Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Top 10 Pickups for Week 13

Andrew Gould@AndrewGould4Featured ColumnistJune 27, 2016

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Top 10 Pickups for Week 13

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    Alex Gordon homered in his first game back from a monthlong absence.
    Alex Gordon homered in his first game back from a monthlong absence.Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Some of this week's fantasy baseball waiver-wire recommendations will cause readers to second-check the article's published date.

    Accompanied by a few young up-starts, this list features several former studs well past their glory years. They're all available in over 50 percent of Yahoo Sports leagues, but the veterans would have even smaller ownership rates if not for their past successes.

    After horrible starts and/or injury absences, these guys are gradually returning to relevancy. And then there's an uncomfortable moral conundrum managers must address.

    Let's take a look at free agents to scoop up entering June's final week.

Honorable Mentions

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    Mark Teixeira returned from the disabled list on Saturday and homered on Sunday.
    Mark Teixeira returned from the disabled list on Saturday and homered on Sunday.Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    Previously Mentioned Guys (Add Right Now If Not Too Late)

    Justin Bour, 1B, Miami Marlins

    A.J. Reed, 1B, Houston Astros

    Devon Travis, 2B, Toronto Blue Jays

    Trevor Bauer, SP, Cleveland Indians

    Seung Hwan Oh, RP, St. Louis Cardinals

    Mixed Leagues

    Mark Teixeira, 1B, New York Yankees

    Cheslor Cuthbert, 3B, Kansas City Royals

    Max Kepler, OF, Minnesota Twins

    Brandon Nimmo, OF, New York Mets

    Daniel Norris, SP, Detroit Tigers 

    Lucas Giolito, SP, Washington Nationals

    AL-Only

    Juan Uribe, 2B/3B, Cleveland Indians

    Oswaldo Arcia, OF, Tampa Bay Rays

    Bryce Brentz, OF, Boston Red Sox

    Tommy Milone, SP, Minnesota Twins

    Dillon Overton, SP, Oakland Athletics

    NL-Only

    Josh Bell, 1B, Pittsburgh Pirates

    Conor Gillaspie, 3B, San Francisco Giants

    Chad Kuhl, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates

    Brandon McCarthy, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers

    Jonathan Broxton, RP, St. Louis Cardinals

10. Jake Peavy, SP, San Francisco Giants (20 Percent Owned)

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    A resurgent Jake Peavy has allowed three runs over his last three starts.
    A resurgent Jake Peavy has allowed three runs over his last three starts.Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    No, you didn't accidentally click on a 2012 waiver-wire column. Jake Peavy has allowed three runs over his last three outings to turn the corner from an abysmal start.

    Since he relinquished 29 runs by May 5, the 35-year-old righty is still saddled with an eye-sore 5.22 ERA and 1.42 WHIP. His atrocious beginnings cover the 3.04 ERA he has since accrued over nine starts, most recently limiting the Philadelphia Phillies to two runs in seven innings.

    He's not the strikeout artist of old, but Peavy quietly weaved a 3.58 ERA and 1.12 WHIP last year. The San Francisco Giants veteran served as an unlikely lethal weapon for head-to-head managers, netting a 1.96 ERA through six magnificent September starts.

    This rebound doesn't signify his return as a top-50 fantasy hurler, but he's once again a solid deep-league option who warrants streamer consideration in most mixed leagues. His next turn in the rotation currently comes up against the Oakland Athletics, who have registered the fifth-lowest team OPS.

9. Steven Moya, OF, Detroit Tigers (11 Percent Owned)

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    Steven Moya has collected nine extra-base hits in 16 games.
    Steven Moya has collected nine extra-base hits in 16 games.Associated Press

    He's not J.D. Martinez, but Steven Moya has flashed considerable power in his place. Filling in for the injured Martinez, Moya is hitting .322/.365/.610 in 63 plate appearances.

    In spite of a 28.6 strikeout percentage, the 24-year-old has scattered 19 hits over 16 games with help from an unsustainable .421 batting average on balls in play (BABIP). The average will fade, but the power is legit.

