Greetings to the all the fantasy baseball folk, I’m back with another edition of the Fantasy Baseball Waiver wire! Unless you’re contending near the top of the standings in your fantasy baseball league, chances are that you’ve already begun to forget about the baseball season and are gearing up for a fantasy football draft deciding which quarterback is going to have the big breakout (I personally think Ryan Tannehill is going to be a fantasy gold). But if you’re still paying attention to your fantasy baseball team, there may be some players available on the waiver wire for you to snag to aid you in your run for the championship.
Last week’s recommendations didn’t go over so hot, but that’s largely a byproduct of the fact that I’ve already recommended a lot of the best waiver wire options in the past few weeks and I am trying to avoid any repeat mentions so I am scraping the bottom of the barrel here. However, in the recommendations below, I will have a couple of repeat mentions, but they are players who have yet to debut in the Majors. So first, let’s review last week’s recommendations (check out last week’s full article here) and we’ll give a new set of 6 hitters and 6 pitchers who could be useful to your fantasy squad.
***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
- Jayson Werth didn’t have the greatest of weeks after his mini hot streak at Coors Field. Since last Friday, he went 7 for 27 (.259 AVG) with 1 HR, 2 RBI, and 5 R. He still remains widely available as his current ownership levels are unchanged from last week and he still remains a decent pickup given that he’s hitting in a great spot in a strong lineup and he still figures to be regaining strength in his previously injured wrist.
- Jackie Bradley has certainly cooled off over the last week going 4 for 14 (.286 AVG) with 0 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, and 0 SB, but earlier this week he received some good news for both his short term and long term future with the Red Sox. Hanley Ramirez was spotted taking grounders at first base this week and it was then confirmed that he would be shifting from left field to first base next season, and he should even begin to get some starts there for the remainder of this season. Ramirez’ upcoming change of positions will create a full-time spot in the outfield for Bradley to take over. Bradley’s ownership did rise a bit in the last week, but he’s still available in at least half the leagues on each major platform, so you may be able to still grab him if you need a spark in your fantasy outfield.
- Travis Shaw saw a huge uptick in his ownership as it more than doubled in ESPN and CBS leagues. Over the last week he has gone 3 for 25 (.120 AVG) with 1 HR, 4 RBI, and 3 R. He’s certainly cooled off and his power output has been a bit over his head so far this season, so with a few more dud games it could be time to cut ties with Shaw. Also, the news of Hanley Ramirez shifting over to first base hurts his outlook.
- Eugenio Suarez went 5 for 26 (.192 AVG) with 1 HR, 3 RBI, and 3 R over the last week, and basically all that production came in a single game. It wasn’t a great week, but Suarez should still be given more fantasy consideration given that he plays a thin shortstop position. Give him a look in deep leagues if you need shortstop help.
- Aaron Altherr has just started 4 of the Phillies 7 games in the last week to go just 3 for 15 (.200 AVG) with 1 HR. Perhaps when the calendar flips over to September Altherr will begin to see more starts. The Phillies should be giving him more looks to find out if he can be a contributor for them next season. This pickup is still only for the deepest of leagues and dynasty leagues.
- Adam Duvall still remains in AAA for the Reds, but it would be somewhat surprising if he doesn’t join the team in September. Whether he collects regular starts though remains to be seen. He has massive power potential, so the Reds should give him a look, but he’s not a pickup to make for shallow leagues. When he is called up, the deepest of fantasy leagues should give him a look.
- Jon Gray got absolutely pummeled in his lone start since last Friday (1.2 IP, 8 H, 7 ER, 1 BB, 0 K). I recommended him but did caution that his home starts could be bumpy — so there’s the bumpy for you. I still think that he can be used in road starts though and he’ll get one in his next start at Pittsburgh. Predictably, Gray’s ownership took a dive after he got bombed, so if you want to take the chance on him for a road start then he may be available to you.
- Junichi Tazawa had a meltdown against the Royals this past week where he gave up 4 runs on 6 hits and a walk to take a blown save and the loss. That is just a complete ERA and WHIP killer, but the good news is that he followed up that shellacking with a clean save in his next outing. So Tazawa still likely remains the favorite for saves in the Red Sox bullpen for the remainder of the season and he should be given a look if you need saves, but just know that it could be a bit rocky. He still is available in a vast majority of leagues.
