Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 19
Last week offered a painful reminder about the volatility of pitchers on the waiver wire.
A few tantalizing options offered the best bounty of available hurlers in a while, but they quickly fizzled. Asher Wojciechowski fell hard (4.2 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 3 BB) in a favorable matchup against the Blue Jays, which he left early with a hip injury. While he won’t miss time, he’s scheduled to make his next three starts against the Yankees (twice) and Red Sox. Jose Urquidy is out of the rotation after the Astros acquired two starters, one of whom can still be added in most mixed leagues. Reynaldo Lopez didn’t implode in a two-start week, but he came awfully close by yielding 20 baserunners in 10.2 innings.
That leads many managers back to the drawing board in hopes of finding another serviceable arm. It’s no easy task, but a few options frequent this week’s recommendations.
More players than usual narrowly missed the cutoff mark of 35% rostered, per FantasyPros’ consensus rate as of Monday. Check to see if Jesus Aguilar (43%), Archie Bradley (39%), Bo Bichette (38%), Jeff Samardzija (38%), Alex Wood (37%), and Jason Heyward (35%) are still available before proceeding to these options.
Priority Pickups – <35% Rostered
Zac Gallen (SP – ARI): 31%
The trade deadline’s most surprising deal saw the Marlins swap Gallen to the Diamondbacks for shortstop prospect Jazz Chisholm. Despite escaping a last-place club that couldn’t offer any run support, leaving Miami’s spacious pitching park doesn’t help the rookie starter’s fantasy outlook. It doesn’t necessarily hurt his stock either, as Chase Field has played as a neutral park with the humidor. It’s still bizarre to see a promising newcomer qualify for this article in a pitching-scarce market while sporting a 2.72 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 36.1 innings. Gallen has held his own against the ferocious Dodgers and Twins after the All-Star break, so trust him as a top-50 starter.
Corey Dickerson (OF – PHI): 31%
One of the deadline’s best thrift finds, the Phillies plucked Dickerson for the Pirates to bolster their depleted outfield. The 30-year-old outfielder, who missed two months with a shoulder injury, has produced just about the quietest .316/.372/.564 slash line. His first start couldn’t have gone much better, as he went 2-for-5 with a home run from the leadoff spot. Dickerson should at least play regularly against righties, whom he holds a career 125 wRC+ against, and deliver both efficiency and counting numbers atop a capable lineup.
Scott Oberg (RP – COL): 29%
The Rockies finally demoted Wade Davis from the closer role. All it took was a five-run outburst bloating his ERA to 6.82. Oberg, who filled in for an injured Davis earlier this season, took the seat for himself by recording his fourth save Friday night. While Davis just got tagged for a five-spot in one frame, Oberg has yielded five runs total since May 6. He has 54 strikeouts in 53 innings while handling Coors Field (1.52 ERA) well. Grab him in all formats.
Brad Keller (SP/RP – KC): 28%
Maybe this is just a hot hand rather than a sustained breakout, but let’s not ignore Keller posting a 2.29 ERA in his last five starts. He has coughed up four home runs but issued as many walks while going at least seven innings four times. He has also shown more whiff ability than his season’s 6.52 K/9 with three seven-strikeout performances during that span. It’s one thing to excel at home against the Tigers, White Sox, and Blue Jays, but he held the Twins to two runs away from Kansas City on Sunday. Even those not buying into this run should consider Keller a high-end streamer for Friday’s turn at Detroit.
Gio Urshela (3B – NYY): 24%
Urshela barely remained one of the last Yankees hitters standing when fouling two pitches off his leg in the same excruciating at-bat Sunday night. He eventually left the game after hobbling his way back into the box, and the third baseman sat out Monday with soreness. Yet X-rays came back negative, so he should avoid a lengthy absence. If he does, injuries to Luke Voit and Edwin Encarnacion preserve a long-term spot for Urshela at the hot corner with D.J. LeMahieu handling first base. The 27-year-old has earned it by hitting .314/.359/.522 with 12 homers in 92 games. Urshela has recorded a hit in each of his last 11 starts, and that includes plenty of bump in the form of eight doubles and three home runs. Those who missed out on LeMahieu’s breakout still have a chance to receive the discount version.
Seth Lugo (SP/RP – NYM): 17%
Lugo resided here last week amid intensifying rumors of the Mets shopping Edwin Diaz. While the struggling closer stayed put, Mickey Callaway wouldn’t commit to him maintaining the role after relinquishing at least one run in four of his last five outings. Lugo, on the other hand, has held opponents scoreless in 15.2 innings since the start of July. Callaway reversed course Monday, but Lugo recorded a six-out save later that evening after Diaz closed out the doubleheader’s first win. Although he might be better served in a more flexible role, Lugo is the only logical candidate to replace Diaz if the Mets remove him from the ninth.
