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Catcher Waiver Wire Pickups For Week 10


As we begin the month of June, catching situations are becoming clearer and some players' numbers are starting to normalize with a larger sample size. We now have over two month's worth of games to better evaluate some early season cold streaks as well as some scorching-hot starts to the season.

If you're in the market for a catching upgrade this week or in the near future, we'll go through a few tiers of backstops who will fit your specific league format. Every season the waiver wire is full of potential league-winning gems and to be a successful fantasy player you need to be an active fantasy player. Some people may believe that catchers are next to worthless for your team, but if you find an unowned superior performer in your league, you'll wind up with a massive advantage over your opponents.

The catching position has the least amount of volume of any other spot on the diamond with the number of platoons utilized by teams, so understand that a part-time backstop can still be productive at the position. Whether you plan to stream this spot on your roster weekly or if you're looking to find a long term option, we'll go through a vast range of backstops who'll hopefully take you to the fantasy promise land.

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Top-Priority Adds

This tier is targeted towards single-catcher mixed leagues as they are likely to only be available in these formats. These backstops are also particularly serviceable and could return top-10 value in their respective lineups making it a mystery why they are unowned in the first place.

Mitch Garver (C, MIN) - 46% Owned

Fresh off the IL and back into the Twins lineup on Sunday was early season breakout Mitch Garver. The club wasted no time getting him back to contributing to the offense as they planted him behind the plate and in the leadoff spot leading a nine-run offensive charge against the Rays. Garver recorded a hit, scored a run, and also drove one in picking up right where he left off before landing on the shelf in mid-May.

Garver was slashing .329/.418/.747 with nine homers, 19 RBI, and 20 runs before going down with a high ankle sprain on May 15. He made quick work of his rehab and is still sitting as a top-10 catcher overall despite missing over two weeks of action. Consistent playing time will remain an issue for the 28-year-old, but he's proven that he doesn't need everyday at-bats to be a top contributor at the catching position. Garver can be a difference maker in the average category and has the pop to help him approach the 20 HR mark, a rare combination to find on the waiver wire. Batting in the lineup with the league's highest runs per game total doesn't hurt his outlook either, and he needs ownership wherever available.

James McCann (C, CHW) - 39% Owned

Chicago White Sox catcher James McCann continues to hit the ball well in his first season as a south-sider. For the year, he's slashed .338/.379/.507 with four homers, 23 runs, 12 RBI, and has even stolen three bases to boot. Of all these figures, the only category that's genuinely lacking is his RBI output despite getting most of his at-bats as the number four or five hitter in the Pale Hose lineup. McCann is hitting .286 with RISP and .328 with men aboard, it just so happens that these kind of plate appearances aren't as plentiful on this below average on-base team. We shouldn't expect a massive home run total either seeing how he popped eight a season ago and hit a career-high 13 in 2017, but his position-leading batting average separates him from the rest of the pool.

McCann has made improvements to his swing hitting the ball at a 30.7% line-drive rate paired with an equally terrific 42.6% Hard Hit%, both numbers well above his lifetime norms. He's also spraying the baseball to the opposite field more often which is something you see the best hitters in the game do regularly. With McCann's approach at the plate making gains, the rest of his counting stats are sure to follow. He likely won't end up as a top contributor in the power department, but batting in the meat of the order should rectify some of his early season losses.

 

Streamers/Players to Watch

The catchers in this group are either in waiver wire limbo as they are likely scooped up in two-catcher and league-specific formats or they are worth streaming for this week depending on your league size. They are not ideal single mixed league targets unless you have a deep bench to stash one of these backstops. These bats, however, have a shot at returning significant value if everything breaks right.

Mike Zunino (C, TB) - 22% Owned

Another player recently activated off the IL at the end of last week was Rays backstop, Mike Zunino. He's not off to the start that owners had hoped from him as he's slashing a mere .204/.250/.378 with three homers, 17 RBI, and 12 runs in 28 games. We never expected much average-wise from Zunino who is a .208 hitter for his career, but the lack of power numbers from a player who hit 45 bombs over the past two seasons is where the concern falls. The good news is that his underlying metrics suggest that it's only a matter of time until the 28-year-old journeyman starts teeing off.

