6 Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 17

Joe Ross can't be touched right now. If he stays in the rotation, he should be on your fantasy roster.

We're past the All-Star break, meaning the second wave of prospects are starting to trickle up, and we can start to tell which guys are legitimately improving from where they were at the beginning of the year. This should make your waiver senses all tingly.

The list below is guys who have either seen improvement throughout the season or have recently seen an uptick in their value. If you can hop on them before others do, you can capitalize on these changes and help supercharge your run down the stretch.

As a note, I restrict this list to guys who are owned in one third or fewer of all ESPN leagues. If you can snatch them up, do so now. Without further ado, let's get cracking.

Michael Conforto, OF, New York Mets

The Mets be searching for some offense. Apparently they think Michael Conforto can help out that cause. I'm not totally sold that that's the case, but he's an intriguing option none the less.

It made sense for the Mets to promote Conforto after just over a year in the minors. He was balling out at Double-A to the tune of a .312/.396/.503 slash. He had 12 home runs combined between High-A and Double-A, so he's got some pop. But can he take it all the way from Double-A to the bigs?

The answer to that question is very much dependent on whom you ask. Steamer projects him for a .242/.293/.380 slash from here on out. Dan Szymborski's ZiPS pumps out a much more optimistic .260/.309/.406 projection, a number that has been ramping up as of late. If Conforto can hit that, he can be of at least some value. Just know that this is far from a sure thing, but it can be worth the gamble in the right situation.

Preston Tucker, OF, Houston Astros

I am in love with this man, and not you nor the Houston Astros nor Rev. Mike Trout himself can stop me from expressing that adoration right here. Preston Tucker is straight feasting, y'all, and it's time to pounce.

Tucker wasn't too shabby his first two months in the majors. He slashed .243/.313/.419 and knocked out four home runs. For a rookie, that could be much worse. But since the calendar flipped to July, he is straight crushing.

Tucker, capitalizing on the hot, muggy Houston weather, has jacked his hard-hit rate all the way up to 41.7 percent in the month of July. This has turned into a .314/.342/.586 slash with five home runs. I don't know about y'all, but it makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. He's back up to second in the order against righties, and he hit fifth against a lefty on Saturday. That's more than enough for me to hop all up in that bidniss.

Delino DeShields, 2B/OF, Texas Rangers

Speed. Stolen bases. Delino DeShields is the bringer of fire, and it's time to set fire to his low ownership numbers.

Since he returned from the disabled list on July 5th, DeShields has been stroking. The main reason is that he has cut his strikeout rate to 17.2 percent, down from 23.2 percent prior to his injury. With his speed, as long as he can put the ball in play, he's going to have a good batting average, and he's going to be able to rack up the steals.

DeShields provides the extra perk in that he's hitting leadoff. This is going to lead to a high run total, as well, giving you a bump in three of the five traditional roto categories. There are few things more beautiful than a mid-season acquisition who can do that for you.

Yan Gomes, C, Cleveland Indians

This basically goes against a key principle of fantasy baseball. By adding Yan Gomes, you'd be investing in an offense which is basically hot garbage right now. I can budge on this principle simply because Gomes is trending in the exact opposite direction.

It makes sense that it would take Gomes a while to get things popping again after coming off the disabled list. He did, and it was not pretty. But since June 29th, he's hitting .282/.320/.465 with an absolutely gross 46.3 percent hard-hit rate. Don't let the .229/.254/.354 season-long slash fool you; homie is cooking.

The big downside here, obviously, is that the rest of his team is just drudging along. That brings down both his run and RBI totals and makes him almost wholly dependent on his power and batting average. If the Indians start to sell at the deadline, making the offense even worse around him, he takes yet another hit. But if you can take those gambles and are willing to deal with the risk, Gomes himself is worthy of an add right now.

Joe Ross, SP, Washington Nationals

I have failed all of you. This recommendation should have come much earlier. But, alas, I hope it's not too late for you to spring on Joe Ross because he is posting some super sweet peripheral stats.

In yesterday's start, Ross allowed three runs on five hits over six innings. Not great, right? Well, Ross picked up seven strikeouts compared to just one walk, giving him a 2.66 xFIP for the game. This brought his xFIP for the season all the way up to 2.51. He's also averaging a sporty little 9.37 strikeouts per nine, 0.83 walks per nine and a 51.7 ground-ball rate. There is not a single pitcher in the league who is as good in all three marks. Bless his soul.

The tough part about Ross is trying to figure out his role in the rotation. Once Stephen Strasburg returns, who gets the squeeze? It could be Ross. But if he keeps rolling the way he is right now, they'll at least have to think twice about it.

Kyle Hendricks, SP, Chicago Cubs

Confession time, y'all. I get bored sometimes. When I do, I occasionally like to look at xFIP leaderboards over the past 30 days. Lame? Sure, but I don't judge you for your habits, so let me be, yo.

Anyway, when I was doing this last night, I stumbled across an interesting name. No, this was not Clayton Kershaw and his 1.25 xFIP, though that is probably not legal. Instead, the 12th name on the list piqued my interest: Kyle Hendricks. Yes, the same Kyle Hendricks whose ownership has been decreasing recently after he got rocked by the Reds last week. I'm not worried, and I think we should reverse that ownership arrow.

If we look at the 13 starts Hendricks has made from may 15th on, he has a 2.99 xFIP while walking 1.36 batters per nine and inducing a 49.1 percent ground-ball rate. This man done got all nasty overnight, so hop on while the getting's good.