After another minor hiatus, I’m back with the latest and most likely final waiver saviors article to try and help you bring home the hardware. Not to toot my own horn (too late), but hopefully you’ve been listening to the past several columns as many of these recommendations have really shaped up. Jim Finch also hand-picked a number of free agent players the other day you may want to consider.
As of next week, I think I will start taking more of a look at the implications of the 2017 season on player values moving forward – help you identify some dynasty targets that will likely be undervalued. But for now, let’s scrape the waiver wire to see if we can help fill in for those unproductive and injured holes in your playoff team’s roster – oh, and those pesky off days.
Juan Nicasio – Cardinals
I was a bit slow to move on this one since Nicasio will NOT be eligible for the Cardinals’ postseason roster if they make it. I had a hard time believing that a team just a few games out of a spot would consider using a closer that wouldn’t be around come playoff time.
Nicasio is also a bit of a journeyman at this point. Many people remember the hype coming into the 2016 season when he was a Pirate. They might also remember that he flopped as a starter. Yet despite Cards being his 3rd stop this year, I would advise adding him.
Nicasio is having a really nice season so far out of the pen. His ERA is 2.78 and paired with a nice 1.08 WHIP. The K rate leaves a bit to be desired for a closer, but we’re scraping the barrel so let’s not be too fussy. He’s just shy of a strikeout per inning so it’s not Alex Claudio or Sam Dyson territory at least. Like many pitchers before him, Nicasio has had a nice velocity spike moving to the pen. His average heater is sitting a smidge below 96 MPH, which is pretty good. Also, having moved to the pen helps protect the fact that he is only a 2 pitch guy. Fastball/slider guys often have trouble without a third pitch in a starting role and then flourish when they move to the pen.
Rosenthal was starting to have a lot of value before he went down with Tommy John. Nicasio doesn’t have the upside that Rosenthal did, but he is in the same positive situation. He is on a solid team that wins games, and his stuff should be good enough to keep Seung Hwan Oh from getting his 57th shot at the 9th inning job this year. Nicasio is still owned in under 30% of ESPN leagues as well, so it is time to add him in any league where saves matter.
Eddie Rosario – Twins
Rosario was a popular waiver add a few months ago before coming back to earth. He is still reasonably owned (65% in ESPN leagues), but he was dropped plenty of places when he cooled off. Guess what? He’s hot again. This guy has shown an amazing tendency to get white-hot for long periods of time. It’s fantasy playoff time. Pull the trigger on this guy if he is still out there.
Rosario is 14 for his last 45 with 3 bombs and 10 RBIs. That’s the kind of performance that will help you advance to, or even win, your finals matchup. No, it’s not J.D. Martinez or Jose Ramirez, but it’s really useful. I don’t think he’s a true breakout for next year or anything either; he’s just a solid hitter that has improved his contact skills while also having a little bit of good luck on HR/FB rate.
I would rather pick him up than say, Matt Olson, since he has a solid floor with the contact skills. Rosario’s strikeout rate is at an excellent 17.9%. This means he won’t be killing you with negatives in points leagues. Putting the ball in play gives himself and your team a chance. Rosario is the kind of guy I want holding down one of roster spots as I try to make my final lap.
Doug Fister – Red Sox
Before you guys scream and yell at me on this one – try to remember that I told you to grab Trevor Bauer at the very beginning of his 9 game winning streak and Luke Weaver before he was even called up. I know Fister is not nearly as sexy as those two younger counterparts. I also know that he’s coming off a start where he gave up 6 earned. I don’t expect the ceiling to be close to that of those young bucks either. That being said, Doug Fister has been pretty good lately. So maybe we should consider him.
Fister is not a flamethrower. He is throwing the hardest he has since he was a Tiger though, currently averaging 89.3 on his fastball. While that’s not even impressive on some high school teams, it is the velocity that allowed him to be a useful fantasy pitcher for many years.
Since August 6th, Fister has pitched to a 3.83 ERA and an 8.66 K/9. Over these 44 innings, he has looked like vintage Fister with a 56.9% ground ball rate. It’s a short sample, but the peripherals also suggest that he has been a little unlucky as well. His FIP and xFIP over this time have actually been 3.04 and 3.53. We might be able to attribute that to the tough division and park mix.
The Red Sox are a solid team with a good defense and bullpen. Keeping the ball on the ground should help in these tough parks as well. Fister is only owned in about 40% of ESPN leagues, and I wouldn’t be shocked if some people drop him after the recent dud. Scoop him if you can.
Jose Reyes – Mets
I wrote about Reyes back in July, and I was starting to feel foolish and like it might have been poor advice, but he is starting to come through now. Since coming off of the DL, Reyes has been enfuego. Here’s what he’s done over the last 30 days:
On top of that, he is triple eligible at both middle infield spots as well as third base. He has also struck out at a miniscule 13.4% clip this year – that bumps his value in points leagues. Put it this way, going into the 2nd week of home league’s championship round I dropped Trevor Story for him. He has been hot for awhile so he’s owned in about 54% of ESPN leagues, but it’s definitely worth seeing if he’s still out there.
Jorge Polanco – Twins
This is a guy that everyone sleeps on every single year. No, he shouldn’t be drafted or owned in 10 or even 12 team leagues. But in 14+ team leagues… YES. Polanco is generally a 12-12 guy with decent counting stats and an average that won’t kill you. Not sexy at all, but at shortstop, that is a profitable player who will return value. I’m guilty of it myself, I drafted him in a 14 teamer and then dropped him chasing all kinds of upside. And guess what, in addition to being a steady fantasy performer for deeper leagues, he’s currently hot as hell and at a point where it’s worth adding him in those more shallow 10 and 12 teamers.
Over the past month Polanco is batting .283 with 8 homers. The counting stats are there too with 17 runs and 26 RBI. That’s serious production out of your SS or maybe even MI slot. As far as the underlying factors, I see some promising changes, but don’t expect him to be a top-10 shortstop next year. He is putting the ball in the air more and hitting the ball a bit harder. The hard hit rate is still only 27%, which is not exactly Nelson Cruz territory. He is another player with a great contact rate as well. He only strikes out 14.3% of the time. This, like some of the others we’ve spoken about, gives him a nice floor in points leagues.
The Twins lineup in general has been pretty good as of late too. This should help him keep up the counting stats. Considering how bad shortstop still is outside of the handful elite, Polanco should definitely be owned. He’s currently owned in under 50% of ESPN leagues, so go see if you can nab him.
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