- Kevin Jepsen pitched 5 scoreless innings allowing only one base runner with 5 strikeouts in the last week. He also was a perfect 3 for 3 in save opportunities as he continued to fill in for Glen Perkins. Perkins did return though after sitting out a week or so with a bothersome neck, however, he then was unavailable for a game due to back spasms. Perkins will close if he’s healthy, but Jepsen remains a necessary handcuff and is still widely available.
- Joe Kelly continued his nice run by tossing 7.1 innings with 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, and 4 K in a victory over the White Sox earlier this week. That’s now four pretty decent starts in a row from Kelly to post a 1.82 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and 20 K/8 BB in 24.2 IP with a 4-0 record. Out of all the waiver wire recommendations from this past week, who knew that Joe Kelly would actually be one of the strongest of them all? In this start, he continued his diversified pitch usage that has likely been the big reason for his recent success. He makes for a little bit of a dicey play in his next start against the hot Mets, but he definitely appears to be a different type of pitcher from what he was early in the season. His ownership level has gone up a bit since last week, but he’s still a nice under the radar play.
- John Lamb of the Reds made his 3rd start of the season since being promoted and it wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t great either. His line was 5 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, and 6 K with the loss to the Dodgers. The rookie lefty has mad more than a strikeout per inning in each of his starts though, so he is surely showing his potential there and his next two starts profile as good matchups against the Brewers. For that reason, he still comes as a recommended option.
- Jose Berrios still remains in AAA for the Twins and so I am going to recommend him once more. See below.
THIS WEEK’S RECOMMENDATIONS
Marcell Ozuna OF, Marlins (Ownership: Yahoo 41%, ESPN 20%, CBS 38%)
After a bit of a breakout season last year, Ozuna struggled to produce early on this season, which led to an eventual demotion to AAA in the first week of July. Down at AAA, he saw the ball a lot better and hit .317/.379/.558 with 5 HR in 33 games. The Marlins recalled him on August 15 and he has hit .233/.250/.465 with 2 HR in 43 AB since returning to the Majors. Those aren’t exactly mind blowing numbers and playing time may become a question once Giancarlo Stanton returns from the DL, but Ozuna brings a bit of pop and could put together some nice power output from now till the end of the season. He’s not much different than Khris Davis who I recommended a few weeks ago and has gone on a bit of a HR binge.
Javier Baez 2B/SS, Cubs (Ownership: Yahoo 15%, ESPN 7%, CBS 36%)
With Jorge Soler hitting the DL with a strained oblique earlier this week, that has pushed Chris Coghlan back out to the outfield from second base and Starlin Castro, who had fallen out of manager Joe Maddon’s favor, has been seeing some time at second base since then. Castro has done better since being reinserted into the starting lineup, but overall his season has been a complete train wreck and the Cubs may choose to look to another option once September rolls around — that other option would be Javier Baez. Baez was once considered to be one of the top 5 prospects in all of baseball, but despite his 9 HR/5 SB in 52 games last year as a rookie, he lost a lot of his luster with his free swinging ways and inability to make contact with a 41.5% strikeout rate and .169 AVG. However, this season at AAA, he has shown some steady improvements and is hitting .317/.382/.534 with 13 HR, 60 RBI, 45 R, 16 SB, and a 24.8% strikeout rate in 66 games. If/when the Cubs do call him up once rosters expand, Baez could step into the starting lineup and his intriguing blend of power and speed at the middle infield positions is attractive as long as you can handle a less than stellar batting average.
Domingo Santana OF, Brewers (Ownership: Yahoo 2%, ESPN 2%, CBS 10%)
Santana was one of the top position prospects in the Astros organization before being traded to the Brewers in the deal that sent Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers to Houston. Santana really has nothing left to prove in the Minors as he hit .333 with 18 HR in 95 games at AAA with both the Astros and Brewers this season. He did receive some playing time at the Major League level with the Astros and he was recently called up by the Brewers, and I think that he really just needs to start learning more through Major League experience. He’s a high strikeout hitter so that is going to be his main obstacle, but he does bring a powerful stick to the plate and has a nice home park. He’s been slotting in the Brewers lineup kind of out of position in center field (he’s more of a corner outfielder), but the Brewers are going nowhere this season so it doesn’t hurt to just fit him in somewhere to get the playing time. Don’t expect too much in the batting average department, but the power potential is there and is similar to Khris Davis and Marcell Ozuna.
