Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Top 10 Pickups for MLB Week 5
A new week, another batch of waiver-wire additions just the way you like 'em: hot and fresh out of the oven.
Some players mentioned last week—including Alex Guerrero, A.J. Burnett, Jake Marisnick, Mike Leake, Josh Reddick and Yimi Garcia—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 5.
Andre Ethier, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers (14.4 Percent Owned)
Adam Lind, 1B, Milwaukee Brewers (48.2 Percent Owned)
Jonathon Niese, SP, New York Mets (17.9 Percent Owned)
Dan Haren, SP, Miami Marlins (19.6 Percent Owned)
Mike Foltynewicz, SP/RP, Atlanta Braves (1.4 Percent Owned)
Yangervis Solarte, 2B/3B, San Diego Padres (16.2 Percent Owned)
David Phelps, SP/RP, Miami Marlins (1.9 Percent Owned)
Josh Collmenter, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks (3.6 Percent Owned)
Kyle Gibson, SP, Minnesota Twins (0.4 Percent Owned)
Nathan Karns, SP, Tampa Bay Rays (1.3 Percent Owned)
Kevin Pillar, OF, Toronto Blue Jays (10.5 Percent Owned)
Dilson Herrera, 2B, New York Mets (0.3 Percent Owned)
Logan Morrison, 1B, Seattle Mariners (0.3 Percent Owned)
Kyle Blanks, 1B/OF, Texas Rangers (0.1 Percent Owned)
Roenis Elias, SP, Seattle Mariners (0.8 Percent Owned)
Travis Wood, SP, Chicago Cubs (28.8 Percent Owned)
Chris Heston, SP, San Francisco Giants (31.2 Percent Owned)
Austin Hedges, C, San Diego Padres (0.0 Percent Owned)
No. 10: Blake Swihart, C, Boston Red Sox (6.8 Percent Owned)
Significant injuries to both Christian Vazquez (Tommy John surgery) and Ryan Hanigan (fractured finger) have forced rookie Blake Swihart into duty sooner than expected.
Arguably the top catching prospect in the sport, the 23-year-old is a switch-hitter with a .287/.341/.428 career slash line in the minors, so he does have an offensive part to his profile. Plus, the starting backstop job looks to be his for the foreseeable future.
That said, it's well established that young catchers often require a lengthy adjustment period to the majors, so don't bank on Swihart turning into a top-10 fantasy backstop this year. Could he have a few hot stretches where he's worth using at a position that is both very injured—top options like Jonathan Lucroy, Devin Mesoraco and Yan Gomes also are out—and very thin? Sure, so sometimes a gamble on the upside is warranted, especially in leagues with two catchers.
No. 9: Scooter Gennett, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers (15.6 Percent Owned)
It's been a brutal beginning to 2015 for Scooter Gennett and the Milwaukee Brewers, who are an MLB-worst 7-18 entering Monday and already have fired manager Ron Roenicke, according to Adam McCalvy of MLB.com.
As for the 25-year-old second baseman himself, Gennett suffered a freak injury in which he sliced open the top of his left hand on a shower caddy, putting him on the disabled list.
Yes, for real.
While Gennett wasn't doing much before he went down in mid-April (6-for-29, .207), he does have the potential to reach the low double digits in both home runs and steals, which is more than can be said for many other options at a shallow second base position. While Milwaukee wants Gennett to prove he's ready to return, according to Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, he is eligible to come off the DL Tuesday.
What's more, the Brewers finally are starting to get healthy, with the return of Carlos Gomez, their top offensive player, and the pending arrival of Gennett. Consider this a stash-and-see addition that could pay off.
No. 8: Alex Colome, SP, Tampa Bay Rays (1.7 Percent Owned)
Alex Colome entered the season as one of the Tampa Bay Rays' top prospects, albeit an older one at age 26. On top of that, he battled pneumonia during spring training, which cost him a chance to break camp in the rotation, as he was expected to in March.
Now healthy, the right-hander looked strong in his first outing of 2015, holding the potent Baltimore Orioles lineup to just three hits over five scoreless frames while whiffing six in St. Petersburg on Friday.
Colome has a history of being erratic (4.0 BB/9 career in the minors), but he also has a big arm, which gives him slightly more upside than a lot of other pitchers on the waiver wire. It's high risk/high reward, especially with his next start coming against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. But if Colome passes that test, owners who pick him up now and keep him reserved—the recommendation here—might have something going forward.
No. 7: Brandon Crawford, SS, San Francisco Giants (8.6 Percent Owned)
Folks, meet the current leader in home runs among all actual shortstops. After a pair of big flies last week, Brandon Crawford is tied with, uh, Zack Cozart of the Cincinnati Reds for the most at the position.
While he's always been known more for his glove than his bat, the 28-year-old Crawford offers enough with the latter to make him a capable starting fantasy shortstop in deep leagues when he's going well. Remember, this is a weak position.
A lefty swinger, Crawford made some very nice gains against same-side pitching in 2014 with an .879 OPS, and he's continued that early in 2015 by going 7-for-22 (.318) with two of his homers. If he can keep this up, Crawford—12-for-35 (.343) over his past dozen games—could stay semi-relevant this season.
