Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Madness (8/15/22 -8/21/22)
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Happy Waiver Wire Day all! Well, we nailed it again last week with waiver wire picks - did you grab J Mateo (BAL), R Suarez (PHI), J Quintana (STL), O Gonzalez (CLE), or J Hernandez (TEX)? These guys are continuing to roll and I've got another hot list of recommendations lined up for you below. With only seven full weeks to go in the season, make sure you look closely at your standings (in roto) and know where you can make up ground, then attack those categories! If you can gain 3 points in the standings with just 5 SBs and have a cushion in HRs, take a chance on a speedster and try to make up that ground.
In addition to the guys below, remember we have a couple of star pitchers making their return from the IL - Dustin May and Lance McCullers. McCullers was very good yesterday for the Astros, securing the win while going 6 innings and allowing just 2 hits with 5 Ks. Check your wire to see if either is available and if they are a fit for your squad.
As always, the recommendations are divided among shallow leagues (10/12 team mixed) and deeper leagues (15 team+ and AL/NL only). Keep hitting me up with questions on Twitter and good luck!
Shallow Leagues – 10/12 team mixed leagues:
Jean Segura, 2B, Philadelphia Phillies:
Jean Segura returned on August 4th after missing over two months of the year due to a broken right index finger. Prior to going down with the injury, Segura had been a great power/speed combo for owners – hitting .275/.324 with 6 HR and 8 SBs in his first 44 games of the year. He is back in the Phillies lineup and seemingly picking up right where he left off . . . Segura has played 7 games since his return and is hitting .304/.333/.435 with 1 HR and 2 SBs. With just a 15% K% on the year and a 43% HardHit% per Statcast, this is the sort of talent that should not be left on the wire. Even on a team with a strong roster of hitters, you should be able to find a spot for him at an MI position to replace another slumping/underperforming player. Scoop him up.
Randal Grichuk, OF, Colorado Rockies:
The move to Colorado early in 2022 had Grichuk rocketing up draft boards, but against those expectations, Grichuk’s 2022 has largely been disappointing. Through July 31st, he was hitting .259/.301/.412 with 9 HR/36 R/51 RBI/3 SB in 88 games (85 wRC+). While Grichuk’s Statcast numbers are largely in line with prior years, his launch angle is way down (7.8 in 2022 v. 16.1 in 2021) and Barrel% is also off (5.7% in 2022 v. 8.5% in 2021). As you would expect with that LA departure, Grichuk is hitting far more ground balls this year than in years past. This year’s 52.7% GB% is the highest of his career by 10 percentage points! You’re probably thinking, so why is Grichuk in the column then?!? Well, because there are some encouraging signs suggesting that Grichuk is turning things around this year – since July 29th, Grichuk is hitting the ball much harder (92.7 mph) and getting better results as well: .377/.400/.642 with 3 HR/9 R/15 RBI and a 20% K% over 15 games. Grichuk still has huge home/road splits, so ideally, you would use him only when the Rockies are at home, but he is proving himself useful overall recently. Take a flyer on him if you have a slumping player in a 5 OF league.
Vinnie Pasquantino, 1B, Kansas City Royals:
Is this guy writing about Vinnie Pasquantino again? Yes, he has been a regular in this column and my Twitter feed since the beginning of the year, but the man crush continues! When you see a slugger averaging over 92 mph in EV with a HardHit% of 49% and a combined fly ball and line drive rate at 58%, you expect them to be among the league leaders in numerous statistical categories. While Vinnie P has underlying metrics to drool over (as well as a 10% BB% and just a 15% K%), his overall numbers are good, not great - .247/.331 with 6 HR/14 R/10 RBI in 40 games. But his three home runs this past week may be a harbinger of good things to come and he is due for a hot streak with those batted ball statistics. I am obviously a big fan of Vinnie P and continue to believe that he is under-rostered given the skills he brings to the table. He should be owned in all points and OBP leagues and I would rather have him over a number of other 1B at a CI position even in shallow leagues. Keep the faith!
Josh Donaldson, 3B, New York Yankees:
Those with high hopes for Josh Donaldson’s 2022 production after he joined the New York Yankees (hand raised) have been vastly disappointed so far this season. While Donaldson has been serviceable in stretches, overall, he has left much to be desired. But are there signs that Donaldson is finally coming around? Despite his career worst .703 OPS, Donaldson has been better of late; since the start of August, Donaldson is hitting .297/.395/.568 with 2 HR/6 R/8 RBI in 10 games (176 wRC+). Add to that a 94.6 avg. EV during that timespan and you have good reason for optimism. Even with his struggles, Donaldson bats in the heart of one of baseball’s best lineups, so even a modest increase in his production is likely to yield substantial runs and RBI for your team. If he has been cut in shallow leagues, he is worth an add to see if he can get on a run, especially considering how weak the 3B position has been for fantasy this season.
