Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Top 10 Pickups for Week 6
A new week, another batch of waiver-wire additions, just the way you like 'em: hot and fresh out of the oven.
From now until the end of the fantasy season, you'll find a rundown of the top player pickups right here every Monday as you face another week of lineup decisions and roster additions.
Some players mentioned last week—including Garrett Richards, Jason Hammel, Dayan Viciedo, Corey Kluber and Drew Hutchison—are already owned in many leagues by now, but they remain quality pickups if they're still available.
In the interest of keeping the names new, though, let's avoid any repeats. Here are the top 10 waiver-wire pickups for Week 6.
All ownership percentages come from ESPN Fantasy Baseball. Players owned in more than 50 percent of leagues were not considered.
Colby Rasmus, OF, Toronto Blue Jays (30.3 Percent Owned)
Marlon Byrd, OF, Philadelphia Phillies (44.2 Percent Owned)
Casey McGehee, 1B/3B, Miami Marlins (23.4 Percent Owned) (pictured)
Nick Castellanos, 3B/OF, Detroit Tigers (26.2 Percent Owned)
Derek Norris, C, Oakland Athletics (1.8 Percent Owned)
Danny Espinosa, 2B, Washington Nationals (9.7 Percent Owned)
Roenis Elias, SP, Seattle Mariners (1.0 Percent Owned)
Robbie Ray, SP, Detroit Tigers (0.3 Percent Owned)
C.J. Cron, 1B, Los Angeles Angels (0.8 Percent Owned)
Juan Francisco, 1B, Toronto Blue Jays (1.0 Percent Owned)
Because there's so much ninth-inning volatility this early in the season, the overlooked/new/replacement/interim/potential closers who are available in the majority of leagues are ranked in one location as follows:
Ernesto Frieri, RP, Los Angeles Angels (39.9 Percent Owned)
Hector Rondon, RP, Chicago Cubs (25.2 Percent Owned)
Kyle Farnsworth, RP, New York Mets (39.0 Percent Owned) (pictured)
Steve Delabar, RP, Toronto Blue Jays (0.8 Percent Owned)
Luke Gregerson, RP, Oakland Athletics (20.1 Percent Owned)
Brett Cecil, RP, Toronto Blue Jays (0.4 Percent Owned)
Pedro Strop, RP, Chicago Cubs (3.8 Percent Owned)
Daisuke Matsuzaka, SP/RP, New York Mets (3.8 Percent Owned)
Chad Qualls, RP, Houston Astros (1.5 Percent Owned)
Anthony Bass, RP, Houston Astros (1.9 Percent Owned)
Aaron Loup, RP, Toronto Blue Jays (1.5 Percent Owned)
No. 10: Brandon McCarthy, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks (1.8 Percent Owned)
If you're only into first impressions, then you've probably been ignoring what Brandon McCarthy has done of late. That's because the 30-year-old gave up 17 earned runs in his first three starts (19.2 IP) of the season.
Since then, though, the right-hander has surrendered only six earned in 24.2 frames—that's a 2.19 ERA—and has struck out 29, including a 12-strikeout outing against the Phillies prior to seven shutout innings versus the Padres over the weekend.
McCarthy's been doing this against some lesser offenses (Mets, Cubs and those Padres), but at least now you're aware that he's been throwing well, in case you want to give him a go as a spot starter.
No. 9: Jon Niese, SP, New York Mets (13.0 Percent Owned)
Jon Niese made the Just Missed section last week, but he needed to be included in the top 10 this time around after his best start of 2014 so far. The left-hander hurled seven innings of one-run ball while allowing only five baserunners against the Phillies in his last outing.
For the year, the 27-year-old Niese sports a 2.20 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP, and he is just one-third of an inning in his first game of the year away from being 5-for-5 on quality starts. The lefty goes again Monday in Miami and is worth a spin.
No. 8: Omar Infante, 2B, Kansas City Royals (48.6 Percent Owned)
Omar Infante is doing his usual stuff. That is to say, while he's not dominating, he is hitting well (.282 BA) and actually accumulating a fair amount of runs and RBI by his standards, with 13 of the former and 19 of the latter to date.
The 32-year-old is spending most of his time batting second in the Royals lineup, and he's clearly taken to that spot well. If those behind him—looking at you, Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler and Alex Gordon—can get going, Infante's counting numbers should improve, especially runs scored.
No. 7: James Loney, 1B, Tampa Bay Rays (48.8 Percent Owned)
James Loney is what he is—a somewhat boring but perfectly capable fill-in or corner infielder, especially for those owners searching for a little batting-average boost.
The 29-year-old has been swinging the stick well, with 27 hits in his last 65 at-bats (.415 BA), over which he's scored nine runs and driven in 13 across 16 games. That's lifted his overall average to .330, which ranks among the top 10 in the AL.
