Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Top 10 Pickups for Week 6

Andrew Gould@AndrewGould4Featured ColumnistMay 9, 2016

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Top 10 Pickups for Week 6

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    Nathan Karns is working his way into mixed-league consideration with high strikeout tallies.
    Nathan Karns is working his way into mixed-league consideration with high strikeout tallies.Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    Feeling gloomy about an underachieving fantasy baseball squad buried down the standings? Hopefully Saturday night reminded everyone that miracles do happen.

    Bartolo Colon—a 42-year-old pitcher whose at-bats have become public viewing for their comedic value—hit his first career home run. As SNY play-by-play announcer Gary Cohen joyfully shrieked, "The impossible has happened!"

    If Bartolo Colon can go yard, what's stopping a fantasy team from digging out of last place and chasing a championship? Like the veteran's bat, some clubs simply need time to develop before hitting their stride.

    The New York Mets hurler is also helping fantasy owners on the mound, where he has posted a 2.82 ERA while displaying his typical pinpoint command. If not for already discussing the jovial righty weeks ago, he'd frequent this week's waiver-wire column as someone owned in 34 percent of Yahoo Sports leagues, below the 50 percent prerequisite.

    The pitchers listed all throw harder than Colon, and the discussed hitters sure better hit with more efficacy. Then again, Colon has as many homers combined as two shortstops highlighted for other attributes.  

Honorable Mentions

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    John Jaso is hitting .302/.370/.472 for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
    John Jaso is hitting .302/.370/.472 for the Pittsburgh Pirates.Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Mixed Leagues

    John Jaso, 1B/OF, Pittsburgh Pirates

    Pedro Alvarez, 1B, Baltimore Orioles

    Martin Prado, 2B/3B, Miami Marlins

    Danny Valencia, 3B/OF, Oakland Athletics

    Tyler Chatwood, SP, Colorado Rockies

    Tyler Duffey, SP, Minnesota Twins

    Alex Wood, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers

    Ross Stripling, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers

    AL Only

    Bobby Wilson, C, Texas Rangers

    Dae-Ho Lee, 1B, Seattle Mariners

    Hyun Soo Kim, 1B/OF, Baltimore Orioles

    Cheslor Cuthbert, 3B, Kansas City Royals

    Chris Devenski, SP, Houston Astros

    NL Only

    Dustin Garneau, C, Colorado Rockies

    Chris Herrmann, C, Arizona Diamondbacks

    Andres Blanco, 2B/3B/SS, Philadelphia Phillies

    Mike Foltynewicz, SP, Atlanta Braves

    Jameson Taillon, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates

10. Julio Urias, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers (12 Percent Owned)

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    The Los Angeles Dodgers could call up top pitching prospect Julio Urias to use in the bullpen.
    The Los Angeles Dodgers could call up top pitching prospect Julio Urias to use in the bullpen.Chris Carlson/Associated Press

    The good news? Julio Urias,'s No. 2 prospect, could join the Los Angeles Dodgers shortly. The bad news? If they call him up, it'll be to bolster their bullpen.

    According to's Ken Gurnick, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said the 19-year-old phenom is "definitely at the top of the list" of candidates to promote as a reliever. Fellow starting pitchers Jose De Leon and Jharel Cotton are also receiving consideration. 

    "Where we're at right now, Urias is leading the discussions," Roberts said. "He can get lefties and rightes out. It's a nice luxury if we decide to go that way."

    In his last start at Triple-A, Urias hurled six perfect innings, improving his ERA to 1.88. The southpaw has not looked overmatched against older competition, registering 29 strikeouts to three walks over 24 innings.

    Due to the nature of his anticipated role, his arrival shouldn't incite a frenzy in redraft leagues. Kenley Jansen has a firm grip on the ninth inning, so Urias will at best become Los Angeles' Dellin Betances. If he dominates from the pen, which isn't unreasonable for a future ace, he would offer value as a source of strikeouts and enhanced ratios.

    Although the circumstances puncture the excitement of his potential debut, Urias' superstar ceiling makes him someone to monitor closely anyway. 

