To all the fantasy baseball faithful, it’s a new week, a new friday, so a new edition of the Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire is here as well. A lot of last week’s recommendations were big ones and many of them can still be picked up in your league probably. So go ahead and see below how those recommendations did (check out last week’s full article here) and we’ll give a new set of 6 hitters and 6 pitchers who are widely available and could be of some good use down the fantasy stretch run here.
But before we get down to it, let’s do a brief overview on what’s going on right now in MLB that can affect all of us waiver wire fiends. We are heading into the final days of August and what that means for MLB teams is they pretty much have a firm idea on what direction they want to go in for the remainder of the season, whether it is to make some trades to acquire some extra depth or needing a player for an injury replacement, or to trade away some of their veterans and give some of their youngsters the opportunity to play everyday. Moves like these create some interesting opportunities for fantasy baseball managers to make some keen waiver wire pickups, so it’s surely no time to stop paying attention if you’re still in the thick of it in your league.
So continue reading on for a review of last week’s recommendations and this week’s all new recommendations!
***NOTE: To qualify as a waiver wire recommendation, a player must be owned in less than 50% of Yahoo and ESPN leagues and less than 60% of CBS leagues (players typically have higher ownership levels on CBS).
LAST WEEK’S RECOMMENDATIONS
- Danny Valencia saw his ownership go up just slightly in Yahoo and CBS, but it shot up 14% in ESPN. Somebody over at ESPN.com must have touted Valencia hard. Valencia only is 5 for 24 (.208 AVG) since last Friday, but he did knock his 4th HR since joining the A’s and added 3 RBI. It hasn’t been a great week for Valencia, but he keeps collecting regular starts and hitting in the middle of the order for his new squad and that alone should be reason enough to still give him a shot in fantasy leagues. He wasn’t likely to keep hitting above .300, but he can still produce decently for deeper leagues.
- J.T. Realmuto went 3 for 15 (.200 AVG) over the last week, which obviously isn’t great, but he chipped in his 5th SB of the season. The basis for a Realmuto recommendation (primarily for 2-catcher leagues only) was that he is just one of a handful of catchers that could produce double digits in both HR and SB. So getting a SB in the past week should be considered a victory here for Realmuto even though he didn’t produce much otherwise. His ownership level only went up a couple percent on all major platforms, so he’s still widely available and a recommended catcher for deep leagues/2-catcher leagues.
- Chris Coghlan exploded this past week after I recommended him as he went 7 for 15 (.467 AVG) with 3 HR and 9 RBI. The big production is obviously very nice, but possibly even more important is that he continues to hit 3rd (against righties) for the Cubs. The Cubs are just about the hottest team in baseball right now, so hitting 3rd in this rather potent lineup does amazing things for Coghlan’s fantasy value despite only starting against right-handed pitching. This was a big win off the waiver wire for the week and he’s still hardly owned. With fantasy eligibility at second base and the tremendous week that he has had, he deserves a much higher ownership rate than 6% on Yahoo, 8 % on ESPN, and 23% on CBS. Please go do something about it.
- Jonathan Schoop had a good week going 8 for 28 (.286 AVG) with 1 HR, 2 RBI, and 4 R for the Orioles and he’s still enjoying a bump up in the batting order at the #6 spot. Schoop isn’t really the type of hitter to be hitting near .300 like he is, but he definitely has some nice pop in that bat and the dual eligibility at 2B and 3B is a nice asset for fantasy leagues. Oddly though, his ownership level remains unchanged since last week. He deserves your consideration.
- Derek Dietrich enjoyed a very nice week going 8 for 22 (.364 AVG) with 1 HR, 6 RBI, and 5 R. This was another big score for the Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire feature, yet Dietrich is still owned in less than 10% of leagues across all major platforms! With his hot swinging and multi-position eligibility at 2B, 3B, and OF, Dietrich is a waste on your league’s waiver wire. Giancarlo Stanton is aiming to return on September 1, so that could lead to a decline in playing time for Dietrich. But the Marlins could also end up finding a spot for him at third base if they deal Martin Prado. So Dietrich still is worthy of a pick up for deep leagues and then just wait and see what happens once Stanton returns.
- Stephen Piscotty has also had quite the week going 8 for 23 (.348 AVG) with 2 HR, 2 RBI, 6 R, and 1 SB for the Cardinals. Those are some great contributions and it has led to a decent jump in his ownership level, but he is still widely available and should be getting regular starts for a while longer with Matt Holliday out till mid-September.
- Drew Smyly had a shaky first start back from the DL, which I did issue a warning about despite including him as a waiver wire recommendation. Against the Rangers he had a line of 4 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 4 K and he took the loss. Some more rust should be expected, but his upside still makes him worth of a pick up in many leagues, and he is still available in at least 50% on all major platforms.
