Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 13
Remember when it was possible to find good starting pitching on the waiver wire?
Perhaps limiting the search to a consensus rostered rate below 35% is causing extra difficulty. Some worthwhile options such as Andrew Heaney (48%), Tyler Skaggs (41%), and Zac Gallen (36%) remain claimed in under half of Yahoo and ESPN leagues. When looking deeper, however, it’s tough to find viable streamers and far tougher to locate impact arms for the long haul. Take it from someone still scrambling to replace Tyler Glasnow, Luis Severino, Noah Syndergaard, and Caleb Smith in his main league.
Few of the pitchers recommended below are currently in a big league rotation. Most are relievers given an expanded probability of snatching save opportunities. A couple of others are elite young talents who can vault into serious difference-makers if given the chance. But with even the so-called aces struggling, there’s more hitting talent simmering on the wire.
Priority Pickups – <35% Rostered
Carlos Martinez (SP/RP – STL): 33% Rostered
Jordan Hicks has a torn UCL, so saves are up for grabs in St. Louis. General manager John Mozeliak identified John Gant as their best alternative over the weekend, so add him now wherever still available. Martinez, however, picked up a two-inning save on June 16. The team debunked a move back to the rotation, so the former ace is also worth grabbing as a speculative closing candidate.
Chris Taylor (2B/SS/OF – LAD): 31% Rostered
Since getting highlighted here last week, Taylor has gone 11-for-24 with three walks, three doubles, and three home runs. That should lock down his spot as the Dodgers’ starting shortstop with Corey Seager sidelined. He has power, speed, a great supporting lineup, and multi-position eligibility.
Christian Vazquez (C – BOS): 31% Rostered
Batting .291 with 10 homers, Vazquez checks in as FantasyPros’ eighth-rated catcher this season. He leapfrogs Wilson Ramos for seventh on ESPN’s Player Rater. The 28-year-old has touched them all three times during an ongoing 10-game hitting streak. Vazquez may not keep this contact/power pairing in full earnest, but he’s worth starting in any single-catcher mixed league.
Liam Hendriks (RP – OAK): 26% Rostered
After Hendriks recorded his first save of 2019, Oakland placed Blake Treinen on the IL with a mild rotator calf strain. With recent struggles bloating Lou Trivino’s ERA to 5.00, the 30-year-old Hendriks should keep getting save opportunities as long as Treinen is sidelined. Although prone to his ups and downs, the 30-year-old righty currently wields a 1.49 ERA and 1.01 WHIP with 50 strikeouts in 42.1 innings. There’s no guarantee Treinen returns promptly, so grab him Hendriks in hopes of at least attaining a short-term upgrade.
Danny Santana (2B/OF – TEX): 23% Rostered
Batting .309 with eight home runs and nine steals, Santana rates higher than Andrew Benintendi, Victor Robles, and Lorenzo Cain as the OF37, as of Monday. After cooling down considerably in May, he’s hitting .344 with a .411 wOBA in June. The Rangers’ roster is going to get awfully crowded if Joey Gallo and Hunter Pence make their scheduled returns this week, but they may no longer be inclined to relegate Santana to a bench role.
Julio Urias (SP/RP – LAD): 22% Rostered
I’d rather add Stripling, whose 44% ownership rate makes him ineligible for this column. While Urias made Thursday’s start in place of the injured Rich Hill, he worked three innings as an extended opener of sorts. Yet the 22-year-old has tossed 11 consecutive scoreless frames and notched five strikeouts in last week’s brief gem against San Francisco. The ace upside remains, as demonstrated when given the chance to start early in the season. Stripling looks poised to start Tuesday, but Urias’ potential makes him worth a speculative flier.
Logan Allen (SP – SD): 21% Rostered
Allen, who tossed seven shutout innings in his MLB debut, will look for an encore against the Orioles on Tuesday. He’s at least an interesting streamer against an offense ranked 26th in wOBA, as of Monday. He began his Padres tenure with five strikeouts and a 30% CSW (call strikes plus whiffs) rate versus a far tougher Milwaukee lineup.
Jesus Luzardo (SP – OAK): 20% Rostered
Depending on the league, managers might be able to wait another week to grab Luzardo. Some might not want to risk it, as he has accrued 16 strikeouts in 10.1 minor league innings. The 21-year-old looked poised to open 2019 in Oakland’s rotation before suffering a shoulder strain in March. MLB.com’s No. 15 prospect, who posted a 3.05 ERA and 10.6 K/9 in the farm last year, garnered recognition as a pro-ready talent this spring. He has reached 99 mph during his rehab and could make his big league debut in July.