9. Adam Duvall, OF, Cincinnati Reds (3 Percent Owned)

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    Adam Duvall has emerged as an intriguing power bat for deeper leagues.
    Adam Duvall has emerged as an intriguing power bat for deeper leagues.John Minchillo/Associated Press

    The Cincinnati Reds left fielder strikes out a ton, but he's also a huge power bat boasting a .551 slugging percentage. His name is Adam Du... wait, did the Reds resurrect Adam Dunn?

    No, this is Adam Duvall, attempting to become a poor man's Dunn without the walks. The 27-year-old has belted six home runs in 94 plate appearances, wrestling away from the starting job from the recently demoted Scott Schebler. 

    “I’m just trying to get good pitches now and focus on getting a good pitch to hit, not being overly aggressive and not being too patient," Duvall told's Zach Buchanan. "I’m kind of getting into a groove right now. Hopefully, we keep that rolling.”

    Having only drawn five walks, the 220-pound righty has whittled the three true outcomes down to two. While he's batting .258 with a 41.4 hard-hit percentage, he'll struggle to keep hitting at a passable clip due to his 33.0 strikeout percentage.

    We're only here for the dingers, and his suitors should remain limited to deeper leagues. He has now shattered 14 long balls over 82 career games, so let's see how many he can crush with a full season of regular playing time. Thirty homers is well in the realm of possibility.  

8. Leonys Martin, OF, Seattle Mariners (6 Percent Owned)

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    Leonys Martin has displayed uncharacteristic power this season.
    Leonys Martin has displayed uncharacteristic power this season.Ben Margot/Associated Press

    Bryce Harper, Jose Altuve and Leonys Martin. Those are the only three players who have collected at least five home runs and five stolen bases this season.

    That's nice company for someone who is available in 94 percent of Yahoo Sports leagues. To be fair, that has a lot to do with his .194 batting average, down from last year's .219 clip which compelled the Texas Rangers to bench and eventually abandon him. A 31.5 strikeout percentage won't help him increase that mark closer to his .250 career norm.

    In deep enough leagues, it won't matter if he keeps offering pop and speed. The 28-year-old outfielder mounted consecutive 30-steal campaigns in 2013 and 2014, and he swiped 14 bags in 95 games last year despite reaching base at an abysmal .264 rate. Whenever he gets on, which admittedly isn't too often, he's looking to run.

    There are other one-dimensional speedsters sitting around the waiver wire, but Martin's power surge separates him from those one-category hindrances. With five homers in 30 games, he's already three shy of matching his career high. It's not all a fluke, as he altered his approach in pursuit of power.

    Half of Martin's career batted balls are grounders, but he has slashed the percentage to 38.3, instead upping his 30.0 fly-ball percentage to 48.3. His hard-hit percentage, which has never veered above 26.0 in a full campaign, resides at 31.8.

    Average concerns aside, there aren't many 15-homer, 25-steal candidates left unclaimed. Managers with a strong foundation of contact hitters should see if Martin's muscle is legit.

7. Hector Neris, RP, Philadelphia Phillies (26 Percent Owned)

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    Hector Neris is making a push up the Philadelphia Phillies' bullpen hierarchy.
    Hector Neris is making a push up the Philadelphia Phillies' bullpen hierarchy.Bill Boyce/Associated Press

    Whether gamers like speculating for saves or simply prefer a dominant middle reliever, Hector Neris fits the mold.

    After a full preseason of wondering which unappealing reliever the Philadelphia Phillies would name closer, Neris has posted a 1.80 ERA and 0.80 WHIP setting up Jeanmar Gomez. The 26-year-old has compiled 28 strikeouts to six walks, giving him a superb 29.0 strikeouts-minus-walks percentage.  

    Only three relievers brandish a higher swinging-strike percentage than Neris' 19.3. He also wields one of the league's lowest contact rates, which's Mike Petriello credited to the righty's heavier reliance on his masterful splitter.

