Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 21
Familiar names grace the top of this week’s waiver-wire recommendations. A handful are established veterans returning to the limelight with health or a new role on their side. Others have appeared in this space before, and one has a last name most baseball fans will recognize. All of them have a consensus rostered rate below 35% as of Monday.
Priority Pickups – <35% Rostered
Oscar Mercado (OF – CLE): 30%
Mercado had graduated beyond this article’s scope, but he fell back into eligibility by going 23 games with two homers and no steals. Many managers appeared to cut bait before he doubled twice Saturday and notched a long ball and two steals Sunday. Despite his earlier slump, the 24-year-old is still batting second in a suddenly stacked Cleveland lineup. Hitting .285 with 10 homers and 11 swiped bags in 79 games, he offers plenty of five-category potential to keep rostered in any mixed league.
Michael Pineda (SP – MIN): 28%
Out two weeks with a right triceps strain, Pineda returned to allow three runs and record six strikeouts in five innings at Texas. He had notched a 3.23 ERA in his last nine starts before the brief absence halted his momentum. Luckily the 30-year-old righty has returned just in time to face the White Sox on Tuesday. If the Twins keep their current rotation in line, he’ll get the feeble AL Central foe again next Tuesday before rounding out a mouth-watering two-start week against the Tigers. Minnesota also plays its final 13 games exclusively against the White Sox, Royals, and Tigers.
Kyle Seager (3B – SEA): 28%
Last week was great for the Seager family. Corey snapped out of an alarming power funk by going yard in three consecutive days. His older brother, however, out-staged him by homering three times last Tuesday and twice more over the weekend. Seattle’s third baseman is now hitting .327 with seven homers this month and 10 deep flies over the last 30 days. Now is it a good time to remember that Kyle Seager was one of baseball’s steadiest power suppliers — tallying 25-30 homers each season from 2014-2017 — before a down 2018. His hard-hit rate (42.3%) represents a personal-high since Statcast began tracking data in 2015.
Mike Yastrzemski (OF – SF): 27%
Touching them all three times in one day is usually a good way to draw attention. Yastrzemski followed the older Seager’s lead by clearing the bases with three home runs Friday night. He has six long balls in his last nine games and 16 in 274 plate appearances. That’s no easy task when playing for the Giants. The 28-year-old now carries a .272 ISO and 121 wRC+ while spending most of his time first or second on the lineup card. Some skepticism is warranted for an outfielder who has spent four years stuck in Triple-A, but he finally broke free by hitting .326/.414/.676 there this season.
Mark Melancon (RP – ATL): 25%
Just about everyone expected Shane Greene to eventually regress. Unfortunately for the Braves, it happened the instant they acquired him from the Tigers. He has permitted seven runs in 7.1 innings, prompting manager Brian Snitker to try another deadline acquisition in the ninth. Melancon has also stumbled with his new club, but the 34-year-old nevertheless picked up three saves last week. While far from the lethal closer of old, the righty has maintained an elite 62.2% ground-ball rate with a strikeout rate (23.5%) one point above his career average. If he keeps up those marks, Melancon will bring his 4.02 ERA closer to his 3.00 FIP and 3.35 SIERA.
Nick Ahmed (SS – ARI): 24%
Ahmed isn’t special in any particular category, but his balanced line adds up to the 74th-ranked hitter on FantasyPros’ Player Rater. He resides ahead of Hunter Dozier, Paul Goldschmidt, Tommy Pham, Domingo Santana, Jean Segura, and Paul DeJong while hitting .274 with 16 homers, seven steals, 67 runs, and 68 RBIs. The rise in batting average is no fluke, as the career .234 hitter has spiked his contact rate two points to 80.4% and slashed his strikeout rate to 17.7%. Since the All-Star break, he’s batting .307 with seven homers, 18 walks, and 16 strikeouts in 34 games. Shortstop has transformed into fantasy baseball’s deepest position, but Ahmed still makes a viable middle infielder in all formats.
Nick Anderson (RP – TB): 20%
He’s not closing in Tampa Bay, but Anderson is certainly dominating. The righty has registered 16 strikeouts over his last seven scoreless innings. Since the start of July, he has posted a 1.04 ERA, 31 strikeouts, and three walks in 17.1 frames. Third in strikeout rate (41.0%) behind Josh Hader and Kirby Yates, he’s valuable in standard leagues even without saves. Even working into a committee would turn him into fantasy gold.
