6 Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 18
It's the Monday after the craziest trade deadline in recent memory, and I'd assume some of y'all still feel like you're coming down from a wicked bender. I'm going to try to keep this simple for you for that very reason. And also because I fall under this category and can't understand words longer than about seven letters.
As a reminder, I try to keep these recommendations to guys who are owned in one third or less of all ESPN leagues. Some of the guys we discussed last week are still open and enticing (mostly Delino DeShields and Joe Ross), so I'd check that puppy out as well. Otherwise, let's delve into the juiciness on this week's waiver wire.
Jayson Werth, OF, Washington Nationals
I don't blame people for jumping off of Jayson Werth earlier in the season. Injured and ineffective is a sub-ideal combination for a guy who's 36 years old. But now that he's back in a run-producing spot in that Nationals order, I think it's safe to bring him back into the fold.
It's hard to draw much from Werth's numbers this year because, even when he has been healthy, he appears to have been less than 100 percent. This has brought his hard-hit rate down to around league average at 28.4 percent from an impressive 39.2 percent last year. That's at least mildly concerning for me as it shows his lack of success this year isn't based on luck. However, as I mentioned, if he's fully healthy now, then it's a different ballgame as we know what kind of player he can be.
Prior to this season, Werth's minimum marks in each of the slash categories over the previous three seasons were .292/.387/.440. We may not see those numbers again because he should be on the downslope of his career, but that's crazy production. If he can come anywhere near that, he'll be an effective add for you down the stretch.
Jed Lowrie, SS, Houston Astros
I believe that my love of Jed Lowrie is largely disproportionate to that of the rest of the world. So keep that in mind as we roll through this. This guy has serious boo thang potential.
With the Astros' order as stacked as it is now and Lowrie still hitting fifth or sixth since his return, that should tell you the Astros are liking what they're seeing, as well. He had a down year last year, but Lowrie has generally had a slugging percentage well above the average for a shortstop. He gets on base, he can knock them out of the park, and he should be able to pick up runs and RBI from his spot in the batting order. What's not to love?
Lowrie is worth monitoring for the next stretch here as you want to make sure he's effective now that he's off the disabled list. But -- especially for those of you in leagues that roll with slugging percentage or on-base percentage as opposed to batting average -- a healthy Jed Lowrie is very likely to be an upgrade over a good number of the shortstops out there right now.
Eddie Rosario, 2B/OF, Minnesota Twins
Just to be clear, I'd much rather have Eddie Rosario's outfield mate, Aaron Hicks. Hicks is scorching hot right now, it looks sustainable, and he has more job security (in my mind) than Rosario. However, I pumped Hicks here two weeks ago, and I do think that Rosario is worthy of an add in most leagues.
Rosario has a couple of things going for him right now. First, and possibly most importantly, he's competent against left-handed pitchers. This means you aren't taking a goose egg every time the Twins face a lefty because he'll (most often) be in the lineup. Second, he is straight crushing at Target Field, even though that also means he struggles on the road. I'm not sure if it's simply because of a small sample size or if there's actually something to it, but the average of the two venues ends up as a decent Major League outfielder.
Finally, Rosario has dual positional eligibility. As a heavy Devon Travis owner, I can tell you that the market for second basemen is not great. Rosario no longer plays in the infield, but his sustained eligibility there keeps him more fantasy relevant for the remainder of the season.
Henry Owens, SP, Boston Red Sox
Just as a heads up, if you end up adding Owens, you may want to consider holding off until after his start Tuesday against the Yankees to put him in the lineup. They crush left-handed pitching, and they're especially salty at Yankee Stadium. Welcome to the big leagues, kid. Enjoy! After that, though, feel free to unleash the beast.
Owens' season-long numbers aren't overly impressive as they show an inability to keep the ball in the zone with an 11.2 walk percentage. The beauty of the Minor Leagues, though, is that you expect players to improve as the season goes along, and Owens is a perfect example of this. Over his last nine starts, he has cut his walks almost in half to 6.2 percent while increasing his strikeouts to 22.9 percent. This helped drag his FIP for that stretch down to 2.83, a number that should be encouraging for his Major League prospects.
I mentioned at the beginning that you may want to fade Owens against the Yankees. Unfortunately for him, they won't be the only tough team he faces while with the Red Sox. The Blue Jays, Yankees and Rays rank first, third and sixth in the league in wOBA against left-handed pitchers. That would appear to be a bit concerning. Even Eduardo Rodriguez, who is probably better than Owens, has struggled against those three teams. Owens is a guy I like, but you'll need to monitor his opponent to make sure you're maximizing his value.
Edward Mujica, RP, Oakland Athletics
Shield your eyes from the season-long numbers of Edward Mujica, boys and girls. They ain't pretty. But now that he's in line to close games for the (admittedly depleted) Athletics and his pitching has improved since his move to the Bay, he's of interest to us.
Mujica was really struggling in his time with the Red Sox. He wasn't getting strikeouts, and that led to some serious tough sledding. He has been impressive with the A's, though, with a 24.6 strikeout percentage and just a 3.1 walk percentage. This has driven his xFIP down to 3.13 since the move, so it makes sense that he'd be the one tapped to close out games.
The obvious downside with Mujica (and the guy we'll cover next) is a decreased number of save opportunities with a team that was gutted a bit at the deadline. That said, the A's offensively are largely the same team (minus Ben Zobrist), and they've still got some solid individual starters. They'll have leads down the stretch, and it should be Mujica who's in line to lock it down when they do.
Arodys Vizcaino, RP, Atlanta Braves
I could see an addition of Alex Wilson here, too, but the uncertainty at the back end of the Detroit bullpen made me more confident in rolling with Arodys Vizcaino here. This makes Vizcaino the fourth fantasy-relevant reliever in Atlanta this season, so obviously this is a rock-solid situation in which you should have the utmost confidence.
Vizcaino's juicy strikeout percentage can give you a bit more certainty in adding him as his value is not entirely dependent on his save opportunities. Even when he was a starter in the lower levels of the minors, he had good strikeout numbers. That seems to have followed him into the bullpen over the past few seasons. If he could lower his walk totals, he'd be a stone cold stud.
As a devout lover of the ground ball, Vizcaino makes me a little nervous. Coupled with those high walk rates is just a career 34.4 ground-ball percentage. That could leave him open to big innings if he gets people on base and gives up a tank. However, in his time in the majors, he has a 15.9 infield fly-ball percentage, which is well above the 9.3 percent mark for relievers league-wide. This is why his SIERA (3.41) is so much lower than his xFIP (4.10). That cools my jets a bit, so I'm totally fine with bumping Vizcaino into my lineups and locking down some free saves.