Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 20
As proven by the Giants, Mets, and Indians, there’s still plenty of time to climb the standings. Perhaps that doesn’t apply to every fantasy league, especially a rotisserie format where a superteam has run away from the pack. However, just like in MLB, most fantasy leads aren’t as insurmountable as some may think.
Time may be running out, but we haven’t crossed the finish line just yet. You never know who’s going to hit 10 home runs in two weeks or have a remarkable finish a la Zack Wheeler and German Marquez in 2018. It’s already too late to grab some of those players for the purpose of this column, which requires all players to hold a consensus rostered rate below 35%, as of Monday. Gio Urshela (51%), Mike Tauchman (47%), Aristides Aquino (40%) all skyrocketed over that cutoff point. Give those sizzling hitters top priority if still available.
Priority Pickups – <35% Rostered
J.D. Davis (3B/OF – NYM): 30%
Davis’ rostered rate has rapidly ascended since highlighted a deep-league option last week. This should be the last chance to grab him anywhere. The 26-year-old has locked down regular playing time in left field, and that won’t change anytime soon with Dominic Smith optimistically looking at an early-September return. Davis continues to crush, batting .307/.372/.521 with 14 home runs in 312 plate appearances. His .319 expected batting average (xBA) and .394 xwOBA, per Baseball Savant, are even better than the riveting reality. Now frequently batting fifth with four long balls in his last eight games, Davis needs to be rostered everywhere.
Jason Kipnis (2B – CLE): 30%
An important disclaimer: This is highly unlikely a case of Kipnis turning a new leaf. Hitting .305/.370/.495 after the All-Star break has merely brought his mediocre 87 wRC+ closer to last year’s 89. This is simply a case of riding a hot hand who has reached base in each of his last 12 games. See if there’s any more value to squeeze out of the 32-year-old second baseman — preferably in deeper leagues — before the bottom falls out again.
Christian Walker (1B – ARI): 28%
Walker may have slowed down from his 150 wRC+ through April, but the rookie has remained a viable fantasy presence. He’s batting .263/.352/.479 with 20 homers. Among all eligible first basemen, only Danny Santana has stolen more bases than Walker’s seven. This seems like a good time to highlight the unheralded performer, as Arizona has two more games in Coors Field this week.
Seth Lugo (SP/RP – NYM): 25%
Everything is suddenly going right for the Mets … except for Edwin Diaz. The closer faltered once more on Sunday, relinquishing his fourth home run in six outings. They were already trailing by one before Diaz widened the deficit in the ninth inning, and Yahoo Sports’ Matt Ehalt reported that the Mets planned to use Lugo if they instead had a lead to protect. Even if he doesn’t take full custody of the closer’s job, Lugo is at least positioned to get some save chances over Diaz down the stretch.
Aaron Civale (SP – CLE): 22%
Who needs Trevor Bauer when you got Aaron Civale? The 24-year-old has worked six innings in each of his first three major league starts, ceding two combined runs with 18 strikeouts. He had previously accrued 70 strikeouts to 15 walks in 63 innings for Cleveland’s Double-A and Triple-A affiliates. While the righty definitely won’t sustain this success without improving his 81.8% contact and 8.1% swinging-strike rates, Civale is at least worth watching closely given Cleveland’s reputation for developing pitchers. However, don’t toss him into starting lineups for a scheduled trip to Yankee Stadium this Thursday,
Dinelson Lamet (SP – SD): 20%
Those who overlooked the returning Lamet quickly received a reminder of his upside when he notched 12 strikeouts in last Tuesday’s win over the Mariners. In seven starts back from Tommy John surgery, the 27-year-old has registered a 3.89 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 35 innings. The 16 walks remain a concern, and these lingering troubles probably cap his ceiling to that of a right-handed Robbie Ray. That’s fine for someone available in four-fifths of ESPN and Yahoo leagues. There’s plenty to like beyond the iffy command, as he has upped his average fastball velocity while inducing a tremendous 69.0% contact rate and 13.9% swinging-strike rate.
