Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Jon Gray, Paul Sewald, Alex Cobb
It’s a weird week on the fantasy baseball waiver. With MLB action resuming Friday, managers don’t have as much new data to process. Those in FAB leagues also may want to save their funds for after the July 31 trade deadline.
As a result, many players are re-runs from last week’s column. However, some major news transpired right out of the All-Star break. The Mariners re-called Jarred Kelenic, and fellow star outfield prospect Jarren Duran made his big-league debut for the Red Sox. Both are top-priority adds wherever still available.
A splashy upstart won’t remain unclaimed for long, but that’s not the case for many boring veterans and former prospects whose luster has waned.
Note: Rostered rates are from Yahoo leagues as of Monday night. Stats updated as of Monday.
FABulous Four: Top Waiver Targets
Jon Gray (SP – COL): 38%
Nobody in their right mind started Gray at home against the Dodgers on Sunday. In Gray’s typical unpredictable fashion, he took the opportunity to pitch a gem, stymieing them to two runs over seven frames. Before the break, he held the red-hot Padres to one run at San Diego.
Despite his unforgiving home park, the righty has helped anyone brave enough to deploy him by posting a 3.68 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and 87 strikeouts in 93 innings. A 3.99 FIP marks his best since 2017.
This normally still wouldn’t be enough to highlight a Rockies pitcher. However, less than two weeks remain before the trade deadline. The Rockies are 13 games out of third place in the NL West, and Gray is a free agent this offseason. It will certainly be interesting to see what he can accomplish away from Coors Field. Add Gray now in case he finds the perfect landing spot (*coughs* Dodgers).
Paul Sewald (RP – SEA): 26%
Sewald picked up saves in his last appearance before the break and his first outing of the second half. He then relinquished two runs in the ninth inning of a non-save situation Sunday, snapping a scoreless streak dating back to June 1. Setback aside, Sewald has a 2.00 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 27 innings. He’s yielded one walk in his last 10 outings, and the Mariners have rewarded him with opportunities to close. He’s missing more than enough bats to contribute even without saves, so there’s little risk to grabbing Sewald before getting a clearer read on Seattle’s closer situation.
Alex Cobb (SP – LAA): 28%
Cue the Michael Scott “It’s finally happening” GIF? After teasing us with ups and downs — and gaudy peripherals all the while — through three months, Cobb has allowed two earned runs (four total) in his last three starts. He’s lowered his season ERA to 3.96, still considerably higher than a 2.66 FIP that ranks eighth (right ahead of Brandon Woodruff, Tyler Glasnow, and Gerrit Cole) among starters with at least 70 innings pitched.
Now some caveats. His July success has come against the Orioles and Mariners. He also issued seven walks in his two starts against Seattle. The splitfinger can abandon him at any time, leaving us on the hook for a five-run outing just as we begin to get comfortable starting Cobb. But this is a starter with a 26.2% strikeout rate and 3.60 SIERA. Cobb is too good to leave on the waiver wire. (Also, I’m going to repeat this every time, even if only three readers get the reference: “CornCobb TV” makes a great new team name.)
Paul DeJong (SS – STL): 27%
Dejong went into the break batting a putrid .185, but he concluded the first half by going deep in back-to-back games. The pause didn’t mess with his momentum; the shortstop has six hits — including his 13th homer of the season — in three games. While the career .245 hitter isn’t going to help your batting average, he can certainly do damage when right. DeJong tallied 30 homers and nine steals in his last full season, and the 27-year-old currently boasts a career-high 11.5% barrel rate. He also may work his way back up the Cardinals’ batting order by staying hot. Look out for a bounce-back second half.
Priority Pickups – <35% Rostered
Joc Pederson (OF – ATL): 34%
Pederson has a pair of two-hit games (two singles, a double, and a home run) in two starts since getting traded to Atlanta. He batted leadoff each time, which was often the case with the Cubs as well.
The move doesn’t help or hurt him drastically. Pederson goes from batting ahead of Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo to setting the table for Ozzie Albies and Freddie Freeman. Yet with Ronald Acuna Jr. and Marcell Ozuna out of the picture, Atlanta might not be able to relegate Pederson to a platoon role. That’s not a major problem; he’s batting .290 with a .370 OBP and 23.3% strikeout rate in 73 plate appearances against lefties this season.
Wily Peralta (SP – DET): 33%
Not all fantasy managers are buying Peralta’s unforeseen dominance, as he remains rostered in just one-third of Yahoo leagues despite allowing one run over his last five starts. That’s the right call.
The righty hadn’t started in the majors since 2017 before joining Detroit’s rotation in June. There’s no reason to believe his 1.64 ERA lasts. He has just 20 strikeouts to 11 walks in 33 innings, leading to a 4.23 FIP and 4.74 SIERA. Peralta is mostly here because some gamers will want to know what to make of him. This could end horribly, but feel free to ride the hot hand in his next scheduled start against the light-hitting Royals.
Jed Lowrie (2B – OAK): 29%
As a Mets fan, it feels inevitable that Lowrie rebounded to an above-average hitter after recording zero hits during his two years in Queens. Now back with Oakland, he’s precisely who the Mets wanted. The 37-year-old is batting .268/.338/.432 with 11 home runs and a .335 wOBA. Unable to break the bank in a single category, the second baseman is the type of player ignored in fantasy leagues. He still provides plenty of value in a league with deeper lineups.
