Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Top 10 Pickups for Week 22
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 Wil Myers, Jacob deGrom, Michael Pineda, Kennys Vargas, Mike Fiers and Carlos Carrasco—are already owned in many leagues, but they remain quality pickups if they're 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 22.
Russell Martin, C, Pittsburgh Pirates (22.3 Percent Owned)
Rubby De La Rosa, SP/RP, Boston Red Sox (2.3 Percent Owned)
Luke Gregerson, RP, Oakland Athletics (5.0 Percent Owned)
Tsuyoshi Wada, SP, Chicago Cubs (16.9 Percent Owned)
Jeurys Familia, RP, New York Mets (18.4 Percent Owned)
Trevor Plouffe, 3B, Minnesota Twins (26.2 Percent Owned)
Adam Eaton, OF, Chicago White Sox (39.8 Percent Owned)
Justin Turner, 2B/3B/SS, Los Angeles Dodgers (8.6 Percent Owned)
Joe Panik, 2B, San Francisco Giants (5.6 Percent Owned)
Travis Snider, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates (13.4 Percent Owned)
Travis d'Arnaud, C, New York Mets (8.6 Percent Owned)
Zach Walters, 3B, Cleveland Indians (3.2 Percent Owned)
No. 10: Jon Jay, OF, St. Louis Cardinals (35.5 Percent Owned)
With Jon Jay, there isn't a ton of upside, but he's a perfectly reasonable fantasy pickup for his batting average prowess (.295 career), especially when he's hot. And Jay certainly has been hot.
In August, the 29-year-old lefty hitter has been batting .404 (23-for-57), and he's even contributing in other categories, with 14 runs, two homers and 13 RBI in 19 games.
Because Jay jumps around in the St. Louis Cardinals lineup but often hits in the bottom third, he's usually somewhat dependent on his teammates in the middle of the order ahead of him to get on so he can get them around; otherwise, those at the top have to drive him in.
Even with this stretch, Jay has only three homers and six steals on the season, so he's mostly a batting average play, as he's now up to .309 for the year.
No. 9: Avisail Garcia, OF, Chicago White Sox (10.5 Percent Owned)
Expected to be out for the season after having surgery to repair a shoulder injury sustained when he dove for a ball in the outfield all the way back on April 9, Avisail Garcia instead made it back in time to help the Chicago White Sox—and fantasy owners.
The 23-year-old may have missed 113 games, but it hasn't taken him long to find his rhythm at the big league level. Garcia has managed only six hits in 28 at-bats so far (.214), but he does have four runs, two homers and seven RBI in eight games since returning on Aug. 16.
There's a good bat in here and perhaps even a little speed, and the package is widely available because everyone expected Garcia, once a top prospect in the Detroit Tigers system, to be done for 2014 months ago.
No. 8: Josh Willingham, OF, Kansas City Royals (15.6 Percent Owned)
Josh Willingham was briefly fantasy-relevant back in late May and early June, when the injury-prone 35-year-old came off the disabled list and hit four homers in his first 10 games back while getting his average up to .327.
From there, however, his value cratered as his triple-slash line free-fell to a season-worst .209/.344/.391 as of Aug. 9. That's when the Kansas City Royals completed a waiver trade for him, and the 11-year veteran has since turned things around, seemingly caught up in the club's surprising success over the past month.
Willingham has gone 11-for-34 (.324) with eight runs, two homers and six RBI in his first 11 games as a Royal. While the average is likely to drop, he does have enough power to be a borderline starting outfielder in 10-team mixed leagues when he's doing well. Like he is right now.
No. 7: Jeremy Hellickson, SP, Tampa Bay Rays (17.2 Percent Owned)
After Jeremy Hellickson had arthroscopic surgery on his elbow in March, most fantasy owners figured he would be a borderline non-factor in 2014. They were only half right.
The 27-year-old former Rookie of the Year missed almost the entire first half of the season, making but one start before the All-Star break, on July 8. The Rays then took a conservative approach with the right-hander, getting him back on a major league mound two weeks later, on July 26.
It took Hellickson one more turn to begin looking like a useful and startable option, but that's been happening lately. Over his past four outings, he has allowed just six runs on 15 hits in 24.1 innings while sporting a 22-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
While the reins appear to have come off, Hellickson's next start comes against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards—a potent team in a hitter-friendly park—so sitting him out might be prudent. But with the way he's been throwing, Hellickson should have a few more solid outings in him down the stretch.
No. 6: Matt Shoemaker, SP/RP, Los Angeles Angels (45.8 Percent Owned)
Matt Shoemaker won't be winning any Rookie of the Year Award in the AL—not while Jose Abreu is around—but when it comes to the most out-of-nowhere rookie performance, he's up there.
After all, Shoemaker doesn't have much in the way of pedigree as an Eastern Michigan University product who inked with the Los Angeles Angels as an undrafted free agent in 2008, nor is he all that young for a rookie as a soon-to-be 28-year-old in September.