Emilio Pagan (RP – TB): 20% Rostered
Diego Castillo is out with shoulder inflammation, and Jose Alvarado hasn’t pitched since June 1. That makes Pagan Tampa Bay’s most likely closing candidate at the moment. Just beware, however, that the Rays may simply toss other hurlers into a committee. Even with Castillo and Alvarado in the fold, Pagan has been one of fantasy’s fiercest secret weapons, boasting a 1.23 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 25.2 K-BB% with four saves and two wins. His 17.0% swinging-strike rate ranks 10th among all qualified relievers, as of Monday evening.
Brian Anderson (3B/OF – MIA): 19% Rostered
Anderson has recovered from a lethargic start to hit .309/.398/.580 with five home runs in June. After accruing a 22.6% strikeout rate in May, he has repaired the mark to 16.1% this month. While his batting average has dwindled to .255, the career .264 hitter has tapped into more power with a significant rise in launch angle and hard hits. He has also snagged a career-high four steals and played in 75 of Miami’s 76 games, so Anderson is once again an underrated compiler who could end the season batting .260 with 20 homers, 70 RBIs, and a handful of steals. The 26-year-old is a steady depth piece in mixed leagues that start five outfielders and/or a corner infielder.
Adam Plutko (SP – CLE): 14% Rostered
Plutko had permitted one run in four innings against the Royals on an economical 34 pitches before a lengthy rain delay derailed his evening. While gamers certainly shouldn’t trust a starter with a 6.18 FIP for the long haul, he has issued three walks in six starts and gets another favorable opponent in the Orioles this weekend.
Michael Lorenzen (RP – CIN): 10% Rostered
Lorenzen picked up two saves early last week instead of Raisel Iglesias, who appeared each time in a higher-leverage role. Back in March, Reds manager David Bell said he’d be open to using his star lefty outside the ninth inning, but he had mostly used Iglesias as a traditional closer. If he continues to follow through on his early plans, Lorenzen appears to be the benefactor. The righty has notched a 2.83 ERA with 38 strikeouts in 39.1 innings. He has pitched far better than his 3.82 FIP, but that was also the case last year, when he posted a 3.11 ERA and 4.16 FIP. He has since improved his strikeouts and walks while lowering his opposing contact rate by 9.3%. Managers who roster Iglesias should especially look to add Lorenzen just in case the save opportunities continue to transfer.
Deep League Targets – <10% Rostered
Tyler Mahle (SP – CIN): 9% Rostered
Mahle is still massively under-owned for a starter with a higher K-BB% than Clayton Kershaw, Jose Berrios, and all but 16 qualified starters. He bounced back from a rough string of starts by stifling the Astros to two runs over seven innings last Wednesday, lowering his ERA to 4.17. He’s a strong mixed-league streamer and a mainstay in deeper formats.
Brendan Rodgers (2B/SS – COL): 9% Rostered
Garrett Hampson (2B – COL): 7% Rostered
A week after getting demoted, Rodgers rejoined the Rockies to replace the injured Trevor Story. The rookie has gone 0-for-10 with five strikeouts since the recall, lowering his dismal early slash line to .224/.270/.250. However, that’s only 81 plate appearances of data from an elite 22-year-old prospect who registered a 150 wRC+ in Triple-A. The Rockies get six games at Coors Field after opening the week at San Francisco.
Like Rodgers, Hampson has squandered his early opportunities in Colorado. Because Rodgers isn’t running away with the job, Hampson brings his -1.0 WAR and 13 wRC+ back to the bigs as insurance. He hardly dominated in Triple-A (.266/.310/.422), but the 24-year-old put his blazing speed back on display by swiping seven bases in 26 games. A career .311 hitter in the minors who has swiped 125 bases in the past three years, there’s still hope of Hampson contributing in deep leagues if given playing time.
Matt Adams (1B – WAS): 2% Rostered
Adams is hitting .254 with a .287 OBP and 30.7% strikeout rate, but he’s also slugging .521 with 10 dingers in 150 plate appearances. Starting regularly against righties, he has gone deep four times in the last seven games. He’s one slump away from getting lost in the shuffle — especially when Ryan Zimmerman returns from a foot injury — but can help in the short term as a powerful corner infielder in 15-team mixed leagues.