Fantasy Baseball 2019: Waiver-Wire Players to Pick Up for Week 20

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorAugust 18, 2019

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Brendan McKay works against a San Diego Padres batter during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Gregory Bull/Associated Press

Fantasy baseball team owners need to pull out all the stops in the stretch run leading to the postseason.

Finding and taking the best two-start pitchers is critical, and the same goes for streaming hitters with advantageous matchups.

Week 20 of the fantasy season has one two-start pitcher who's a better option than the rest, and we'll take a deep dive into that selection below.

In addition, you can find quick notes on four hitters to consider.


Waiver-Wire Players to Pick Up for Week 20

Tampa Bay Rays SP Brendan McKay (33% in Yahoo Sports Leagues)

Is it concerning that Tampa Bay Rays rookie Brendan McKay has a 5.08 ERA and 1.40 WHIP in 33.2 innings this season? Sure.

But McKay has a few things going in his favor.

First, he's punched out seven or eight batters in four of his past five starts, with the lone exception being a five-strikeout performance in just 3.1 frames of work against the Chicago White Sox. In total, the 23-year-old has struck out 27.4 percent of batters, per FanGraphs.

Second, McKay's competition isn't fierce, as he's slated to face the Seattle Mariners and Baltimore Orioles.

Baltimore had the league's fifth-lowest OPS against left-handers entering Saturday. Seattle is a more respectable 13th, but the M's have MLB's fourth-highest strikeout rate against southpaws, according to FanGraphs.

In addition, McKay will face the M's at home, which is a pitcher's park, as evidenced by ESPN's MLB Park Factors list.

McKay is also a far better pitcher than his 5.08 ERA implies, with him sporting a 4.01 xFIP.

Hitters have been quite lucky against McKay, demonstrated by a massive .352 BABIP. That should normalize closer to a .300 average at some point, so positive regression may be forthcoming.

The stars are aligning for McKay to bounce back, and two-thirds of Yahoo Sports leagues have him on the waiver wire. If your league is in that boat, take McKay before his Tuesday start against Seattle.


Kansas City Royals OF Alex Gordon (45%)

Yes, Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon is ice cold, mustering only three hits since August 5. However, Gordon is a .260 hitter who's bound to bounce back at some point.

This week could do the trick, with three games against the Orioles, who are last in the league with a 5.95 staff ERA.

Somehow, Gordon hasn't faced the O's all season. Perhaps a few games against Baltimore is just what he needs for a turnaround.


Minnesota Twins 1B/DH CJ Cron (31%)

Minnesota Twins first baseman/designated hitter CJ Cron is in the same boat as Gordon; he may be slumping, but the 29-year-old is better than he's showed recently and could break out thanks to some plus matchups.

Cron has three games each with the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers on the horizon, and those two AL Central rivals are 22nd and 28th in team ERA, respectively. A power surge isn't out of the question.


Los Angeles Angels 1B/DH Albert Pujols (10%)

Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols' .734 OPS may not be appealing, but he's worth considering thanks to four games at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, which is the second-friendliest hitter's ballpark in the league, per ESPN's MLB Park Factors.

Perhaps Pujols cranks a long fly ball in the Arlington heat that sneaks over the wall as opposed to landing in a glove elsewhere.


San Francisco Giants OF Kevin Pillar (22%)

If you want to ride a hot streak, consider San Francisco Giants outfielder Kevin Pillar, who is hitting .516 with four home runs and 11 RBI in his past seven games.

Pillar faces a significant obstacle in his home stadium of Oracle Park, which MLB Park Factors routinely lists as one of the most pitcher-friendly stadiums on a yearly basis.

Now he will travel to the more hitter-friendly Wrigley Field for three against the Chicago Cubs. A two-game set against the Oakland Athletics is more of a challenge because of cavernous RingCentral Coliseum, but Pillar has the speed for extra bases if he hits a liner into the deep outfield gaps. He can also swipe bases, with 10 on the season.


Percentages represent the amount of Yahoo Sports fantasy baseball leagues in which a player is rostered. Only players available in more than half of leagues were considered. Figures are as of Saturday, August 18.