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Catcher Waiver Wire Pickups For Week 20


As we hit mid-August you may have already found a dependable catcher that you roll with week-in and week-out, but as we know, backstops are the most volatile position in fantasy baseball. With that being said, we should always be aware of the landscape of the position just in case a few too many foul tips off the mask start adding up as the year wears on.

If you are not one of those fortunate souls who are privileged with a high-caliber catcher, 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.

Carson Kelly (C, ARI) - 18% Owned

Carson Kelly has slowly crept his way into the top-10 at the position in his first full year as a starter. Sporting a .272 batting average on the season with 17 homers, 33 runs, and 42 RBI in 82 games for the D'Backs, the 24-year-old is becoming more of a reliable single-catcher league starter by the day. Kelly ranks fourth in wRC+ (129) while his .363 OBP ranks third at the position and his .565 SLG currently sits second-best among all catchers with at least 200 plate appearances. He's also shown tremendous plate discipline numbers as a youngster with a very admirable 18.7% K-rate and 12.0% walk rate, lightyears above the league average at the position.

One thing that stands out the most with Kelly lies in his contrasting splits. As a right-handed batter, he's destroyed lefties to a .400/.494/.800 slash line compared to a measly .217/.299/.452 line against righties. The former top catching prospect has also fared much better on the road with a .323 batting average and 14 dingers versus a .202 mark at Chase Field. With a full slate of games this week, including three at the hitter-friendly Coors Field and a couple of matchups against southpaws scheduled, you may want to add Kelly now before the rest of your league really takes notice.

Yadier Molina (C, STL) - 56% Owned

With Yadier Molina scheduled to return from the IL on Tuesday, you might want to check your league's waiver wire to see if the savvy veteran is available for the picking. A nagging thumb injury has shelved him twice since the end of May limiting him to 71 games this season, and his power numbers have paid the price. Before the thumb injury, Molina was sitting at four homers and tied for the league lead with 33 RBI, proving to be one of the league's top players at the position once again. Between IL stints, his miserable month of June held him to only a pair of RBI in 18 games forcing the Cardinals to place him back on the shelf at the beginning of July.

Now presumably fully healthy, Molina has already clubbed a long ball and collected five RBI in his four-game rehab stint with the Triple-A club. With a month and a half to go, a healthy Molina can undoubtedly produce top-10 numbers the rest of the way on a team smack dab in the middle of a playoff push. The former Silver Slugger's advanced metrics are still on pace with his previous year's marks despite the dreadful June stats, so don't be thrown off by his lowly season-long roto numbers. Molina is the type of backstop who can be a difference-maker down the fantasy baseball stretch run.

 

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.

Tony Wolters (C, COL) - 3% Owned

If you're looking to stream a catcher this week, you may want to turn your attention to Rockies backstop Tony Wolters. The 27-year-old has hit .304 over his last seven games upping his average to .287 on the season, a number ranking third-best at the position. Despite the favorable home ballpark, Wolters has only managed to knock one ball out of the park this year, but has managed to set new highs with 34 runs and 30 RBI. 

With the D'Backs in town followed by a visit from the Marlins this weekend, Wolters is in an excellent spot to rake in a few more counting stats. The Rockies are scheduled to face one left-hander this week, where Wolters will likely receive an off-day, but he'll take his .292 average against right-handers into the other contests making him a viable streamer in two-catcher formats. Managers also looking to improve in the batting average category may want to keep Wolters on their roster to replace a below-average hitting backstop the rest of the way, but take into account the lack of power numbers. 

Francisco Mejia (C, SD) - 28% Owned

San Diego Padres catcher Francisco Mejia is on an absolute tear. He's racked up multi-hit games in five of his last six games, going 13-for-24 in these contests with a pair of round-tippers and six runs scored. Mejia is now slashing .325/.369/.518 since his June 18 call-up, with his AVG and OBP ranking as the best marks among all major league backstops in this span. The only downfall for the former Indians prospect is his platoon situation with teammate Austin Hedges. They continue to split time at a nearly 50/50 rate despite Hedges hitting an atrocious .186 with an even more alarming 32.3% K-rate. If the Friars ever decide to give Mejia more playing time he would undoubtedly flirt with a spot in the top-10 at the position.

The switch-hitter continues to hit the ball well from both sides of the plate as well with a .277 mark versus southpaws and a .282 average off right-handers. Mejia also holds an impressive 17.8% K% since his June promotion, although he doesn't draw the free pass all that often (5.1% BB%). Mejia is quietly living up to the high expectations held by being a top catching prospect. At a minimum, the 23-year-old should be on your single mixed-league radar because with a little more playing time, he could be a potential league winner.

 

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.

Tucker Barnhart (C, CIN) - 12% Owned

Since Tucker Barnhart returned from the injured list on July 26, he's done nothing but produce. Slashing .326/.420/.575 with three homers, eight runs, and 10 RBI in 14 games, the 28-year-old is slowly starting to turn around a frustrating first half. Hitting a putrid .191 with five big flies before going down with an oblique strain at the end of June, Barnhart was a massive disappointment for owners who were relying on his solid production as their second catcher. 

He came into the 2019 season hitting a modest .258 over his previous three campaigns and was set to build on a career-high 10 home runs from the 2018 season. With half of his games being played in one of the most home run-friendly parks in the league, it's still not too late for Barnhart to help fantasy managers the rest of the way. The Reds offense has improved as a whole lately, and the former Gold Glove winner has been a large part of the resurgence. Barnhart's 4.2% Barrel% and 30.7% Hard Hit% this season are currently sitting at a career-high level making him worth rostering in two-catcher formats.

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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