Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 12
There aren’t always going to be burgeoning stars sitting on the waiver wire. Many of 2019’s surprising breakouts have already convinced gamers to take the plunge. There’s also not going to be a stud prospect promoted every week.
This week’s recommendations feel light on high-end talent, but that’s a normal development as the season progresses. Managers won’t find as many obvious successes and under-achievers to grab. Instead, they must settle for smoke-in-mirrors hot streaks while getting a bit more creative. Some players highlighted below had more appeal in the preseason or early April before fading, but there’s an opportunity to jump back on board. Injuries open up some more chances, and while none are Yordan Alvarez, some lesser-known prospects could help in deep leagues.
Priority Pickups – <35% Owned
Bryan Reynolds (OF – PIT): 27% Owned
Although not yet one himself, Reynolds has a higher batting average (.361) than every qualified hitter. And yes, it comes with an entirely unsustainable .448 BABIP, the highest among any batter with at least 100 plate appearances. He also hasn’t homered since May 26, so this isn’t Josh Bell 2.0 brewing in Pittsburgh. Still, a rookie with a 158 wRC+ in 51 games can’t go ignored. Due to a 47.2% hard-hit rate, as of Monday, Statcast still credits the 24-year-old with a .307 expected average (xBA). Even if regressing to his .354 xwOBA, Reynolds would still make a productive contributor, one who displayed more power and speed with five dingers and three steals in just 13 Triple-A games this season.
Jordan Lyles (SP – PIT): 27% Owned
Lyles had worked his way into a mixed-league mainstay by posting a 1.97 ERA through eight starts. Since he then relinquished 16 runs in four ensuing starts spanning 18.2 innings, new investors had no qualms discarding the short-lived breakout hurler when a hamstring injury sent him to the IL. It looks to be a short stay, however, as he’s in line to start a rehab assignment after tossing a successful bullpen session over the weekend. Even when accounting for the cold stretch, he’ll still return from the shelf with a 3.64 ERA, 3.67 FIP, and 66 strikeouts in 64.1 innings. Perhaps the injury caused the rough patch just as much as regression to the mean, in which case Lyles could resurface as a top-50 starter to roster in all mixed leagues.
Ramon Laureano (OF – OAK): 26% Owned
A few days ago, I noted Laureano’s similar 2019 numbers (Player B) to Victor Robles (Player A). Besides differing levels of prospect pedigree, Robles made a strong early impression before faltering while Laureano is now earning a second chance from a poor start. Despite possessing plenty of preseason buzz, the late-round pick with a limited track record didn’t stay on many rosters after batting .234/.291/.355 through April.
Sluggish beginning aside, Laureano is on the path to a 20/20 campaign with 10 home runs (four in June) and eight stolen bases. He’s hitting .255 with a .263 xBA as validation. This is the breakout candidate drafters signed up for around the pick-200 range, so ride the inevitable highs and lows resulting from his aggressive approach and enjoy the fruitful final output.
Chris Taylor (2B/SS/OF – LAD): 26% Owned
In light of Corey Seager’s hamstring injury, Taylor has started four of the Dodgers’ last five games at shortstop. While hitting an unsightly .218/.288/.383, the late bloomer collected 38 homers and 28 steals with a 119 wRC+ over the last two seasons. The 28-year-old has maintained his power and speed capability with five long balls and four steals in 210 plate appearances this season, and he gets to hit in baseball’s premier lineup while wielding eligibility at three positions.
Merrill Kelly (SP – ARI): 24% Owned
Kelly enters a two-start week boasting a 0.82 ERA in three June starts. He has issued two walks in those three outings, headlined by a 10-strikeout gem against the Mets on June 2. Don’t expect this run to last in full earnest, but the 30-year-old is a valuable Week 12 option making both starts at home — where he owns a 2.35 ERA — against the Rockies and Giants. Going forward, he’s a serviceable matchup play and a depth piece in deeper mixed leagues.
Ian Kennedy (SP/RP – KC): 21% Owned
Here’s another reminder that save opportunities vary wildly, often without any rhyme or reason. Kennedy notched three of Kansas City’s six saves through May, leading all fantasy managers to either declare a committee or simply not care about the situation. The past two weeks have at least revealed a clear-cut closer, as Kennedy has recorded five saves in the Royals’ last 10 games. Although his 3.72 ERA hardly befits a stud, the 34-year-old righty has recorded 38 strikeouts to five walks in 29 innings, which has yielded a 2.07 FIP. He’s currently the best bet of snagging cheap saves on the wire.