    "Since the start of 2015, Neris has thrown the splitter 292 times, and allowed six hits on it, collecting 42 strikeouts—which is a .092 average," Petriello wrote. "It's been so dominant that if we look at the seasons (since 2008) with the highest percentage of swinging strikes on the splitter, Neris actually shows up twice."

    Gomez hasn't done anything to land on the hot seat, recording 11 of 12 save opportunities with a 2.41 ERA and 1.23 WHIP. However, the closer is far more hittable than Neris, surrendering nine knocks over his last six appearances.

    A change could come down the road, but Neris will provide value in the meantime. 

6. Eduardo Rodriguez, SP, Boston Red Sox (32 Percent Owned)

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    Eduardo Rodriguez is close to making his season debut for the Boston Red Sox.
    Eduardo Rodriguez is close to making his season debut for the Boston Red Sox.Steven Senne/Associated Press

    Eduardo Rodriguez made his third rehab outing on Sunday, surrendering two home runs during 5.2 innings for Triple-A Pawtucket. His next start could be with the Boston Red Sox, a possibility manager John Farrell left open to's Ian Browne.

    Like Kevin Gausman, Anthony DeSclafani and Lance McCullers, Rodriguez had any preseason hype hindered because of an injury. A right knee ailment caused the 23-year-old to open his sophomore season on the disabled list.

    As a rookie, he showed enough glimpses of talent without flourishing enough to command leniency from mixed-league gamers without multiple disabled-list spots. The southpaw registered a 3.85 ERA, 7.25 K/9 and 2.74 BB/9, closing his rookie campaign with a 2.22 ERA and 9.25 K/9 in September.

    For all of his promise, he also endured painful nadirs, completing an unseemly flush of relinquishing six, seven, eight and nine runs each in four separate outings. Wait a week or two before inserting him into the starting lineup, and pick his spots carefully until getting a feel for his effectiveness.

5. Ketel Marte, SS, Seattle Mariners (25 Percent Owned)

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    Ketel Marte has bounced back from a shaky start to regain fantasy relevancy.
    Ketel Marte has bounced back from a shaky start to regain fantasy relevancy.Associated Press

    Fantasy players get bored easily, a dangerous flaw when participating in a game which spans six months. So when Ketel Marte—a popular sleeper entering the season—hit .238/.279/.270 through April 25, many once eager drafters lost patience and ditched him for the newest hot hand. 

    Since then, the Seattle Mariners shortstop is hitting .320 (16-for-50), upping his 2016 average to .274.

    It's not all great news. He has only drawn four walks in 120 plate appearances, and a giant zero frequents his home run column. For anyone anticipating more than a solid average and 15-20 steals, the spring hype was overblown. 

    That does the trick for a middle infielder in five-by-five rotisserie formats. He's the guy everyone expected all along, but not all managers had the restraint to endure three poor weeks. (Or they all play in shallow leagues.)

4. Jon Gray, SP, Colorado Rockies (6 Percent Owned)

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    Jon Gray has dominated away from Coors Field.
    Jon Gray has dominated away from Coors Field.Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Free Jon Gray from the Colorado Rockies, and he'd be one of baseball's most hyped young hurlers right now.

    After allowing one hit over seven shutout innings at AT&T Park on Saturday afternoon, the 24-year-old righty wields a 2.12 ERA through six career road starts. Since joining the Rockies late last season, he has fanned 68 batters over 62.1 frames and registered a 3.34 fielding independent pitching (FIP). 

    He also holds a 5.49 ERA, and his home park deserves much of the blame. After relinquishing 11 runs during two 2016 starts at Coors, the former No. 3 overall pick has yielded five hits and two runs in a pair of road outings.

    In those four starts, he has authored a 2.52 FIP, but a 5.40 ERA hides any signs of success. Perhaps stifling the San Francisco Giants will bring more attention to his peripherals and skyrocket his microscopic ownership percentage. Or maybe nobody wants anything to do with a Rockies pitcher regardless of his talent and upside.

    For now, stream Gray on the road, but make him prove he can handle Coors. Although Colorado plays at home this week before embarking on a nine-game road stand, managers in deeper, active leagues may want to stash him now.

