Welcome to week-16 of the waiver wire report. It’s been 10 weeks since I’ve been able to even look at stats, but analyzing players is like riding a bike – once you start to peddle everything comes right back to you. Granted I need to do some catch-up work on who is doing what (who the hell is this Max Muncy guy). Overall, while the names and stats change the game remains the same – it’s all about value and what a player can do for you now. That being said:
Each week I will dig through the f/a pool to find the best potential free agents on waivers (under 50% ownership on ESPN and Yahoo). Some are good for a quick boost, others could be good long-term additions, and there will be a few speculative adds thrown in there as well. Be sure to check out the previously recommended section as there are a number of under-owned players that should still be available in your league.
- Jesse Winker
I drafted Winker, but like many of you could not justify holding him with so much on waivers. Now that waiver wires have been picked through – it might be a good time to revisit things. Over the past two weeks Winker is batting .500 (16-32) with one home run and 11 RBI. He also have 5 multi-hit games along with 5 doubles and just 3 strikeouts to 6 walks. In fact, Winker has more walks than strikeouts in every month except April (13BB/14K). The high contact and hard hit rate suggest the average should stick close to .300 and even hint at more power in the second half.
With the Reds playing for 2019 and beyond there is little reason for Winker to see the bench in the second half so the playing time will be there. Hitting first in the order should afford him ample run opportunities, and a few more homers would make him a solid OF4, borderline OF 3 option.
- Niko Goodrum
With the exception of his time in AAA last year with the Twins Goodrum has done little to distinguish himself as a potential major league player. Even this season, an average just north of .250 makes him a player you’d glance over while searching the wire. However, over in the month of July Goodrum is batting .352. He has just one home run, one steal, and only 8 runs scored, but for the season he has 8 homers and 7 steals over 241 at bats putting him in line to potentially finish 15/15.
Strikeouts and below average contact will limit the batting average which is the one negative. The positive takeaway is that he qualifies at every position other than catcher making him a great plug and play option for days off and injuries. The Tigers have little hope of a playoff run so there is little reason not to roll out Goodrum to see what he can do. As long as he is hitting he is worth at least a bench spot.
- C.J. Cron
Cron was one of my waiver recommendations back in April, yet despite the 18 home runs and being on pace for 80 plus in both runs and RBI he remains available in over 60% of Yahoo leagues. A .130 June batting average is partly responsible for the decline in ownership, but Cron is hitting .405 this month with a pair of homers, 7 doubles, and 9 RBI. That makes him a top-12 first basemen in July which easily makes him a top CI option for most teams. Cron can handle lefties (.281), has power against both hands, and a majority of his at bats are between the second and fourth spot in the order.
Cron will never be more than a .250 hitter, but the power is legit and there is little reason to believe he will not finish at or above 30 homers. That and the counting stats makes him someone to own, even if it is only to keep him off your competitors team.
- Mike Minor
Did you know that over the last 30 days (prior to yesterday) Minor has been a top-20 pitching option? With a Yahoo and ESPN ownership rate below 20% I’m going to assume you did not. During that span he has cut over a point off his ERA, brought his WHIP down to 1.20, and lowered his BAA by almost 30 points. He has quality starts in 5 of his last 6 starts and just missed going 6 for 6 in his last start against Boston.
Yes, the fly ball and hard hit rate (both over 40%) are scary, especially as we approach the time of year where balls start to fly out of Arlington. Also his FIP and xFIP do not line up with his recent success – the only statistical explanation is a spike in fielding leading to a higher LOB%. Minor is the type of pitcher most avoid as we await the eventual bottoming out. I don’t take Sunday’s blowout as a sign of that impending collapse and would add him for the second half.
