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.
- Kole Calhoun
A sub .200 keeps Calhoun well hidden on the waiver wire. This is why we do not pay attention to season totals this late in the season. Just last week Hunter Denson told you his stock was on the rise, and now I’m here to double down telling you to add him today.
Calhoun is batting .300 for the month of July with eight home runs, five of which came in the past two weeks. He also has 20 runs+RBI during that two-week span and an OPS of 1,257. Yes, the strikeout rate this month is bordering on that 30% mark – something that always worries me, but like many players that have made plate adjustments the power has increased as well. He doubled his launch angle, his ISO has spiked, his hard hit rate is over 40%, he is hitting fewer ground balls (35%), the fly ball rate is close to 45%, and his Wrc+ ranks in the top-20. With an ownership rate hovering around 20% he should be available.
- Michael Conforto
Like Calhoun, Conforto and his .226 season average has fantasy owners scrolling on by. Even his monthly splits offer little hope; he’s batting just .227 in July. However, Conforto may be on the verge of a breakout. Over the past two weeks he’s batting .313 with 9 each in runs and RBI. His hard hit rate has been climbing since June, the line drive rate is back over 20%, and the K% has been cut in half this month. More importantly, he’s starting to show life against righties – funny that the guy they said couldn’t hit lefties is now batting .271 against them.
The team as a whole is struggling making it even harder to believe in any of their hitters. Conforto is one of the few bright spots in their lineup and is the same guy that hit 27 home runs for the team just last season. If he can be “that player” over the final two months – winner winner chicken dinner.
- Joc Pederson
The problem with Pederson hasn’t been batting average, it’s playing time. He has just over 250 at bats – that a minimum of 100 fewer at bats than most average starters. Given the depth of talent around him combined with his inability to hit lefties, it’s no surprise Pederson has seen a fair amount of bench time. That could be changing given what we’ve seen from him since June.
Last month Pederson hit .283 with 10 home runs in 60 at bats. He already has 68 at bats this month with a batting average over .300 with another three long-balls. This past week he was especially hot, going 10 for 20 with 9 runs+RBI from the 23rd to the 26th. The strikeout rate is down considerably (15.2%), his contact rate improved for the third straight season, power indicators are strong (43.7% hard, .272 ISO), he’s hitting the ball in the air more (43.6%). What’s funny is Pederson actually lowered his launch angle; the power is still there but he’s driving it more without selling out. This is the guy we hoped he would become
Pederson is batting .292 against righties so he should get the lions share of the platoon at bats. He is looking like the player that hit 51 home runs between 2015 and 2016 but with a better batting eye. Best of all is he’s hot now and playing on a team that could win the NL West. Contending teams tend to bring the best out in a player. Some of this bluster is me wanting to believe in the kid I coveted when he first arrived. Still, even the non-Pederson fans would have to admit he is crushing right now.
- Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
Just look at what this guy has done since July 11
|10 day total||22/42||7||3||7||1||7|
That’s 10 multi-hit games and counting. Gurriel is batting .308 on the season with seven home runs over 133 at bats. Lets be clear on one thing; Gurriel is not a power hitter. His .148 ISO, 30.7 hard hit rate and 32.7% fly ball percentage will allow him to stay respectable in the power category – those 7 homers are a best case scenario for the number of at bats so far. He also doesn’t walk much evident of his 2.3% for the year and under 5% for his career (major and minor). However, he is a solid hitter posting a combined .299 average between Double-A and Triple-A and he kept the strikeouts under control upon his promotion to the majors. The Jays have been batting him towards the top of the lineup recently which should allow him to pile up the runs.
The acquisition of Brandon Drury should not affect his at bats. Gurriel should now setting into full-time shortstop duties (until Tulowitzki returns) while Drury will displace Devon Travis at second base. Since Tulowitzki has no timetable Gurriel will continue to see full-time at bats until his bat says otherwise. Go get him.
