Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 24
Like children, the MLB season grows up so fast. Only three weeks remain, which mean most head-to-head leagues will start the playoffs if they haven’t done so already. Roto managers, meanwhile, can’t afford many late missteps. Take it from someone who plunged from first place due to a nightmarish week from his pitching staff.
It’s a long season. You’re tired. We’ve all been there. Hang in there, as Week 24 presents some alluring streamers and pick-ups to ride down the finish line. As usual, all of the following players are rostered in under 35% of Yahoo and ESPN leagues, as of Sunday.
Priority Pickups – <35% Rostered
Adam Frazier (2B/OF – PIT): 34%
This should feel familiar. I’ve touted Frazier to obnoxious lengths this preseason after he closed 2018 with an .890 OPS after the All-Star break. While the 27-year-old hasn’t validated my excitement as a consistent mixed-league piece, he’s produced a couple of burning-hot heaters this season. Prior to Sunday, he reached base in 17 straight games, a stretch in which he batted .413 (26-for-63) with four walks, four doubles, three triples, and three homers. Managers in leagues with daily lineup changes should wait until after he encounters fellow southpaw Madison Bumgarner on Monday, as four straight right-handed starters follow.
Jordan Lyles (SP/RP – MIL): 31%
Lyles would have frequented this column last week if not for facing the Astros. He handled the formidable foes with aplomb, ceding two runs over 6.1 frames. That gives the righty a 2.56 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in seven starts since joining the Brewers, who’ll trot out their new de facto ace at Miami on Monday. Lyles is scheduled to conclude a two-start week at St. Louis before facing San Diego next week. The 124 strikeouts in 121 innings make him more than a one-off streamer to deploy against the Marlins.
Seth Lugo (SP/RP – NYM): 31%
Even if you’re reading this in the morning or afternoon, Edwin Diaz somehow just watched another hanging slider sail into the bleachers. He blew two more saves last week, including Tuesday’s devastating collapse in which the Phillies erased a six-run deficit in the ninth. Had the Mets not tallied five runs to start the final frame, Lugo might have stayed in to record a two-inning save. He did just that on Aug. 31. New York doesn’t have enough bullpen depth to use its best reliever exclusively in save situations, but Lugo should be in line for more opportunities while Diaz resumes his Ben Wyatt media blitz.
Gavin Lux (SS – LAD): 31%
Making his highly anticipated debut as a September call-up, Lux has gone a paltry 3-for-20 with one extra-base hit (a double). Taking the glass-half-full approach, the 21-year-old newcomer has started each of the last six games in a crowded Dodgers lineup at second base. One dull week is far too premature to wave the towel on an elite prospect who slashed .392/.478/.719 in Triple-A. With a magic number of two to clinch the NL West, Los Angeles won’t necessarily give Lux a quick hook.
Mike Yastrzemski (OF – SF): 25%
FantasyPros’ Hitting Planner grades San Francisco’s Week 24 schedule as MLB’s second-most favorable behind the White Sox. This seven-game slate features six beatable right-handed starters, cementing Yastrzemski as a high-priority add. While the lefty has actually hit better against southpaws, he’s also slugging .525 against righties. The improbable breakout performer has crushed 10 homers since the start of August and possesses a 120 wRC+ throughout 2019, so he should be rostered regardless of the highly favorable matchups.
Alex Young (SP – ARI): 20%
Eight shutout innings with 12 strikeouts is pretty good. Young had not recorded an out beyond the sixth before dominating the Diamondbacks on Saturday. He accrued 17 combined strikeouts in his previous five turns. The rookie’s 3.38 ERA isn’t supported by a 4.17 FIP and 4.49 SIERA, but a 12.5% swinging-strike rate suggests last weekend’s success wasn’t a mere outlier. Following a relatively neutral matchup against the Mets, Young is in line to face the Marlins next week before closing 2019 with two starts against the Cardinals and Padres. He’s offered enough intrigue to take the plunge in all mixed leagues.
