Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Top-10 Pickups for Week 17
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 Arismendy Alcantara, Danny Duffy, Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman, Jake Odorizzi, Kolten Wong and Joaquin Benoit—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 17.
Odrisamer Despaigne, SP, San Diego Padres (17.7 Percent Owned)
Drew Smyly, SP/RP, Detroit Tigers (41.8 Percent Owned)
Nick Swisher, 1B/OF, Cleveland Indians (26.3 Percent Owned)
Omar Infante, 2B, Kansas City Royals (46.6 Percent Owned)
Chase Headley, 3B, San Diego Padres (40.4 Percent Owned)
David Phelps, SP/RP, New York Yankees (1.1 Percent Owned)
David Peralta, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks (6.4 Percent Owned)
Travis d'Arnaud, C, New York Mets (6.6 Percent Owned)
Chris Coghlan, OF, Chicago Cubs (31.2 Percent Owned)
Chris Carter, 1B/OF, Houston Astros (31.4 Percent Owned)
Because there's so much ninth-inning volatility—and potentially, trades coming between now and July 31 that will alter ninth-inning roles—the new/overlooked/replacement/interim/potential closers who are available in the majority of leagues are ranked on this slide as follows:
- Neftali Feliz, RP, Texas Rangers (10.3 Percent Owned)
- Zach Putnam, RP, Chicago White Sox (5.5 Percent Owned)
- Neil Ramirez, RP, Chicago Cubs (7.0 Percent Owned)
- Brad Ziegler, RP, Arizona Diamondbacks (2.5 Percent Owned)
- A.J. Ramos, RP, Miami Marlins (0.2 Percent Owned)
- Dale Thayer, RP, San Diego Padres (1.0 Percent Owned)
- Joba Chamberlain, RP, Detroit Tigers (0.6 Percent Owned)
- Jeurys Familia, RP, New York Mets (0.1 Percent Owned)
- Darren O'Day, RP, Baltimore Orioles (3.3 Percent Owned)
- Josh Fields, RP, Houston Astros (0.8 Percent Owned)
- Jason Grilli, RP, Los Angeles Angels (41.2 Percent Owned)
- Grant Balfour, RP, Tampa Bay Rays (42.2 Percent Owned)
- Kevin Jepsen, RP, Los Angeles Angels (0.4 Percent Owned)
- Jean Machi, RP, San Francisco Giants (4.7 Percent Owned)
- Daniel Webb, RP, Chicago White Sox (0.0 Percent Owned)
- Jake Petricka, RP, Chicago White Sox (12.3 Percent Owned)
- Javy Guerra, RP, Chicago White Sox (0.0 Percent Owned)
- Bryan Shaw, RP, Cleveland Indians (1.5 Percent Owned)
- John Axford, RP, Cleveland Indians (34.1 Percent Owned)
- Tommy Hunter, RP, Baltimore Orioles (35.1 Percent Owned)
- Ken Giles, RP, Philadelphia Phillies (2.1 Percent Owned)
- Adam Ottavino, RP, Colorado Rockies (0.0 Percent Owned)
- Rex Brothers, RP, Colorado Rockies (20.8 Percent Owned)
- Vic Black, RP, New York Mets (0.0 Percent Owned)
No. 10: Stephen Vogt, C/OF, Oakland Athletics (49.3 Percent Owned)
With more than a month of unbelievable production in the books, it's time we write up Stephen Vogt rather than simply list him in the "Just Missed" section.
To be clear, this is just one of those elongated hot streaks a hitter can experience at random, but here's what Vogt's done in his time with the Oakland Athletics in 2013, which began 37 games ago on June 1: .364 BA, 12 R, 4 HR, 18 RBI—and he's even pilfered a base, to boot.
Will that last? Surely not, because this is a 29-year-old who's spent the vast majority of the past four seasons at Triple-A. But it can be fun while it lasts, especially because Vogt's versatility—he's eligible at catcher, outfield and first base in most leagues—makes him a useful plug-and-play option that gets a lot of action thanks to A's bench boss Bob Melvin.
Also, you kinda have to start buying in, at least a little, when anyone hits a home run off King Felix, as Vogt did on July 11. Highlight up top.