    After amassing 13 homers in 50 Triple-A games, the 6'7", 260-pound slugger has gone deep three times for the Detroit Tigers. Two years ago, he tallied 40 homers—35 in Double-A. 

    He'll keep punishing baseballs in Martinez's absence, but not with a high batting average. The lefty could also lose some reps against southpaws, so investors must pick their spots to squeeze out his power potential.

    When the incumbent starter—given a four- to six-week timetable on June 17—returns, Moya will return to the minors barring another injury. He's best saved as a short-term power jolt in deeper formats.

8. Robbie Ray, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks (13 Percent Owned)

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    Robbie Ray has struck out well over a better per inning.
    Robbie Ray has struck out well over a better per inning.Associated Press

    Strikeouts are usually a strong indicator of success, but Robbie Ray has recorded a 4.59 ERA and 1.54 WHIP despite fanning 93 batters over 80.1 innings.

    Fifteen qualified starting pitchers have a higher strikeout percentage than Ray's 25.6. Unless nobody has noticed Michael Pineda's June rebound or someone just dropped Drew Smyly, there's no greater source of strikeouts on the waiver wire.

    That's not to say he's a breakout stud about to turn the corner. The Arizona Diamondbacks southpaw has yielded an .875 OPS and 11 of his 12 homers to opposing righties. Any smart MLB manager would load his lineup with as many right-handed hitters as possible.

    The 24-year-old has coughed up seven of those homers at Chase Field, where he has yielded a 5.89 ERA. He'd hold far more mixed-league value in a neutral park, but his current circumstances limit him to a matchup play with potential for more.

    On a bright note, he has slashed his walks each month, engineering a promising 2.86 walks per nine innings in June. If these command improvements stick, he'll at least work his ERA closer to his 3.88 skill-interactive ERA (SIERA), if not lower. 

    In closing, strikeouts are good, and Ray gets a lot of them despite his other flaws. With a two-start week culminating against the Phillies, he's a high-risk, high-reward play.

7. Mark Reynolds, 1B/3B/OF, Colorado Rockies (17 Percent Owned)

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    Mark Reynolds has benefited from a contact uptick inside Coors Field.
    Mark Reynolds has benefited from a contact uptick inside Coors Field.David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Mark Reynolds is a Colorado Rockies position player with an everyday gig. If that's not enough to pique everyone's interest, the starting first baseman holds eligibility at third base and outfield.

    When the notorious all-or-nothing slugger signed with Colorado, it wasn't hard to fathom a 30-homer season if he wrestled the job from Ben Paulsen. He succeeded on the second front, but the 32-year-old has only gone deep eight times—four at Coors Field. 

    Yet Coors doesn't only inflate power. Per ESPN.com, the high Denver altitude creates the most conducive atmosphere for hits of any kind. Reynolds, typically an average liability, is batting .313 at his new home. His strikeout percentage has also deflated to 20.5, which is far below his career 31.3 clip.

    In prior years, Reynolds offered nothing but homers, and he hasn't truly provided enough power to remain mixed-league relevant since 2011. Now he's sporting a .291/.356/.462 slash line, which makes him notable despite a below-average home run total from a first baseman.

    He's better used as a Coors matchup play, but don't ignore him on the road, where he has accrued a .476 slugging percentage.

6. Daniel Mengden, SP, Oakland Athletics (16 Percent Owned)

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    Daniel Mengden has stockpiled 21 strikeouts in his first three career MLB starts.
    Daniel Mengden has stockpiled 21 strikeouts in his first three career MLB starts.John Minchillo/Associated Press

    Last year, Daniel Mengden netted a 3.73 ERA through three different Single-A levels. This year, he's pitching in the big leagues.

    Three starts into his MLB debut, the 23-year-old righty has yielded six earned runs over 18 innings while compiling 21 strikeouts. According to the Athletics' Twitter page, only Tim Hudson has earned more punchouts through his first three starts in franchise history.

