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Catcher Waiver Wire Pickups For Week 8


As we make our way through the month of May, catching situations are becoming clearer and some players' numbers are starting to normalize with a larger sample size. We now have nearly 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.

Christian Vazquez (C, BOS) - 22% Owned

One of the bigger surprises offensively this season has been the play of Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez. He's already set a new career-high in homers (6) and has also matched his RBI output from 2018 with 16 driven in so far in 36 games this season. His stellar play not only has him on pace to shatter all of his previous bests across the board but his .316/.363/.535 slash line are all numbers well within the top-10 of their respective categories among all backstops. After hitting just .207 with three homers a season ago, Vazquez has honed in on his offensive ability, and the underlying metrics show that his torrid pace is sustainable.

The 28-year-old is doing a tremendous job of squaring up the baseball with an impressive 30.5% line drive rate paired with a 42.1% Hard Hit%. These numbers blow his 2018 marks out of the water, and he's also become more selective lowering his career 28.8% Chase% to a 24.7% clip this season. Vazquez biggest area of improvement, however, may be in his ability to hit the breaking ball. After batting a measly .202 with no home runs against these pitches in 2018, he's done damage in 2019 with a .296 batting average with one long ball already.

With these adjustments, Vazquez will remain an asset in all formats as his poor 2018 season is looking more like an outlier than what we should expect from him moving forward. His most significant contribution will come in the batting average category, but his improved power and lineup around him will keep his counting stats climbing.

Jonathan Lucroy (C, LAA) - 46% Owned

After a couple of underwhelming seasons offensively, it appears that Jonathan Lucroy has regained the potency in his bat. The veteran backstop has returned to fantasy relevance this season with six homers, 20 runs, 21 RBI and a .262 batting average. The most satisfying aspect to see a return to Lucroy's game is his early season pop. After hitting six out of the park in 2017 followed by just four dingers a year ago, most people in the fantasy community had written off the 32-year-old coming into the 2019 season. With his 5.5% Barrel% and 39.0% Hard Hit % looking more resemblant to his years of offensive prominence from his time in Milwaukee, Lucroy is looking like a strong rebound candidate this season.

Despite losing some of his power over the last couple of seasons, something that has remained constant throughout his entire career has been his ability to hit for average. Lucroy has always had excellent plate discipline numbers and this season is no different with his 12.7% K-rate ranking among the best marks of all catchers. He's not a .300 hitter anymore by any means, but his .268 batting average since 2016 is an underappreciated number for his position. He's the clear-cut starter behind the plate for the Angels who is as consistent as they come with hits in nine of his last 13 games. Lucroy is hitting .302 in this span with five homers proving he once again belongs on a fantasy squad.

 

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.

Jorge Alfaro (C, MIA) - 26% Owned

Jorge Alfaro has been one of the lone bright spots offensively for the Miami Marlins this season. Being a part of one of the worst lineups in baseball is never a desirable aspect to anyone's fantasy outlook, but for Alfaro, we can make an exception. So far in 2019, he's hit six homers with 14 runs and 13 RBI while slashing .258/.315/.425. Nothing too sexy in one single category but solid production across the board. It's worth noting that Alfaro left Saturday's game with a calf strain, but he will return to the lineup Tuesday after the precautionary exit.

Now that Alfaro has an everyday role with the Marlins we're in for a real treat to see what the 25-year-old can do with full-time at-bats. His 10 homers from a season ago in 108 games will easily be eclipsed in 2019 as even the spacious confines of Marlins Park can't contain Alfaro's power. Other than productive bats around him, the only thing holding him back is his aggressiveness at the plate. With a ghastly 36.2% K-rate and 21.1% SwStr% hindering his overall production, he's still managed to find success aided by a .373 BABIP. While this number may seem high, it's much lower than his .399 career mark stating that his batting average is sustainable despite the tendency to swing-and-miss. Expect this trend to continue moving forward and Alfaro to finish the season as one of the top power producers at the position.

Jason Castro (C, MIN) - 11% Owned

The hottest hitting catcher in the big leagues right now is Jason Castro. As surprising as that sounds the numbers don't lie as over the last 30 days he ranks first among catchers in homers (7) and runs (15) as well as third with 16 RBI. Granted almost all of these numbers make up his entire 2019 output, his bat is still worth riding for the near future. With Mitch Garver on the IL with an ankle injury, Castro will continue to get nearly all the starts behind the dish for the Twins giving him ample opportunity to keeping producing.

For the year, Castro is slashing .246/.364/.631 with his slugging percentage ranking second among all catchers trailing only his teammate Garver. With his left-handed bat red-hot and the Twins scheduled to face six right-handed pitchers this week, Castro is a top streaming option who you may be able to keep riding until Garver returns from injury. His lifetime 27.3% K-rate and 9.9% BB-rate have transcended to 23.4% and 14.3% respectively this year, suggesting his torrid pace is somewhat sustainable. Couple these level-headed improvements with an increase in fly ball rate of over 10% from his career norm, 2019 is shaping out to be Castro's best year as a big leaguer.

 

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.

Roberto Perez (C, CLE) - 1% Owned

Another catcher hitting the ball exceptionally well lately is Roberto Perez of the Cleveland Indians. He's 8-for-26 over his last eight starts with a trio of homers and seven RBI showing that he has some fantasy value in deep two-catcher formats. Perez now has six long balls on the campaign while slashing .232/.325/.434 in 32 games for the Tribe. The Indians are settling into a homestand where they have a full slate of games upcoming this week as the Athletics and Rays come to town. Perez is at least worth a look as a streamer this week as he continues to get the lion's share of playing time.

Perez has made improvements at the plate in his sixth big league season trading in some ground balls for more line drives and flies. He's also taking the ball to the opposite field 37.7% of the time, something he hasn't done much of over his career. The 30-year-old is known for his defense but his 14.8% Barrel % and 47.5% Hard Hit suggest this may end up as his best hitting season yet. That might not be saying much for a career .208 hitter, but he's well on pace to set a new high in all of his counting stats. With many catchers struggling or on the IL, Perez is a fine short-term fill-in.

Elias Diaz (C, PIT) - 1% Owned

With Francisco Cervelli struggling to find his groove this season, Elias Diaz has been rewarded by starting the last four games for the Pirates. The 28-year-old has taken advantage of his opportunity with three multi-hit games in this span, and he's now hitting .245 in 16 games this season. He doesn't walk a lot, but he doesn't strike out either with a 16.9% career K-rate. He's a good contact hitter who can provide a bit of pop, and he won't drag down your batting average category.

Diaz missed nearly a month with a virus getting off to a late start to his 2019 season, but he is starting to find the same success that he had last year. He had a terrific campaign in 2018 batting .286 with 10 homers and 34 RBI in 82 games as he is likely to take the catching reigns over sooner than later with Cervelli set to hit free agency this offseason. It's likely the Pirates are just giving Cervelli a breather after slashing a miserable .179/.269/.236 so far, but with Diaz handling his own with the bat, it could turn into a near 50/50 platoon. He's a decent option in two-catcher formats, and owners in deep single-catcher leagues should keep an eye on him as he could be a significant producer in the coming months.

More Waiver Wire Pickups and Streamers


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