Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Top 10 Pickups for Week 23
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 Steve Pearce, Trevor Bauer, Matt Shoemaker, Avisail Garcia, Adam Eaton and Trevor Plouffe—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 23.
Jarred Cosart, SP, Miami Marlins (6.2 Percent Owned)
Hector Santiago, SP/RP, Los Angeles Angels (4.9 Percent Owned)
Eric O'Flaherty, RP, Oakland Athletics (38.1 Percent Owned)
Lorenzo Cain, OF, Kansas City Royals (36.4 Percent Owned)
Jarrod Dyson, OF, Kansas City Royals (9.6 Percent Owned)
Dioner Navarro, C, Toronto Blue Jays (17.0 Percent Owned)
Luis Valbuena, 2B/3B, Chicago Cubs (10.7 Percent Owned)
Jordan Schafer, OF, Minnesota Twins (15.4 Percent Owned)
Yusmeiro Petit, SP/RP, San Francisco Giants (6.6 Percent Owned)
Hector Noesi, SP/RP, Chicago White Sox (0.2 Percent Owned)
Anthony Ranaudo, SP, Boston Red Sox (0.2 Percent Owned)
Derek Holland, SP, Texas Rangers (0.3 Percent Owned)
Jose Ramirez, 2B/SS, Cleveland Indians (1.8 Percent Owned)
Dilson Herrera, 2B, New York Mets (N/A Percent Owned)
No. 10: A.J. Pollock, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks (3.6 Percent Owned)
Hey, remember this guy? Out since May 31 after a Johnny Cueto pitch broke his finger, A.J. Pollock is expected to rejoin the Arizona Diamondbacks now that rosters are expanding with the start of September on Monday.
The shame of the 26-year-old Pollock’s 2014 season is that he was on fire right when he got HBP’d, having batted .375 in May with 17 runs, three homers and eight stolen bases.
While his rehab assignment at Triple-A hasn’t gone all that well (.167/.182/.238), Pollock still represents a potentially start-able fourth or fifth outfielder who has the skill set to chip in in each category if he can readjust to the majors quickly.
No. 9: Michael Wacha, SP, St. Louis Cardinals (48.6 Percent Owned)
Another injury-returnee-in-the-making, Michael Wacha has been battling a rare stress reaction in his right shoulder that has kept him out since June 17 and put his season in jeopardy. But now is the time to check your league’s free-agent pool to see if the 23-year-old was dropped and forgotten about long ago.
In his first rehab outing on Sunday, Wacha threw 24 of 34 pitches for strikes over two scoreless innings while allowing just a hit and a walk with one strikeout for Double-A Springfield. He’s still building up arm strength, but with the minor league season coming to an end, Wacha may have to return to the Cardinals to continue his progress.
Here’s Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
With Class AAA Memphis qualifying for the Pacific Coast League postseason, the Cardinals could continue Wacha’s rehab assignment this week at that level, or they could elect to have him do the rest of his rehab while on the job in the majors.
Sure, a pitcher making his way back from a shoulder ailment isn’t exactly the safest pickup around, but Wacha was throwing like a borderline fantasy ace at the time he got hurt (2.79 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 8.3 K/9). Even if the right-hander makes only a few starts down the stretch while the St. Louis Cardinals handle him conservatively, he may be worth grabbing and using immediately.
No. 8: Shane Greene, SP/RP, New York Yankees (8.8 Percent Owned)
Shane Greene has flown under the radar as an amateur, a prospect and a rookie in the major leagues. But it’s time to start taking the New York Yankees’ right-hander seriously in fantasy.
The 25-year-old owns a solid 4-1 mark with a 3.09 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 8.8 K/9 in his 55.1 innings this year.
While Greene hasn’t been super consistent in his nine starts, he does have a few gems among them, including his most recent turn in which he threw seven innings of five-hit, two-run ball with eight strikeouts to beat the Detroit Tigers for the second time in four turns.
With an outing against the Boston Red Sox on tap for Tuesday, Greene means go for fantasy owners.
No. 7: James Paxton, SP, Seattle Mariners (39.1 Percent Owned)
James Paxton falls into that same inconsistent-yet-promising rookie that Greene does.
After looking good through his first two starts in April, the 25-year-old missed almost four months with injury, but he’s held up in five turns since rejoining the Seattle Mariners' rotation. Over that span, Paxton has a 1.65 ERA in 27.1 innings, along with a solid 20-to-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
In his last go, Paxton posted 6.2 scoreless innings against the lowly Texas Rangers, and even though he was optioned to Triple-A the following day, that was merely so the M’s could finagle the roster in advance of September.
With clubs able to carry up to 40 players this month, Paxton is due to be recalled and start Tuesday against an Oakland Athletics team that is much better than the Rangers, but one that has slumped with the sticks lately.
No. 6: Gregory Polanco, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates (29.1 Percent Owned)
The only news Gregory Polanco made of late was the bad kind when he was demoted back to Triple-A last week.
