Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Madness (8/29/22 - 9/4/22)
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It's the home stretch folks - only about 5 weeks left to decide who walks away with the trophy in your fantasy baseball league! We hit on some great waiver wire finds again last week - names like Tommy Pham and Eduardo Rodriguez in shallow leagues and Shea Langeliers, Jake Fraley, and Christian Arroyo in deeper leagues. With another stash of guys below, we'll get your team loaded up and ready to bring home the title! As always, the recommendations below are divided among shallow leagues (10/12 team mixed) or deeper leagues (15+ team mixed or AL/NL only). Good luck all!
Shallow Leagues – 10/12 team mixed leagues:
Lars Nootbar, OF, St. Louis Cardinals:
In his second MLB season, Lars Nootbar is turning some heads. The 24 year old has put up good season-long numbers, but he has been absolutely on fire lately. On the season, Nootbar is slashing .251/.363/.465 with 8 HR/36 R/28 RBI/3 SB with a ridiculous 15% BB% and a good 21% K%. That high walk rate makes him, as you would expect, more valuable in OBP and points leagues, but Nootbar has recently proven his worth in all formats. In the month of August, Nootbar has been exceptional, hitting .312/.444/.571 with 5 2B/3 3B/3 HR/17 R/11 RBI/2 SB across 24 games – the man is filling up the box score! In addition, Nootbar has been an absolute fixture in the Cardinals lineup lately, starting 30 consecutive games and slowly working his way from the bottom of the order to acting as the Cards leadoff man approximately half the time. His roster rate has been steadily climbing of late, but if you can get him off the wire, do so with confidence and ride this hot streak.
Christopher Morel, 2B/3B/OF, Chicago Cubs:
This isn’t the first time I’ve included Christopher Morel in this column, although he has now graduated from a deep league add to a shallow league add. Morel has been a very pleasant surprise for the rebuilding Chicago Cubs this season. Over 83 games played, Morel is hitting .252/.316/.446 with 12 HR/48 R/34 RBI/9 SBs – I’m no math whiz, but that pretty easily translates to 23 HR, 94 R, and 17 SBs across a full 160 game season for the rookie. As with most rookies, Morel still strikes out more than you would like to see (30%), but he also sports a respectable 8.2% BB% and, importantly, he hits the ball hard. Morel is top 20th percentile among all MLB players in max exit velocity, Barrel%, xSLG, and sprint speed . . . a more than intriguing profile. In addition to these still-developing tools, Morel can provide valuable multi-position flexibility for your team because he currently qualifies at 2B, 3B, and OF. If you need some speed and pop, you could do a lot worse than Morel – he looks like a star on the rise in Chicago.
Manuel Margot, OF, Tampa Bay Rays:
Over the last few years, Manny Margot has been a good and consistent power/speed combo that can regularly provide double-digit HR and SBs. He was on an excellent pace early in the season to have one of his best seasons yet when he was forced to the IL. But Margot is back in the lineup and should play as close to everyday as can be expected for any Rays player (he has started 5 of his first 7 games back). So far this year, Margot has been better than expected – in addition to contributing some pop and speed, he has hit for average (currently sporting a .304 BA and .363 OBP), which has not been a skill he has regularly displayed over his career and has helped him post a 134 wRC+ so far in 2022, the best of his career. Margot isn’t going to single-handedly carry your team to a title, but he will provide contributions across the board and, given the multitude of Rays injuries, is almost certain to be in the lineup on a nearly everyday basis. Take a flyer on him for an underperforming OF.
Ross Stripling, SP, Toronto Blue Jays:
Ross Stripling, for whatever reason, consistently doesn’t get the respect he deserves in the fantasy community. I mean, I realize he doesn’t post huge strikeout numbers (7.58 K/9), but we're talking about a starting pitcher on a good team that currently has a 2.84 ERA (2.79 FIP), 1.04 WHIP, 6 wins as a part-time starter, and a 48% GB% - that plays even in shallow leagues. And Stripling also provides amazing consistency – the last time he surrendered more than 3 ER in any outing was on May 7th . . . and over that entire period, Stripling surrendered more than 2 ER only one time! Put that all together and, dating back to July 8th, Stripling has made 6 starts for the Blue Jays and is 2-0, 32.2 IP, 26 H, 7 ER, 3 BB, 31 Ks, 1.93 ERA (1.99 FIP), and with a 0.89 WHIP; those numbers are far too good for him to be sitting on your wire. Get him into your rotation if possible.