Kevin Kiermaier (OF – TB): 16%
Come on, did you really think Kiermaier was going to avoid the IL all year? On the bright side, he only missed the minimum 10 days with a sprained thumb. In his first game back, the 29-year-old outfielder deposited his 11th home run of 2019. He has also stolen 17 bases, a mark exceeded by just nine players. Kiermaier doesn’t need to hit for a high average to contribute in five-outfielder formats.
Leury Garcia (SS/OF – CWS): 16%
Here are some players Garcia leads on FantasyPros’ Player Rater: Michael Conforto, Paul DeJong, Rhys Hoskins, Hunter Renfroe, and Jean Segura. He’s hitting .287 with seven homers, 12 steals, and 69 runs atop the White Sox lineup. Even if the high batting average is unlikely to last for the career .257 hitter with a .250 expected average (xBA), he remains a sneaky source of runs and steals with dual-position eligibility.
Joe Jimenez (RP – DET): 15%
Jimenez appears to be Detroit’s new closer in light of Shane Greene going to Atlanta. Nobody knows for sure, as the Tigers haven’t had a save opportunity since the trade. In fact, Greene registered his last save on June 29 after improbably recording 10 in April. Jimenez has a 4.93 ERA, but the 32.6 K% and 3.36 SIERA will keep some dreaming of his stuff finally yielding more tangible results.
Aaron Sanchez (SP – HOU): 11%
Sanchez left the Blue Jays with a 6.07 ERA, but gamers still gambled on the Astros finding a way to fix him. So far, so good. In his first start with his next club, he worked the first six innings of a combined no-hitter. Per Brooks Baseball, Sanchez threw his curveball a season-high 30% of the time Saturday against Seattle. This start a complete miracle, as he had accrued 16 strikeouts and zero walks and displayed plenty of high-end upside when posting a 3.00 ERA in 2016. Take a flier on Houston’s latest reclamation project.
Deep League Targets – <10% Rostered
Giovanny Gallegos (RP – STL): 8%
Gallegos has emerged as one of baseball’s best middle relievers by garnering a 2.09 ERA with 73 strikeouts and 11 walks in 51.2 innings. He has gone six outings without relinquishing a hit and 10 since last allowing a run. There’s no indication of him factoring into the saves picture, but the 27-year-old righty can still help with strikeouts and ratios.
Isan Diaz (2B/SS -MIA): 5%
The Marlins promoted Diaz for Monday’s doubleheader against the Mets, and he promptly took Jacob deGrom yard in his debut. Although he may never escape the unfair pressured attached to getting traded for Christian Yelich, the 23-year-old middle infielder batted .305/.378/.578 with 26 home runs and five steals in Triple-A. Miami might as well give him reps over the final two months, and fantasy managers should see if his five-category upside can immediately translate.
Matt Thaiss (1B/3B – LAA): 5%
The former first-round pick has notched five homers with a .518 SLG in 19 games with the Angels. Thaiss is also hitting .214 with a 35.5% strikeout rate and .276 xwOBA, so don’t get too excited. An injury to Andrelton Simmons, however, ensures the rookie regular starts at third base with David Fletcher sliding over to shortstop. There’s at least some pop to squeeze out of Thaiss.
J.D. Davis (3B/OF – NYM): 4%
Starting regularly in left field in place of Dominic Smith, Davis is batting .300/.369/.498 with 12 home runs in 293 plate appearances. A 48.7% hard-hit rate and .382 xwOBA (as of Monday) point to continued excellence, and playing time is even more secure with Jeff McNeil moving back to second base to replace the injured Robinson Cano. Despite his low ownership rate, Davis is also worth grabbing in most 12-team mixed leagues.
Drew Smyly (SP – PHI): 4%
After getting chased out of Texas, Smyly has amassed 20 strikeouts in three starts with the Phillies. Those who turned his way after allowing one combined run to the Pirates and Giants watched him get gashed to five by the White Sox on Sunday. The good news? He’s scheduled to pick on the Giants again at Oracle Park this week. His ERA is 7.01, so you’re still playing with fire on a high-risk, high-reward streamer.
Daniel Norris (SP – DET): 2%
At this point, Norris may be a post-post-hype sleeper. Entering the majors to much fanfare in 2014, he recently seemed destined for a bullpen move when submitting ERAs of 5.31 and 5.68 in 2017 and 2018, respectively. He has rebounded to a more respectable 4.67 ERA this season. After matching a season-high eight strikeouts against the Mariners, he threw five scoreless frames against the Angels last Wednesday. The 26-year-old wields a 64% first-pitch strike and 11.5% swinging-strike rate after the All-Star break, so Norris could at least be settling down into a decent depth piece.