OK, ladies and gents. We’ve got six weeks to go. Now is the time to optimize even if making a change could hurt you later. There’s just not enough season left to stick with that slumping veteran or overmatched rookie hoping he turns it around. Guys have been known to suddenly get hot in September, but unless their schedule dictates an easy road or Statcast says they’re getting unlucky, I’d move on to the hotter, less heralded player.
Take advantage of those focusing on fantasy football and add all these waiver wire values now! For this piece, players are separated into categories of where they’re most likely to help you. Many of these next studs will aid you in more ways than one, but their primary contributions should come under the heading in which they are listed. All players are rostered in less than 50% of Yahoo leagues so for the majority of you, these guys should be available.
Without further ado, here are this week’s top waiver-wire pickups based on category.
Fantasy Baseball Category Pickups
I listed Carpenter in week one of this series as someone who was going to hit dingers… and then he got hurt. Now that he’s fully healthy and has his timing back again, Carpenter has been one of the hottest hitters in the league. Over the last two weeks, the lefty-swinging outfielder mashed five home runs while driving in eight. He’s 22 for his last 51 (.431 BA) and if he weren’t stuck in Detroit, he’d be getting a lot more pub. His swing is gorgeous and he’s almost assuredly better than that last guy on your bench. Add Carpenter immediately if he’s still available.
When Stone Garrett goes on a run like this, he can literally carry your team. No not to the store, but possibly to victory. Garrett went through similar hot streaks in Arizona last year and was a monster in Triple-A. However, he wasn’t granted much playing time and with the D’backs surplus of young outfielders, he was eventually let go in the offseason.
Now hitting cleanup for the Nationals, Garrett has been on a tear that will go down in D.C. folklore. Over his eight-game hitting streak, the chiseled left fielder has collected 11 RBI, seven runs, two homers, and 14 hits. He’s hitting .483 since August 11th with a whopping 1.318 OPS. He also can and will steal you the occasional bag.
Will Garrett keep up the madness? Probably not. But he does have the Yankees on tap who have lost seven in a row and are surrendering crooked numbers with ease.
Elvis has returned to the building. Andrus was a top-75 hitter to close out the season last year and suddenly it looks like history’s repeating itself. After disappearing for nearly the entire first half, the veteran shortstop has put on a hitting clinic, producing a .365 average since the beginning of August. He’s clubbed seven extra-base hits for the month and even stole three bases. He’s leading off for the Chi Sox again and is contributing in all five categories. The biggest change for the 35-year-old has been his aggressiveness at the plate. He’s swinging much earlier in the count and the results have been optimal. Andrus is worth a look for those in need of batting average or steals.
Torkelson could easily qualify for home runs with the way he’s been swinging it, but with all the free passes he earns, I’ll put him here. Tork has scored seven runs over the last seven games and looks to finally be living up to all the early hype. The former first-overall pick in the draft was brought up extremely quickly to the Major Leagues and despite learning on the job, you knew he would eventually figure it out. The Tigers’ first baseman has 10 homers with 26 runs and 26 RBIs over his last 156 at-bats. His OPS is .856 over that span and his ISO is .269 (anything over .200 is good). With Kerry Carpenter blasting home runs behind him, expect Torkelson and his 10% walk rate to keep on scoring runs. He deserves a spot in most leagues.
I’ve mentioned Tovar before but he’s still criminally rostered in less than 50% of leagues. The Rockies’ shortstop has been a steady contributor over the last two months and is batting regularly atop the Colorado lineup. Tovar’s only got seven swipes on the year, but he has attempted four steals over the last two weeks.
The former top prospect is also hitting lasers into the seats. Tovar’s hit three bombs over the last week and now has 14 on the season. The 22-year-old will likely be a mainstay near the top of the Rockies lineup for years to come and should be rostered in nearly all leagues.
I feel like it’s 2019 again discussing Mike Clevinger. A mainstay on fantasy rosters in the late teens, Clevinger’s been through some tough times these last few years, mainly stemming from injury. Now fully healthy again, Clevinger is quietly producing like his old self. Since being activated from the IL (and even before that when he blanked the Dodgers through 4.2 innings), the former Guardian has allowed just four earned runs over 23 innings (four starts).
Dating back even further to May 17th, the lanky right-hander is sporting a pristine 1.82 ERA over eight starts. He’s only given up one homer in his last six games and has 13 K’s over his last 13 innings. His WHIP has also been great, lowering from 1.36 to 1.25 since his activation. He’s set to take on Seattle next and is worth starting despite the Mariners’ hot hitting of late.
Garrett has limited base runners all season and is now set to take on the Nationals at home in his next start. His 1.17 WHIP is eighth best in the National League, plus he averages more than a strikeout per inning. Despite all that, Garrett has just seven wins to his credit in 24 starts, but he did earn the victory in two out of his last three outings. The Southpaw for Miami should have little trouble limiting one of the worst offenses in baseball this week. Garrett deserves a spot on your roster if your WHIP is high.
Williamson’s been a bit inconsistent but if strikeouts are what you’re after, he’s your guy. The former Mariners’ prospect has racked up 28 K’s over his last 22.1 innings and has one of the filthiest changeups in the game. Opponents are hitting .157 against it, and despite giving up two home runs he’s averaging an impressive 45% whiff rate with it.
Williamson is better left for prime matchups, but with such a high K-rate, he could be worth the risk for those in dire need of strikeouts.
Quintana’s thrown five quality starts in a row and despite lasting deep into games, the Mets have only supplied him with one win. Quintana was given a rather large contract in the off-season considering his age and although he missed most of the season due to injury, he’s at least now proving he’s still got it.
In three out of Quintana’s last five games, the Mets offense supported him with a total of one run. That’s not only awful, it’s extremely unlucky. I know it’s tempting to go out and add a guy who is winning games despite putting together a mediocre performance, but victories are difficult to predict. There is so much that goes into earning one, a lot of it just comes down to dumb luck. As long as Quintana continues to pitch well (he’s given up just one homer in six starts), the wins will begin to register as did with his first one on Thursday against the Cardinals.
Romero only has two saves on the year but he’s been the Cardinals’ best pitcher out of the bullpen of late. While Giovanny Gallegos will likely earn most of the save opportunities against righties, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Romero in there against lefties. His 2.43 FIP is more than a full point lower than his ERA and he rarely issues a walk or surrenders a homer. Romero gets an obscene amount of ground balls (his average launch angle is -1.5) and he strikes out well beyond a batter per inning (10.20 K/9). Gallegos has the track record, but he’s been homer prone this season. Romero is worth a speculative add for those in desperate need of saves.
Austin Lowell is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Austin, check out his archive.