    His breakout started in the minors, where he posted a 1.19 ERA in 11 starts between Double-A and Triple-A. Although not a hard thrower, he has spawned an 11.5 swinging-strike percentage since his promotion. And look at that mustache.

    Someone with such a limited pedigree usually needs a longer period before upgrading from the watch list. Yet the schedule should sway some gamers into quicker action, as Mengden is scheduled for a two-start week against the San Francisco Giants and Pittsburgh Pirates. With the first game at San Francisco and the second at home, both outings take place in pitcher-friendly parks.

    Daring deep-league players should give him a test drive in the starting lineup, and everyone else needs to at least monitor those games closely to see if the strikeouts keep coming.

5. Kevin Siegrist, RP, St. Louis Cardinals (23 Percent Owned)

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    Kevin Siegrist could get an opportunity for saves after the St. Louis Cardinals removed Trevor Rosenthal from the closer role.
    Kevin Siegrist could get an opportunity for saves after the St. Louis Cardinals removed Trevor Rosenthal from the closer role.Associated Press

    An elite closer is expected to post a 2.04 ERA, not a 2.04 WHIP. Having issued 21 walks over 24 innings, Trevor Rosenthal forced the St. Louis Cardinals to remove the longtime closer from the ninth inning.

    Per MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch, the Cardinals will use their struggling reliever in less taxing situations and consider Seung Hwan Oh, Kevin Siegrist and Jonathan Broxton for save opportunities.

    Broxton's presence on that list will make fantasy gamers cringe. Sure, he was a great closer back in 2009, but the 32-year-old has a 3.64 ERA with 24 strikeouts and 16 walks over 29.2 innings. He's the type of guy to begrudgingly add only if he's getting saves.

    Wielding a 1.66 ERA, 0.79 WHIP and 34.9 strikeout percentage, Oh is the clear top add as a potential top-tier stopper. The thought of him is so promising that it was addressed three weeks ago, which is why this space has a picture of Siegrist instead. (Also, the Final Boss should already be owned in all competitive leagues, even if only as a dominant middle reliever.)

    Although his 4.52 fielding independent pitching (FIP) calls for regression, the 26-year-old has registered a 2.97 ERA in line with his 2.73 career mark. The southpaw has fanned 33 batters in 30.1 frames, which represents a slight regression after fanning 90 batters last year. 

    Familiarity may give Siegrist an edge, as he has spent his entire career in the Cardinals organization. Most importantly for his closer chances, he's not a typical left-handed specialist. In fact, he's far tougher on righties, who are hitting .189 against him this season.

4. Jose Reyes, SS, New York Mets (32 Percent Owned)

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    Jose Reyes will return to the New York Mets.
    Jose Reyes will return to the New York Mets.Associated Press

    It's your team. Only you can decide if you're comfortable rostering Jose Reyes.

    Last Halloween, the shortstop was arrested and charged with assaulting his wife in a Hawaii hotel room. The case didn't go to trial after his wife didn't cooperate, but Major League Baseball suspended him through May 31. The Colorado Rockies designated him for assignment and released him once he cleared waivers.

    On Saturday, the New York Mets officially reunited with their former star, who began a minor league stint on Sunday in Single-A Brooklyn. Per ESPN.com's Adam Rubin, he is expected to stay in the minors for seven to 10 days before arriving in New York, where he is expected to play third base and left field.

    Fantasy baseball is supposed to be fun. If you feel uneasy picking him up, don't. None of this is easy to write as a Mets fan who grew up watching and idolizing Reyes during his prime but now wants nothing to do with him.

    There are many things more important than accumulating stolen bases in a fantasy baseball league. But since this is a fantasy column, it also didn't seem right ignoring him for those readers who do primarily care about accumulating steals to win their league.

    Reyes might not even prove an upgrade from a pure baseball perspective. Playing in two favorable hitters' parks last season (Rogers Centre and Coors Field), he accrued a .688 OPS and 80 weighted runs created plus (wRC+). Had the Mets passed, this could be a much more pleasant section about Wilmer Flores hitting .317/.378/.462 at the hot corner this month.