You really could do a heck of a lot worse at short or middle infield.
No. 6: Juan Lagares, OF, New York Mets (29.7 Percent Owned)
Like Brandon Crawford, Juan Lagares is well-known for his defensive prowess, and he is inarguably one of the very best center fielders in the game today.
On offense, the 26-year-old might be the quintessential won't-hurt-you hitter, one who brings a relatively safe batting average, a pinch of pop and the upside for 15 to 20 stolen bases.
Lagares is hitting .376 (27-for-70) since Tax Day, and while that comes with nary a homer or steal, he does have 11 runs and nine RBI in that time. Plus, he swiped 13 bags in just 116 games in 2014, so he has it in him to help some in the SB category too.
No. 5: Miguel Gonzalez, SP, Baltimore Orioles (23.9 Percent Owned)
Miguel Gonzalez isn't anyone's idea of a fantasy darling, particularly when his peripherals constantly suggest a regression is coming. And yet, the 30-year-old continues to get the job done in a very under-the-radar way.
To wit, Gonzalez owns a less-than-attractive FIP of 4.55 for his career, compared to a rather robust 3.39 ERA. This year is no different, with a 2.59 ERA versus a 3.89 FIP.
The thing is the Baltimore Orioles right-hander almost never gets knocked around. He gave up more than four runs in a start only once in 2014. And he has enough strong starts, like Saturday's 7.2 scoreless innings with more strikeouts (six) than baserunners (five), to make him worth owning and, often, worth using.
If you're feeling lucky, you might want to give Gonzo a whirl in his next turn Friday against the New York Yankees. They've been scoring runs so far, but he also held them to one run over seven innings with a career-high 10 strikeouts on April 14.
No. 4: Colby Rasmus, OF, Houston Astros (3.0 Percent Owned)
If you've played fantasy baseball before, you know what Colby Rasmus is by now: a tease. He's injury prone and runs very hot and very cold, both of which drive owners crazy.
But when the 28-year-old long-ago top prospect is clicking—like he is now, with a .293 average, nine runs, three homers and seven RBI over his past 11 games—he can perform like a capable fourth or fifth outfielder.
Of course, Rasmus still swings and misses at a ridiculous rate. His 40.2 strikeout percentage is the worst in MLB, so don't bank on this stretch lasting very long. And knowing Rasmus, it's likely to be followed by a cold one, making him an easy drop for the next hot hand in a week or two.
No. 3: Mike Fiers, SP, Milwaukee Brewers (25.4 Percent Owned)
A popular sleeper back in March after posting a 2.13 ERA and 0.88 WHIP in 71.2 innings in 2014, Mike Fiers lost a lot of love from fantasy owners with a rough first few turns. Indeed, his 6.75 ERA after three starts didn't offer any good value, so folks started jumping ship.
Well, it may be time to hop back on. Fiers still has to work to improve his 4.74 ERA and ghastly 1.66 WHIP, but at the moment—get this—he is leading all of baseball with a 12.4 strikeouts-per-nine rate.
The 29-year-old struck out 12 over six innings of three-hit, one-run ball at Wrigley Field to hold down the dangerous Chicago Cubs over the weekend.
As for that inflated WHIP, well, Fiers' MLB-high .409 BABIP takes at least some of the blame. The Los Angeles Dodgers will provide a tough matchup Thursday, but Fiers needs to be owned in most leagues, if only for his strikeout stats.
No. 2: Trevor Plouffe, 3B, Minnesota Twins (2.7 Percent Owned)
OK, it's time to acknowledge that Trevor Plouffe is better than we all thought.
The 28-year-old is almost never considered a starter-worthy candidate, mostly because he's eligible only at third base and corner infield, which are two of the deeper spots in fantasy. But this is a guy who A) once was the 20th overall pick in the draft (2004), B) hit 24 homers in 2012 and C) knocked another 14 out, along with 40 doubles and 80 RBI last year.
Following a slow start, Plouffe has hit .350 with four home runs and 14 RBI in his past 15 games, including a 3-for-5 effort with a grand slam Sunday to cap a two-homer weekend.
Just pick him up already.
No. 1: Rusney Castillo, OF, Boston Red Sox (28.8 Percent Owned)
You know it's a bit of a slow week in the waiver-wire department when the No. 1 player isn't even in the majors currently.
Rusney Castillo, however, does have the skill set to be a potential top-30 fantasy outfielder, which is why we're showing him some love here.
While it's understandable that fantasy owners, tired of waiting for him to get healthy, have moved on from the man who last August inked the largest-ever contract for an international free agent from Cuba—at $72.5 million—Castillo, 27, finally is back on the field.
Yes, it's at Triple-A Pawtucket, but it might soon be in Boston. Between the Red Sox's less-than-inspiring start and yet another hamstring injury to Shane Victorino, the club almost has to give Castillo a chance sooner rather than later. Otherwise, all that money looks wasted.
Given Castillo's 15-15 upside for 2015 amid a potent lineup, owners will want to add him now—before he gets called up.
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, May 3, and courtesy of MLB.com, Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.
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