Source: Howard Simmons/New York Daily News
We are getting down to the nitty gritty of it all with just 17 days left in the MLB season, so now is especially the time to not show fear. Take some risks by waiving certain players to pick up other players that may help you in a specific category and/or who are lined up for some very favorable matchups. The waiver wire is your friend more than ever this late in the season if you’re still in the running for your league’s championship. Chances are that half your league has checked out and they are contemplating which defense and kickers to stream for week 2 of the NFL season. Less league mates paying attention means that there’s lots of different things that you can do on your baseball waiver wire to improve your team each and every day for the rest of the season.
I’ll review last week’s recommendations first (see full article here) and then I’ll give another 6 hitters and 6 pitchers who are readily available and could be of interest to you.
***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
- Mark Canha has gone 7 for 30 (.233 AVG) with 1 HR, 4 RBI, and 5 R since last Friday. That’s not terrible and he still could be in for a decent finish.
- Aaron Hicks has gone 7 for 29 (.241 AVG) without 1 HR, 1 RBI, 6 R and 3 SB since last Friday. As the leadoff man for the Twins, we are mainly expecting runs and stolen bases from Hicks. But he does have some pop in his bat, so anything in the power department is an added bonus. Please don’t let Hicks sit on your league’s waiver wire any longer.
- Greg Bird has gone 5 for 18 (.278 AVG) with 2 HR, 4 RBI, and 3 R in the last week of play. That’s pretty solid and he should still be given consideration for his decent power as he continues to fill in for the injured Mark Teixeira for the remainder of the season.
- J.P. Arencibia didn’t hit a home run in the past week after previously being on a binge of long balls, but he did go 4 for 12 (.333 AVG) with 4 RBI and 1 R. He strikes out a bunch and is really streaky, but hopefully he can finish the season on a good note.
- Josh Phegley has gone 4 for 18 (.222 AVG) with 1 RBI and 4 R in the last week. Stephen Vogt continues to nurse a groin injury, so despite the relatively uneventful week for Phegley, he still remains an option at catcher off the waiver wire.
- Clint Robinson missed a few games due to the birth of his child, but in the four games that he did play in during this past week, he went 5 for 16 (.313 AVG) with 1 R. Robinson has been hitting 5th a lot behind Bryce Harper with the absence of Ryan Zimmerman from the lineup. Zimmerman is likely done for the season, so Robinson will carry some sneaky value for deep leagues the remainder of the season.
- Sean Doolittle struggled in one outing in the past week by giving up 2 runs on 3 hits in an inning of work. But he followed that up with 2 scoreless innings to earn a victory. Only if you’re in desperate need of saves should Doolittle be on your radar as the A’s aren’t providing many save opportunities.
- Kevin Gausman blanked the Red Sox for 6 innings while striking out 7 in his only start since last Friday’s recommendation. That was supposed to be the tougher of his 2 starts this week, so that was a nice surprise if you picked him up for the week. His next start will come this weekend in a much more favorable matchup against the Rays.
- Erasmo Ramirez, not to be outdone by Gausman, took a no-hitter into the 8th inning against the Yankees in the first of his 2 starts this week. He ended up pitching 7.2 shutout innings with 6 strikeouts before being saddled with a no-decision. This was a big start for Ramirez and we couldn’t have asked for much more. He’ll go head-to-head versus Gausman this weekend, so let’s hope for a pitchers duel in that one.
- Vidal Nuno did not end up receiving a start this past week, so he made only one appearance out of the Mariners bullpen. However, he will step into the rotation this weekend and could stay there for the remainder of the season as the Mariners may move to a 6-man rotation to close out the season. His start isn’t a friendly one as it’ll come in Texas against the red hot Rangers, but this is the same team that he did shutout for 7 innings with 10 strikeouts just over a week ago. So if he’s still available and you need to use up some innings, Nuno could be a decent gamble.
- Adam Warren stepped into the rotation for the Yankees this week and he pitched 4 innings allowing 2 runs on 6 hits while striking out 4. It wasn’t too horrible, but certainly not stellar either. However, because he’s been pitching out of the pen recently, he was on a pitch count as he works to get stretched out. Expect him to last a bit longer in his next scheduled start.
- Logan Verrett made a spot start for the Mets as they skipped Matt Harvey in the rotation, and as hoped for, it was a pretty decent start. The righty went 5 innings allowing 1 run on 4 base runners with 3 strikeouts. He came away with a no-decision and was pulled after only 63 pitches, but overall it was helpful to fantasy teams. This recommendation was said to be a “one and done” for Verrett, so feel free to throw him back to the wire.
