We are just days away from the final week of the fantasy baseball season so that means that this will be the year’s final Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire column. Sad times, I know. But that won’t prevent me from getting an early start on preparing for next year’s fantasy baseball season as I will be doing some research and analysis as soon as the season is over. Yes, I’m aware that I have a fantasy baseball addiction — and there is no cure — and I love it!
The final week of the regular season is always a bit funky. There will be plenty of adjustments to teams’ starting rotations as they either rearrange theirs for post-season preparation, shut down pitchers due to workload concerns, or go to a 6-man rotation to give some pitchers extra rest and/or to give some pitchers an extra look before the season concludes. Because of that, forecasting 2-start pitchers in the final week is practically impossible, so it’s best to just find pitchers who are pitching well and have positive hopeful matchups. In addition, many starting pitchers may even have their final start of the season cut short after a few innings. The same thing goes for hitters — they may see more days off and early exits from games as teams may more often start players who are normally reserves and also work in pinch-hitters, pinch-runners, and defensive replacements. Just be prepared for these things to happen and then yell at your MLB.com At-Bat app when you see the bad news — I do it all the time.
I’ll review last week’s recommendations first (see full article here), some of which did pretty well, and then I’ll give another 6 hitters and 6 pitchers who you can utilize for the final days of the season. Good luck to you all and bring home a fantasy championship or two!
***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
- Michael Conforto went just 3 for 20 (.150 AVG) since last Friday, but one of those hits was a home run and that’s what we were expecting out of him. Of course it would be nice if he added more hits, but he still has a great schedule remaining against a lot of mediocre inexperienced righties. Keep rolling with him.
- C.J. Cron went 3 for 20 (.150 AVG) with 3 RBI and no runs or HR in the past week. That’s not the output that we would have liked to see, but he’s still collecting everyday starts with teammate Albert Pujols hobbled and relegated to DH duties. And if Cron is playing everyday, that makes him worth a look for his power.
- Eddie Rosario went 5 for 24 (.209 AVG) with 2 HR, 4 RBI, and 3 R since last Friday. He’s still an intriguing option in fantasy leagues where he is eligible at second base and the scoring system doesn’t include strikeouts and walks. Did you know that the rookie Rosario leads the Majors with 14 triples?
- Ketel Marte has caught fire as he is now riding an 11-game hitting streak and since last Friday he is 11 for 25 (.440 AVG) with 4 doubles, 2 triples, 4 RBI, and 4 R. Recommending him as a waiver wire pickup was more for his stolen base potential than anything else, but he has failed to steal a base during that stretch. Though if you picked him up then you have to be pretty satisfied with his overall production. Some stolen bases should come before season’s end.
- Kelby Tomlinson is 2 for 19 (.105 AVG) since last Friday and has been shutout from logging any useful stats. The recommendation of Tomlinson was for his speed and while he didn’t steal any bases, he at least attempted a couple. Hey, just trying to find at least a minor victory. Marte is the superior option of the two if you’re looking for a speedy middle infielder.
- Tommy Pham went 8 for 25 (.320 AVG) with 1 HR, 4 RBI, 6 R, and 1 SB since last Friday. Pham has stayed productive and is surely enjoying his time hitting out of the #2 spot in the Cardinals lineup. Keep rolling with Pham as he can help out all around.
- Marcus Stroman made 2 starts since last Friday and they both ended up in victories for him as he posted a total line of 14 IP, 1 ER, 11 H, 2 BB, 8 K (0.64 ERA, 0.93 WHIP). The guy is a very good pitcher and he should make a couple more appearances before the season ends. He should not be left on any waiver wire right now.
- Anthony DeSclafani did not do well in his lone start at Milwaukee this past week. He gave up 8 hits and 4 earned runs in 4.1 IP. It was supposed to be a good matchup, but Disco couldn’t do anything with it. He gets the Mets next and is a little iffy to use in that one.
- Jhoulys Chacin didn’t have a great start in his most recent game, but he pitched well enough to get the win by going 5.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 3 K against the Dodgers. He gets one more start this week at Petco Park against the Padres and that start was surely supposed to be the more friendly of the two in this 2-start week. If you are in a weekly league and deployed Chacin, so far so good.
- Erik Johnson pitched a very good game in a not so favorable matchup against the Tigers where he posted a line of 6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 9 K and the W. That’s the good news. The bad news is that he lost his 2-start week status this week because the White Sox shuffled their starting rotation around. He will make his next start on Tuesday against the Royals where he can be given another flier if you’re in need of pitching in deep leagues or trying to collect some innings before the season ends.
- John Lamb pitched 6 shutout frames with 6 strikeouts against the Cardinals earlier this week in his first of two scheduled starts. I didn’t expect Lamb to pitch that well, but we’ll certainly take it. He gets a less favorable matchup in his second start of the week against the Mets, but maybe he can continue the magic. Remember that Lamb definitely has some strikeout upside if you are in a roto league and need the help there.