No. 9: Brandon McCarthy, SP, New York Yankees (2.9 Percent Owned)
OK, so Brandon McCarthy ain't exactly a new-name kinda waiver-wire add, because he's a 31-year-old you're more than familiar with. He fits into the pick-him-up-because-he's-been-better-than-you-realize bin.
McCarthy, who was traded from the Arizona Diamondbacks to the New York Yankees earlier in July, has made two starts with his new club, and both have been 6.0-plus innings in which he allowed one earned run. (Sure, he gave up nine hits and four earned in his Bronx debut, but it's the earned ones that count for fantasy).
He's also whiffed 12 against just one walk, which isn't anything new for McCarthy, who sports a strong 105-to-21 strikeout-to-walk ratio on the year. That, along with his 1.2 HR/9 rate, helps explain why his FIP can be 3.83 while his ERA sits at a ghastly 5.01.
McCarthy does get hit and does have rough outings more than he should given his stuff, but hey, he's worth a shot to see if the change of scenery—albeit to a park that ranks second in homers among ESPN's Park Factors—makes a difference. At least he gets to face what's left of the Texas Rangers, owners of MLB's worst record, there on Thursday.
No. 8: Chris Johnson, 3B, Atlanta Braves (27.3 Percent Owned)
The smart fantasy owner realized that Chris Johnson's incredible 2013, including that .321 batting average, was extremely likely to be an outlier season propped up by a ridiculous .394 BABIP that ranked first in the entire sport.
The 29-year-old got off to a slow start this time around, hitting just .231 at April's end, and by that point most folks chose to move on, as they should have.
That means there's a good chance Johnson is out there in your league right now, and while he's not 2013 Johnson, he has been pretty darn hot in 41 games since June 1: .309 BA, 5 HR, 25 RBI. And he's compiled four of those home runs and 10 of those RBI in just the past five games, while going 9-for-20 (.450). Add while scalding then dump again once he cools.
No. 7: Tommy La Stella, 2B, Atlanta Braves (6.2 Percent Owned)
As a rookie who debuted in late May, Tommy La Stella has played 46 games in the majors and has yet to hit a home run and has managed but two steals. Why would you want him for fantasy then?
Why, because the 25-year-old still can hit, as his .297 average proves. Following a swoon in the middle of June during which he went just 2-for-35, La Stella has hit .338 in the 14 games since with eight doubles and 13 RBI.
He's almost entirely a batting-average play if you could also use some depth at middle infield or second base, but La Stella makes contact like crazy (12.3 percent strikeouts), which means he'll have the occasional big day. Like he did Sunday, when he went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and three RBI.
No. 6: Rubby De La Rosa, SP/RP, Boston Red Sox (3.2 Percent Owned)
Really, you'd think a former top prospect in the Los Angeles Dodgers system who still throws in the mid-90s would get more love from fantasy owners. Then again, Rubby De La Rosa has been up and down between Triple-A and Boston for the better part of this season.
Still, in his seven starts, all of which have come since Memorial Day, the 25-year-old has a 2.64 ERA and 1.08 WHIP over 44.1 frames.
RDLR wasn't at his best over the weekend, as he struck out only two and permitted four walks among nine baserunners, but he did hold the Kansas City Royals to just one run to pick up his third win.
This may be a right-handed version of Danny Duffy—also once a highly regarded 'spect who had his struggles, underwent Tommy John surgery and then took a while to get reacclimated and gain acceptance from fantasy owners—so give De La Rosa a whirl Thursday. He gets the injury-bitten Toronto Blue Jays lineup that features Jose Bautista, his awesome beard and that's about it.
No. 5: Kevin Kiermaier, OF, Tampa Bay Rays (28.1 Percent Owned)
Before the season, Kevin Kiermaier was a somewhat intriguing prospect in the Tampa Bay Rays system, but almost entirely because of his defense, which made him almost entirely unintriguing in fantasy.
After all, this was a 24-year-old with all of 15 home runs to his name in five minor league seasons as a 31st-round pick in 2010. So it's pretty amazing that Kiermaier has walloped more than half that many homers—eight, to be exact—already in 51 games with the Rays in 2014.