- Bruce Rondon has now had two outings where he has allowed a run (one outing was a blown save) after he collected a couple of saves prior to that. Rondon still profiles as a better option than Alex Wilson for the Tigers closer role, but his shakiness over the last week probably leaves it up in the air for both pitchers to get opportunities. Rondon saw his ownership levels shoot up over the last week and he still makes for a decent pickup if you’re in search of saves.
- Raisel Iglesias was marvelous in his only start since last Friday with 7 shutout innings against the Royals. He definitely appears to be continuing to settle in as a Major League starting pitcher and his ownership levels took off after he shut down the Royals. Looks like we scored with another big one here. This is a young pitcher with good control and strikeout upside.
- Jean Machi has not seen a save opportunity since Koji Uehara went down with a season-ending injury, so all the talk from Red Sox manager Jon Farrell about wanting to keep Junichi Tazawa in a setup role, which would leave Machi as the closer, appears to have been all smoke and mirrors. In my defense, I did mention last week that I had very little confidence in Machi and that Tazawa should be picked up as well. I think we can safely throw Machi back to the waiver wire.
- Sean Doolittle continues to play in his rehab games and he has been doing very well with 7 K/0 BB and only 1 hit (a solo HR) allowed in 4 IP. Most importantly though is that he has been showing improved velocity. He will make two more rehab appearances before rejoining the A’s bullpen, which at that point it is possible that he will regain his closer’s role shortly after. Not many fantasy managers made the preemptive strike to pick him up off the waiver wire as his ownership barely increased since last week. So he could be yours for the taking still if you’re speculating on saves.
- Chris Bassitt turned in another solid performance in his only start since last Friday by tossing 8 innings allowing 3 runs while striking out 6 Orioles batters in a no-decision. The nice outing apparently finally brought more attention to the A’s righty as his ownership level went up by a lot. He still would barely qualify to be a waiver wire recommendation here based on his ownership levels.
- Derek Holland returned from the DL this past week, and unknowingly, Holland was actually a 7th pitcher recommendation from last week. Normally I give waiver wire recommendations on 6 hitters and 6 pitchers, but silly me seemed to have miscounted so you all got a bonus. And if you picked him up then it turned out to be a very nice bonus as the Rangers lefty was quality in a victory over the Mariners going 6.1 IP with 8 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, and 6 K. He actually did much better than I expected from him in his first start back — I figured he would turn in an outing that resembled that of Drew Smyly. Holland’s ownership levels received a considerable bump, but he’s still available in a lot of leagues, particularly on Yahoo and ESPN. He could be inconsistent over the remainder of the season, but he’s worthy of a pickup to be used in the appropriate matchups.
THIS WEEK’S RECOMMENDATIONS
Jayson Werth OF, Nationals (Ownership: Yahoo 37%, ESPN 21%, CBS 42%)
Werth spent 2 months of the season on the DL with a wrist injury and wrist injuries for hitters can really sap their strength and bat speed, so it should be no real surprise that Werth is batting under the Mendoza line at a .192 AVG with just 3 HR in 177 AB this season. But Werth has been off the DL for about 4 weeks now and he has been showing some signs of life and a possible turnaround lately. In 2 of his last 3 games, he has multi-hit games with 3 extra base hits total so he appears to be hitting the ball with more authority. His .229 BABIP this season is low and is a result of a lot of soft contact, so if his wrist is feeling better and he can square the ball up better, then he should be in line for a big increase in his batting average. When healthy, Werth can really drill the ball and fantasy owners may want to take the leap of faith that he is finally coming around.
Jackie Bradley OF, Red Sox (Ownership: Yahoo 26%, ESPN 35%, CBS 41%)
Bradley has been really hot in the past two weeks, like a lot of Red Sox players, with a .409 AVG, 4 HR, 17 RBI, and 15 R in 12 games. So he really should be given a chance on a lot of fantasy squads for that reason alone. He was swinging the bat well at AAA this season with a .309 AVG, 9 HR, 29 RBI, 38 R, and 4 SB in 71 games, so it’s very possible that he truly has turned a corner to become a viable Major League option after previously flopping when given an opportunity. The Red Sox would be wise to continue to give him regular playing time to see if he can sustain quality production heading into next season (since they aren’t contending this year), but this isn’t a glowing recommendation because I’m not convinced that there is enough starts to go around between him, Rusney Castillo, Mookie Betts, and Hanley Ramirez in the Red Sox outfield. Of course the injury prone Ramirez could always get shut down for the season at some point though. But at the very least, Bradley needs to be considered for fantasy leagues until he cools off.
