Fantasy Baseball 2021: Players to Target on Waiver Wire for Week 19

Martin FennFeatured Columnist IJuly 25, 2021

Fantasy Baseball 2021: Players to Target on Waiver Wire for Week 19

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    Kyusung Gong/Associated Press

    The trade deadline is rapidly approaching, but the fantasy baseball season keeps chugging right along.

    Fantasy managers have undoubtedly felt the scourge of an unprecedented amount of injuries this season. The physical issues might not be over, either.

    Eno Sarris and Katie Woo of The Athletic wrote about concerns regarding pitcher injuries after the implementation of foreign substance checks. Fantasy managers would be wise to exercise vigilance at the stuff of the guys on the staff and keep an eye on whether decreased effectiveness could be a sign of injury.

    Plus, it's the dog days of summer. Physical issues are bound to become more prominent at this stage of the season anyway. With that in mind, here are three waiver-wire players managers might look to snatch up.

OF Justin Upton, Los Angeles Angels

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    Alex Gallardo/Associated Press

    Really? Justin Upton? The guy with the bad contract?

    Upton might not have the same level of star power as Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani. Nor is he scalding hot like David Fletcher. In fact, he just came off the injured list. Still, the veteran outfielder might be worth a gamble for fantasy managers needing outfield help.

    The 33-year-old was putting up strong numbers before going on the IL in late June. Upton was just 1-for-7 in his first two games back but still has an .807 OPS and 14 homers on the season.

    Consider some of Upton's advanced metrics too. He ranks in the 83rd percentile or higher in hard-hit rate, barrel rate and average exit velocity. He also ranks above the 80th percentile in walk rate.

    Upton may struggle to get back into a rhythm given he is just coming back from injury. Still, there's ample power and on-base upside. He could be a major asset if he gets into a groove. He is available in more than 70 percent of ESPN leagues, so there's a good chance he could help some outfield groups.

LHP Patrick Sandoval, Los Angeles Angels

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    Alex Gallardo/Associated Press

    One of Upton's Los Angeles Angels teammates could also be of value to fantasy managers.

    Left-hander Patrick Sandoval has quietly been pretty strong since mid-May. He has a 3.86 ERA in 63 innings and is striking out 9.7 opponents per nine innings.

    Command has occasionally been an issue for Sandoval. He is walking 3.6 opponents per nine. Still, he generates weak contact and gets plenty of swing-and-miss action.

    Sandoval ranks in the 93rd percentile in average exit velocity. He also ranks in the 94th percentile in whiff rate. That's a tremendous combination.

    Starting pitching is at a premium at the deadline and is equally as important at this juncture of the fantasy season. That notion is heightened by the fact that some guys are struggling after the implementation of the foreign substance checks.

    Sandoval can make an impact. He is available in just under 64 percent of all ESPN leagues. Grab him and stash him at the back end of the rotation.

RHP Collin McHugh, Tampa Bay Rays

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    We've covered a potential position upgrade and starting arm. What about relievers? Well, Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Collin McHugh is a strong bullpen arm. He has also been a spot starter.

    McHugh dealt with injuries and opted out of the 2020 season. However, he has rediscovered some of the form that made him one of the more promising arms in baseball when he was with the Houston Astros.

    The 34-year-old has dominated opposing hitters this season. McHugh has a 1.51 ERA in 41.2 innings, with 59 strikeouts against just eight walks. He owns a 0.91 WHIP, and opponents are hitting just .200 against him.

    McHugh has filled myriad roles. He can throw multiple innings at the start of games but is more likely to be used in high-leverage situations as the season rolls along. It would not be a surprise to see him get more opportunities in a setup role.

    Similar to Sandoval, McHugh might be someone managers can look to snag and stash. He has big upside if Rays manager Kevin Cash uses him more at the end of games.

    McHugh is worth a look considering he is available in nearly 85 percent of all ESPN leagues.


    All stats obtained via Baseball Reference or Baseball Savant. Stats are accurate prior to the start of play on July 24. All fantasy information obtained via ESPN.