THIS WEEK’S RECOMMENDATIONS
Michael Conforto OF, Mets (Ownership: Yahoo 11%, ESPN 27%, CBS 45%)
I’ve been trying to avoid mentioning players more than once in the waiver wire articles as best as I can, but it feels necessary to bring up Conforto once again due to a shockingly low ownership rate in Yahoo. Conforto is a left-handed swinging outfielder for the Mets who was a 2014 1st round pick and the team’s top position prospect. He has been up in the Majors since late July, but the Mets acquisition of Yoenis Cespedes at the trade deadline meant that Conforto would not be playing full time. Cespedes has made an epic impact that is having people around baseball calling it one of the best trade deadline acquisitions ever, so we can’t blame the Mets here for making that trade to somewhat block Conforto. Conforto has basically been starting all games against right-handed pitching and then sitting all games against left-handed pitching (and also getting pinch hit for late in games against left-handed relievers). Against righties he has hit a robust .308/.390/.581 with 7 HR in 117 AB, which is very reminiscent of outfielder David Peralta of the Diamondbacks. As of the time of this post, the Mets are set to face 10 right-handed starting pitchers in the next 12 games, and several of those pitchers can be considered mediocre or worse and the games include two series in hitters parks in Cincinnati and Philadelphia. The scheduled starting pitchers are of course subject to change, especially this late in the season with team’s adjusting their rotations a lot, but this is the type of favorable scheduling for a player that can make him very valuable to own in fantasy for a championship run. Conforto is still widely available in leagues due to the fact that he is a platoon player at the moment, but the fantasy platoon gods are shining down on him here.
C.J. Cron 1B, Angels (Ownership: Yahoo 6%, ESPN 9%, CBS 21%)
With Albert Pujols nursing a sore foot, he is unable to play the field and has been relegated to DH duties for the Angels. This has opened the door for Cron to step in and be the team’s first baseman down the stretch to ensure that he is in the lineup everyday as the Angels attempt to squeeze into one of the AL Wildcard spots. For the season, Cron is hitting .269 with 14 HR, 43 RBI, 33 R, and 3 SB in 98 games played. The right-handed swinging Cron has some pretty decent pop in his bat and he actually has displayed the ability to hit righties better than lefties, which bodes well for him since the majority of pitchers are right-handed. Give Cron a shot as a decent source of power if you need a first base replacement or can fit him in at utility (also consider the aforementioned Greg Bird).
Eddie Rosario 2B/OF, Twins (Ownership: Yahoo 4%, ESPN 9%, CBS 15%)
Rosario has rather quietly had a decent season with a .271 AVG, 10 HR, 42 RBI, 51 R, and 11 SB — and that is with not being called up to the Majors until the first week of May. He hasn’t hit very well in the second half of the season, but over the last few games he has picked up the pace, so perhaps he is in for a strong finish to the season as the Twins remain in the thick of the playoff race. Rosario’s plate discipline leaves a lot to be desired as he has a very ugly ratio of 104 K/13 BB, but if your league doesn’t count those stats then Rosario is a rather sneaky blend of power and speed. And for an added bonus, Rosario is eligible at 2B on both Yahoo and ESPN despite strictly playing outfield for the Twins.
Ketel Marte 2B/SS, Mariners (Ownership: Yahoo 2%, ESPN 4%, CBS 13%)
In the final weeks of the season here, there are pretty much two options that are going to be everyday players who are capable of making a difference in the SB category if you are in need. Also, with Jung Ho Kang suffering a season-ending injury this week, that’s going to leave a hole on your roster at SS if you had him, so these next two players can be potential replacements for Kang on your fantasy roster. The first of those two players is Marte who has taken over as the starting shortstop and leadoff hitters for the Mariners. For the season, Marte is hitting .274 with 0 HR, 10 RBI, 17 R, and 7 SB in 41 games. The 21-year old Marte also had 20 SB in 65 games at AAA. Marte has no power at all and may not contribute a whole lot in batting average, but he should be able to collect a few more stolen bases by season’s end and he fills in at a shallow position.
Kelby Tomlinson 2B/SS, Giants (Ownership: Yahoo 3%, ESPN 7%, CBS 8%)
Tomlinson first saw Major League action in August when Joe Panik landed on the DL for the Giants and with Panik back on the DL and out for the season, Tomlinson has ascended back to a starting role at second base. The 25-year old middle infielder has posted a .307 AVG with 1 HR, 15 RBI, 15 R, and 5 SB in 37 games played this season. Tomlinson profiles similarly to Marte for the remainder of the season as a no power middle infielder who may or may not have a good average, but he’s got the wheels to swipe some bags and should spend some time hitting hear the top of the order. Tomlinson stole 21 bases in 97 games between AA and AAA before his call-up, and he also stole 49 bases at AA last season.
Tommy Pham OF, Cardinals (Ownership: Yahoo 2%, ESPN 1%, CBS 2%)
With Cardinals center fielder Randal Grichuk dealing with an elbow strain and unable to adequately play the field at the moment, the 27-year old rookie Pham has been thrust into a starting role and even got a bump up to the 2-hole in the batting order. The guy is just very hot right now going 7 for 12 with 2 HR, 2 triples, 1 double, 8 RBI, and 5 R in the last 3 games. While he’s hot and while Grichuk remains out, Pham works out as a nice add to ride out the streak. For a glimpse at his potential, in 152 games played at AAA this year and last year, Pham hit .325 with 16 HR and 29 SB. Those numbers aren’t going to directly transfer over to the Majors, but you can see that he’s a toolsy guy that can hit for average, power, and has some speed.