But Shoemaker's 12 wins are tied for the most by any first-year pitcher (with Masahiro Tanaka), and he has a 3.56 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 102 strikeouts in 103.2 innings. He's split his time between the rotation and the bullpen but has been—and will remain—a part of the former in the wake of season-ending injuries to Tyler Skaggs and Garrett Richards.
The day after the Angels lost Richards to a knee injury, Shoemaker stepped up with 7.1 frames of one-hit, no-run, nine-strikeout ball against the Boston Red Sox. He'll aim to continue his remarkable run against the Miami Marlins on Tuesday.
No. 5: Wei-Yin Chen, SP, Baltimore Orioles (48.8 Percent Owned)
Speaking of starting pitchers going on Tuesday, that's the day Wei-Yin Chen gets the Tampa Bay Rays.
In his third MLB season, the underrated 29-year-old has been better than you think, with 13 wins, a 3.76 ERA and 1.23 WHIP overall.
Chen has been even better than that since the start of June. In his last 14 turns, the steady lefty has gone 8-2 and managed a 3.26 ERA and 1.10 WHIP (albeit while giving up 14 home runs in those 85.2 innings).
He is hittable and homer-prone, but Chen makes it all work by rarely getting belted. To wit, he's given up more than three runs just six times out of 24 starts—and only once in his past eight.
No. 4: Trevor Bauer, SP, Cleveland Indians (7.6 Percent Owned)
Whereas Wei-Yin Chen falls under the steady-but-unspectacular label, Trevor Bauer is pretty much the opposite. The 23-year-old has been a yo-yo since turning pro upon being drafted third overall by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2011.
That applies in his five most recent starts, as Bauer has alternated the good (three times) with the bad (two). On Sunday, he was good, holding the Houston Astros scoreless over six innings while striking out nine against three walks. It marked the second time in three turns that Bauer had whiffed nine hitters.
In between, he gave up five earned runs over just 4.2 innings against the Minnesota Twins, so there's really no telling.
If Bauer's good-then-bad pattern continues, he could struggle next time out, especially since he gets the red-hot Kansas City Royals on Friday. But if you're desperate for strikeouts, you should roll the dice on a guy who has nasty stuff and 114 strikeouts in 118.1 innings.
No. 3: Steve Pearce, 1B/OF, Baltimore Orioles (13.7 Percent Owned)
With Manny Machado down for the count (again) after a late-season knee injury (again) that requires surgery (yep, again), as Eduardo Encina of the The Baltimore Sun writes, the Baltimore Orioles are going to need someone to step up in the lineup.
That could be Steve Pearce, the 31-year-old journeyman in the middle of a career year. Due to Machado's injury, Pearce is going to see regular time, with much of his action coming at first base while Chris Davis shifts over to cover the hot corner for Machado.
Pearce has never had much success in his eight years spent shuttling between teams and the minors and the majors, but he's clicked at times in 2014, with a .288 average and 14 home runs in 295 plate appearances. After a cold spell from late July into mid-August, Pearce has picked it up again with a seven-game hitting streak during which he has knocked three out of the park.
There's a definite risk that a near-everyday role could expose Pearce, but he gets to hit amid a potent lineup and in a hitter-friendly home ballpark, so he's worth the add for the hope that he can maintain his production over the final five weeks.
No. 2: Oswaldo Arcia, OF, Minnesota Twins (32.9 Percent Owned)
In his first two seasons as a major leaguer, Oswaldo Arcia has established that he is one of the streakiest hitters around.
The 23-year-old former top prospect has compiled 28 home runs and 83 RBI in 171 career games—pretty good production for slightly more than a full season's worth of games.
Arcia also owns a .242 average in that time as well as an alarming 30.7 percent strikeout rate.
But in his past dozen games, the lefty slugger has smashed six homers and driven in 14. Of course, he's hitting just .224 (11-for-49) over that period.
Arcia's power is for real, and when he makes contact, the ball travels, so picking him up is gambling that he'll put enough bat on ball to matter.
No. 1: Rusney Castillo, OF, Boston Red Sox (N/A Percent Owned)
The big news over the weekend was the Boston Red Sox's signing of former Cuban star Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract, the largest ever given to a player from there. Yep, even more than Jose Abreu, who landed $68 million from the Chicago White Sox last year.
Because Castillo, a speedy, compact center fielder, is already 27 years old and has experience in a professional league (Serie Nacional), there is speculation that he could join the Sox in September after some minor league action, as Zack Cox of NESN.com writes.
That's a good approach to take with Castillo, as he hasn't played organized baseball in about 18 months, per Maureen Mullen of Boston.com.
Look, there's a very real chance Castillo doesn't see the majors in 2014 at all. There's also the possibility that he comes up and doesn't do much, because he's rusty. But with the waiver wire pretty much picked clean by now, Castillo represents a new opportunity and possesses some intriguing potential. Whether or not that comes to fruition this year, it's worth taking a shot at his upside. That's why Castillo is No. 1 this week.
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. 24 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