- Vidal Nuno did not have a great matchup against the Rangers in Arlington and it showed as he got a little lit up with a line of 3.1 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 3 K in a loss. He’ll make his next start against the Angels this weekend, but I am a bit less enthused about the prospects of using him after he struggled in his last start. Proceed with caution.
THIS WEEK’S RECOMMENDATIONS
Trayce Thompson OF, White Sox (Ownership: Yahoo 1%, ESPN 3%, CBS 4%)
I wouldn’t be ready to trust Trayce Thompson, younger brother of NBA player Klay Thompson, for a full fantasy season just yet, but luckily we only need to trust him for just a little more than a week. With the White Sox way out of contention, they are giving a lot of their youngsters looks in September and the most impressive of them all just may be Thompson. Thompson is currently hitting .315 with 5 HR, 15 RBI, 14 R, and 1 SB in 89 AB, and he’s the type of player who has shown 20/20 potential in his time in the Minors. He’s never had a penchant for hitting for a good batting average due to a less than stellar strikeout rate, but all he has to do is remain hot through October 4. The best thing that he has going for him right now is that he has been hitting anywhere from 3rd to 5th in the White Sox lineup, so he’s in a prime spot to produce. I prefer Tommy Pham to Thompson for the rest of the season, but they are rather similar.
Tom Murphy C, Rockies (Ownership: Yahoo 1%, ESPN 1%, CBS 3%)
Rockies catcher Nick Hundley is out for the season, so the Rockies have been using a couple of prospects that they gave September call-ups to in order to fill that void. One of those prospects is Murphy who has flashed some very nice pop in a short time. After 6 games, the 24-year old is hitting .300 with 3 HR, 8 RBI, and 4 R. This comes after he already blasted 20 HR in 105 games between AA and AAA this season. He won’t start everyday down the stretch and the Rockies have only one more series (this weekend against the Dodgers) at home in the thin air of Coors Field, but if you need catcher help and power then plug him in your lineup if you have the luxury of adjusting your lineup daily.
Alejandro De Aza OF, Giants (Ownership: Yahoo 4%, ESPN 2%, CBS 9%)
De Aza has been passed around a couple times this season from the Red Sox to the Orioles and then the Orioles to the Giants. With the Giants he has found himself in a starting role due to injuries to Hunter Pence and Nori Aoki, and he is also hitting near the top of the order. He gets the occasional HR and SB, but right now his value is probably with his run scoring potential. In the last 11 games he has scored 10 runs for the Giants, so give him some attention if you need some runs in a roto league.
Angel Pagan OF, Giants (Ownership: Yahoo 16%, ESPN 25%, CBS 23%)
Preceding De Aza in the Giants lineup as of late is Pagan and he also has some pretty nice run scoring potential as he has scored 11 runs in the last 11 games. Pagan also offers a little bit more speed than De Aza and that speed can be seen in a game a couple weeks ago where he swiped 3 bags, and he also has a SB in each of the last 2 games. If you want some extra speed potential as opposed to HR potential to go along with some runs, then turn to Pagan over De Aza.
Brandon Guyer OF, Rays (Ownership: Yahoo 1%, ESPN 1%, CBS 3%)
It’s anyone’s guess as to how teams will utilize their pitchers or adjust their rotations in the final days, but the Rays are currently scheduled to face 4 lefties in their final 9 games. The Rays are a very platoon conscious team and they work that angle fairly well when it comes to facing left-handed pitching. Guyer has been a staple all season long for the Rays when facing a southpaw and he leads off for the Rays in that scenario. Against lefties he has posted a very solid triple slash of .266/.373/.446 with 7 HR, 19 RBI, 29 R, and 4 SB in 177 AB. If you have the ability to do so, Guyer makes for a solid play in the games against lefties.
Mikie Mahtook, Rays (Ownership: Yahoo 3%, ESPN 6%, CBS 4%)
Mahtook spent most of the season at AAA before debuting for the Rays in August and it would appear that they have a Brandon Guyer clone on their hands, and Mahtook has been hitting right behind Guyer in the Rays lineup against left-handed pitching. Mahtook has been pretty impressive overall with a good chunk of his damage coming against lefties as he has hit .286/.365/.571 with 4 HR, 9 RBI, 12 R, and 1 SB in 56 AB against them. You know the drill — if you can afford to do it, Mahtook makes for an intriguing play against lefties.