Jesus Luzardo, SP, Miami Marlins:
Luzardo is an exceptional talent whose MLB career to this point has been plagued by inconsistency. There is no denying the ability in that arm – 11.41 K/9 this year to go along with a 3.29 ERA and 3.13 xFIP is a head-turner. And after missing time to injury this year, Luzardo is back and has made 3 starts with the Marlins, posting an impressive line: 1-0, 17 IP, 11 H, 7 ER, 3 BB, 17 Ks. Luzardo has a high velocity FB for a LHP, averaging almost 97 mph and allowing just a .220 BA against on the pitch. But his primary offering is his curveball, which he throws over a third of the time, and rightfully so – with a .113 BA against and a nearly 40% whiff rate per Statcast, Luzardo’s curveball is downright lethal. The team context isn’t anything to get excited about and that could rob Luzardo of some win potential, but the guy oozes talent and will—at the very least—give his owners solid ratios and Ks. I’ve long been a fan and think he’ll eventually emerge as a perineal top 20 SP in this league.
Rowan Wick, RP, Chicago Cubs:
It’s that time of the year that beggars can’t be choosers when it comes to saves and, right now, Wick certainly appears to be the man for the Cubs - he has now secured three saves in the past week. That being said, while Wick had control problems early in the season (4.5 BB/9 and a 1.70 WHIP through June 15th), he has looked better over the past couple of months and deserves credit for the improvements he has made. Since June 15th, Wick has just 3.32 BB/9 and, but for a couple of subpar outings, would have very strong numbers. The Cubs are not a great team, but there will be save opportunities and Wick appears to have the closer job on lock, so grab him if you need to make up ground in the standings.
Alexis Diaz, RP, Cincinnati Reds:
Diaz appeared in the deeper league section of this column a few weeks ago as a speculative saves addition and it looks increasingly like he is the guy to own in Cincinnati. Earlier this week, Manager David Bell made clear that Hunter Strickland was out as the Reds closer (mercy killing) and Diaz seems to be next in line. He has been fantastic this year, posting a 1.90 ERA and 11.81 K/9 across 42.2 IP this season. Diaz’s Statcast page is impressive (putting it mildly), as he ranks in the 100th percentile in FB spin and extension, and in the top 10th percentile in three other categories (Whiff%, xBA, and K%). He does allow a good amount of fly balls and that will, at some point, lead to more HRs allowed, but he has avoided that issue to this point in the season. If you need saves, jump on him quickly.
Deeper Leagues (15+ team or AL/NL Only)
Nick Gordon, 2B/SS/OF, Minnesota Twins:
For the season, Nick Gordon’s headline numbers aren’t all that impressive - .277/.324/.426 with 5 HR/30 R/20 RBI/5 SBs in 90 games. But take a peek behind those numbers and what you’ll find is intriguing – specifically, a hitter that, in a very under-the-radar way, ranks in the top 20th percentile in the MLB in avg. EV, HardHit%, Barrel%, xSLG, and xwOBA. Really?? Really. Gordon played only sporadically in 2022 until Alex Kirilloff went down (yet again) due to his wrist injury, which will now keep Kirilloff out for the rest of the season. Since that time, however, Gordon has played every day for the Twins, primarily in the OF, but also at SS. And he is playing very well – since July 27th, Gordon is hitting .405/.455/.649 with 6 2B/1 HR/7 R/7 RBI/2 SBs (207 wRC+) with an 11% BB% and just a 15% K% across those 12 games. Gordon looks like he has a hold on the PT in Minnesota and he is a hot hand worth riding in deep leagues for now.
Vaughn Grissom, 2B, Atlanta Braves:
Earlier this year, the Braves called up one of their prospects, Michael Harris II, directly from AA and, putting it mildly, that has worked out very well. Now, another star prospect in the organization is making the jump directly from AA as Vaughn Grissom gets the call to replace the injured Ozzie Albies and Orlando Arcia. Grissom is an exciting young prospect that has performed well across both A+ and AA in 2022, posting a line of: .324/.405/.494 with 14 HR/72 R/67 RBI/27 SB in 96 games . . . eyebrows appropriately raised. And it didn’t take long for Grissom to turn heads at the major league level, as he went 3-7 with a HR, 3 R, 2 RBI, and a SB in his two games. It is hard to know how rookies will fare when they make the jump to the show, especially from AA, but Grissom certainly seems to have the tools to succeed even if the 21 year old doesn’t do it this year. There is also the question of where and whether Grissom plays when Ozzie Albies returns to the Braves, which may happen later this month. For now, grab Grissom in deep leagues and see how he performs in the short run.