Travis Jankowski OF, Padres (Ownership: Yahoo 1%, ESPN 0%, CBS 6%)
The Padres traded outfielder Will Venable to the Rangers last week and that opened up a spot for them to give an audition to the speedy Jankowski. Jankowski, a supplemental 1st round pick in the 2012 draft, has spent most of this season at AA, but he did receive a promotion to AAA and combined at those two levels he hit for a .335 AVG with 0 HR, 32 SB (43 attempts), 11.3% BB%, and 11.5% K%. So it’s pretty easy to see that he is a no power hitter that puts the ball in play a lot and also knows how to work the count, but his main fantasy asset is his ability to swipe bases (he’s also stolen as many as 71 bases in a single season at high-A ball). Jankowski is 5 for 13 (.385 AVG) since his promotion and he has yet to steal a base, but the important thing here is that he is seeing some starts. While he may not see everyday starts, it looks like at the very least he will be starting against right-handed pitching for the time being. For roto leagues this late in the season, it’s pretty easy to discern whether or not you need stolen bases and Jankowski can be a guy that you can use if that’s a category you’re zeroed in on.
Jason Bourgeois OF, Reds (Ownership: Yahoo 0%, ESPN 0%, CBS 0%)
Speaking of speed, another player to look at if you need the help in the category is Bourgeois of the Reds. Billy Hamilton hit the DL over a week ago with a shoulder injury and it has been Bourgeois who has stepped into the starting center field role for the Reds. But not only did Bourgeois take over center field, but he also has been hitting leadoff, which is rather interesting considering that Hamilton has been the team’s number 9 hitter. From a fantasy perspective though, owners in need of speed won’t mind that Bourgeois is leading off because that will give him way more opportunities to produce. Since taking over for Hamilton in center field, Bourgeois has recorded a hit in each game that he has started and overall has gone 9 for 32 (.281 AVG) with 2 RBI, 2 R, and 1 SB. Bourgeois has been around for a while (33 years old) and has shown speed everywhere he’s been and his best Major League season was in 2011 when he stole 31 bases in 93 games for the Astros. Hamilton won’t even begin baseball activities for a while longer, so Bourgeois is going to likely spend at least the next couple weeks in this role and he’s virtually unowned across all major platforms.
Hector Olivera 1B/2B/3B, Braves (Ownership: Yahoo N/A, ESPN 11%, CBS 39%)
I mentioned Olivera as a preemptive strike waiver wire pickup several weeks ago after he was traded from the Dodgers to the Braves at the trade deadline, but for a recap, Olivera is a 30-year old infielder out of Cuba that the Dodgers signed to a big 6-year/$62.5 million contract before the 2015 season began. His bat has some pop that could translate to 20-25 HR a season and he has been playing both second and third base in the Minors this season, but the Braves will use him as a third baseman. Olivera had been dealing with a hamstring injury, which set him back a bit, but he’s been back in action for about a couple weeks now, and between playing for both the Dodgers and Braves in the Minors, Olivera has an overall line of a .282 AVG, 2 HR, 8 RBI, and 15 R in 31 games. He hasn’t been super impressive, but the potential is going to be there to make him an intriguing fantasy option. He should be up with the Braves once rosters expand September 1, so jump on him now while you can (although, he’s unavailable in the Yahoo player pool still).
Kris Medlen SP/RP, Royals (Ownership: Yahoo 24%, ESPN 21%, CBS 56%)
The Royals finally decided it was time to end the Jeremy Guthrie hit parade every 5th day, and they have turned to Kris Medlen as his replacement in the starting rotation. Medlen is coming off his second Tommy John surgery and the Royals had been using him as a relief pitcher where he compiled some nice numbers in a handful of outings. He made his first start of the season earlier in the week against the Orioles and it went over pretty well as he went 6 innings and gave up 3 runs on 5 hits while striking out 6 in a victory. Medlen was a rising pitcher in the league with the Braves before his Tommy John surgery, so there is some definite appeal here, especially since he is pitching for the best team in the American League with a great defense and bullpen supporting him. He should be scooped up in all formats.
