us to touch on. However, Willie Calhoun and Nicky Lopez are a couple young standouts who are flying under the radar and are worth watching, especially in deep leagues.

Hitting it big on one of these prospects could net you giant gains (just ask anyone who drafted Pete Alonso this season), but the caveat with rookies is they typically come with inconsistent playing time and/or production. Their potential is exciting, but don’t let the hype blind you. It’s always wise to temper expectations, while keeping watch on veterans in stable situations and post-hype stashes, in hopes of nabbing that elusive diamond in the rough. Our featured pundits know exactly what to look for when searching for overlooked performers, so they’ve come together to give you their favorite low-owned pickups of the week.

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Q1. What one starting pitcher should fantasy owners look into picking up that is owned in less than 20% of leagues?

Pablo Lopez (SP – MIA)
“I touted Lopez here last month and have endorsed him as a deep-league add in just about all of my weekly waiver-wire articles. Well, maybe except for the one written after he gave up 10 runs to the Mets. Despite rebounding in resounding fashion with seven shutout innings of one-hit ball, also against the Mets, the remnants of May 10’s calamity remain apparent in his 5.06 ERA. Yet he hasn’t allowed an earned run in three of his other past five turns, and he still boasts spectacular peripherals with a 3.52 FIP, 18.0 K/BB%, and 53.0% groundball rate. He also has a lower xwOBA (.291) than Chris Sale, so I’m still holding out hope on Lopez at least holding his own as a matchup play to stream at Miami in 12-team mixed leagues.”
– Andrew Gould (FantasyPros)

“Every pitcher has the occasional disastrous start that inflates their ratios. Then there’s Lopez, who gave up 10 ERs to the Mets (of all teams) and saw his ERA jump by almost two full runs in one night to 5.93. He wasn’t lighting the world on fire before that game, but a closer look shows that he’s kept three of his last five opponents scoreless and showed resolve by coming back to blank the Mets and hold them to one hit over seven frames five days later. He is at least in the 65th percentile or higher on all major expected stats and holds a 1.17 WHIP on the year despite that blow up. Relative to the other streaming options out there, Lopez is far safer based on job security, ballpark factor, and consistency (again, forget that one game).”
– Pierre Camus (RotoBaller)

Alex Reyes (SP – STL)
“Much like my hitting answer, I’m going with another stash, but this time, it is a minor leaguer, albeit a familiar one. Reyes is back to starting games now that he has returned from a fractured pinky. It was only one game, but he looked filthy and could very well find himself in the St. Louis rotation soon considering their struggles. They limited him to just 70 pitches, but he racked up six Ks while allowing only two hits thanks to a 99 MPH fastball. Although Casey Mize, Jesus Luzardo, and Forrest Whitley each provide reasons for excitement, it should be Reyes who gets the first call, and it is Reyes who has the best stuff.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Jimmy Nelson (SP – MIL)
“Nelson missed all of last year after undergoing shoulder surgery, but his return is imminent. In 2017, he struck out more than 10 batters per nine innings and had a 3.49 ERA, which was supported by both his FIP and xFIP. Pitching for a solid team with a good bullpen and offense, Nelson should not only provide positive ratios, but a good amount of wins too. He gives you the high upside without the low floor that usually comes with waiver-wire pitchers, and should be added immediately in pretty much all leagues.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)

Q2. What one hitter should fantasy owners look into picking up that is owned in less than 20% of leagues?

Raimel Tapia (OF – COL)
“The Rockies may actually be doing something right, as Tapia has started eight of their last nine games. After receiving sporadic chances throughout the last three years, the 25-year-old is proving he belongs by batting .289/.331/.531 with five home runs and a steal in 136 plate appearances. Just 58 of those trips to the batter’s box have come at Coors Field, where he has a .477 wOBA. The Rockies play their next 10 games at home, starting with this weekend’s series against the Orioles, so consider this the last call to grab Tapia before it’s too late.”
– Andrew Gould (FantasyPros)

“I’ve been banging the drum for Tapia for the past two years and it’s finally come to fruition now that he’s getting regular playing time. Tapia hit .290 in May with three HRs and 10 RBIs, then hit .317 with near-identical power numbers. His power upside is limited, but 20 HRs is within reach, and a spot in the Rockies’ lineup is good enough to prop up his R+RBI totals alongside a high average. Tapia hit well above .300 in seven straight minor league stops and fared well in his first taste of the majors before a disappointing, albeit very brief, stint last year. His hit tool is advanced and his team context is excellent — he’s proving to be what we were hoping David Dahl would become.”
– Pierre Camus (RotoBaller)

J.D. Davis (1B/3B – NYM)
“There isn’t anyone I love under 20% ownership except perhaps Kingery, who won’t stay in this range for even another 24 hours. So I’m going to turn to the guy with the most upside as a sort of stash. No, I’m not talking about Kyle Tucker, who will be great in his own right someday; it is Davis. He is getting intermittent playing time despite absolutely massacring baseballs every time he steps on the field. His .391 xwOBA this year would have put him in the top 10 last year and above the likes of Ronald Acuna, Alex Bregman, Francisco Lindor, and many other MVP candidates. Davis qualifies at both 3B and OF, so if an injury should ever happen or the Mets wake up and start using him, we’ve got a top-50 fantasy hitter on our hands.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Jarrod Dyson (OF – ARI)
“There is an outfielder who is third in the league in steals, bats leadoff for a team with a solid offense, and is owned in just 18% of leagues — it’s Dyson. It shouldn’t matter to you that Dyson isn’t a great ballplayer, or that he has never held a regular role in the majors. He’s walking at a 13.6% clip, which has led to an impressive .368 OBP, and he steals at every opportunity. With 12 thefts in the bank and with Wilmer Flores‘ injury moving Ketel Marte to second and clearing Dyson’s path to center field playing time even more, he’s an obvious pickup that should be owned in far more leagues.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)


Thank you to the experts for giving their thoughts on some under-the-radar waiver options. For more info, be sure to follow them on Twitter and subscribe to our fantasy baseball podcast, which is featured below.


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