Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 10
If you’re like me and the majority of fantasy baseball managers, your team can use better pitching. While some gamers have already found top arms such as Frankie Montas, Mike Minor, and Lucas Giolito on the waiver wire, this season’s home-run bonanza has made it increasingly difficult to locate strong options.
Luckily this week welcomes a few new options. Whether debuting or returning from an injury — some short, in one case after more than a year on the shelf — these pitchers could each turn into an indispensable member of your staff. Let’s look at those hurlers, as well as various other free-agent finds to satiate everyone’s needs.
Priority Pickups – <35% Owned
Zach Plesac (SP – CLE): 33% Owned
Plesac surrendered one run in each of his first two career starts — both on the road — against the Red Sox and White Sox. He submitted seven strikeouts against the latter opponent, which at least offers hope of the 24-year-old maintaining matchup appeal within the AL Central (besides the Twins). Prior to his call-up, the righty reeled in a 1.46 ERA, 56 strikeouts, and seven walks in 57.1 minor league innings. I’m not fully sold on him as a mixed-league mainstay, but there’s enough intrigue to take a chance.
Pedro Strop (RP – CHC): 33% Owned
Strop is expected to join the Cubs during their current homestand. Although carrying a 5.06 ERA when sidelined with a left hamstring injury, one horrid outing (0 IP, 3 ER, 3 BB) right before his IL placement spoiled his season. He posted an ERA below 3.00 in each of the last five seasons and sports a 26.2% strikeout rate over his career. He’s a borderline top-20 closer if he gets save opportunities, but there’s no guarantee he takes the job back from Steve Cishek, who has notched five saves with a 3.00 ERA. The Cubs are also reportedly interested in Craig Kimbrel, who can now be signed without sending a draft pick to Boston as compensation.
Griffin Canning (SP – LAA): 31% Owned
Canning’s ownership is up 10% from last week, so this will be the last week he qualifies if he stays hot in his next two starts against Oakland and Seattle. The 23-year-old rookie has allowed just three hits and compiled five strikeouts in each of his last three turns, yielding his only two runs on solo shots. His swinging-strike rate dropped all the way to 15.6%, a mark exceeded by just five starters with at least 30 innings pitched.
Jorge Alfaro (C – MIA): 31% Owned
Alfaro’s strikeout (4.7%) and walk (32.7%) rates remain eyesores that shouldn’t support a workable batting average, but he’s a career .272 hitter through 679 plate appearances. The 25-year-old is also 12-for-28 with three home runs in his last seven games, so managers might as well accept his flaws and take the power while’s he hot. He’s the 11th-ranked catcher on FantasyPros’ Player Rater.
Jorge Soler (OF – KC): 29% Owned
Soler has 15 home runs. Even in this power-inflated landscape, that’s still a lot. Although he’ll accompany that pop with no speed and a subpar batting average, there’s still value in a possible 30-homer, 90-RBI slugger. Health and playing time have been the main factors stifling him from those goals over the years, but he currently has both as Kansas City’s everyday DH. He’s useful in five-outfielder mixed leagues of any size.
Alex Reyes (SP – STL): 19% Owned
Despite relinquishing three walks and seven runs in his last rehab start, Reyes is still in consideration to return to the Cardinals’ rotation this weekend. The fact that he’s not following Carlos Martinez’s recovery route to the bullpen should be enough for managers to stash the talented righty now.
Some terrible luck has hindered the 24-year-old’s path to stardom. After undergoing Tommy John surgery before the start of 2017, he tore his lat in his first start back with the Cardinals. Three innings into 2019, he landed back on the IL with a finger injury.
Prospect fatigue has likely kicked in by now, tempering the excitement of a former future star who submitted a 1.57 ERA in 46 innings with St. Louis in 2016. Doubt over his role also kept prospective buyers at bay, but news of returning to the rotation should cause more hoopla. While strict pitch counts and innings limit will be the norm in hopes of preventing yet another injury, Reyes could make a major impact — particularly in the strikeout column — in limited work. There’s likely no pitcher with a higher ceiling still on the waiver wire.
