6 Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 4
Injuries suck. Especially injuries to pitchers sustained while batting. We're now at the point in the season where they can start to pile up, forcing teams to scramble. They have to allocate that lost volume somewhere, giving over-looked assets additional opportunities.
Whether the injured guys are on your roster or not, you should be checking out the players upon whom the managers will call to fill that void. The top two guys on this list could be those benefactors.
These recommendations are based on guys that are owned in fewer than roughly 30 percent of ESPN leagues. There are some others that are worthy of adds, but they may be above that threshold, so they didn't make this list. If you're in a league where guys like Addison Russell and Chris Young are still available, you should change that. Otherwise, here are six players that should be on your radar.
Marco Gonzales, SP, St. Louis Cardinals
This one is more forward-looking than the others, but if you can afford giving a roster spot to Marco Gonzales, it might be worth it. He's currently on the disabled list in Triple-A, which is super helpful for your fantasy baseball squad. But if he eventually ends up taking Adam Wainwright's, we could have lift-off.
Gonzales entered the year ranked 64th on Keith Law's top 100 rankings, even though he doesn't throw heat. In 34.2 big-league innings last year, Gonzales walked 5.45 batters per nine innings. Even with his command struggles, he had a 4.15 ERA. This was the same year in which he started in Single-A ball and only one year after being drafted 19th overall in 2013.
Steamer projections were optimistic about Gonzales heading into the season. Here, he was slated for a 3.80 ERA. While that's not game-changing, when given the choice between this and Edinson Volquez, I think I'd roll with Gonzales's upside.
Alex Guerrero, 2B, Los Angeles Dodgers
All hail the new small sample size overlord, Alex Guerrero. In 24 plate appearances, he has five home runs and a .500/.500/1.273 slash. His wOBA is .725. His wRC+ is 381. And he's about to see a bump in playing time partially because of the Yasiel Puig injury. It's a nice consolation prize.
This thought isn't entirely based upon 24 plate appearances, though. He also raked everywhere he went in the minors last year. In 258 Triple-A plate appearances, he posted a .329/.364/.613 slash and 15 home runs. It's a line that could make a grown man cry.
His numberFire projection for this year wasn't quite as optimistic, assigning him a slash of .229/.292/.386. That wouldn't necessarily scare me away from adding Guerrero, but you should at least know that he's not going to hit the lights out forever. But there's that possibility, and with the increased volume, he's more than worthy of your loving.
Sam Fuld, OF, Oakland Athletics
Here is where we step away from the injuries and into the world of, "How the heck is this happening?" Sam Fuld is batting lead-off for the team that entered play yesterday ranked fourth in the league in runs scored. And he's doing it well. What.
Through 75 plate appearances, Fuld has a .273/.338/.439 slash. He's most likely not going to keep that up, but if you're looking for runs scored, Fuld could be your guy. With the high volume of plate appearances, Fuld will simply have more chances to stumble into runs scored and/or points if you're in a points league.
If you're looking for an offensive juggernaut that can cure the ills of the world, Fuld's not your target. But if you need some volume in an above-average offense, he can certainly lend a hand there.
Luis Valbuena, 2B/3B, Houston Astros
Luis Valbuena's 2015 season mirrors that of the Astros. Strange, occasionally painful, but an oh-so-beautiful display of statistical weirdness. That said, he's starting to look like he's going to have fantasy baseball value.
Valbuena actually had a solid year last year with the Cubs, posting a .249/.341/.435 slash with 16 home runs. This year, his average and on-base percentage have sagged to .194 and .250 respectively, but his slugging percentage has ballooned to .468. How? Dude has been mashing taters with his five home runs.
If you're worried about his average, keep this in mind: his BABIP is currently sitting at .156. His 22.4 line-drive percentage should not allow such injustice. That will go up, even if he maintains his fly-ball percentage. That has jacked up to 53.1 percent so far this year from 48.1 last year. This lends itself to a higher slugging percentage and more Gucci-ness.
Jeff Locke, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates
There's a pitcher out there who has induced a ground-ball percentage of 58.2 this year, coupled with 7.11 strikeouts and 1.89 walks per nine. He finished last season with a 3.91 ERA. And he's owned in less than 15 percent of ESPN leagues. Jeff Locke is an intriguing little dude.
Locke's success last year seemed hard to duplicate. Opponents had a .278 BABIP against him, and his FIP was almost a half run higher than his ERA. But now he has come out in 2015 and actually improved upon his numbers through three starts. It might be time to start buying in.
The most encouraging thing for me about Locke is his walk totals. His 2.74 walks per nine last year were rough, considering he'll never be a strikeout-heavy pitcher. This year, though, he has thrown the first pitch for a strike 63.2 percent of the time and has been inside the zone on half of his pitches, both up more than five percentage points from last year. If he can keep this up, then Locke could be in line for another decent year.
Jesse Chavez, SP, Oakland Athletics
I was a big fan of Jesse Chavez last year, until he was taken out of the rotation following about half a bajillion trades. Now, he's back there, and it might not be a bad idea to give him an add.
In his 125.2 innings as a starter last year, Chavez posted a 3.44 ERA, and opponents had a .306 wOBA against him. The big positive of Chavez, though, is that he adds strikeouts. His 8.52 strikeouts per nine was actually higher than it was when he was in the bullpen.
Chavez's 0.71 ERA this year is obviously going to go up. Opponents have a .161 BABIP against him, and he has a strand-rate of 93.8 percent. But a mid-3.00 ERA for Chavez again this year is realistic, and he could be worth an add if you're hurting for starting pitching.