The 22-year-old top prospect-turned-rookie had started his career in the majors with an 11-game hitting streak that only fueled the hype train. Alas, while Polanco flashed his potential, he also fell into an ugly 1-for-30 slump in mid-August that was the impetus behind the Pittsburgh Pirates sending him back down.
The thing is, Polanco actually hadn’t been all that bad in the bigs. Sure, he was up and down, but what first-year player isn't? Frankly, owners should be reminded that he managed six homers and 12 stolen bases in 64 games. And his 50-to-25 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 279 plate appearances wasn’t bad either.
Polanco’s slump and demotion almost certainly got him kicked to the curb in your league, but the Pirates will give him another look starting Tuesday, according to Stephen Pianovich of MLB.com.
"We look forward to getting him back," says Pirates general manager Neal Huntington. "If we're going to play October baseball, Gregory Polanco is going to have a hand in that."
Fantasy owners should consider a similar approach.
No. 5: Danny Salazar, SP, Cleveland Indians (26.6 Percent Owned)
The Danny Salazar breakout that everyone was expecting when he was a too-popular-to-be-a-sleeper pick back in March is happening—it just took several months more than hoped.
On Friday, the 24-year-old with the upper-90s heater shut down the surging Kansas City Royals, hurling five scoreless frames, the first time all season he didn't surrender a single run (earned or not).
With that performance, Salazar brought his ERA of 2.84, WHIP of 1.16 and strikeouts to 36 in 38.0 innings across seven starts since coming back up from Triple-A to rejoin the Cleveland Indians' rotation.
Given those numbers, you'll want to have Salazar active for his next turn Wednesday against the Detroit Tigers.
No. 4: Marcus Stroman, SP/RP, Toronto Blue Jays (14.4 Percent Owned)
Marcus Stroman has been a bit of a roller-coaster ride of late, but with the downhill portion of the ride over, the rookie looks like he might be ascending once again.
Sandwiched around the 23-year-old's first-ever big league complete game on Aug. 9, Stroman was about as bad as could be, allowing 15 earned runs in only 8.2 innings over three starts. Yuck.
But Stroman's last effort—7.2 innings of five-hit, one-run ball with six strikeouts against the Boston Red Sox—was much like those he'd put together in June and July, when he was being added by fantasy owners everywhere.
Stroman gets the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday, which presents a good chance to utilize a young arm that has a 3.28 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in his 16 starts as a rookie.
No. 3: Arismendy Alcantara, 2B/SS/OF, Chicago Cubs (27.4 Percent Owned)
Yes, Arismendy Alcantara is hitting just .218 for the season, and that's factoring into the hot start to his MLB career, which began in mid-July.
But then, you don't own—or in this case, add—the 22-year-old for his batting average. You own him for his versatility (2B/SS/OF) and ability to contribute in the other four categories when he's going well.
That's the case right now, as the switch-hitter has gone 10-for-37 (.270) with seven runs, four homers, seven RBI and a pair of stolen bases in his last 10 games.
Alcantara has started to take advantage of playing every day for a Chicago Cubs club that has brought up some other big-time prospects—like Javier Baez and Jorge Soler—to make the lineup quite a bit more dangerous.
No. 2: Jake Odorizzi, SP, Tampa Bay Rays (38.4 Percent Owned)
Sheesh, one rough start and everyone jumps off the Jake Odorizzi bandwagon, eh?
The 24-year-old righty was dropped en masse after he surrendered season-highs of 11 hits and eight earned runs in his Aug. 25 start. Of course, that it came against the Baltimore Orioles at hitter-friendly Camden Yards didn’t make things any easier.
But Odorizzi bounced right back with a win over the Boston Red Sox on Saturday in which he allowed merely a single hit—a single—in seven scoreless innings with as many strikeouts. Speaking of strikeouts, Odorizzi's 10.0 K/9 rate ranks freakin' sixth in all of baseball, so he's a must-start for owners searching for sit-'em-downs.
Like when Odorizzi gets back on the mound Thursday versus the Toronto Blue Jays.
No. 1: Mookie Betts, OF, Boston Red Sox (4.3 Percent Owned)
It took three stints in the majors, but the Boston Red Sox finally appear to be cool with Mookie Betts now.
The 21-year-old top prospect has been playing center field regularly the past two weeks, and he’s definitely getting the hang of this Major League Baseball thing.
Betts has gone 12-for-44 (.273) with two home runs and three stolen bases in 13 games since returning to Boston on Aug. 18. His on-base percentage in that time? A whopping .396 over that span, thanks to more walks (nine) than strikeouts (seven), which was his hallmark in the minors.
Down the stretch, it can be tough for fantasy owners to unearth production, particularly hitting over pitching. But when it comes to getting numbers from a player who still might be available on the waiver wire, Betts is a good bet.
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. 31 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