Niko Goodrum (1B/2B/3B/SS/OF – DET): 16% Owned
Highlighted here early in the season, Goodrum has snapped out of a rut to bat .310 (18-for-58) with three doubles, two triples, and three homers in his last 12 games. He has maintained a role atop Detroit’s lineup throughout his struggles, which has yielded 30 runs scored. The 27-year-old also has six homers, four steals, a .343 xwOBA, and position eligibility everywhere besides catcher and pitcher in Yahoo leagues. He’s an excellent depth piece who could contribute across the board with some modest batting average growth.
Jimmy Nelson (SP – MIL): 14% Owned
The long wait is over. Nelson will make his first major league start since late 2017 on Wednesday. While nobody should immediately expect the ace who accrued a 3.49 ERA and 199 strikeouts before tearing his labrum two years ago, he proved relatively healthy with a 3.75 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 24 Triple-A rehab innings. Because he comes back to face the Marlins, managers can throw caution to the wind against common convention and toss him right back into the starting lineup.
Danny Santana (OF – TEX): 10% Owned
Joey Gallo’s oblique strain solidifies regular playing time for Santana. While he cooled down considerably from a hot start to hit .241/.323/.397 in May, there’s fantasy value attached to anyone who can steal seven bases in 37 games with some contact and power. The recently recalled Delino DeShields Jr. could also break the bank in steals if given another shot in center field.
Deep League Targets – <10% Owned
Jose Urena (SP – MIA): 9% Owned
This is where I typically nag readers to add Pablo Lopez, but let’s instead shine a light on his Miami rotation mate. Urena has tossed five straight quality starts and eight in his last nine outings. Although he poses an unspectacular 4.14 ERA and 16.3% K rate, only 22 starters have worked more innings than his 72.1. Weirdly enough, he has fared better on the road (3.32 ERA) than in Marlins Park (5.08 ERA), but he’s still better deployed at home going forward, starting with Friday’s tilt against Atlanta.
Luis Urias (2B – SD): 6% Owned
Urias went 2-for-24 with 11 strikeouts in 11 games with the Padres, but he’s decimating Triple-A pitching to a .364/.458/.728 slash line. The 22-year-old middle infielder more known for his bat-to-ball abilities has already belted a season-high 14 home runs in 190 minor league plate appearances. With Ian Kinsler batting .190 for the Friars, Urias should soon receive a second chance.
Anibal Sanchez (SP – WAS): 7% Owned
Sanchez returned from the IL a new man. In his first start back from a hamstring injury, the 35-year-old righty silenced the Braves to one hit over seven scoreless frames. He recorded seven strikeouts and a dozen swinging strikes in just 80 pitches. That’s a far cry from a hurler who opened the season 0-6 with a 5.10 ERA and 1.64 K/BB ratio, but he showed similar promise when posting a 2.83 ERA last year. Those still not sold may nevertheless want to take him out for a test spin Wednesday against the White Sox.
Adrian Sampson (SP – TEX): 4% Owned
Early in the season, Sampson looked like a boring placeholder to ignore beyond AL-only leagues. Then he twirled an 11-strikeout gem Sunday against the Royals. The righty has allowed five runs over his past three starts with 22 strikeouts and one walk in 17.1 innings. Opposing hitters have had no trouble trouncing his sinker, but his slider and changeup have yielded a wOBA of .247 and .235, respectively. Addable in 15-team mixed leagues and larger, Sampson is worth watching for all formats.
Myles Straw (OF – HOU): 2% Owned
Straw made quite the impact in his second career start, collecting three hits, runs, and stolen bases apiece as Houston’s leadoff hitter. Having swiped 70 bags last season and 16 prior to his promotion, he could be Billy Hamilton with a better OBP if given steady playing time. The 24-year-old, however, will have to claw for reps even before the Astros promote Kyle Tucker and/or Yordan Alvarez and get back a healthy George Springer. Straw is still worth a gamble for anyone who needs speed in deep leagues.