Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Top-10 Pickups for Week 8

Jason CataniaMLB Lead WriterMay 19, 2014

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Top-10 Pickups for Week 8

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    The Diamondbacks have been terrible this year, but there's still fantasy value to be found in the desert. Like A.J. Pollock.
    The Diamondbacks have been terrible this year, but there's still fantasy value to be found in the desert. Like A.J. Pollock.David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    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 Adam Lind, Devin Mesoraco, Mike Leake, Dallas Keuchel, Tom Koehler and Phil Hughes—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 8.

     

    All ownership percentages courtesy of ESPN Fantasy Baseball. Players owned in more than 50 percent of leagues were not considered.

    Statistics are accurate through Sunday and come from Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs, unless otherwise noted.

Just Missed

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    Dexter Fowler, OF, Houston Astros (25.3 Percent Owned)

    Danny Duffy, SP, Kansas City Royals (2.0 Percent Owned)

    Brandon McCarthy, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks (0.9 Percent Owned)

    Jorge De La Rosa, SP, Colorado Rockies (6.7 Percent Owned)

    Jake deGrom, SP, New York Mets (0.8 Percent Owned) (in video)

    Anthony DeSclafani, SP, Miami Marlins (0.1 Percent Owned)

    Josh Reddick, OF, Oakland Athletics (41.6 Percent Owned)

    Jaime Garcia, SP, St. Louis Cardinals (5.1 Percent Owned)

    Jake Odorizzi, SP, Tampa Bay Rays(1.8 Percent Owned)

    Robbie Ray, SP, Detroit Tigers (6.0 Percent Owned)



Closer Circle

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    He hasn't been all that good and he may not get many save opps, but Chad Qualls was named Astros closer.
    He hasn't been all that good and he may not get many save opps, but Chad Qualls was named Astros closer.Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    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 (44.3 Percent Owned)
    • Sean Doolittle, RP, Oakland Athletics (11.2 Percent Owned)
    • Chad Qualls, RP, Houston Astros (8.7 Percent Owned) (pictured)
    • Bryan Shaw, RP, Cleveland Indians (16.2 Percent Owned)
    • Jenrry Mejia, RP, New York Mets (8.4 Percent Owned)
    • Cody Allen, RP, Cleveland Indians (46.5 Percent Owned)
    • Zach Britton, RP, Baltimore Orioles (16.7 Percent Owned)
    • Luke Gregerson, RP, Oakland Athletics (9.6 Percent Owned)
    • Jeurys Familia, RP, New York Mets (2.6 Percent Owned)
    • Daisuke Matsuzaka, RP, New York Mets (1.4 Percent Owned)
    • Jose Valverde, RP, New York Mets (9.9 Percent Owned)
    • Darren O'Day, RP, Baltimore Orioles (7.0 Percent Owned)
    • Jason Motte, RP, St. Louis Cardinals (1.6 Percent Owned)

No. 10: Seth Smith, San Diego Padres (38.2 Percent Owned)

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    Gregory Bull/Associated Press

    Often a useful bench outfielder in fantasy because of how well he hits right-handers (.857 career OPS), Seth Smith smacked the first home run of this baseball season that came on American soil. Over the past two weeks, though, he's gone from useful to must-start.

    Since taking an oh-fer to begin May, the 31-year-old lefty-swinger has gone 22-for-46 for a .478 average while scoring nine runs and driving in 10 over 14 games. Oh, and he's walloped 14 extra-base hits in that span, too, with two of his three homers coming on Saturday and Sunday.

    In other words, Smith is still streaking, so if he's somehow still available, don't be sitting still. This is bound to come to an end sooner or later, but you'll benefit from Smith's services even after he goes back to being merely useful.

No. 9: Trevor Bauer, Cleveland Indians (6.3 Percent Owned)

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    Sometimes it's funny how things work out. In the case of Trevor Bauer, who you should remember as the third overall pick in the 2011 draft (by the Arizona Diamondbacks), he's getting his shot to stick in the Indians rotation after his worst outing of the year in the minors.