3. Jonathan Villar, 3B/SS, Milwaukee Brewers (40 Percent Owned)

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    Jonathan Villar leads all shortstops with eight stolen bases.
    Jonathan Villar leads all shortstops with eight stolen bases.Morry Gash/Associated Press

    Speed is good. Speed from a shortstop with a keen batting eye is great. If said shortstop also carries third-base eligibility and frequently bats leadoff, all the better.

    That's what gamers get in Jonathan Villar, whose eight stolen bases lead all shortstops and only trail Altuve and Jacoby Ellsbury across the majors. On the strength of a 13.3 walk percentage, he also wields a .364 on-base percentage atop the Milwaukee Brewers batting order.

    Forward-thinking managers will worry about his playing time with top prospect Orlando Arcia pushing for a promotion. He could get the call within the next month or two, but a productive Villar should stay in the lineup. Aaron Hill, Colin Walsh, Hernan Perez and Yadiel Rivera don't offer steep competition for regular reps.

    As long as he makes passable contact, he'll help fantasy investors. Hope for his .257 average to stand pat, as he's a career .239 hitter. He has also, however, never played more than 87 games in a single season, and the Brewers don't have enough talent to phase him out.

    His steals upside remains untapped, so he could certainly finish with 30 or more if given the opportunity.

2. Nathan Karns, SP, Seattle Mariners (19 Percent Owned)

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    Nathan Karns has notched 207 strikeouts over 205.2 career innings.
    Nathan Karns has notched 207 strikeouts over 205.2 career innings.Ben Margot/Associated Press

    Despite striking out 145 batters in 147 innings last season, Nathan Karns didn't receive any mixed-league attention. He demanded some on Saturday, allowing one run while recording nine punchouts against the Houston Astros.

    The 28-year-old righty has racked up 38 strikeouts through 34.2 frames, lifting his career K/9 to 9.06. He has boosted his swinging-strike percentage to 11.2 while downgrading his opposing contact percentage nearly six points to 73.4.

    Karns has quietly posted a 3.38 ERA, but 15 walks have decayed his WHIP to 1.33. He endured similar control issues as a rookie, issuing 3.43 walks per nine and a 1.28 WHIP, so he's not a complete package. No free-agent pitcher is.

    The Seattle starter will still stockpile strikeouts with his devastating curve and prevent runs at a solid pace, so look his way for a rotation boost. If he can keep those free passes to a minimum, he'd morph into a must-own starter.

1. Marcell Ozuna, OF, Miami Marlins (36 Percent Owned)

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    Marcell Ozuna has amassed 13 hits and four homers over his last eight games.
    Marcell Ozuna has amassed 13 hits and four homers over his last eight games.Associated Press

    Another instance of impatience getting the worst of fantasy managers, Marcell Ozuna opened 2016 with a whimper. Through April 29, the outfielder was hitting .224/.272/.382 with two home runs, and the Miami Marlins trapped him in the minors for less last season.

    He's not going down without a fight this time. Over the last eight games, each of which he has collected a hit, the 25-year-old has gone 13-for-31 with four home runs. Just like that, his slash line has replenished to .268/.317/.482.

    That's the bounce-back candidate astute drafters signed up for after he notched a .789 OPS upon last year's major league return. Dating back to last season, he has blasted a dozen dingers over 69 games. As long as the Marlins don't get any dumb ideas, he should approach or exceed the 23 homers he belted in 2014.

    An elevated fly-ball rate will help that quest. For a big-bodied bopper oozing raw power, Ozuna has generated far too many ground balls (47.3 percent) over his career. Putting the ball in play works for a Billy Hamilton, but not for a plodding slugger.  

    So far this season, he has cut that rate to 40.5 percent, fortifying his fly-ball percentage to the same tally. If he keeps this up, Ozuna will at least match his 2014 success, making him a worthwhile No. 4 or 5 outfielder in standard mixed leagues.

    Note: Advanced stats courtesy of FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.