Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Top 10 Pickups for Week 21
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 Angel Pagan, Brandon McCarthy, Kyle Hendricks and Scooter Gennett—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 21.
Adam Lind, 1B, Toronto Blue Jays (35.9 Percent Owned)
Oswaldo Arcia, OF, Minnesota Twins (1.9 Percent Owned)
David Peralta, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks (16.1 Percent Owned)
Hector Santiago, SP/RP, Los Angeles Angels (4.6 Percent Owned)
Shane Green, SP/RP, New York Yankees (7.7 Percent Owned)
Robbie Grossman, OF, Houston Astros (0.3 Percent Owned)
Avisail Garcia, OF, Chicago White Sox (4.7 Percent Owned)
Kris Negron, 2B/OF, Cincinnati Reds (1.6 Percent Owned)
No. 10: Carlos Carrasco, SP/RP, Cleveland Indians (1.2 Percent Owned)
Carlos Carrasco still has the big arm he had back when he was a big prospect with the Philadelphia Phillies a handful of years ago. But now, five seasons into his big league career, he's starting to harness his stuff.
Carrasco is still only 27, so he's young enough to be a candidate for a breakout, if that is, in fact, what we're seeing from him now that he's shifted back to the rotation after spending the majority of 2014 in the Cleveland Indians bullpen.
Following an early-season demotion to relief, the right-handed Carrasco compiled a 2.30 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 8.2 K/9 in 43.0 innings across 26 appearances. In his two starts since rejoining the five-man, Carrasco has thrown 12.0 scoreless frames while allowing but five hits with a pristine 9-to-0 strikeout-to-walk ratio in beating the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles.
Is there a very real risk Carrasco gets blown up or implodes if his erratic command/control wavers, as it has in the past? Sure. But with a start coming Friday against the Houston Astros, who have been hitting well of late but still swing and miss a lot, he could be worth a whirl.
No. 9: Rymer Liriano, OF, San Diego Padres (3.6 Percent Owned)
A top prospect in the San Diego Padres' system for some time, Rymer Liriano is the rare position player to undergo Tommy John surgery. Had it not been for that procedure, which cost him the entire 2013 season, he likely would have debuted around this time last year.
Because he's still only 23 and lost so much important developmental time, Liriano remains raw overall, which could make for a tough transition to the majors. Then again, his tools, including above-average speed and power from his running back-like frame (6'0", 230 pounds), could give Liriano a chance to make a decent impact in fantasy over the final six weeks.
After hitting .291 with 14 homers and 22 steals between Double- and Triple-A this year, the righty-swinging Liriano has begun his big league career by going 4-for-19 (.211), but he does have a homer, a stolen base, three runs and four RBI in his first seven games.
Don't expect miracles, but Liriano could be a capable fill-in outfielder in shallow mixed leagues, especially with the Padres' offense picking up the pace from 2.9 runs per game before the break to 4.6 after.
No. 8: Mike Fiers, SP/RP, Milwaukee Brewers (23.4 Percent Owned)
Here's a crazy, never-could-have-imagined stat: Only Clayton Kershaw has struck out more batters in a game this season than Mike Fiers, who whiffed 14 Chicago Cubs on Thursday, despite spending almost all of 2014 at Triple-A and possessing a "fastball" that barely tops 90 mph.
You might remember Fiers from his out-of-nowhere half-season performance in 2012, when the now 29-year-old put up a 1.80 ERA and 80 strikeouts in his first 80.0 frames that year. After that, though, Fiers' ERA ballooned to 6.99 over his final 10 starts.
Even with his gem against the Cubbies and his eight innings of three-hit, one-run ball to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in his first outing while filling in for the injured Matt Garza on Aug. 9, Fiers is very much an add-while-hot-then-discard-immediately type.
Right now, he is lined up to face the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday, which might be a little dicey now that Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Lind are both back. Still, Fiers is a streaming option while he's hot and in the Milwaukee Brewers rotation.
No. 7: Kennys Vargas, 1B, Minnesota Twins (8.8 Percent Owned)
A participant in the Futures Game at Target Field for the hometown Minnesota Twins, Kennys Vargas got pushed to The Show even though he skipped over Triple-A altogether. He's made it work so far.
The 24-year-old switch-hitting slugger hit .281 with 17 homers and 63 RBI in his first taste at Double-A New Britain this year. And in his first shot at the majors, he has been impressive, going 19-for-60 (.317) with three home runs and 15 RBI in his initial 15 games.
The power potential is for real, and while Joe Mauer is back to handle first base, Vargas is still getting regular playing time at designated hitter. Expect that to continue for a rebuilding franchise looking toward 2015.
Remember what catching prospect Josmil Pinto did when the Twins brought him up at the tail end of 2013? Vargas could do that—and then some—which makes him relevant as a corner infield fill-in for mixed leaguers.
No. 6: Dexter Fowler, OF, Houston Astros (16.5 Percent Owned)
Dexter Fowler was in the middle of yet another solid but unspectacular campaign when a back injury in late June put him on the shelf for about six weeks. In his first five games back, the 28-year-old is showing he can pick up where he left off.
In that time, Fowler has gone 7-for-18 (.389) with four runs and a Sunday home run. Perhaps most interestingly, he's done so while hitting cleanup in a one-through-nine that currently features on-base savvy Robbie Grossman (.335 OBP), MLB hits leader Jose Altuve and the red-hot Chris Carter ahead of him.