    The nine-hit, six-run, 5.2-inning start last Tuesday was the first time this year Bauer gave up more than six hits or two runs or went fewer than six frames. Even with the dud, the 23-year-old righty owns a 2.15 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 8.6 K/9 at Triple-A.

    His first turn in Cleveland back in early April went rather well (as you can see in the footage above), and Bauer's getting the call for his second on Tuesday, per Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, because the club demoted talented but struggling fireballer Danny Salazar. It's a tough assignment against the Detroit Tigers and Justin Verlander.

    The Indians are searching for some consistency on the staff, and while that hasn't been Bauer's forte since being drafted, he has shown improved stuff and better results so far. Now it's a matter of making an impact in the majors. And in fantasy, where he could rack up quite a few strikeouts if he's on.

No. 8: Drew Pomeranz, Oakland Athletics (21.4 Percent Owned)

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    The year before the Diamondbacks selected Bauer with their first take at No. 3, the Indians picked Drew Pomeranz with the fifth selection, which spoke to his pedigree as a polished college southpaw. It's taken some time—and three different teams—but Pomeranz is starting to blossom.

    Now 25, he began the season in the Athletics bullpen after being traded from the Colorado Rockies in the deal for Brett Anderson, and it's looking like Billy Beane's got himself another steal of a deal. Pomeranz has transitioned to the rotation with two straight five-inning scoreless starts over which he's allowed fewer baserunners (seven) than strikeouts (13).

    There will be hiccups to come and adjustment to be made, but so far, Pomeranz looks like a spot starter with some potential, so give him a go on Tuesday against a struggling Tampa Bay Rays lineup. Hey, he's an Athletics pitcher, and those always seem to pan out, don't they?

No. 7: Kolten Wong, St. Louis Cardinals (4.7 Percent Owned)

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Following a big spring that led to equally big expectations entering the season, Kolten Wong turned out to be a disappointment in the early going. A big one.

    The 23-year-old was hitting all of .225 on April 25, which led to his demotion to Triple-A to work on making harder contact and regaining his confidence. In the event that worked as well as the Cardinals think it did—Wong was recalled late last week—fantasy owners in need of help at middle infield should consider snagging Wong.

    A lefty hitter with a solid all-around skill set, Wong has been placed in the second spot in the lineup in each of his three games since returning. He's gone 5-for-11 with three runs, three RBI and a pair of steals. The Cardinals offense has been slogging all season long, but if Wong stays in that spot, he could be a snazzy little performer once the lumber picks up.

No. 6: Jason Castro, Houston Astros (49.1 Percent Owned)

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    Despite the fact that Jason Castro was an All-Star who hit a very solid .276 with 18 homers in 2013 and appeared to be coming into his own, fantasy folks were pretty quick to jump off the bandwagon when he got off to a slow start this year.

    The soon-to-be 27-year-old is hitting just .216 and striking out at an alarming rate (32 percent), but he does have six home runs and 21 RBI, totals that not only put him on pace to surpass last season's totals, but also are among the leaders at catcher. Over his past five games, Castro has hit two dingers and driven in seven.

    The Astros lineup is far from good, but with the top of the order in Jose Altuve (.382 in May), George Springer (.358) and Dexter Fowler (.467) clicking this month, Castro's production in the power departments could continue from the cleanup spot.

No. 5: Kole Calhoun, Los Angeles Angels (11.0 Percent Owned)

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    Just as Kole Calhoun had picked up his play in mid-April, the popular preseason sleeper went down with a sprained right ankle that was expected to sideline him from four to six weeks.

    Well, it's been a little more than a month, and the 26-year-old has embarked on a rehab assignment at Triple-A, where he's already played three games and gone 7-for-12 with a double, triple and homer apiece. Provided he doesn't re-aggravate the ankle, Calhoun could return some time this week, according to J.P. Hoornstra of the San Bernardino Sun.