Logan Webb (SP – SF): 22%
Last week’s analysis still applies for Webb, who wields a 3.54 ERA, 3.14 FIP, and 60 strikeouts in 56 innings this season. There’s no rush to grab him in standard leagues, though, as he’s scheduled to square off against the Dodgers this week. It’s worth stashing the 24-year-old on your bench now in deeper leagues; Webb could be one strong start away from receiving mainstream attention.
Tylor Megill (SP – NYM): 18%
Megill opened eyes by compiling 26 strikeouts in 18 major-league innings before the break. While he procured only two Saturday, he also allowed no walks or runs in a career-high six innings. That marks a major step toward shall0w-league viability for the 25-year-old newcomer, who now has a 2.63 ERA and 2.05 xERA through five starts. Opponents have a .156 wOBA against his slider. If it wasn’t clear before, Megill has earned a permanent spot in a Mets rotation now missing Jacob deGrom.
Brendan Rodgers (2B/SS – COL): 12%
Rodgers is a Rockies hitter receiving regular reps. (Say that five times fast.) That’s enough in some spots. Although yet to truly break out, the 24-year-old is batting a respectable .259/.329/.415 with only an 18.9% strikeout rate. He will especially be locked in Colorado’s lineup if the beleaguered franchise moves Trevor Story later this month.
Tanner Houck (SP – BOS): 12%
Houck was a popular preseason sleeper after posting a 0.53 ERA in three starts last September. Despite uncertainty regarding his role, he again showed promise when opening 2021 with an eight-strikeout start against Baltimore. He then sat out three months with a right flexor injury, falling out of sight and out of mind.
Remember the name again. Houck successfully returned Friday to record a three-inning save, allowing one hit and no runs. The 25-year-old could pile up the strikeouts as a long reliever before potentially getting stretched back out into a rotation role. Either scenario is intriguing.
Brandon Marsh (OF – LAA): 12%
Days after Duran and Kelenic made their way to the majors, Marsh’s arrival fell under the radar. The toolsy protect wasn’t exactly igniting much hype in Triple-A, where he batted .255/.364/.468 with three home runs and two steals in 24 games. However, that hardly conveys the 23-year-old’s upside. While Marsh has yet to translate his raw power to results, he swiped 14 bags in 2018 and 19 in 2019. For now, he’s a tempting dart throw in deeper five-outfielder leagues and someone to watch carefully elsewhere.
Kole Calhoun (OF – ARI): 10%
Calhoun has only started four of six games since returning from a hamstring injury, but he’s batted second in his last three starts. The 33-year-old touched them all 16 times in just 54 games last season after smashing a career-high 33 in 2019. Arizona also might want to give him a bigger showcase to dangle him on the trade block, which could lead to a platoon role on a contender.
Deep League Targets – <10% Rostered
Josiah Gray (SP – LAD): 7%
The Dodgers’ rotation depth has evaporated, and they need some immediate reinforcements. This is prompting the defending champions to promote Gray, who will join the club Tuesday. The organization’s second-best prospect, per MLB.com, has a 2.41 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, and 4.6 K/BB ratio over his minor league career. He likely wouldn’t shoulder a heavy workload, and Gray might not necessarily stick around for the rest of the season. A top prospect getting an opportunity nevertheless warrants a speculative add in deep leagues.
Luis Torrens (C- SEA): 7%
Cal Raleigh (C – SEA): 3%
It’s weird to highlight two catchers from the same team, but this is a unique circumstance. Although still searching for his first hit (or walk) after 12 big-league plate appearances, Raleigh raked his way to Seattle with a .324/.377/.608 slash line in Triple-A. Torrens, however, is swinging too hot of a bat to bench. Since returning from a demotion on June 15, the 25-year-old has smashed eight homers with a .419 wOBA. He’s made his last five starts as the designated hitter, which could help keep him fresh at the plate. Torrens is a higher-priority add.
Touki Toussaint (SP – ATL): 3%
For all his stuff, Toussaint hasn’t succeeded at the highest level. Although he’s stockpiled 107 strikeouts in 95 career MLB innings, he is also on the hook for 63 walks and a 5.97 ERA. This time may be no different, but the 25-year-old will make his season debut in the first game of Wednesday’s doubleheader. Pay close attention to Toussaint … from a safe distance when he faces the Padres.
John Nogowski (1B – PIT): 3%
Known by most as the man who got angry at Marcus Stroman for displaying human emotion on the mound, Nogowski is hitting 19-for-42 in 1o games since getting picked up by the Pirates. Will a 28-year-old rookie with a .297 slugging percentage in Triple-A this season keep this up? Nope. But the Pirates might as well see how long this heatwave lasts. Fantasy managers in NL-only leagues and some deep mixed leagues can do the same.
Bradley Zimmer (OF – CLE): 1%
The long-forgotten Zimmer has two home runs — including a leadoff home runs on the first pitch Sunday — and two steals in his last four games. Though batting .241, he sports a .374 OBP and an above-average 103 wRC+ in 131 plate appearances. Formerly a top prospect, Zimmer made an instant impact with eight homers and 18 steals in his 2017 rookie campaign. He hasn’t lasted in the starting lineup since, but the 28-year-old has enough power and speed potential to monitor closely. Add him now in OBP leagues.
If you want to dive deeper into fantasy baseball, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Baseball Tools as you navigate your season. From our Lineup Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup, based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant – that allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team, and by how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy baseball season.