Not only that, he's also hitting a robust .315 with 10 doubles, four triples, 22 runs, 24 RBI and even three stolen bases.
A .355 BABIP says Kiermaier's performance isn't sustainable at this level, but he's been better with the bat than anyone could have expected.
No. 4: Austin Jackson, OF, Detroit Tigers (47.1 Percent Owned)
You know Austin Jackson. You also probably hate Austin Jackson if you're a fantasy owner.
The guy just will not break out like he's supposed to, even now in his age-27 season. The five-year veteran is hitting .264 with a mere three home runs and 27 RBI. Even the offensive aspects at which Jackson has excelled before—his 45 runs and nine stolen bases—are only barely passable for most owners.
So why is he here? Because since his batting average bottomed out at .233 on June 4, Jackson is hitting .305 and getting on base at a .367 clip. That has resulted in his being reinstalled in the leadoff spot starting this month, and Jackson has put up a .354/.403/.523 line with 11 runs in 16 games.
Is the breakout actually, finally happening? Probably not—Jackson has a .479 BABIP and 18 strikeouts since July 1—but anyone hitting first for the Detroit Tigers merits an add-while-hot mention.
No. 3: Danny Salazar, SP, Cleveland Indians (24.8 Percent Owned)
You didn't forget about Danny Salazar, did you?
You know, the fireballing 24-year-old right-hander who threw upper-90s heaters by hitters throughout the second half of 2013 while ringing up 65 in 52.0 innings.
Or, you know, the inconsistent, enigmatic, injury-prone second-year pitcher who couldn't cut it on his way to a 5.53 ERA and 1.62 WHIP through eight starts in the Cleveland Indians rotation to open 2014.
Well, the former got Salazar all the hype heading into the year, but the latter got him demoted to Triple-A, where he's been all over the map for more than two months, posting a 4.02 ERA, 1.51 WHIP and a 67-to-23 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 53.2 innings.
But now! He's baaaaack! Salazar is slated to take a turn for the Indians on Tuesday against the Minnesota Twins, according to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. There's no guarantee Salazar will remain in the majors, but this is an arm—and that's a matchup—worth gambling on to see if he can relive his 2013 second half in 2014.
No. 2: Trevor Bauer, SP, Cleveland Indians (5.0 Percent Owned)
While Danny Salazar has spent the past several weeks trying to find his form in the minors, fellow Cleveland Indian organization member Trevor Bauer has been doing much the same thing, only in the majors.
Bauer, the 23-year-old former No. 3 overall pick in 2011, has had more ups and downs in his four pro seasons than does a kid spending the day at an amusement park during summer vacation.
After making some adjustments to his delivery this year, Bauer has regained his mid-90s velocity and the sharpness on his breaking ball, which has allowed him to flash some brilliant stuff at times. Of course, he also struggles with consistency and efficiency, two problems that have plagued him throughout his career and tend to crop up all of a sudden and without warning.
That said, Bauer has been better of late, as July has been his best month so far: 2.84 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 8.2 K/9. He's also avoided the long ball, which has been a bugaboo at times.
The light bulb might not necessarily be flicking on for good, but it's at least flickering, and Bauer draws the Twins at pitcher-friendly Target Field on Wednesday, the day after Salazar. Grab and give him a go.
No. 1: Wade Miley, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks (28.1 Percent Owned)
If you're considering adding an arm and just focusing on the season-to-date stats, you're going to gloss over Wade Miley. But you shouldn't.
While the 27-year-old lefty almost never hurts a fantasy owner's bottom line when he toes the rubber, his ERA and WHIP sit at 4.16 and 1.23, respectively. Admittedly, those don't look all that worth owning.
What Miley has done over his past 10 turns, though? Well worth owning. In that time, Miley has pitched to a 3.44 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and a whopping 10.1 K/9 over 65.1 innings.
With an outing against the lefty-loaded lineup of the Philadelphia Phillies on tap for Friday, Miley could continue a run that has him looking like the guy who was a dependable starter who put up a 3.44 ERA and 1.25 WHIP during his first two full seasons—only with more strikeouts.
To talk baseball or fantasy baseball, check in with me on Twitter: @JayCat11