Scott Oberg (RP – COL): 14% Owned
Wade Davis allowed seven runs in three appearances during a wild series at Coors against the Padres. He now has a 5.21 ERA and 1.79 WHIP following back-to-back blown saves. Oberg, meanwhile sports a 1.67 ERA and handled the ninth with aplomb while Davis sat out with a left oblique strain. Davis could be one more bad outing from going back on the IL or getting temporarily reassigned to low-leverage work, in which case Oberg would reclaim the closer’s role.
Sandy Alcantara (SP – MIA): 13% Owned
Alcantara’s 5.8 K-BB% is still grotesque, but he has at least shown some promise to change half of the equation. In three starts this month, the prize of the Marcell Ozuna trade has collected 17 strikeouts in 18 innings. His 11.6% swinging-strike rate, matching Walker Buehler and Brandon Woodruff, justify the recent results far more than his dismal 58 punchouts on 82 frames in 2019. His slider is an excellent swing-and-miss offering, and the sinker does its job by generating stuffings of grounders. The metrics don’t support his 3.73 ERA, but he could start earning that success with some slight command improvements.
Joey Wendle (2B/OF – TB): 11% Owned
Wendle returned from a wrist injury that cost him nearly two months — his second IL stint of the season — Friday and has since started all four games at the bottom of Tampa Bay’s lineup. He has gone 4-for-36 in 12 contests, but give the 29-year-old a chance to reestablish his worth in deeper leagues. Last year’s unheralded AL Rookie of the Year candidate batted .300 with seven homers and 16 steals, and the Rays aren’t giving up on him just yet.
Deep League Targets – <10% Owned
Adbert Alzolay (SP – CHC): 9% Owned
After placing Kyle Hendricks on the IL, the Cubs are considering Alzolay for a spot-start. He’s certainly earned it, amassing 46 strikeouts and six walks in six Triple-A starts with a 3.09 ERA. Given his lack of prospect pedigree entering 2019, managers in dynasty leagues should check the wire to see if he’s unclaimed.
Jalen Beeks (RP – TB): 7% Owned
As long as quality starts aren’t counted, Beeks serves the same fantasy purpose as a starter despite following the opener. He has posted a 2.73 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 56 innings, and the role has led him to five victories despite only once reaching five innings in an outing. Those extra frames from a reliever especially make him valuable in points leagues.
Todd Frazier (3B – NYM): 3% Owned
I wish I could use this space to gush about starting third baseman J.D. Davis, but defensive limitations have limited him to a part-time role. He’s also unlikely to receive a playing-time bump with Dominic Smith vying for the Mets’ fish-out-of-water reps in left field. Following a brutal start in his return from a strained oblique, Frazier has locked down the hot corner by batting .303/.415/.487 since May 17. The 16 walks to 20 strikeouts in 118 plate appearances are particularly encouraging given last year’s decline in each column. He has secured his job and is once again worth rostering as a cheap power source in 15-team mixed leagues or larger.
Zack Collins (C – CWS): 1% Owned
The White Sox are calling up Collins, who hit .250/.374/.482 with nine home runs in 50 Triple-A games. With James McCann performing well behind the plate, the 24-year-old slugger is more likely to receive Yonder Alonso‘s reps as a designated hitter. That would be the perfect scenario for his fantasy worth, as Collins will nevertheless carry catcher eligibility. Although his stock has dwindled since getting selected with the 10th pick in 2016, the lefty will draw plenty of walks while offering 70-grade power. He’s particularly valuable in OBP or points leagues, but Collins is worth a gamble in any two-catcher format.
Logan Allen (SP – SD): 1% Owned
John Cena owes Allen $1. The Padres are promoting the 22-year-old southpaw to make his MLB debut Tuesday against the Brewers. There’s no immediate rush to start Allen, who amassed a 5.15 ERA in Triple-A, but keep an eye on his progress. The prospect has recorded 63 strikeouts in 57.2 innings this season after posting a 2.54 ERA in 2018.
Roman Quinn (OF – PHI): 0% Owned
Activated from a groin injury that sidelined him since April 24, Quinn returns to a Phillies lineup missing Andrew McCutchen and Odubel Herrera. He could get a chance to start regularly in center field. If that’s the case, deep-league managers need to take notice solely because of his legs. Quinn stole 10 bases in 50 games for the Phillies last year and 186 in 441 career minor league games.