    While Calhoun isn't super toolsy, he's a gets-the-best-out-of-what-he's-got kind of guy and could finish with something in the neighborhood of 15 homers and steals on the year. The Angels have been making do in the outfield with the likes of Grant Green, Collin Cowgill and Efren Navarro of late, so Calhoun will be welcomed back. Same goes for fantasy owners who add him now, particularly if Calhoun is plugged into the leadoff spot again for a team that's third in baseball with 5.0 runs per game.

No. 4: A.J. Pollock, Arizona Diamondbacks (16.6 Percent Owned)

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    As a capable little-bit-of-everything type of fantasy player, A.J. Pollock isn't all that different from Calhoun. The difference at the moment is that Pollock is healthy—and hitting.

    Over the past two weeks, the 26-year-old's .439 batting average is the fourth-highest in the sport, and he's tallied seven extra-base hits, including two homers, while swiping six bases. That last number is tied for the most in baseball over that time.

    After an eight-homer, 12-steal campaign in his first full season last year, the underrated Pollock, who is batting .315 overall, would be a solid third outfielder if he even comes close to doubling those digits. Even if he falls short, though, Pollock looks like a fourth or fifth outfielder when he's going well. Like he is right now.

No. 3: Josh Beckett, Los Angeles Dodgers (46.9 Percent Owned)

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    Almost a month ago now, we included a healthy Josh Beckett in this very column after the just-turned 34-year-old had looked good in two of his first three starts. Since? Well, he's been even better.

    Over his past four turns, Beckett has started going deeper into games, having thrown 27.2 frames and allowing only 28 men on base while whiffing 24. Last Tuesday, he finally picked up his first win since 2012, highlights of which you can click up top.

    The right-hander, of course, missed almost all of last season with injury and doesn't throw as hard he did even a few years ago, but he still hits the mid-90s and possesses a curve that can buckle knees. Playing for a talented team and in a pitcher-friendly park certainly helps, too.

    This feels somewhat like a get-what-you-can-from-him situation in some ways, but until then, Beckett needs to be owned and used, starting with his scheduled start Tuesday at the New York Mets.

No. 2: Drew Hutchison, Toronto Blue Jays (3.0 Percent Owned)

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    A week after recommending Beckett, we did the same for Drew Hutchison. Well, the column is set on "repeat," so get ready for seconds.

    The 23-year-old Tommy John surgery recoverer has been a little up and down in his first full season back, but he's certainly been more up, especially in the strikeout department, where his 9.11 K/9 still rates in the top 20 among starters.

    Just as impressive as the fact that Hutchison hurled his first career complete-game shutout on Friday was that he did so against the Texas Rangers in Arlington, which you can see for yourself above. That brought his ERA down to a perfectly respectable 3.64 and his WHIP sits at 1.16.

    Why is this guy available in your league again?

No. 1: Tyson Ross, San Diego Padres (35.1 Percent Owned)

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    Apologies if you're not a fan of more of the same, but, well, here's more of the same. Again. Occasionally, we fantasy owners need to be bashed over the head with information more than once before it sinks in.

    Tyson Ross came in just ahead of Beckett in this space last month, and he's in a similar position here. Only, this time around, the 27-year-old right-hander has claimed the top spot.

    In his nine starts so far, Ross has netted five wins and owns an ERA of 2.81, WHIP of 1.28 and K/9 of 8.3. While the WHIP is a tad high but not exactly harmful, those other three stats are screaming for a larger percentage of owners to add Ross.

    His fastball-slider combo is scary-good at home in pitcher-friendly Petco (1.59 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 9.5 K/9), which is where owners should use him every time out. But his last start came at hitter-haven Great American Ballpark against the Cincinnati Reds, and Ross twirled seven innings of three-hit, one-run ball with eight strikeouts (albeit with five walks, too).

    Used judiciously, Ross could provide about 15 more starts of elite second-starting pitcher production for your fantasy squad. Add him. Don't make us repeat ourselves again. Again.

     

    To talk baseball or fantasy baseball, check in with me on Twitter: @JayCat11