Travis Shaw 1B/3B, Red Sox (Ownership: Yahoo 11%, ESPN 16%, CBS 20%)
When the Red Sox traded Mike Napoli to the Rangers a couple weeks ago, that created an opening at first base and it has been the 24-year old, left-handed hitting, first basemen Shaw who has seized the opportunity as he has put together one ridiculously productive week. Since August 14, Shaw has gone 15 for 30 (.500 AVG) with 4 HR, 8 RBI, and 8 R in 7 games and has a season line of a .382 AVG, 6 HR, 12 RBI, and 16 R in 24 games. The impressive part of all of this is that he is mashing on both lefties and righties and he never has had displayed any sort of noticeable difference in his splits in that regard. Clearly this type of production should not be expected from him for the remainder of the season, but he is just very hot right now. Judging by his Minor League numbers, his skill set as a first baseman on offense would appear to be similar to that of James Loney — that is to say that Shaw has a good eye at the plate, puts the ball in play a lot, can hit for a decent average, and his power generally isn’t HR type of power, but more of gap power. In fantasy, we generally want the big power numbers out of first baseman, but Shaw could pass as a player you slot in your utility spot while he’s running hot.
Eugenio Suarez SS, Reds (Ownership: Yahoo 7%, ESPN 17%, CBS 26%)
When Reds shortstop Zack Cozart went down with a season-ending injury earlier this season, it was Eugenio Suarez who stepped in as the team’s primary shortstop and he has performed pretty admirably and has gone a bit unnoticed. Suarez showed a little bit of promise with the Tigers last season, but he’s upped his game and is currently hitting .302 with 8 HR, 32 RBI, 20 R, and 3 SB in 57 games played. With shortstop being a thin position in the fantasy world, Suarez really should be given much more consideration than he is currently getting.
Aaron Altherr OF, Phillies (Ownership: Yahoo 1%, ESPN 1%, CBS 2%)
Altherr is a 24-year old Phillies outfield prospect who was recently promoted. For their corner outfield spots, the Phillies have been rolling out a disappointing combination of a couple of underwhelming youngsters and a veteran that has no future with the team (Cody Asche, Domonic Brown, and Jeff Francoeur), so the Phillies are likely to give Altherr ample playing time from here on out so that he can audition for a role for the Major League squad for next season. In his time between AA and AAA this season, Altherr hit .293 with 14 HR, 67 RBI, 65 R, and 16 SB while showing some solid plate discipline (10.0% walk rate). Altherr’s blend of power and speed with a reasonable strikeout rate should make him rather attractive as a lesser known prospect. He could turn some heads as he already has his first Major League HR under his belt after going yard in his 2nd game.
Adam Duvall 1B, Reds (Ownership: Yahoo 0%, ESPN 0%, CBS 1%)
Duvall is one of the prospects that the Reds acquired when they traded Mike Leake to the Giants and he is a 26-year old first baseman who wields a big bat. However, he has been seeing time in left field in the Minors as well. So with the Reds trading Marlon Byrd (also to the Giants) this week, the left field situation for the Reds for the remainder of the season is likely going to be up for grabs between some of their younger players, with Duvall possibly entering the conversation soon. As a right-handed swinger, it’s possible that Duvall’s future in the Majors could be as a platoon player against left-handed pitching, but the Reds may want to give him a shot in September as their full-time left fielder to see what they have in him and to see if he can be a part of their future plans. In the Minors this season, Duvall is only hitting for a .265 AVG but he has amassed 30 HR. That type of power could translate pretty well for a guy who will be playing his home games in a hitter friendly park like Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. Picking up Duvall in fantasy leagues should only be reserved for the deepest of leagues right now, but when/if he does get the promotion, he could provide decently in the power department.
Jon Gray SP, Rockies (Ownership: Yahoo 13%, ESPN 15%, CBS 43%)
Jon Gray is the Rockies top pitching prospect and was the 3rd overall selection in the 2013 draft, but whenever you think of a Rockies pitcher, you can’t help but have some doubts. However, Gray just might be the best pitching prospect that they have had in a while and his repertoire may be suitable for the best chance of success at Coors Field. Gray’s out pitch is his slider and there are studies that have shown that a slider is the most effective pitch for Coors Field (least affected by the thin air of Denver). To date, Gray has made three Major League starts (two at Coors Field) to compile a 2.40 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, and 14 K/4 BB in 15 IP. It’s obviously a small sample size, but he has done pretty well, especially considering that the majority of his starts have come at home so far. He’ll start tonight (Friday) at home against the Mets, but then his next start will be a nice matchup on the road against the Braves. Using him for his home starts could be an emotional ride, but at the very least he can be deployed for most of his road starts. He’s someone to keep an eye on.
