Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Top-10 Pickups for Week 7
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 waiver-wire pickups right here every Monday as you get set to face another week of lineup decisions and roster additions.
Some players mentioned last week—including Nate Eovaldi, George Springer, Dillon Gee, Jon Niese, Colby Rasmus, Derek Norris and Juan Francisco—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 7.
All ownership percentages courtesy of ESPN Fantasy Baseball. Players owned in more than 50 percent of leagues were not considered. Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs, unless otherwise noted.
Alcides Escobar, SS, Kansas City Royals (48.4 Percent Owned)
Corey Dickerson, OF, Colorado Rockies (2.2 Percent Owned)
Wei-Yin Chen, SP, Baltimore Orioles (3.3 Percent Owned)
Tom Koehler, SP, Miami Marlins (13.2 Percent Owned)
Dallas Keuchel, SP, Houston Astros (1.3 Percent Owned)
Gavin Floyd, SP, Atlanta Braves (1.0 Percent Owned)
Phil Hughes, SP, Minnesota Twins (3.9 Percent Owned)
Wilmer Flores, 3B, New York Mets (0.1 Percent Owned)
Jordan Lyles, SP, Colorado Rockies (24.2 Percent Owned)
Drew Pomeranz, SP/RP, Oakland Athletics (0.2 Percent Owned)
Rafael Montero, SP, New York Mets (0.0 Percent Owned)
Tommy La Stella, 2B, Atlanta Braves (0.0 Percent Owned)
Because there's so much ninth-inning volatility, the overlooked/new/replacement/interim/potential closers who are available in the majority of leagues are listed on this slide as follows:
- Hector Rondon, RP, Chicago Cubs (41.6 Percent Owned)
- Bryan Shaw, RP, Cleveland Indians (0.9 Percent Owned) (pictured)
- Cody Allen, RP, Cleveland Indians (37.8 Percent Owned)
- Jeurys Familia, RP, New York Mets (0.0 Percent Owned)
- Kyle Farnsworth, RP, New York Mets (25.3 Percent Owned)
- Darren O'Day, RP, Baltimore Orioles (2.0 Percent Owned)
- Zach Britton, RP, Baltimore Orioles (0.6 Percent Owned)
- Chad Qualls, RP, Houston Astros (1.4 Percent Owned)
No. 10: Rougned Odor, 2B, Texas Rangers (1.0 Percent Owned)
Having turned 20 years old in February, Rougned Odor is the youngest player in Major League Baseball right now. He's also one of the best second base prospects in the sport, which is why he checks in here despite the fact that his promotion last week seemed a bit rushed given not only his age but also his lack of experience above A-ball (barely 60 games) prior to getting the call.
Odor, though, has the skills to make a fantasy impact thanks to a bat that has more pop than one might expect from this 5'11", 170-pounder. He also has above-average speed that makes him a threat on the basepaths.
The question is whether Odor is, in fact, ready to make that impact at this point in time. Considering his potential and the fact that the Rangers have little else at second base at the moment—remember, Jurickson Profar is still recovering from a muscle tear in his shoulder—owners with a roster spot to play around with might want to snatch up Odor in order to give him a spin.
No. 9: Mike Leake, SP, Cincinnati Reds (12.5 Percent Owned)
You want sexy? Look elsewhere. You want steady? Look at Mike Leake. Admittedly, the 26-year-old right-hander is a better option in 14-team leagues or NL-only formats, simply because his lack of strikeouts (5.2 K/9 in 2014; 5.9 K/9 over his career) is a serious hindrance in fantasy. But Leake is serviceable and then some when it comes to helping your ERA and WHIP.
Since the start of the 2013 season, Leake's ERA sits at 3.38, while his WHIP is a tidy 1.22. Those numbers—which are 3.40 and 1.09 this year, respectively—will play if you're searching for some stability or are in need of a starting pitcher who can help cover for injury.
While Leake is prone to the being knocked around on occasion, he's also pitched into the seventh inning in each of his seven turns so far in 2014. So, even when he gives up eight hits and four earned runs in back-to-back outings—like he did in late April—it's not quite so damaging.
Hey, we said he wasn't sexy off the bat.
No. 8: Chase Headley, 3B, San Diego Padres (47.4 Percent Owned)
More than a few owners are tired of the Chase Headley act by now, and we don't blame you. But the guy did just make it back from a re-aggravation of his strained calf and smoked a homer in his first game off the DL over the weekend. (Of course, the three-run blast also came against Miami's Carlos Marmol, who was almost immediately designated for assignment thereafter.)
Look, the 30-year-old switch-hitter is no longer going to be the beast that he was in the second half of 2012 (.308 BA, 23 HR, 73 RBI in 75 G), but Headley has otherwise been a capable enough third baseman/corner infielder when he's going well.
It wouldn't be entirely shocking if he hit 10-15 homers and reached double digits in stolen bases from here on out, and there's value in that. Just don't pick him up and hold out hope for a repeat of his performance from July-September of 2012.
No. 7: C.J. Cron, 1B, Los Angeles Angels (4.7 Percent Owned)
Don't confuse C.J. Cron with a top-tier prospect just because he's one of the better ones in the Angels' bottom-of-the-barrel system. Still, the 24-year-old was a first-round pick by the club in 2011 and has gotten his MLB career off on the right foot.
To wit, the righty swinger is 10-for-24 through his first seven games after being called up during the first week of May, and he blasted his first career homer on Saturday—a long drive you can watch the flight path of in the video above.
