The Best Pickups from Waivers for the Upcoming Week
Memorial Day is upon us, which means families throughout the country will be together flocking to beaches and cookouts. Some will pay their respects to the dearly departed by placing flowers on a grave or attending a patriotic parade. And hundreds of thousands will walk through the turnstiles of a MLB stadium to root for their favorite team.
This is typically the time of year when MLB teams begin to take stock of their season. Fantasy owners should be doing the same thing. It’s amazing to think, but one third of the 2018 season is over. As leads grow bigger and more teams fall further behind in the standings, the time for a MLB team to wage a comeback gets more difficult. Fantasy owners should treat their seasons the same way.
Although it may be too early to pack it in, if you are significantly behind in your league; it’s time to be bold. And if you’re in a keeper league, it may be time to start thinking about stockpiling for 2019. Every league will have a few great keepers. If you identify your team as one that just doesn’t have what it takes this year, you may as well trade for those prime keepers before someone else snags them.
Here’s a list of eight players who are under the radar and most likely available in your league. Some of these players may be valuable to you this season, and some may be long-term plays, to stash for next year.
Blake Parker-Angels: (31%) Mike Scioscia is notorious for giving his closers a short leash, which affects their values dramatically. When the closer gets injured, it makes matters even worse. Former closer Keynan Middleton underwent successful Tommy John surgery this week, which opened the door for Parker to swoop right in. Frankly, Parker should have been the closer all season; he would have been on many teams. Last season he appeared in 71 games and had an impressive 2.54 ERA and 0.83 WHIP. He also had an impressive 10.9 strikeouts per nine innings to go along with eight saves. If he’s available in your league, grab him until Scioscia decides to go in a different direction.
Jose Alvarez-Angels: (1%), As of today, the flavor of the month in Los Angeles is Blake Parker, but sooner or later, Alvarez will get his shot to close out games. He’s a power lefty with nasty stuff. Aside from getting saves, he’ll put himself in many situations to get wins from the seventh and eighth inning. He already has a couple. He’s averaging a strikeout per inning and is on pace to have more than 50 more appearances, which will translate into another 90-plus strikeouts. He’s not Andrew Miller, but he’s a on a good team which will stay in contention the entire year.
Stephen Piscotty-A’s: (24%) Piscotty had a rough start to the season, and not on the field. In the offseason he was traded by the Cardinals to the A’s to accommodate his need to be closer to his family because his mother was dying from ALS. In 2015 he had something of a breakout season at age 25, when he hit 22 bombs, had 86 runs and 85 RBI, to go along with seven steals and a .273 AVG. He’s now 27 and should be in the midst of a nice career. Unfortunately his mother’s health has weighed on him these past two seasons. With his mother passing, it may be a sign of relief for Piscotty, now knowing his mom’s suffering is over. If nothing else, he’s the type of player to root for and put on your team.
Adam Plutko-Indians: (17%) The 26 year-old may have finally found his way. The rocky outings by Josh Tomlin to start the season have opened the door for Plutko and he’s taking advantage of it. He’s won each of his two starts this season and has a miniscule 2.02 ERA and 0.90 WHIP. The Indians have terrific depth, so there shouldn’t be too much pressure on Plutko going forward and he’ll be able to settle in at the back end of the rotation.
"He didn't give in."
— SportsTime Ohio (@SportsTimeOhio) May 24, 2018
Ryan Yarbrough-Rays: (13%) Manager Kevin Cash may be the most creative man in baseball these days, and Yarbrough stands to be the biggest beneficiary. Cash has correctly determined his team isn’t good enough to compete in the difficult AL East. This analysis has led him to make a dramatic decision regarding his pitching staff. Instead of putting together a traditional five man rotation of mediocre starters, Cash decided that in certain situations, if the matchup allows, starting the game with a reliever: even his closer. MLB rules state that a starting pitcher must work at least five innings for a victory, so any time Cash employs this strategy, his “starter” cannot get the win. Enter Ryan Yarbrough, whose stat line is extremely eclectic. He’s made 11 appearances, of which three have been actual starts. He already has four wins, with a terrific 1.11 WHIP and more than serviceable 3.54 ERA. He’s on pace to win 13 games and strike out 120 batters. The 6’5” lefty has fantastic stuff, and could be the trailblazer of the 21st century pitcher.
Wade LeBlanc-Mariners: (12%) LeBlanc has done everything asked of him this season for the Mariners; except win a game. He’s started four games and has a 2.65 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. He’s striking batters out at a rate of 7.14/9IP. The Mariners are always a long shot to make the postseason, and with the suspension of Robinson Cano, to go along with Dee Gordon hitting the DL, their chances have gotten dire. They did just trade for Denard Span to bolster their outfield, and Alex Colome to strengthen their bullpen. Felix Hernandez isn’t pitching like his old self, with an ERA north of five, and with his strikeout rate sitting at 7.49/9IP, the Mariners desperately need another reliable starter. The 33 year-old hasn’t had double digit starts since 2011, but with a couple more solid outing, he should be a permanent fixture in the Mariners’ rotation.
Josh Field-Rays: (7%) Field just got good news for his career development, with the trade of Span to the Mariners. The Rays are a young team, so realistically Field will continue to get playing time. He’s hitting a home run every 9.37 at bats, and he has an .810 OPS. He’s had double digit steals every season in the minors over the past five years. At 26, he may be a bit of a late bloomer, but he should put together a nice season, getting over 300 at bats.
JaCoby Jones-Tigers: (7%), In 2014, in the minors, Jones hit 23 home runs to go along with 17 steals, and an .850 OPS. There was a ton of buzz around him, but no room for him with the Tigers. In 2015 he had 25 stolen bases. As he moved through their Tigers system his numbers started to fall off, and last year at Triple-A, he only nine home runs in 351 ABs, and his OPS was an anemic .702. He’s been given a legitimate chance this season to stick in Motown, and the results are promising. He’s on pace to score 64 runs and have double digit HRs and SBs. He’s a very sneaky source for cheap speed in your league, with the chance to hit a few bombs.
The next time you read me, it will be June. The first shoe has already fallen with the Mariners-Rays trade. The next two months should be hot and heavy. I have to believe the biggest shoe to drop will be Manny Machado. There are three NL teams who could really use him, (Dodgers, Cubs, and Phillies). This stands to be the most hectic trading season in memory, stay ahead of the curve and pay attention because if you hesitate, you’ve lost.
JaCoby Jones Featured Image: (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)