Junichi Tazawa RP, Red Sox (Ownership: Yahoo 13%, ESPN 7%, CBS 16%)
As mentioned above, Jean Machi has not received a save opportunity since Koji Uehara landed on the DL and in fact, Machi didn’t pitch so well in his most recent outing, which created a save opportunity for Tazawa to convert. Tazawa converted it and then converted a save in the next day, so he should be considered the favorite for saves in the Red Sox bullpen for the remainder of the season. He owns a solid 3.18 ERA and 1.12 WHIP, but he will have to show consistency in order to lock this job down for good. However, he does appear to be the Red Sox best option and should be scooped up in way more leagues than he currently is.
Kevin Jepsen RP, Twins (Ownership: Yahoo 20%, ESPN 13%, CBS 16%)
Twins closer Glen Perkins has been held out of action for a few days with a neck injury and it is worth noting that last season he was shut down early because of this same neck issue. He received a cortisone injection to help ease the pain and he could possibly return to action early next week, but in the event that he suffers some type of setback, Kevin Jepsen is well worth picking up as he should be the guy to see any save opportunities in Perkins’ absence. Perhaps Perkins does make it back by next week, but there will be no guarantee that it doesn’t become an issue again after the cortisone shot wears off. And if the Twins keep falling further out of contention for the AL Wildcard, then there would be no reason for them to push Perkins in the final weeks of the season and he could eventually be shut down once again. Jepsen did admirably in some save situations earlier this season with the Rays before being traded to the Twins, so he should be able to do okay in the role for as long as he is needed — just know that it may not be a long period of time.
Joe Kelly SP, Red Sox (Ownership: Yahoo 5%, ESPN 6%, CBS 15%)
You may recall that Joe Kelly proclaimed before Spring Training that he would win the AL Cy Young Award. It was a pretty wild proclamation to say the least, but I swear that he said it — read about it here. However, as you probably could have guessed, Kelly has hardly resembled a quality Major League starting pitcher this season, let alone a Cy Young contender. His season stats are a 6-6 record with a 5.37 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, and 90 K/40 BB in 105.2 IP. So I am sure that you are wondering how a pitcher with that hideous of a stat line could possibly be considered a waiver wire recommendation. Well, first of all, this recommendation is strictly for deep leagues and if you’re in desperate need of a spot start. So don’t read this and then go out and drop someone like Jon Lester in your 10-team mixed league. But the basis of recommending Kelly here is that he has been sharper over his last 3 starts going 3-0 with a 1.56 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, and 16 K/7 BB in 17.1 IP. And what he has been doing differently over these last 3 starts is that he has been mixing in more of his offspeed and breaking pitches, which could very well be keeping opposing hitters more off balance. This season he has thrown his fastball over 68% of the time, but over the last 3 starts he has been around 60% or less with his fastball usage. So with diversifying his approach, he very well could have turned some type of corner here. He’ll try to keep the streak alive in his next start against the White Sox.
John Lamb SP, Reds (Ownership: Yahoo 4%, ESPN 4%, CBS 9%)
Lamb was one of the three left-handed pitching prospects that the Reds received from the Royals when they traded Johnny Cueto near the trade deadline. Lamb wasn’t considered to be the main prize of the package (the popular belief is that Brandon Finnegan was the best piece received by the Reds), but it is Lamb who is the first out of the three to don a Reds uniform after trading Mike Leake opened up a spot in the Reds rotation. Lamb has made two starts since his promotion and though his ERA and WHIP leave more to be desired at 6.35 and 1.68 respectively, he has exhibited great strikeout potential and solid control with a ratio of 15 K/2 BB in 11.1 IP. This is the type of performance that he gave in the Minors at AAA this season with 9.46 K/9 and 2.91 BB/9 to go along with 2.67 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. He’s likely to face some more struggles along the way as a rookie pitcher, but he carries some upside and is scheduled for a two-start week against the Dodgers and Brewers next week.
Jose Berrios SP, Twins (Ownership: Yahoo 2%, ESPN 2%, CBS 14%)
The Twins have already promoted their top two position prospects (Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano) this season to make a statement that they believe that the future is now for their organization. They sat atop the division earlier this season, but they have since tailed off heavily and the Royals have run away with the division. However, the Twins still remain in the hunt for a Wildcard spot. So if they truly want to remain committed to making a run at a post-season berth, then they should seriously be considering calling up their top pitching prospect, Jose Berrios. The 21-year old Berrios began the season at AA but has been pitching at AAA for the last 7 weeks and between the two levels he has compiled a 3.18 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and 143 K/36 BB in 141.1 IP. He has nice strikeout per inning stuff and he also exemplifies great control for such a young pitcher — he compares nicely to Yankees top pitching prospect Luis Severino who was promoted a couple weeks ago. The Twins pitching staff is largely unimpressive and Berrios could surely serve as an upgrade if given a look as a September call-up. Redraft team owners may want to make the preemptive strike right now and he should surely be scooped up in dynasty and keeper leagues.