With free-agent acquisition Raul Ibanez, approaching his 42nd birthday in June and struggling mightily, a possibility exists that Cron—a career .289/.332/.501 hitter in the minors—could at least platoon at designated hitter throughout the rest of the season, if not win the lion's share of at-bats if he keeps swinging a hot stick. That would make him a coveted commodity in a potent Angels lineup.
No. 6: Tyler Skaggs, SP, Los Angeles Angels (9.9 Percent Owned)
Our second Angels player in a row, Tyler Skaggs made the cut for this column back in Week 2, but he's been a bit inconsistent since that time.
For example, on May 4, the 22-year-old allowed six earned runs on eight hits in just 2.2 frames against the Texas Rangers. However, the southpaw followed that up with eight innings of four-hit, no-walk ball in which he whiffed four and allowed only two earned. He did that, by the way, in Toronto against a tough Blue Jays order.
Clearly, the former first-rounder is still figuring things out at the major league level after putting up some dynamite digits in the minors as one of baseball's top pitching prospects. His progress this year, though, has been noticeable (4.14 ERA, 1.12 WHIP) as has his ability to regain a few ticks on his fastball, which now sits in the low-90s again, with the ability to touch 95.
There's plenty of risk here, but if (when?) it all clicks for Skaggs, whose strikeout rate is a rather pedestrian 5.5 per nine innings so far, he'll be a nice pitcher to own due to his pedigree and upside.
No. 5: Devin Mesoraco, C, Cincinnati Reds (32.9 Percent Owned)
Did you just get gut-punched with the news that Matt Wieters, who's been dealing with elbow soreness for some time, abruptly went on the DL to rest his throwing arm for a bit? It ain't easy trying to find a replacement for a catcher who was hitting .308 with five homers and 18 RBI.
But what if you could cover your loss of Wieters with a backstop who's batting average is—wait for it—.468? If Devin Mesoraco, the owner of that lofty stat, is available in your league because he is also on the shelf, then you may be in luck.
The 25-year-old already has already had two stints on the DL this season—most recently due to a hamstring strain—but in between those two stints he was on fire, with 22 hits in 47 at-bats to go along with three homers and 13 RBI in 13 games.
No. 4: Justin Smoak, 1B, Seattle Mariners (31.5 Percent Owned)
Justin Smoak is perhaps fantasy baseball's poster boy for the player you don't want to own but don't quite want to give up on either. Despite being granted what feels like more than nine lives already, the switch-hitter still is only 27 years old, and he's on pace for by far his best season.
You might be thinking: "Yea, by Justin Smoak's standards." And while that's true, we're betting you wouldn't scoff at a 22-homer, 105-RBI, 79-run campaign, which are his actual full-season projections on ESPN.com in each of those categories.
Will he reach any of them? Maybe he will only achieve the home-run projection (he did hit a career-high 20 last year), but even if Smoak totals 20 homers, 80 RBI and 60 runs, he'll help you—even if you have tough time allowing yourself to believe it.
No. 3: Ian Kennedy, SP, San Diego Padres (47.1 Percent Owned)
Folks, Ian Kennedy just might be back to his 2011 form. Well, OK, the 29-year-old won't be winning 21 games again—not while he's pitching for the only team in MLB that is currently scoring fewer than three runs per game—but his hot start should serve as a reminder that Kennedy was a pretty sweet fantasy starter not that long ago.
It might be a stretch to see the righty match his 2.88 ERA and 1.09 WHIP from three years ago, but his current marks are pretty darn close: 3.12 and 1.08, respectively. Oh, and he's whiffing a career-high 10.3 batters per nine innings while getting to pitch half his games at Petco Park, too.
Kennedy could be this season's Ervin Santana—a change-of-scenery arm with a solid history who puts up nice numbers in every category but wins.
No. 2: Adam Lind, 1B, Toronto Blue Jays (49.2 Percent Owned)
After missing 20 games due to a back injury, Adam Lind's return got off on the right foot, as he homered in his first contest off the DL last week. The 30-year-old is one of the more streaky hitters around, so perhaps his coming back with a bang is a good sign of a potentially hot run.
The lefty slugger was very fantasy friendly in 2013 as a starter-worthy first baseman/corner infielder, hitting .288 with 23 homers to go along with 67 RBI and runs apiece. His usual fifth spot in the powerful Jays one-through-nine means that Lind will have plenty of opportunities to drive in Jose Bautista (who has an MLB-high 34 walks) and Edwin Encarnacion (his 18 walks are within the top 30).
No. 1: Jedd Gyorko, 2B, San Diego Padres (46.4 Percent Owned)
Hey, any hitter who can launch two homers, including a grand slam, off Jose Fernandez in one game—the video above proves that this did, in fact, happen—probably deserves the top spot for the week, right?
To be sure, Jedd Gyorko needed that kind of performance given that the start of his second season in the majors has been, well, slow—to put it nicely. The 25-year-old is hitting all of .162 and striking out in nearly 26 percent of his trips to the dish.
Still, Gyorko does have five homers and 19 RBI to his credit after his explosion against Fernandez, so he's once again flashing the power that helped him notch 23 home runs as a rookie. Plus, his .179 BABIP is laughably low and the fourth-worst in baseball, so even if he's not going to be a plus in the batting average category, his overall average should rise at least a little bit.
While he's a flawed player, he ultimately looks like a second baseman who should hit 20-25 homers and drive in 70-plus runs. Given that so much of that production is still is to come, you should take a flier on him now.
To talk baseball or fantasy baseball, check in with me on Twitter: @JayCat11