Marcus Stroman SP, Blue Jays (Ownership: Yahoo 29%, ESPN 33%, CBS 47%)
I’ve mentioned Stroman here before he was activated from the DL and he went on to post a line of 5 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K with the W in his season debut against the Yankees last weekend. The line isn’t bad, but it should be noted that he was absolutely cruising for the first 4 innings to show little to no rust, and his start was cut short due to a rain delay. How Stroman is not owned in at least 50% of leagues on any platform is beyond me. Stroman has the upside of a pitcher like Sonny Gray and he can be extremely useful for fantasy teams down the stretch here. The caution would be that his next two matchups against the Red Sox and Yankees aren’t that friendly, but come on, you aren’t going to find any other pitcher with this much upside on the waiver wire often.
Anthony DeSclafani SP, Reds (Ownership: Yahoo 28%, ESPN 31%, CBS 51%)
DeSclafani is another pitcher that I mentioned recently and he followed up that recommendation with the best week of his season, yet he’s still not garnering the attention that he deserves. He owns a solid 3.67 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, and 7.30 K/9 in 28 starts this season as a rookie who pitches his home games in one of the best hitters parks in the league — and his strikeout rate has shot up a lot in the second half of the season (8.33 K/9). DeSclafani should make for an intriguing breakout pick next year, but for now he will look to finish out his season strong with scheduled starts at Milwaukee, vs. New York (NL), and vs. Chicago (NL). The starts against the Mets and Cubs won’t be easy ones, but with the way that he has been pitching he still makes for a strong add at this stage of the season.
Jhoulys Chacin SP, Diamondbacks (Ownership: Yahoo 2%, ESPN 4%, CBS 6%)
Chacin was once a top prospect in the Rockies organization and he had a couple of promising seasons despite the thin air of Coors Field. He hasn’t been fantasy relevant since 2013 and he is now with the Diamondbacks and has compiled a 2.95 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and 14 K/5 BB in 18.1 IP over 3 starts. Given Chacin’s recent Major League woes from a season ago, it’s hard to get too excited about him, but the appeal here is that he is currently scheduled for a 2-start week next week with starts at Los Angeles and San Diego. So for those in leagues with weekly lineup changes, you should know that having 2-start pitchers in the right matchups can be very useful. His matchup against the Dodgers isn’t the greatest, but the Dodgers offense surely has come pretty far down from where they were at in the first half of the season. And the matchup against the Padres is a pretty decent one. So I think that Chacin is going to have the opportunity here to potentially be helpful for fantasy squads in deep leagues next week.
Erik Johnson SP/RP, White Sox (Ownership: Yahoo 2%, ESPN 7%, CBS 10%)
Johnson was once thought to be a part of the White Sox rotation of the future, but he had a terrible performance last season when given the opportunity. He’s been recalled by the Sox and has made a few starts to post a 3.71 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, and 12 K/8 BB in 17 IP. Those are by no means fantastic numbers, but he is another potential 2-start option for deep leagues next week with starts scheduled at Detroit and New York (AL). I’m going to be straight up and tell you that the matchups for him are not great at all. But if you’re in desperate times, then you may need to take some desperate measures and go with the guy that is scheduled for 2 starts (subject to change). I would surely check in on Chacin first since his matchups are much more friendly, but Johnson could be a fallback option.
John Lamb SP, Reds (Ownership: Yahoo 2%, ESPN 3%, CBS 9%)
Lamb is one more pitcher that I have mentioned in the waiver wire article before and he is also another pitcher that is scheduled for 2 starts next week, which is the main appeal here. The rookie lefty has been pretty hittable as evidenced by his 5.35 ERA and 1.57 WHIP, so starts at St. Louis and hosting New York (NL) may not look too enticing. But one thing that he does have is strikeout upside. In 37 IP this season, the rookie lefty has logged 42 K, which translates to a very healthy 10.22 K/9. If you are in a strikeout battle then consider rolling the dice on Lamb and just hope that he is able to turn in at least one start where he doesn’t get hammered.
Vidal Nuno SP/RP, Mariners (Ownership: Yahoo 2%, ESPN 1%, CBS 5%)
I mentioned Nuno last week, as seen above, but due to the lack of any other new and viable options, I’ll reiterate Nuno as a potential waiver wire pickup. Nuno will indeed start this weekend and then probably remain in the rotation for the remainder of the season for the Mariners. His start this weekend won’t come in the most friendly of environments in Arlington to face the Rangers — and the Rangers have been red hot as a team — but Nuno did have success against the Rangers in his most recent start going 7 shutout innings of 1-hit baseball with 10 strikeouts. After that start, he will most likely make a home start against an Angels team that has had its fair share of struggles as on offense in the second half.