Reynaldo Lopez (SP – CWS): 18%
This comes with the usual Lopez disclaimer: Nobody has any idea of what he’ll do. Maybe he’ll replicate Thursday’s one-hit, 12-strikeout masterpiece against Cleveland. On the other hand, he could just as easily resemble the hurler who relinquished six runs without escaping the first frame in his previous start against Atlanta. To wit, the highly erratic righty has surrendered one run each in two turns versus the Royals, but nine combined in two others. Ample risk tolerance — or a need for quantity overriding the potential of torpedoing your ratios — is required to take a chance on Lopez. As witnessed last week, his upside is hard to match elsewhere on the waiver wire.
Sandy Alcantara (SP – MIA): 16%
Those who didn’t add Alcantara last week missed out on 15 strikeouts and four runs allowed over 16 innings. After failing to transform his talent into punchouts throughout the season, he has compiled at least seven strikeouts in each of his last four outings. There’s still plenty of time in most leagues to stream him at San Francisco, the least conducive venue to home runs and scoring. At this rate, he’s worth keeping around throughout September and targeting late in 2020 drafts.
Kyle Tucker (OF – HOU): 11%
Can we talk about how weird it is that the Astros haven’t given Tucker a full-time starting job yet? Stuck in Triple-A all season, the premier prospect collected 34 homers and 30 steals. Josh Reddick has an 88 wRC+ and 0.4 fWAR. Since joining the majors after rosters expanded, Tucker homered in his first start and homered three times over the weekend. He’s come off the bench in three contests, but perhaps the 22-year-old gets an extended look with the AL West already comfortably in hand. Although George Springer returned to the starting lineup Sunday, there’s little reason to overextend him. They could even try out the youngster at first while Yuli Gurriel nurses a hamstring injury. Or, you know, just play him over Reddick already.
Deep League Targets – <10% Rostered
Dexter Fowler (OF – STL): 9%
The Cardinals start the week with a three-game set at Coors Field, so search the wire for any of their regular hitters. Tommy Edman (44%) and Kolten Wong (40%) didn’t qualify, but they take top priority wherever unclaimed. A more widely available option, Fowler has ridden his 11.5% walk rate to regular leadoff duty for the Redbirds. St. Louis will oppose a right-handed starter for all six games this week, and the switch-hitting outfielder has staked them to a 105 wRC+ this season.
Victor Reyes (OF – DET): 6%
This starts of a clear pattern of exploring the basement for deep September gems. Fringe prospects like Reyes routinely get a chance to play for a future role during the otherwise inconsequential final weeks. Regularly topping Detroit’s lineup card since early August, the 24-year-old is batting .312 with five stolen bases this season. Reyes, who notched 10 homers and steals apiece in 74 Triple-A contests, has smacked seven doubles over his last 11 starts for the last-place Tigers.
Robert Dugger (SP – MIA): 3%
Following consecutive quality starts against the Reds and Pirates, Dugger gets to double-dip for two more turns this week. While the first outing comes against a dangerous Milwaukee lineup, Miami will host at the spacious Marlins Park. The 24-year-old rookie concludes the week at San Francisco’s Oracle Park, one of few (if not the only) better pitching locales. He hasn’t shown much ability to miss bats (7.9% SwSTR, 15.2% K rate), but Duggar is a worthwhile streamer in deep leagues.
Dylan Moore (2B/3B/SS/OF – SEA): 2%
He’s hitting .211 with a 31.9% strikeout rate in 101 games, but Moore stole four of his 11 bases last week and has seven homers on the season. Having played sporadically across the diamond this season, the 27-year-old has settled into a leadoff role at shortstop for the debilitated Mariners.
Josh Naylor (1B/OF – SD): 1%
Nick Martini (OF – SD): 0%
After hosting the Cardinals, the Rockies open their doors to the Padres for another three-game series. Gamers in shallower leagues should search for Wil Myers (51%), and perhaps even the ice-cold Hunter Renfroe (55%) if inserted back into the starting lineup. With all their outfielders struggling, Naylor and Martini have seen more reps recently. Hitting .288/.350/.495 in the second half, Naylor will get a chance to demonstrate his 70-grade raw power against righties at Coors. Martini has mustered 10 hits in his last seven starts, all while batting second. The pure platoon player, however, is not as viable in weekly lineup leagues since San Diego starts the scoring period against Jose Quintana and Cole Hamels.