Patrick Sandoval, SP, Los Angeles Angels:
Those of you that follow me on Twitter know that I am not a fan of pitchers with high walk rates. But, while Patrick Sandoval clearly issues too many free passes, he is oozing with talent by every other metric and is someone that I cannot quit. If he could shore up his command and control issues (as Dylan Cease did), Sandoval has the ability to vault into the ranks of the elite starting pitchers in the majors. To begin, Sandoval displays one of my favorite combinations for a pitcher – the ability to secure strikeouts (9.5 K/9) and induce ground balls at a high rate (47%). He also throws 5 different pitches at least 9% of the time and registers an over 33% whiff rate on three of those pitches (slider, changeup, and curveball) – outstanding! Sandoval has been great this year, posting a 3.05 ERA (3.15 FIP) with 120 Ks in 115 IP and a 13% SwStr%, which is top 20 in the majors among SPs with at least 90 IP. His WHIP is too high due to the walks (1.38), but Sandoval has been much better than his season-long numbers lately. Over his last 5 starts, Sandoval’s line is: 31 IP, 21 H, 5 ER, 11 BB, 29 Ks, 1.45 ERA, and 1.03 WHIP. His best start of the year came last week against Detroit where he threw a complete game shutout and, notably, issued 0 walks (and only 1 walk in his next start). Sandoval has some risk due to the control issues, but he is exceptionally talented and worth adding off the wire, especially if you need strikeouts.
Andrew Heaney, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers:
Recommending Andrew Heaney here makes me feel very much like Charlie Brown running to kick the football from Lucy. I’ve had Heaney on teams for years, waiting for him to live up to his talent and promise and put it all together, and I’ve always been frustrated. But the talent for the former first rounder is undeniable and coming off back-to-back 10 K performances on a juggernaut team like the Dodgers cannot be ignored. Heaney has now lowered his season ERA to 1.94 and that is well-supported by the ridiculous 13.39 K/9 and excellent 2.59 BB/9 ratios that he has posted in 2022. Not to mention an eye-popping 16% SwStr% that would be—if Heaney qualified with more IP this season—be tied for second in all of MLB with Dylan Cease and behind only Shane McClanahan. I can comfortably say that Heaney has more talent than any other pitcher on your waiver wire and, when coupled with his team context, he is clearly an elite add with the potential to help lead your team to a title this season. Although he has been frustrating to own in the past, it is a risk worth taking.
Brandon Hughes, RP, Chicago Cubs:
If you’re in need of saves, Brandon Hughes has emerged as an option for the Cubs. After Rowan Wick had the job seemingly to himself since the All Star break, Hughes secured three saves in a week and now seems to be the co-closer with Wick. But even aside from the newfound saves opportunities, Hughes has been a reliable RP this season for ratios and strikeouts, so he’s a relatively safe add in the hope of more saves. Dating back to mid-July, Hughes has a win, 2 holds, 3 saves, a 1.89 ERA, and 26 Ks in 19 IP. From those numbers, you can see why he was moved to a high-leverage role at the end of the game. He isn’t locked into the closer role, but if you’re battling in the saves category, every one counts and Hughes has a line on both saves, as well as good ratios and strikeouts.
Deeper Leagues (15+ team or AL/NL Only)
Jake McCarthy, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks:
Talk about coming on strong . . . the Dbacks Jake McCarthy has been absolutely on fire lately! Over his past 16 games, McCarthy is slashing a robust .396/.459/.528 with 1 HR/11 R/11 RBI/6 SBs (176 wRC+) and a 9.7% BB% with just a 8.1% K%. McCarthy has great speed (98th percentile sprint speed) and if you need SBs for the stretch run, he is a great gamble. While he isn’t likely to contribute much in the power department, McCarthy is showing that he can get on base at a good clip (.353 OBP across 67 games this season) and anyone with this kind of speed can wreak havoc on the basebaths. McCarthy’s play has earned him a nearly everyday spot in the Dbacks’ lineup and he has started 25 of the last 29 games for the team, moving steadily up in the order to the point that he is batting 5th many days now. I like the development that we are seeing out of McCarthy and he profiles to be a good OBP guy that can contribute about 10 HR and 20-25 SBs across a full season. He’s a very good add in deeper leagues where SBs are at a premium.