Tom Wilhelmsen RP, Mariners (Ownership: Yahoo 20%, ESPN 11%, CBS 14%)
The Mariners have been having some recent issues with their bullpen with Fernando Rodney and Carson Smith. Rodney had struggled all season long before losing the closing job to Smith, and then Rodney was let go by the Mariners this past week. Smith has had a pretty good season overall and still profiles as the closer of the future for the Mariners, but he has been struggling recently and manager Lloyd McClendon turned to Tom “the bartender” Wilhelmsen in the team’s two most recent save situations. His 3.86 ERA and 1.48 WHIP aren’t fantastic, but Wilhelmsen has past closing experience with the team and figures to see more save chances going forward. McClendon may eventually turn it back over to Smith, but Wilhelmsen is the guy right now and needs to be grabbed where saves are needed.
Drew Pomeranz SP/RP, A’s (Ownership: Yahoo 12%, ESPN 8%, CBS 18%)
I stated a while ago on The Backwards K that Pomeranz’ pitch arsenal should be more effective as a relief pitcher than a starting pitcher, and he’s been a pretty good reliever this season, especially in August where he has a 0.84 ERA, 0.38 WHIP, and 17 K/1 BB in 10.2 IP. His recent dominance has led to the A’s turning to him in their two most recent save opportunities. Pomeranz converted the first one cleanly, but he was charged with a blown save after he allowed an unearned run to score (so it wasn’t entirely his fault). But Pomeranz is looking like the man at the back end of the A’s pen right now. The caveat is that Sean Doolittle has returned from the DL and he is someone that I recommended as a waiver wire pickup a couple weeks ago. However, Doolittle has made two appearances in middle relief since returning and he was scored upon in each of those outings, so he’s probably not going to be trusted to close out games until he strings together a few good outings in a row — and who knows if that will happen? Pomeranz is clearly the best arm in the A’s bullpen at the moment and he should be given a look if you need saves.
Marcus Stroman SP, Blue Jays (Ownership: Yahoo 11%, ESPN 9%, CBS 26%)
Stroman was one of my favorite breakout picks heading into the 2015 season, but poor luck struck the young Jays righty as he tore his ACL in Spring Training and he was ruled out for the season. However, he’s worked hard in his recovery and is suddenly on track to begin a rehab assignment next week and could rejoin the Jays before the end of the season and also be a part of their post-season run. Whether he starts or relieves when he is ready (if his rehab goes well) is unknown, but he is a great talent that could at the very least provide some good ratio stats and strikeout numbers as a reliever. If he starts, then that’s just an added bonus. Stroman probably won’t be a fantasy game changer as we close out the season, but he’s worth a stash if you have the space on your roster.
Jose Berrios SP, Twins (Ownership: Yahoo 3%, ESPN 3%, CBS 16%)
I recommended Berrios last week, but he’s still down in AAA so I am going to give him one more recommendation as he is coming off a AAA start where he pitched 7 shutout innings with 12 strikeouts. Berrios’ overall line this season between AA and AAA is now at 12-5 with a 2.95 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and 165 K/37 BB in 155.1 IP. Once September rolls around, Berrios could step right into the Twins rotation and immediately be their best starting pitcher. 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, and they have surged their way into the second AL Wildcard spot. So if they truly want to remain committed to reaching the post-season, then the 21-year old Berrios should be up in September. He has nice strikeout per inning stuff and he also exemplifies great control for such a young pitcher. The worry with him will be what his innings limit is this season. Berrios pitched 140 innings last year and he is already at 155.1 innings this year. I don’t imagine that the Twins really want him exceeding 170-175 innings, which would give him 3-4 starts if he’s promoted, as opposed to 5-6 starts that he could potentially have without an innings limit. Still though, he could provide some solid numbers in any starts that he does get. It would be wise to grab him now while you can.
Brandon Finnegan SP/RP, Reds (Ownership: Yahoo 1%, ESPN 1%, CBS 7%)
Finnegan was the main piece of the package that the Reds received when they traded Johnny Cueto to the Royals and he has been pitching at AAA to be stretched out as a starting pitcher since he had been pitching out of the Royals bullpen. He’s made 6 starts at AAA with the Reds to compile a 5.32 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, and 19 K/10 BB in 22 IP. Obviously, those are not dazzling numbers, but he was a 2014 1st round pick and he should be joining the Reds rotation once September rolls around. Right now, I probably would prefer his teammate John Lamb who I recommended in last week’s waiver wire article because Lamb has shown better control, but Finnegan has nice upside and should at least be given some fantasy consideration once he is called up.