Griffin Canning (SP – LAA): 18%
In his second start back from a short IL stay, Canning stymied the White Sox to one run across seven innings with eight strikeouts. The pedestrian 4.58 ERA and 4.37 FIP are a result of inconsistent play from the neophyte. Other metrics, however, indicates immense upside. The 23-year-old has accrued 96 strikeouts in 90.1 innings with help from a 13.8% swinging-strike rate and 69.5% opposing contact rate. By sitting two weeks to start August, he’s more likely to avoid a September shutdown when head-to-head investors need him the most. This would be a much stronger endorsement if Canning wasn’t scheduled to make his next starts against the Astros and Red Sox.
Luis Arraez (2B/3B/OF – MIN): 12%
Playing time was the only thing getting in the way for Arraez, who has started all but two games this month. While he won’t provide much power or speed, the 22-year-old is hitting a blistering .348 with more walks (24) than strikeouts (16). Batting average has gone from an overused baseball stat to an undervalued component to fantasy success. Chances are your team can use a .300 hitter to complement an army of all-or-nothing sluggers. Arraez’s versatility can keep him in the lineup for both Minnesota and fantasy investors.
Logan Webb (SP – SF): 12%
Webb made a successful big league debut last Saturday, ceding one run with seven strikeouts in five frames. The Giants plan to keep the 22-year-old righty in the rotation. Although San Francisco’s rotation isn’t set, he could make his next starts at Oakland and against the Padres at Oracle Park.
Daniel Hudson (RP – WAS): 10%
The Nationals plan to play the matchups after placing Sean Doolittle on the IL with right knee tendonitis. There’s no must-add, especially since manager Dave Martinez said the injured lefty will reclaim the role once he returns. That said, Hudson has garnered a 2.72 ERA and 58 strikeouts in 56.1 innings. He’s allowed just one run in 8.1 innings since joining Washington this month, so the NL wild-card hopefuls could play the hot hand and give him a couple of save opportunities.
Deep League Targets – <10% Rostered
Tommy Edman (2B/3B – STL): 9%
Matt Carpenter’s return supposedly marked an end to Edman’s run. Maybe not. The latest benefactor of Cardinal Devil Magic has mostly stayed in the lineup, splitting his time between third base and right field. Despite drawing just seven walks in the majors, the 24-year-old rookie continues to regularly bat first or second. He’s swiped all eight stolen-base attempts in 55 games while going deep five times as well. Edman is valuable in deeper leagues as long as St. Louis keeps playing him.
Adrian Houser (SP/RP – MIL): 8%
Houser’s overall numbers should be taken with a grain a salt, as he’s registered a 1.47 ERA in the bullpen compared to a 5.28 ERA as a starter. He has also, however, allowed exactly one run in three of his last four starts. During this stretch, the righty has compiled 25 strikeouts in 23 innings. Houser also holsters a hearty 55.3% ground-ball rate and gets to pitch for a contending squad. He’s worth using in consecutive scheduled turns against the struggling Cardinals.
Austin Nola (C/1B/2B – SEA): 4%
I could only ignore Nola so for long. The 29-year-old is batting .320/.370/.560 with seven home runs in 136 plate appearances. He had never mounted more than six homers in a minor league season before submitting seven in Triple-A prior to his mid-June promotion. Nola also has a .375 BABIP and .290 expected wOBA, so this could merely be a flash in the pan. He’s worth pursuing in leagues that award him catcher eligibility.
Ty France (3B – SD): 1%
France, who batted .399 with 27 homers in Triple-A, has received more playing time since San Diego lost Fernando Tatis Jr. to a likely season-ending back injury. He’s yet to accomplish much (.218/.269/.327) for the Padres, but gamers at least need to keep close tabs on someone who slugged .770 at his last stop. France can turn to teammate Luis Urias for a case of amending an early-career slump after torching minor league pitching.
Jairo Diaz (RP – COL): 0%
Jake McGee (RP – COL): 0%
Scott Oberg is out for the season with a blood clot in his right arm. Given the first crack at reclaiming the ninth inning, Wade Davis surrendered three runs to the Marlins on Sunday. That should compel Colorado to give someone else a chance at closing — preferably someone with an ERA below 6.81.
There’s no option worth pursuing beyond NL-only and truly deep mixed leagues where gamers are desperate for saves. Although a 5.55 FIP lurks beneath a middling 3.86 ERA, McGee’s past closing experience could give him the leg up. Diaz, however, is the more interesting gamble. The 28-year-old righty only sports a 4.75 ERA, but he has tallied 46 strikeouts and 13 walks in 39.2 innings with a 14.4% swinging-strike rate and 3.67 SIERA. He has allowed just two earned runs over his last 10 outings, a carefully selected sample size started right after July 23’s five-run throbbing at Washington. The typical mixed-league manager should stay away from this situation altogether.