Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Adds: Week 4
Here's a lesson for all you kids out there. If you become a major league pitcher one day, STAY OFF THE DIRT BIKE.
It's a lesson that has hopefully been learned by San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner, who is out 6-8 weeks after an accident in which he injured his ribs and his pitching shoulder. That injury has, most importantly, left the Giants with a huge void in their starting rotation, but has likely also caused season-long fantasy owners a bit of a headache.
The pitchers listed below are not going to replace the production Bumgarner can provided -- no one can, but there are some arms that could help. Which other players on the waiver wire should have your attention?
Jeremy Hellickson - Philadelphia Phillies (SP)
ESPN Percentage Owned: 46.4%
Jeremy Hellickson is a guy the Phillies traded for prior to the 2016 season with the intention of flipping him at last year's trade deadline. That didn't happen. Instead, Hellickson accepted the team's qualifying offer over the winter and is now one of the most dependable members of a rotation that features a ton of young talent.
Don't quote us on this, but we think that's pretty good. pic.twitter.com/fJ4HfBGXbM
— Phillies (@Phillies) April 22, 2017
Hellickson has been brilliant this year, and the above stats are supported by a 3.77 Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP), and a minuscule walk percentage of 3.3%. In his last start against the Atlanta Braves, he went 7 innings and gave up 2 runs on 3 hits with 5 strikeouts and no walks.
He's not a strikeout pitcher, with just 10 in 24 innings so far this year, but his specialty is control, as we can see from his low walk rate. His ERA won't be this low forever -- his current BABIP allowed is .164 -- but with Hellickson, you know what you're getting. You're getting a starter who will have an ERA in the 3.00-3.50 range, who gives the potential of a quality start every time out.
Lance Lynn - St. Louis Cardinals (SP)
ESPN Percentage Owned: 25.7%
The St. Louis Cardinals' Lance Lynn is also off to a fine start, with a 2.70 ERA in four starts (23.1 innings). Like Hellickson, his FIP is higher than his ERA (4.14), which means he's been benefiting from a lower-than-league average BABIP (.210). His career BABIP is .306, and the league average is .282.
Nevertheless, Lynn has limited damage in his four outings this year, and he went 6 innings in his last start against the Milwaukee Brewers, allowing just 1 run on 3 hits with 7 strikeouts and 2 walks. He hasn't been quite as stingy as Hellickson in the walk department, but an 8.4% walk rate is still a tad better than league average (8.6%).
At this time of the year, many of the high-upside guys are gone, which means veterans like Lynn and Hellickson could be useful starters at the end of your fantasy rotations.
Wade Miley - Baltimore Orioles (SP)
ESPN Percentage Owned: 21.2%
Wade Miley has turned into a strikeout machine over his first three starts, whiffing 33.3% of all batters faced. That's a great deal higher than his career average of 18.7%, and has helped him jump out to a 1-0 start through his first three outings with the Baltimore Orioles. He has a 1.89 ERA and a 3.16 FIP, with a BABIP of .162 that is much lower than his career number (.306).
Miley credits a late-season chat with Orioles pitching coach Scott McGregor last year for his end-of-season turnaround that has carried into 2017, saying McGregor helped him slow down his delivery and focus on his location.
Whatever the reason, Miley has seen his strikeout rate take a significant jump, and while his 11.1% walk rate is higher than the league average and up over his career mark of 7.4%, but the increased punchouts have allowed him to get around that.
He's worth an add, if for no other reason than to see if this new strikeout percentage is for real or not.
Austin Hedges - San Diego Padres (C)
ESPN Percentage Owned: 10.8%
San Diego Padres catcher Austin Hedges was a player I liked at the start of the season as a late-round option at the weakest position in fantasy. There were simply no great options at catcher other than Buster Posey, and Hedges was one of the players I suggested targeting late if you decided to punt on the position early.
Over the last week, Hedges has gotten hot. In the past seven days, the backstop is hitting .273/.304/.864 with a league-leading 4 homers, along with 9 RBI and 5 runs scored. He's hitting .175/.230/.474 with 5 homers, 11 RBI and 7 runs scored this year.
There's no doubt the kid is still rough around the edges, though -- his strikeout percentage (29.0%) is still too high, and he's not walking much (4.8%), but if the power continues to be there, you can live with those peripherals at catcher.
The good news is he's generally hitting ball somewhat hard, with a soft-hit percentage rate of just 17.5%. When you couple that with a lower-than-league average BABIP of .147, it's possible he'll see some more hits start to fall in as his luck improves.
Joey Gallo - Texas Rangers (3B)
ESPN Percentage Owned: 18.3%
It seems as though Texas Rangers outfielder Joey Gallo has been a potential waiver wire add for the last decade or so, but it's really only been the better part of two years that everyone has been intrigued by his insane power potential.
This is becoming routine for @JoeyGallo24. pic.twitter.com/fBoemY0r3X
— Texas Rangers (@Rangers) April 23, 2017
Gallo has gone deep 4 times over the last 7 days, and has a slash line of .213/.324/.590 with 6 bombs, 14 RBI and 13 runs scored on the season. As you may have guessed, Gallo is still striking out a ton (36.6%), but his weighted runs created (wRC+) of 151 is dynamic, as his is weighted on base average (wOBA) of .384.
Taylor Motter - Seattle Mariners (OF/SS/3B)
ESPN Percentage Owned: 10.5%
MOTTER TROTTER #3 IN THE BOOKS pic.twitter.com/0yiRGSdnHI
— Taylor Motter's Hair (@MottersHair) April 18, 2017
But let's not kid ourselves. His hair would not be as cute if he wasn't wailing on the ball. In 56 plate appearances, Motter is hitting .255/.321/.667 with 5 dingers, 12 RBI and 10 runs scored. His wOBA of .412 and wRC+ of 179 are both outstanding, but it may all be coming to an end.
Yulieski Gurriel - Houston Astros (1B/3B)
ESPN Percentage Owned: 26.6%
The Houston Astros' Cuban star, Yulieski Gurriel, has been on fire lately, hitting 15-for-32 over the last 9 games with 5 runs, 3 doubles, 1 homer and 5 RBI. On the season, Gurriel is batting .321/.345/.446, with a low strikeout rate of 12.1%.
However, there are a couple drawbacks to his game. He's not much of a power hitter -- with an Isolated Power (ISO) of .125 -- and he never walks, which he's done just once so far in 58 plate appearances (1.7%).
He will put a ton of balls in play and use his speed to get on base, which means he could maintain a relatively higher-than normal BABIP of .354 for a little while.