- Mike Fiers
I get not wanting to pick up Fiers. After showing promise in 2015 he posted a 4.48 ERA in 2016 and a 5.22 ERA last season. His underlying metrics were not to blame and it wasn’t the result of bad luck. Maybe he just needed a fresh start, or maybe he is just getting lucky. Both his BABIP (.280) and strand rate (88.1) hint at luck and regression. His 36.2% hard hit rate and 44.2% fly ball percentage suggest that 11.5% HR/FB could be a little higher, and with only a 17.5% soft hit rate the 16.3% line drive rate should be higher. The contact rate also remains unchanged, and with the exception of a few more sliders and a few less curveballs there isn’t much change in his arsenal, pitch usage and speed. In fact, other than his top-10 walk percentage I don’t see many positives.
This is the fun thing about fantasy baseball. Sometimes you just have to ignore the numbers and look at the production. Despite all my negatives Fiers holds a 3.49 ERA and 1.24 WHIP on the season. He has now rattled off six straight quality starts with four of them being one run or less. He has been even better at home with a 2.69 ERA over 10 starts (60.1 innings). A majority of that luck I spoke of has been experienced in June and July. The thing with luck is you never know when it will end. Until that day comes just enjoy the ride and stop trying to figure out how he is doing it.
- Carlos Rodon
Remember what I just said about rolling with the luck – you can basically apply that to Rodon as well. His 3.38 ERA and 1.11 WHIP is not supported by his underlying metrics and reek of luck. A 2.13 BABIP, 4.62 FIP and 4.80 xFIP tell us regression is coming. Rodon is giving up far more contact than his past seasons; hitters are swinging and making more zone contact. The fly ball rate which hovered in the low 30s is now at 42.7%. After a two-year gain the strikeout percentage is down to 20%. The BB/9 is down to 3.55%; still an improvement but much too high. The luck for Rodon lies in his line drive rate which sits at 13.3%. That would rank as the lowest among league leaders if he had the required innings.
Rodon has gone at least six innings in each of his last six starts with four of those games being high quality (two or fewer runs). There is an old saying: better lucky than good. This is another hot hand to ride.
- Dereck Rodriguez
It would be easy to lump Rodriguez in with Rodon and Fiers, but I don’t see what he is doing as lucky – at least not completely. He does give up a little too much hard contact, but beyond that you can make some valid arguments as to why he is seeing success. The contact rate is about league average so numbers could go either way – he’s seeing the good side now. The batted ball profile is also about average. The line drive rate is a little high which does play to his favor if/when it regresses. The low walk rate also plays in his favor, and this is something he hasn’t had much luck with in the past. The HR/FB has seen some luck, but even if this goes up the low walks should limit the damage.
The two biggest advantages Rodriguez has (in my opinion) is his arsenal and league change. He spent his entire minor league career with the Twins. Considering how low he was on the organizational depth charts teams were not expecting him to be in the majors so there was probably very little scouting done – even less in the national league. In addition, Rodriguez has a nice five-pitch. While none of those pitches grade out as great or even really good, they are good enough, vary greatly in speed, and he shows solid command over them so he keeps hitters off-balance.
His last five starts were high-quality starts, and he has allowed more than two runs in just two of his nine starts. His next start is Tuesday in San Diego, followed by Houston, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and the Mets. That’s four out of five starts I see streaming potential.
This is the last week Anibal Sanchez will appear here. His ownership rate is over 50% and he should be owned in all competitive leagues. If he is still available in your league – Last Call!
Continue to ADD
- C.J. Cron, Stephen Piscotty and Vince Velasquez should all be owned right now, and all three are bordering on that 50% threshold.
HOLD (not good enough to add but maybe too good to drop)
- Mike Minor bounced back against Oakland after his shelling against Baltimore on the 15th. He starts today at Houston, though, followed by a home start against the Orioles, at Yankees Stadium, and then home against Arizona. Things get easier after that.
- Matt Harvey was shelled in his first post all-star start, but bounced back last night against the Phillies. The Reds plan on moving him. His destination and next few starts will determine his status.
- Jesse Winker hits the DL and is done for the year.
- Niko Goodrum had a nice run but is just 4 for 30 over the past two weeks.
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