Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Madness (9/12/22 - 9/18/22)
Almost there folks! We nailed the waiver wire picks again last week, so I hope you grabbed Joey Meneses, Jimmy Herget, Trevor Rogers, Michael Toglia and more! We have only a few transaction weeks left to impact the standings, let’s do it again and help you bring home a championship!
As always, the recommendations below are divided among shallow leagues (10/12 team mixed) or deeper leagues (15+ team mixed or AL/NL only).
Keep those questions coming and follow me on Twitter @fantasybbguru. Good luck all!
Shallow Leagues – 10/12 team mixed leagues:
Hunter Brown, SP, Houston Astros:
Have the Astros done it again? Top tier pitching prospect Hunter Brown made his debut for the Astros on Labor Day and built upon his impressive 2022 AAA campaign, securing the win and going 6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 Ks against the Texas Rangers. And, with Justin Verlander getting some rest on the IL down the stretch, Brown seems to have a rotation spot locked up for the time being on an excellent team. Brown does the two things I absolutely love for a starting pitcher – let’s say it together, he gets ground balls and piles up the strikeouts. In AAA this season, Brown had a 54% GB% while striking out 134 in just 106 innings . . . stats to absolutely drool over. He throws four pitches effectively, highlighted by a 96 mph fastball, which is complemented by a fantastic 12/6 curve. If there is any flaw in his game, the control could certainly improve – while he has just 1 BB in his first major league start, Brown registered 3.8 BB/9 at AAA this season and walked 2 or more in 16 of his 23 AAA starts (including 7 starts of 3 BB or more). So, its fair to assume he will have some starts where his control fails him, but the stuff is legit and picking up a starter on one of the best teams in baseball (solid bet for wins) doesn’t come around often. Grab him now.
Bubba Thompson, OF, Texas Rangers:
If you have a chance to make up ground in SBs, have I got the man for you . . . Bubba Thompson is an absolute speed demon that I highlighted in the deeper league section of this column when he was initially called up by the Rangers. Get this, in AAA this season, Thompson stole 49 bases in just 80 games. Mind blown. And add to those 49 SBs the 13 HRs that Thompson crushed prior to the call and you can see all the makings for a fantasy star. While Thompson has certainly not achieved that level yet, he has more than held his own and is playing nearly every day for the Rangers (started 15 of the last 16). In 32 games so far this season, Thompson is slashing .290/.343/.350 with 1 HR/12 R/8 RBI/11 SBs and if you’re snagging him off the wire, it’s for those steals. With 6 SBs in his last 16 games, Thompson is a force on the basepaths and can help you make up ground in the category quickly. Take a flyer on him.
Nathaniel Lowe, 1B, Texas Rangers:
After all the love that I (and many others) have spread about Nate Lowe this season, he is somehow still underrostered. Lowe has had a great 2022 campaign and is now hitting .304/.358/.502 with 24 HR/64 R/68 RBI/2 SBs (145 wRC+) for the Rangers. He hits the ball consistently hard (90 mph avg. EV) and has gotten more lift on the ball this year than last. Those that follow me remember that I called for him to be a breakout this year IF he could hit the ball in the air with more consistency. While there is still plenty of room for growth for Lowe in that area, this year’s improvement in combined LD/FB (53% in 2022 v. 45.5% in 2021) is reflected in his underlying stats. And if the season-long numbers don’t impress, check out Lowe’s last 47 games - .368/.422/.637 with 9 2B/2 3B/12 HR/22 R/29 RBI (202 wRC+) – that 202 wRC+ over that period is 2nd in all of MLB behind only Aaron Judge. Lowe should absolutely not be on the wire in your league.