Fowler is one of the streakier players around, and when he's on a good one—like he is now—he's worth starting as a third or fourth outfielder or utility player.
No. 5: Michael Pineda, SP, New York Yankees (40.2 Percent Owned)
In his first outing after missing nearly four months with a lat muscle injury, Michael Pineda produced results that jibed with his first three starts back in April. The 25-year-old right-hander fired five innings of two-hit, one-run ball with four strikeouts and not a single walk.
And yet, the 2014 season hasn't been an obstacle-free one for Pineda, as Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York reminds us:
Pineda was a revelation in training camp, the runaway winner of the Yankees' four-man competition for the No. 5 starter's job, and along with Masahiro Tanaka easily among the two best pitchers in their starting rotation for the first month of the season.
But then came the revelation, the suspension, and the lat muscle injury that kept him on the shelf for more than half the season.
If Pineda can keep himself in line and on the mound, he still has the stuff to dominate opposing hitters. That alone makes him worth an add in every league. If you haven't grabbed him already and he's still available, Pineda is a good gamble, with a matchup on tap against the strikeout-prone Houston Astros on Wednesday.
No. 4: Nick Castellanos, 3B/OF, Detroit Tigers (22.5 Percent Owned)
So Nick Castellanos' rookie season hasn't been super fantasy-friendly. He's still been plenty productive, if more so in real life than in fantasy formats.
Remember, this is a 22-year-old kid getting his first real look at the bigs, so it's hard to be too critical of a .262 average to go with 36 runs, 10 homers and 50 RBI. And hey, the dual eligibility at third base and outfield doesn't hurt in the non-real game.
Plus, Castellanos has been turning up the power a bit of late, with three home runs among his six extra-base hits in 14 starts this month. If the rest of the Detroit Tigers' usually formidable lineup can put a halt to a recent cold streak and pick up the offense again, Castellanos could remain relevant as a fantasy spot starter at third base or corner infield.
No. 3: Henderson Alvarez, SP, Miami Marlins (49.6 Percent Owned)
We've highlighted Henderson Alvarez here before, but there's a chance the right-hander was dropped in your league when he went on the disabled list at the end of July.
Well, the 24-year-old is back to his low-ERA ways, as he showed by limiting the Arizona Diamondbacks to one run on five hits while striking out six—one shy of his season high—on Saturday. And therein lies the rub with Alvarez, who just isn't a K guy, with just 5.5 per nine this year.
Still, if you need quality starts and quality innings without many runs crossing the dish, only six pitchers have an ERA below Alvarez's 2.43. Again, that type of production might well be sitting in free agency after his latest injury.
Alvarez's next turn is due to be in Coors Field, so you might want to avoid that one. Then again, he does own the seventh-best ground-ball rate at 54.6 percent, so if you're willing to roll the dice, he could come through with his 15th quality start out of 24.
No. 2: Jacob deGrom, SP, New York Mets (23.6 Percent Owned)
So one little shoulder injury and everyone jumps off the Jacob deGrom bandwagon, eh? Well, it's time to beat the rush and get back on, because the NL Rookie of the Year candidate threw a bullpen session Sunday and could be back on the mound by the end of this week.
Here's Zach Braziller of the New York Post:
DeGrom threw 20 pitches — all fastballs — and reported no problems after throwing for the second straight day. The plan is for him to throw again Tuesday or Wednesday, using all of his pitches, and he could take his turn in the rotation Saturday — the first day he is eligible to come off the disabled list — in Los Angeles against NL West-leading Dodgers.
Now, sure, there's a chance deGrom gets pushed back if he's not just right, and even if he is fine enough to go Saturday, he'll get the Dodgers. But c'mon, folks, assuming he's healthy-ish, another 30-40 innings from deGrom is better than whatever else that might be out there on your waiver wire at this stage of the season.
No. 1: Wil Myers, OF, Tampa Bay Rays (33.9 Percent Owned)
Admit it: You either totally forgot all about Wil Myers or simply dismissed the possibility that he'd make it back before the end of the season when he suffered a broken right wrist in a collision with Desmond Jennings back on May 30.
So here's what amounts to either a gentle reminder or a not-so-gentle shake to get you to go snatch Myers if he was cut loose some two-and-a-half months ago. The 23-year-old has healed and could rejoin the Tampa Bay Rays this week, perhaps as soon as Tuesday, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The Rays are off Monday, but Myers could be ready to go by Tuesday against the Detroit Tigers.
"He's getting closer, not far off," manager Joe Maddon said via Topkin. "The big thing is timing. … Primarily as soon as he feels like he's seeing the fastball well, he'll be ready."
So just how is Myers seeing the ball during his rehab assignment at Triple-A Durham? He's gone 6-for-21 (.286) with a pair of home runs and six RBI in his six games there, three of which he's played in the outfield to test his wrist out defensively.
Now, yes, Myers wasn't all that good over the first two months when the reigning AL Rookie of the Year was healthy (.227 BA, 26 R, 5 HR, 25 RBI, 3 SB in 53 games), but you always gamble on the talent. If Myers can stay healthy, he could produce some nice numbers over a short period.
All ownership percentages courtesy of ESPN Fantasy Baseball. Players owned in more than 50 percent of leagues were not considered. Statistics are accurate as of Aug. 17 and are courtesy of MLB.com, Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs, unless otherwise noted.
To talk baseball or fantasy baseball, check in with me on Twitter: @JayCat11