There won't be much power, and that hurts Loney's cause as a first baseman, but it wouldn't be at all surprising to see him reproduce his 2013 line—.299 BA, 13 HR, 75 RBI—which can be useful in deeper leagues or AL-only formats.
No. 6: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C, Miami Marlins (27.2 Percent Owned)
You'll never guess which catcher has the highest OPS in baseball right now. OK, you probably should figure it out, considering the guy's name is at the top of this page. That's right: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, whose .984 OPS is No. 1 among backstops.
Salty still has contact concerns (27.1 percent K rate), but for now, he's hitting for both average (.303 BA) and power (6 HR), while also scoring plenty of runs (18). If you prefer to play the hot hand at catcher in fantasy, the 29-year-old would be it.
No. 5: Marcus Stroman, SP, Toronto Blue Jays (0.8 Percent Owned)
Get ready to be introduced to arguably the Blue Jays' top prospect. Marcus Stroman is a hard-throwing right-hander who was called up and made his MLB debut Sunday, three days after turning 23 and less than two years after being taken by Toronto in the first round of the 2012 draft.
Despite questions about his ability to succeed as a starter due to his 5'9" frame, Stroman has a mid-90s heater and has posted great numbers in the minors: 3.03 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 10.7 K/9. He also struck out 10 against just one walk over six hitless innings in his last start at Triple-A.
The Jays put Stroman in the pen for his first outing, which is both disappointing and intriguing. He deserves a shot to start, and that will eventually come; but until then, the former collegiate closer at Duke is in a position to perhaps score a few save opportunities as he shows what he can do at the outset of his big league career.
There will be bumps, but either way, Stroman is worth snagging on spec for starts or saves as a high-strikeout arm with upside.
No. 4: Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals (4.0 Percent Owned)
The Cardinals' offense, which ranks as the fifth-worst in baseball in runs scored after checking in at No. 3 in that department last year, is badly in need of a spark. Could that come in the form of Oscar Taveras?
The club's top prospect—and one of the top five in the sport—Taveras is a 21-year-old lefty hitter with a preternatural ability to make consistent, hard barrel-to-ball contact. For his career, Taveras owns a triple-slash line of .319/.376/.517 in the minors, and in his first 27 games in 2014, he's already matched his home run total (five) from last year, during which he missed most of the season with an ankle injury.
While fellow outfield prospect Randal Grichuk got the call last week instead, Taveras is healthy and hitting, and there have been calls for the Cards to give him a shot to see if they can catch lightning in a bottle. Fantasy owners should consider adding him now, ahead of the actual transaction, to see if they can't capture a little of the same.
No. 3: Dillon Gee, SP, New York Mets (46.3 Percent Owned)
It's about time you just add Dillon Gee and hold onto him for good. We already covered the 28-year-old right-hander back in the Week 4 waiver-wire column, so this is just another public-service announcement to recognize what he's done over almost a full calendar year.
To be exact, that would be posting a 2.66 ERA since May 30, 2013, as Adam Rubin of ESPN New York points out. Maybe the fact that someone else is providing some support will be enough to get Gee owned in every league. If not, then there's still this: Gee even pitched well at Coors Field over the weekend, hurling six scoreless innings with five strikeouts against what has been, by far, MLB's best offense.
No. 2: George Springer, OF, Houston Astros (36.6 Percent Owned)
We missed out on the opportunity to include George Springer in this space because he was called up sooner than almost everyone expected back in mid-April. Unfortunately, the reason we get a second shot at the rookie is because he's struggled so mightily since making his debut.
To wit, the 24-year-old is just 12-for-65 (.185) in his first 16 big league games, and he's struck out in 33.8 percent of his plate appearances, too. So why in the world is he the No. 2 pickup of the week? Because when we're talking about options on the waiver wire, it's really all about upside—and Springer has a ton of it.
One of the most exciting prospects in the sport entering the season, this is still the same guy who hit 37 homers and stole 45 bases across Double-A and Triple-A last year. As long as the Astros stick with Springer, he has the ability to approach a 20-20 campaign. If the owner in your league who picked Springer up already has cut bait, and you don't mind taking what is now a low-risk gamble on a high-reward talent, go grab him.
No. 1: Nate Eovaldi, SP, Miami Marlins (44.2 Percent Owned)
Just like with Gee, we hit on Nate Eovaldi back in Week 4, when he ranked as the No. 4 pick up. And just like with Gee, we're imploring you to make this 24-year-old fireballer owned in all leagues already.
At the time, Eovaldi had looked promising through his first four starts. In his two outings since, he's been even better, shutting down the Braves both times out by giving up all of 10 baserunners over 13.0 innings to go with a 12-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
All in all, Eovaldi sports a 2.58 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 8.2 K/9. Seriously, folks, what more do you need to see?
To talk baseball or fantasy baseball, check in with me on Twitter: @JayCat11