Cal Quantrill (SP – SD): 17%
Prospective buyers should not expect Quantrill to maintain a 3.21 ERA with a 3.94 FIP, 4.54 SIERA, and 57 strikeouts in 70 innings. He doesn’t need to, however, in order to hold mixed-league relevancy. Besides, it’s awfully tough to ignore a 0.93 ERA in his last five starts, especially since that stretch includes games against the Braves, Cubs, and Dodgers. The 24-year-old rookie went four of those turns without relinquishing a walk, and an 11.2% swinging-strike rate hints at more strikeout upside.
Francisco Mejia (C – SD): 17%
The fantasy community would have collectively lost its mind if Meja hit .336/.381/.536 on sight of arrival. That’s instead Mejia’s slash line since rejoining the Padres on June 19. Since it followed 134 disappointing plate appearances scattered across three seasons, most gamers have been slow to notice or care. Once viewed as baseball’s premier hitting prospect behind the plate, he is quietly beginning to warrant the hype at the ripe old age of 23. Mejia also pulverized Triple-A pitching to a 163 wRC+ before working his way back to San Diego, where he’s starting most days and batting .280. The strong combination of recent results and upside make him worth deploying in single-catcher leagues.
Evan Longoria (3B – SF): 15%
One of baseball’s hottest hitters in early July, Longoria launched six home runs in nine games before landing on the injured list due to plantar fascitis. The three-week absence has not iced his scorching bat; he’s gone 9-for-27 with a double and homer since returning on August 4. Take the 33-year-old third baseman out for a spin after he submitted five of those hits over the weekend.
Derek Law (RP – TOR): 11%
A frustrating pattern of late, Ken Giles was not available to pitch last weekend due to recurring elbow soreness. Law filled the void by recording the third save of 2019. The 28-year-old holsters an unsettling 4.95 ERA and 12.6% walk rate, but he appears to be first in line for saves if the Blue Jays place Giles back on the IL. Despite his ugly overall numbers, Law has allowed just three hits and no runs in his last 12.1 innings pitched.
Deep League Targets – <10% Rostered
Mike Montgomery (SP/RP – KC): 2%
Seven shutout innings with 12 strikeouts and no walks are going to draw attention. Even if it’s from a pitcher with a 5.19 ERA who faced the Tigers. Before that masterful gem, Montgomery limited the far mightier Red Sox to two runs over five innings with seven punchouts on August 5. The lefty drew a massive 35 whiffs in those two turns, per Brooks Baseball, so deep-league gamers should keep close tabs on Montgomery for Friday’s upcoming turn against the Mets.
Dillon Peters (SP – LAA): 2%
This is more of a short-term recommendation, as Peters is scheduled to face the Pirates and White Sox (both at home) this week. A 5.26 FIP clouds any excitement that his 3.45 ERA may spark, but he’s an intriguing streamer after tossing consecutive quality starts with 13 strikeouts and one walk at Cleveland and Boston.
Joe Ross (SP – WAS): 2%
This is a stretch considering Ross has not brought his ERA under 5.00 since sporting a 3.43 mark in 2016. It’s currently a perilous 6.75 due to a woeful bullpen stint, but the 26-year-old has blanked the Diamondbacks and Giants in back-to-back starts. He now has 21 strikeouts in his last 21.1 innings since unveiling a curveball that has corralled a 24.1% swinging-strike rate. There’s some potential for a bounce-back finish if Ross can harness this new offering as a lethal complement to his slider.
Joshua Rojas (2B/SS – ARI): 1%
Prior to Monday’s promotion, Rojas batted .332/.418/.608 with 23 homers and 33 steals in the minors. After getting traded from the Astros to Diamondbacks in the Zack Greinke deal, the 25-year-old quickly forced his way to the majors by registering 18 hits (eight extra-base hits) and a 1.518 OPS in eight Triple-A contests. Even before massively elevating his prospect stock this season, the middle infielder still swiped 38 bases last year while fostering a superb batting eye. While his role is uncertain, Rojas is a flier well worth taking just in case he becomes this year’s version of Jeff McNeil.
Travis Demeritte (OF – DET): 1%
Demeritte has delivered one homer, two steals, and a 113 wRC+ in 11 games since his promotion. He’ll keep playing every day in Detroit’s outfield with JaCoby Jones ruled out for the season. Having swatted 20 homers in 96 games for Atlanta’s Triple-A affiliate before getting moved for Shane Greene, Demeritte offers power as a three-true-outcomes slugger.