Jon Gray, SP, Texas Rangers:
Jon Gray was tearing it up prior to hitting the IL with an oblique injury on August 1st, but he is slated to make his return to the rotation soon and is worthy of your trust. I was very high on Gray in the pre-season, given that he was getting out of Colorado and into a far more pitcher-friendly environment. In the early going, however, Gray was fine but nothing to get excited about. But from about mid-June until he hit the IL, Gray was dealing, with a line of: 6-3, 57.1 IP, 46 H, 17 ER, 15 BB, 69 Ks, 2.67 ERA (2.88 xFIP), and a 1.06 WHIP. In some shallower leagues, there is a good chance that Gray was dropped and, if so, you’ll want to scoop him up and hope he can pick up where he left off before the injury. And, although it is difficult to know how his starts will line up exactly, the Rangers generally have a favorable schedule going forward, with games on tap against the A’s, Marlins, Angels, and Mariners.
Alex Cobb, SP, San Francisco Giants:
Yes . . . I know, I know . . . Cobb has been in this article before and he was good not great, inconsistent at times even. This is true, but that was some time ago and the underlying metrics have proven to be true (trust the process!).Over Cobb’s last eight starts now, his line is: 2-2, 46.1 IP, 42 H, 14 ER, 15 BB, 52 Ks, 2.72 ERA (2.79 xFIP), and a 1.23 WHIP – I seriously doubt you’ll find better on the wire. Cobb throws a sinker, split-finger, curve combination that keeps hitters off balance and induces both strikeouts (9.3 K/9) and ground balls (mind blowing 61.9% GB%!).Cobb’s early season struggles (bad luck) have suppressed his roster rate, but you are very unlikely to find another SP on the wire with a 2.99 FIP, 2.90 xFIP, over 9.0 K/9 and under 3.0 BB/9.These are elite numbers and Cobb is as likely to finish the season on a tear as a number of other pitchers that are easily inside the top 30 pitchers in baseball. Invest.
Nick Lodolo, SP, Cincinnati Reds:
The 6' 6" Lodolo got the call to the big club early in the season and he has not disappointed. So far, the rookie has made 14 starts and compiled the following line: 4-5, 81 IP, 75 H, 34 ER, 30 BB, 102 Ks, 3.78 ERA (3.67 FIP), 1.30 WHIP, 11.33 K/9, and 3.33 BB/9. The walks are a little higher than you would like to see, which is driving the high WHIP, but that is nitpicking an otherwise superb debut season for Lodolo. And he has only gotten better - across his last eight starts dating back to the end of July, Lodolo has a 2.80 ERA with 64 Ks in 54.2 innings pitched. Add this performance with likely matchups next week against the Pirates and Cardinals, and you have a must-roster SP. Lodolo has been great and can help your team down the stretch, even on a subpar Reds team. Grab him if he's available.
Deeper Leagues (15+ team or AL/NL Only)
Josh Jung, 3B, Texas Rangers:
With people beginning to turn their attention to fantasy football, some of the big September call-ups appear to be flying under the radar and Josh Jung is definitely a prospect to watch. Prior to the season, Jung was penciled in to be the Rangers everyday third baseman and generated a lot of buzz given his hit tool and power potential. But a torn labrum requiring surgery delayed his big-league arrival and the time is now! In his AAA assignment on rehab this season, Jung has looked strong, hitting .274/.317/.526 with 6 HR/14 R/24 RBI/1 SB in just 22 games. And, although the walk rate in this particular sample was low (4%), which drove down his OBP, Jung has a track record of high walk rates (over 9% in almost 80 games across AA and AAA in 2021) and you should expect great plate discipline and respectable pop. And in his first two games in the bigs, Jung did not disappoint, going 3-for-8 with a HR and a SB. There is risk with all rookies, but Jung is advanced and, but for the injury, would likely have played the entire season with the Rangers. He is ready and worth an add in deeper leagues.