Rich Hill SP/RP, Red Sox (Ownership: Yahoo 16%, ESPN 17%, CBS 10%)
Nobody could have possibly foreseen this coming, but the lefty Hill — after being converted to a reliever years ago after injury issues — made his first start in 6 years and he was utterly dominant, against a Rays team that hits lefties well no less. In that start he went 7 shutout innings allowing only 1 hit while striking out 10. Okay, so he just got lucky probably, right? Well, in his second start he faced the Major League’s absolute best team against left-handed pitching, the Blue Jays, and while it wasn’t as good as his first start, it still was another exceptional effort as he tossed 7 innings and gave up 3 runs while striking out another 10 batters. Those two starts have left him with a 1.93 ERA, 0.64 WHIP, and 20 K/1 BB in 14 IP. Hill was once a young pitcher on the rise with the Cubs a decade ago, but these are the types of numbers that we would have expected from him when he was in his prime and not at his current age of 35. Hill features a very nice curveball as his out pitch and he should get two more starts if all goes well. His next start will come this weekend against the Orioles who are one of the most strikeout prone teams in the league, so it is very feasible that he does the unthinkable and posts his 3rd straight double digit strikeout game in a row. Then his final start of the season is currently scheduled to come at Yankee Stadium as he completes the tour of all the AL East foes. The way that he has turned heads as he is looking more like Chris Sale than a 35-year old reliever, Hill is proving that he is not quite over the “hill” just yet. Perhaps Hill can contribute to your fantasy championship season.
Matt Moore SP, Rays (Ownership: Yahoo 7%, ESPN 8%, CBS 31%)
I have mentioned Moore in the past as a waiver wire recommendation, but I was a bit hesitant on that recommendation at the time. But I am now ready to give him my firm word of support. This season, Moore came back from Tommy John surgery. And if you recall, I have said that Tommy John survivors generally lack the same control and command in their first season back, and for pitchers that already had control problems, the issue is even worse. So when Moore returned, he was just all over the place and got hit hard. He went down to AAA and worked some kinks out and returned to the Rays earlier this month. His first two starts of the month were more of the same, but his most recent two starts have been much better as he has a line of 13.2 IP, 9 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 16 K (1.32 ERA, 0.80 WHIP). And even more encouraging is that his velocity in his last 4 starts since returning in early September has been a couple of ticks higher than it was when he first rejoined the Rays this season. Moore will make one more start and it is currently scheduled to come against the light hitting Marlins and it should be an excellent spot to take a chance on a guy with big strikeout upside as he wants to leave a lasting impression on Rays management heading into next season.
Adam Conley SP, Marlins (Ownership: Yahoo 6%, ESPN 11%, CBS 7%)
Pretty quietly, the lefty rookie Conley has strung together some nice starts for the Marlins after an unspectacular beginning to his Major League career. Over his last 6 starts, Conley has gone 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and 36 K/12 BB in 33.1 IP. Conley showed some nice strikeout potential in the lower levels of the Minors, but his strikeout rate diminished in the upper levels. But it looks like that potential is poking its head out now and it’s giving fantasy owners some reason to take notice of a Marlins starting pitcher not named Jose Fernandez. Unfortunately, Conley’s final start of the season is currently scheduled to come against the Rays who are one of the better hitting teams in the league against lefties (thanks to guys like Brandon Guyer and Mikie Mahtook of course). So this definitely won’t be the best of spots to use him. But if you want to roll the dice and need the innings, then Conley and his good recent form might be of some use. At the very least, he’s getting fantasy managers to take notice of him for next season.
Tyler Duffey SP, Twins (Ownership: Yahoo 11%, ESPN 24%, CBS 24%)
Duffey hasn’t been the greatest of prospects coming up through the Minors for the Twins, but he built up his status this season with a strong showing between AA and AAA with a 2.54 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 7.96 K/9, and 2.54 BB/9. He has made 8 starts in the Majors so far and has rather quietly posted a 3.15 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 8.67 K/9, and 3.55 BB/9, and he has turned in 3 great starts in a row against the Astros, Tigers, and Angels. He likely won’t post numbers quite as good as this over the long term, but he’s been a nice surprise for the Twins and should be a decent waiver wire option for his final two starts of the season where he is scheduled to hit the road against the Tigers and Indians who are both teams he has had success against this season. There are certainly worse options than Duffey if you’re looking to log some innings.
Darren O’Day RP, Orioles (Ownership: Yahoo 28%, ESPN 19%, CBS 17%)
Zach Britton came on strong as the closer for the Orioles in 2014 and he has done a very fine job this season to replicate last year’s performance. However, he’s sidelined with a lat strain right now and the Orioles really have no need to rush him back since they are virtually out of contention for a post-season berth. Luckily for us fantasy folk, the Orioles possess one of the best setup men of the last 7 years (excluding an injury plagued 2011 season). The sidearming righty has a career 2.31 ERA and 1.00 WHIP and is enjoying what can probably be considered his best season as a Major League pitcher. O’Day has earned saves in each of the last 3 days with ease and should remain as the team’s closer through the rest of the season. Pick him up for the saves and feel very comfortable with the results that he should bring over the last 10 days.
Robbie Ross SP/RP, Red Sox (Ownership: Yahoo 9%, ESPN 14%, CBS 8%)
The lefty Ross has collected the last 5 saves for the Red Sox and it appears he will continue in that role through the end of the season. With a 4.06 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 7.80 K/9, Ross has not been fantastic nor does he profile as a closer for the long term. But at this point of the season if you are looking for some extra saves, those aren’t really things to worry about. All you want is a decent volume of opportunities and you take what you can get and you take the bad with the good. I’d turn to Ross before thinking about Feliz as Ross seems less likely to have a big blowup game.