Paul DeJong, SS, St. Louis Cardinals:
If you look at just his season-long numbers, there is no reason you would want to add Paul DeJong, even in deeper leagues – I mean, a .188 batting average and sub .300 on base – disgusting. But DeJong was truly abysmal to start the year (he was sent down to the minors) and that is an anchor around the neck of his stats. In truth, DeJong’s minor league numbers were very good (17 HR and 54 RBI in 51 G) and he has been red hot since returning to the Cardinals: .300/.396/.725 with 4 HR/8 R/13 RBI (95 mph avg. EV!) in 12 games. This is a high risk/high reward pick-up, but in deeper leagues, you have to move quickly when someone is swinging the stick like DeJong is at the moment. He can’t stay this hot forever, but if DeJong can maintain production anywhere close, he will be a fantasy asset for your squad down the stretch.
Elehuris Montero, 3B, Colorado Rockies:
Another rookie to burst on the scene recently is the Rockies Elehuris Montero. Anyone that plays for the Rockies is worth a second look given the numbers that get put up in Colorado, but Montero’s minor league numbers are intriguing for any rookie. Across 2021 and 2022 in AAA, Montero compiled a line of .296/.378/.529 with 20 HR/66 R/69 RBI/4 SBs in 92 games. Add to that good plate discipline at AAA (9% BB% and 20% K%) and you have the potential for success at the major league level, and he has showed it recently. Since his return to the show on August 2nd, Montero has been slugging, hitting .368/.385/.579 with 5 2B/1 HR/5 R/6 RBI in 10 games (with a hit in every game). Rookies are hit or miss, but the profile looks good and there is always a path to success for Rockies in fantasy. Montero is worth a shot in deeper leagues to see if he can stay on a roll.
Edward Cabrera, SP, Miami Marlins:
The Marlins young impact pitcher Edward Cabrera is back from the IL and is, once again, turning heads. If you can look past his control issues (which will cause heartburn), Cabrera is one of the more exciting and electric young arms in the game. And the numbers make the case – so far this season, Cabrera has started 5 games and generated a line of: 26.1 IP, 13 H, 6 ER ,14 BB, 29 Ks, 2.05 ERA (3.84 FIP), 1.03 WHIP. Yes, I told you the walks would generate some heartburn but the stuff is undeniable, I mean, just 13 hits allowed in 26 innings? And 29Ks as well? That’s legit and a testament to the deep arsenal that Cabrera employs, throwing 5 different pitches (4 at least 16% of the time) that keep hitters off balance and get results – four of his pitches have a whiff rate in excess of 33.3%! The team context here is clearly suboptimal (okay, awful), but Cabrera has an arm to dream on and definitely worth a flyer in deep leagues. That said, he is high risk/high reward because there will be gem starts and a few duds as well with that high walk rate. So far, Cabrera has been the beneficiary of a very low BABIP (just .186), which is unsustainable. Bet on the talent but know that this potential ace in the making needs more cook time and is not fully baked yet.
Justin Steele, SP, Chicago Cubs:
Justin Steele has been quietly very good over the past 2+ months and the fantasy community is not giving him enough respect for the changes he made in season. During the first two months of the year, Steele was not effective, posting a 5.40 ERA through May 31st.Some of this was bad fortune (see his .342 BABIP and 59% LOB%), but much of it was earned given the very high 5.18 BB/9 rate. But since June 1st, Steele has found his control, dropping his BB/9 from 5.18 to just 2.92 . . . an amazing turnaround in season. And over that time, Steele has produced the following line: 3-2, 61.2 IP, 60 H, 17 ER, 20 BB, 60Ks, 2.48 ERA (3.35 FIP), and a 1.30 WHIP. One of our blind spots in the fantasy community is, after a player’s poor start to the year, failing to recognize legitimate changes in season that have led to better results and this is true in Steele’s case. While he isn’t an ace, Steele has shown that he can be a reliable starter in deeper leagues and I wouldn’t hesitate to swap him into my roster for a struggling starter or middling reliever (depending on team needs of course).