    The 33-year-old also swiped 24 bags in 116 games, and he'll retain shortstop eligibility this year despite playing elsewhere. He's a useful commodity for the steals, and the Mets might return him to his old leadoff role with Curtis Granderson making limited contact. For those uninterested in discussing ethics here, he's a worthwhile middle-infield investment.

3. Shelby Miller, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks (37 Percent Owned)

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    Shelby Miller has 10 strikeouts and two walks in two starts back from the disabled list.
    Shelby Miller has 10 strikeouts and two walks in two starts back from the disabled list.Associated Press

    After allowing seven runs on Saturday, Shelby Miller's ERA rose to 6.79. Go grab him!

    So this recommendation would make more sense in the middle of last week. Making his not-so-anticipated return from the disabled list last Monday, the struggling starter delivered his best performance of the season, allowing one run over 6.2 innings against the Phillies. 

    Yes, it was the Phillies, but it still represented progress for the 25-year-old, who had made one quality start (versus the Atlanta Braves) in 10 horrific outings before taking a break to heal his sprained right index finger

    Although the final outcomes were wildly different, Miller tallied five strikeouts and one walk in each of his two starts back. He registered 14 strikeouts in five May starts and hadn't issued fewer than two free passes in a game since April 5.

    In his defense, his latest blunder came at Coors Field, where nobody should dare to deploy a fringe starter anyway. Miller has received a bad rep for his middling peripherals, but he's still a promising young hurler with a career 3.55 ERA. He made 30-plus starts in all three MLB seasons before taking his first trip to the disabled list in May.

    He's not an imperative add in shallow mixed leagues, but he has at least shown signs of returning to a serviceable play in the right spots.

2. Alex Gordon, OF, Kansas City Royals (43 Percent Owned)

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    On Saturday, Alex Gordon homered in his first game back from the disabled list.
    On Saturday, Alex Gordon homered in his first game back from the disabled list.Associated Press

    Alex Gordon is making up for the long time away. In his first game back from the disabled list, the Kansas City Royals outfielder went 2-for-5 with a double and home run.

    Before missing a month with an injured right wrist, the 32-year-old compelled owners not to stash him by hitting .211 with four homers in 42 games. He also composed an uncharacteristically high 30.1 strikeout percentage.

    Although a sabermetric darling, his elite skills don't translate to a shallow five-by-five fantasy format. He's a career .267 hitter who hasn't had a 20-homer season since 2013. Usually reliable for 10-15 steals, he swiped two bags in seven tries last year.

    He also, however, finished 2015 with an .809 OPS and 13 homers in 104 games. His elite batting eye has led to gaudy run tallies, which would rise even higher if Royals manager Ned Yost utilizes Gordon's plate discipline in the No. 2 hole like he did over the weekend.

    While not exceptional at any one category, a healthy Gordon adds up to an above-average fantasy contributor, especially in OBP leagues.

1. Kendrys Morales, 1B/DH, Kansas City Royals (43 Percent Owned)

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    After a dismal start to 2016, Kendrys Morales has caught fire this month.
    After a dismal start to 2016, Kendrys Morales has caught fire this month.Orlin Wagner/Associated Press

    Even when they seem to signify an inescapable rock bottom, slumps don't last forever.

    "Slump" is a kind word to describe the first two months for Kendrys Morales, who left May batting .193/.262/.330. A year after hitting .290/.362/.485 with 22 homers and 106 RBI, he toiled his way to waiver-wire fodder.

    A completely different Morales, however, has showed up in June to hit .324/.392/.549 with four homers. He entered the day with a .568 OPS against righties before going long twice from the left side of the plate. He has also reached base in each of his last 10 starts.

    The Royals showed more patience than most managers, keeping him in the lineup even though a pitcher could have matched the designated hitter's offense. He won't sniff triple-digit RBI this year, but look for a rejuvenated Morales to drive in plenty of runners during a better second half.

    Note: All advanced stats courtesy of FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.

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