Dan Vogelbach, DH, New York Mets:
Dan Vogelbach wasted no time endearing himself to his new Mets teammates or the New York fans. Aside from the aesthetic joy of watching him run the bases, since joining the Mets, Vogelbach is hitting .256/.390/.488 with 4 HR/10 R/15 RBI (154 wRC+) in 29 games. Vogelbach is a strong-side platoon bat that typically doesn’t play against lefties but, even still, he has been the DH in 23 of the Mets last 28 games, so it isn’t impacting his playing time too much. As well, there are sure to be plenty of RBI opportunities in the future as Vogelbach is locked into the 5th spot behind S Marte, F Lindor, and P Alonso when he is in the lineup. Vogelbach is more valuable in OBP leagues due to his exceptional BB% (15%) but has enough pop to be a viable roster option in all deeper leagues. Vogelbach is a prototypical power hitter, crushing the ball at a high rate (43% HardHit% via Statcast) and lifting the ball in the air regularly (65% combined LD and FB rate). If you need HR and RBI—particularly in a deeper OBP league—you should have room on your roster to add Vogelbach.
Franchy Cordero, 1B/OF, Boston Red Sox:
With the injury to Eric Hosmer, Franchy Cordero is back and looks to be on track to be the Red Sox primary 1B. I have long been a Cordero fan given the above-average power and speed tools he possesses. Strikeouts and too many ground balls have, however, been his Achilles heel in years past. That said, Cordero has given at least some room for optimism this year – for example, he has doubled his walk rate from 2021 to an impressive 10.1% this year, giving him some additional hidden value in OBP leagues. And since returning from AAA earlier this week, Cordero already has 3 HR, 4 R, and 4 RBI after being on a tear in the minors. He is a very deep league add, but Cordero has the talent and tools to succeed if he gets on a hot streak. If you’re in need of a 1B or OF, he is worth a flyer.
Matt Manning, SP, Detroit Tigers:
Matt Manning was a highly-touted prospect in the Tigers organization that struggled during his first round in the majors in 2021 – 4-7 with a 5.80 ERA and just 57 Ks in 85 innings. But it often takes time for pitchers to adapt to major league hitting and we may be watching Matt Manning’s development in real time. This season, Manning looks much different and much better. To begin, he is missing bats at a much higher rate than last year, posting a SwStr% of 11.5% this season versus just 6.8% in 2021. Manning has also improved his control this season, lowering his BB/9 down to 2.13 in 2022 from 3.48 in 2021. Finally, he is throwing his slider with more velocity and getting exceptional results (40% whiff rate and .198 xBA against). Combined, these have led it amazing results in Manning’s last four starts: 1-1, 25 IP, 22 H, 5 ER, 5 BB, 26 Ks, 1.80 ERA (2.16 FIP), and a 1.08 WHIP. Manning has the tools to succeed and he is looking sharp recently.
James Karinchak, RP, Cleveland Guardians:
In deeper leagues, it takes more than starters and closers to build a championship pitching staff, especially when you are hit by injuries. Quite often, the best waiver option isn’t a middling SP that could ruin your ratios with a blow-up outing, but a lock down setup man that can bolster your ratios, provide a reasonable number of Ks in a week, and maybe even vulture a win to go along with a hold or two. James Karinchak more than fits this description. Although he missed the first half of the season due to injury, remember that Karinchak was lights out for the Guardians last year, logging 7 wins, 11 saves, and __ holds. And he is mowing down hitters again this year in setting the table for Clase. Karinchak currently has an 20 inning scoreless streak going back to July 9th, during which time he has built a line of: 20 IP, 7 H, 0 ER, 10 BB, 37 Ks, with a win and 4 holds – eyepopping numbers! Karinchak is one of those swiss army knife relievers that will be used in a multitude of situations and has stuff so filthy that he will always be an asset (think peak Andrew Miller). He’s a great add in deep leagues (15+ team or AL only).
Good luck this week all and keep hitting me up on Twitter with your fantasy questions!