Triston Casas, 1B, Boston Red Sox:
Triston Casas was yet another top prospect that has finally received the call from the Red Sox last weekend. Casas has great plate discipline, the ability to hit for average, and average power that could develop over time. Across exactly 162 minor league games in 2021/22 (AA and AAA), Casas hit .280/.391/.491 with 26 HR/111 R/100 RBI/7 SBs with just a 20% K% and an eye-popping 15% BB%. Casas could be an absolute steal in points and OBP leagues and should—following an adjustment period—be a solid add in deeper categories leagues as well. Although we have only a small, six-game sample with the Red Sox, Casas has struck out at a high rate, but also popped his first MLB home run in his third major league game. I like Casas quite a bit long term and think there is a good chance he contributes in deeper leagues rest of season as well.
Spencer Steer, IF, Cincinnati Reds:
Spencer Steer was not a “top prospect” but he has certainly been turning some heads since being called up by the Reds just over a week ago. And the promotion for Steer was well-deserved after he slashed .274/.364/.515 with 23 HR/80 R/75 RBI/4 SBs (18% K% and 10.4% BB%) in 106 games across AA and AAA in 2022. And that momentum appears to be carrying over, particularly the excellent plate discipline, to the majors. So far in just the 7 game sample, a low BABIP has driven down Steer's BA but the OBP remains a solid .333 and he has 1 HR, 3 R, and 3 RBI, and looks as though he may carve out a spot for himself in this retooling Reds lineup. In addition to starting in 7 straight games, the versatile infielder has played 1B, 2B, and 3B in that short time, signaling that the could be a future multi-position eligible asset. I like Steer as a flyer to replace a middling or struggling infielder on your squad, particularly in OBP leagues.
Jose Siri, OF, Tampa Bay Rays:
If you need the promise of speed and pop in a deeper league, don’t overlook the Rays’ Jose Siri. Since the trade from the Astros, Siri has received increased playing time and he is not squandering the opportunity. While the season-long numbers seem yawn-worthy, Siri has been hot of late. In fact, over his last 13 games, Siri is hitting .351/.385/.595 with 2 HR/12 R/6 RBI/1 SB (185 wRC+) and he now has 5 HR, 46 R, 18 RBI, and 11 SBs across 82 games MLB games played in 2022 – that paces to double-digit HRs and SBs, to go along with 85-90 runs scored and that will play. Siri’s biggest achilles heel is his strikeout rate, which continues to be above 30%. He is producing now, but if he can work that strikeout rate down, even by a few percentage points, Siri has the talent to be a force on your fantasy squad. A good add down the stretch for runs and SBs.
Michael A. Taylor, OF, Kansas City Royals:
Taylor is a player that I always find myself turning to in the later rounds of drafts as a late source of speed and pop. Although not providing a multitude of either, Taylor is a double-double guy that can—when hot—be an excellent across-the-board contributor for your squad in nearly all categories. And, right now, Taylor is definitely swinging a hot bat, so jump on board and reap the rewards. Over his last 11 games, Taylor is crushing, to the tune of .357/.364/.667 with 2 2B/1 3B/3 HR/8 R/11 RBI/1 SB and just a 13.6% K%. Taylor is very streaky, but as long as he keeps hitting like this, you will want him in your lineup for the home stretch. Grab him now and be ready to swap him out if he gets cold for a two to three game stretch.
Elvis Andrus, SS, Chicago White Sox:
Talk about needing a change of scenery – Elvis Andrus appears to be reborn after leaving the A’s for the south side of Chicago. While his season-long numbers are “ho hum” at best, a MI that can produce double-digit HR and SBs holds substantial value in deep leagues. To that point, so far in 2022, Andrus has logged 12 HR and 9 SBs across 127 games and looks to be primed to contribute more ROS. Over his last 14 games with the White Sox, Andrus has slashed .367/.406/.683 with 5 HR/12 R/16 RBI/1 SB (210 wRC+) and done so largely under the radar. At this time of the year, you can throw the name on the back of the jersey out the window – you need stats! And Andrus is currently producing and worthy of a spot on your deeper league roster over plenty of other middle infielders that have fallen off lately.
Keep grinding and good luck all. Hit me up on Twitter with any additional roster questions!