Zunino's 45.7% Hard Hit%, 92.4 MPH Exit Velocity, and 19.5° Launch Angle are all numbers either in line with his career marks, or a few ticks higher. His 30.0% fly ball rate is also a fraction above his lifetime clip, and he's hit into the least amount of weak contact of his career at just 1.4% of his batted balls. It's clear Zunino is hitting the ball no differently than his previous major league benchmarks, and he's even seen his K-rate improve from a 33.8% lifetime mark to 26.0% this season. His lousy luck is destined to end soon, and the balls off his bat should start flying out of the hitter-friendly parks that occupy the AL East where he plays the majority of his games. Fantasy managers may want to wait a few games to let Zunino ease back into his full-time role after his recent quad injury, although he did beat his projected timetable by a couple of weeks.

Elias Diaz (C, PIT) - 4% Owned

Elias Diaz' name continues to pop up in this article, and all that he's done is reiterate the fact that he belongs on fantasy rosters. For the year, he's hitting .287 with nine runs and 13 RBI in an even 100 plate appearances for the Pirates this season. He's still waiting to put one over the fence this year, but after knocking 10 out of the park in 2018, we know he's capable and its a matter of time before they come into fruition. Diaz did miss most of spring training and nearly all of April before debuting in the Buc's lineup, so his power may be developing slowly.

Further helping Diaz' cause is Francisco Cervelli firmly shelved with his sixth publicly-known concussion. Diaz has outplayed the veteran regardless, but the team has stated they plan to take it slow with the free-agent-to-be giving no estimated date for a return. This situation leaves Diaz as the bonafide starter behind the dish in Pittsburgh, where he has certainly earned the role with his play. Since Cervelli has been sidelined, Diaz has done nothing but rake with hits in five of his last six starts including four multi-hit games. Diaz is a no-brainer in two-catcher and NL-only leagues, and if we start to see some balls hit to souvenir city, the 28-year-old could become a formidable option in mixed leagues as well.

 

Two-Catcher League Options

This tier meshes catchers that may still be available in two-catcher leagues, as well as league specific setups. They may carry some single-catcher mixed league value at some point, but for now, they can stay on your watchlist. They aren’t necessarily going to win you a category, but they won’t hurt your overall production either.

Matt Wieters (C, STL) - 7% Owned

In lieu of Yadier Molina landing on the IL with a thumb injury, Matt Wieters has stepped up offensively for the Cardinals in his place. He's 7-for-19 in his last five starts including a pair of home runs and four RBI. The 33-year-old's days of hitting 20 dingers and knocking in 70-80 runs are long gone, but he's proved even in his years of decline that he can be a serviceable player in two-catcher formats. It also helps that the Cardinals will play 20 games in 20 days starting Tuesday giving Wieters plenty of opportunities to contribute in the short term while Molina is sidelined.

Manager Mike Shildt has even sandwiched the switch-hitter in the fifth spot in the lineup, a gold mine for RBI production with on-base machines hitting ahead of him in this potent lineup. Wieters' offensive skill is clearly inferior to Molina's, but the fact that the Cards will continue to put men on base for him gives him a slight fantasy boost. He's an excellent fill-in option for Molina owners, and you can certainly find worse on any catching waiver wire.

Carson Kelly (C, ARI) - 3% Owned

Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Carson Kelly is turning some heads with his offensive prowess of late. During the month of May, the 24-year-old smacked five homers and slashed a stellar .360/.467/.680 as he has taken control as the primary backstop in the desert. Kelly showed excellent discipline at the plate as well walking more times than he struck out with a 16.7% BB% compared to a 10.0% K%. With his bat catching fire and the D'backs having every reason to keep starting the youngster, Kelly could become a sleeper at the position over the rest of the season.

After getting acquired from the Cardinals this offseason as a part of the Paul Goldschmidt trade, Kelly is starting to blossom now that he's got a path to regular playing time well clear of the shadow left by Yadier Molina. As the former number two catching prospect in baseball, Kelly showed an exceptional hit tool in the minor leagues batting .287 in Double-A followed by a .278 average in his Triple-A career. His sharp eye at the dish and excellent 80.5% contact rate separates him from most of the catchers in the majors with these skills, and there's even room for improvement at his young age. Kelly is the future at the catching position for the D'backs, and it's time we started paying attention to him in the fantasy game.

More Waiver Wire Pickups and Streamers


Check out RotoBaller's entire fantasy baseball waiver wire pickups and sleepers list, updated daily!




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