- Stephen Piscotty
Only one home run in April and a .160 May batting average has Piscotty well hidden on waivers. His ownership is almost up to 30% thanks to a .303 average in June along with 4 homers and 29 runs+RBI, but that hot hitting has carried over into July – albeit maybe a little cooler. This month he is batting .286 with 4 home runs and has 16 runs+RBI putting him on pace to exceed last months total. He was a top-12 OF option over the last 30 days, but even with the slight drop-off in production he is putting up top-30 (OF3) numbers.
You will want to sit him against lefties (.172) and maybe at home (.250 with just one homer), but on the road and against righties he has been making some noise. It appears he is finally comfortable with his new team and could make for a sneaky second half addition. Things could get even better if Oakland decides to move him out of the basement.
- Anibal Sanchez
Time is running out for those of you who wish to purchase stock in Sanchez. Like Minor above, Sanchez has been a top-20 pitching option over the last 30 days, compiling a 2.80 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and striking out just over a batter an inning. As Jordan Lyn pointed out the other day, part of his new-found success can be tied to incorporating a cutter into his arsenal . However, he has also had luck on his side (.240 BABIP). While the contact rate remains unchanged compared to past season’s, the success of his cutter couple with an already solid changeup has led to a spike in soft contact (23.6% – 6th among qualified starters). The downside is that the soft contact has dropped each month. That along with the higher FIP and xFIP combined with the BABIP and LOB luck could mean a reversal of the luck train.
I have always been a fan of pitchers like this; guys that nobody will touch because they are waiting for the bottom to fall out but could easily make a difference while they are pitching strong. You don’t have to love Sanchez – nobody is asking you to put a ring on his finger. You don’t even have to believe he is for real. Just put aside your bias and look at his overall numbers and ask yourself “is this someone I would add if his name was not Anibal Sanchez”. Odds are the answer is yes. If he starts to lose his mojo send him packing – for now enjoy the ride.
- Vince Velasquez
Velasquez hasn’t been a top-20 pitcher over the last 30 days, but he does squeeze into the top-25 – not too shabby. A 4.39 season ERA with just 5 wins over 18 starts is the reason people are not rushing out to roster Velasquez. Over the last 30 days, however, he posted a 3.00 ERA, a 0.89 WHIP and a strikeout an inning. He only managed one win, but the rest of his numbers play like a champ. His FIP and xFIP both put his ERA in the 3.80 range, and his contact rate is at the lowest of his major league career.
The downside to Velasquez is his home ERA (6.16), but a majority of that damage was due to a 10-run, 3.2 innings shelling he took from Milwaukee. The 2.42 road ERA is much more appealing. If Velasquez was a Padres pitcher with a sparking home ERA with spiked numbers on the road we would roster him. Using that philosophy why not pick up Velasquez for his road starts and maybe some spots starts at home? If the Phillies do land Manny Machado, the increased offensive production could put Velasquez in line for more wins – might want to roll the dice before the trade happens and avoid the rush.
- Matt Harvey
I’m not exactly sure what to make of this, but Harvey appears to be returning to form. His game innings are still low (reaching 6 IP in 2 of last 5), but in those 5 he has not allowed more than 2 earned runs, has just 5 walks, has struck out 23 batters over 29 innings, and even won 4. And it’s not like he played a bunch of nobodies, defeating the Cubs, Brewers, Braves and Cardinals. Maybe all he needed was a change of scenery? The strikeouts (overall) have not changed, but since he left New York the f-strike% has gone up, walks and home runs have seen a decline, batters are chasing more outside the zone, and his velocity has increase across the board.
Is Harvey returning for form? Are these improvements a result of a pitching coach change? Can the improvements we’ve seen over the last 30 days (2.38 ERA, 1.09 WHIP) continue into the second half? To be honest, I’m not exactly sure what to make of it and am hesitant to jump. Harvey has been added to my shallow pitching watch list, though, and given the number of less than stellar options out there I just may roll the dice in the next few days (I broke down and added him a few hours after this posted) . If this is a sign of things to come I know I will kick myself for not taking the chance.
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