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NL-Only Waiver Wire Team of the Week: MLB Week 20

Every week in baseball, a significant player will hit the disabled list, slip into a slump, or get traded out of a good spot. How fantasy owners adapt to these situations can make or break the season as a whole. One lousy add might not hurt the long-term standing of a team, but failing to take advantage of breakouts or impact bats before others sure can.

The primary challenge of playing in an NL or AL-only league is often the lack of options regarding adding and subtracting players when needed. In mixed leagues, the players on the waiver wire are usually starting for an NL-only staff. So then how does one wade through the names of players that even regular fantasy players have never heard of, and that often will not even start for their teams,to begin with? That is where this series comes in.

Instead of owners spending time digging the waiver wire of 0% owned players, this article will give owners a player at each position to fill the gap, or at the least, keep an eye on to add or stash. Not all of these players will replace that injury, but offer the best option off the scrap heap. Often the players advocated for here are long shots due to the nature of shallow leagues. No quick fixes, but some upside that could turn into much more.  With that onto the island of misfit fantasy toys.

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NL-Only Team of the Week

C - Devin Mesoraco (C, NYM) - 4% owned

After his mid-season move to Queens, Mesoraco has received enough playing time to keep him on fantasy radars but has not been good enough to secure a move away from the club. To date, with both the Mets and Reds, he is slashing .220/.303/.383 with nine homers and 28 RBI. The good news for fantasy owners is that in July he hit .240, posting his best numbers so far. While not great production, catching is the worst position this year by far, and any output is valuable off the waiver wire. Most productive catchers are owned in all leagues, so in deep leagues, this is the risk to take. Besides, Mesoraco has a decent walk rate at 9.1% this year, so there is there still some hope the skills play up.  In a weak pool, take the risk of past track record.

1B - Mark Reynolds (1B/3B, WAS) - 4% owned

This campaign for Reynolds has been a mixed bag, but he is still posting a 127 wRC+ which could come as some surprise to fantasy owners. Where Reynolds gets the most value is with his power numbers, and in 57 games he has 11 homers but only three doubles. The rest of the line is good as well, with a .264/.347/.514 slash to date. Even more surprising, Reynolds has dropped his K rate from 29.5% last season to a 25.7% line this season. Not great, but improvement is an improvement. The other good news is that his walk rate is actually up a point as well, showing that it was not just Coors that helped add a floor to the profile. While not a regular in the lineup, if the Nationals fall out of it officially, he could be seeing more ABs the rest of the way. If not, this is a safe play at the corner with power upside for most teams.

2B - Kolten Wong (2B, STL) - 1% owned

Wong will be one the key players to watch as the team changes managers and perhaps the front office moving forward, but at least, for now, there is a not a trade demand on the table from player and agent. Maybe some of that is due to the .223 batting average this campaign, which is reflected by the 1% ownership rate. And yet, this creates an opportunity for owners, as hidden within that average is .282 line in the second half. In fact, Wong looks to be a different hitter after the break, with no homers but only five strikeouts in 12 games so far. Without digging too much into the film, it looks that limited ABs have paid off, and Wong is not selling out for power as he was in the first half of the season. If this keeps up, the batting line should return to the .280 career average, and be a fantasy steal off the waiver wire.  

3B - David Bote (3B, CHC) - 2% owned

Appearing on the fantasy radar even before a walk-off grand slam versus the Nationals, Bote is an intriguing player who perhaps has no future in Chicago long-term, but might be worth the add next season based on where he ends up. To date, through 34 games, he is slashing .329/.418/.539 with three homers and three steals. The power is the most exciting piece, as before 2017 in the minors he showed little to no power. Then at Double-A he hit 14 homers in 127 games, and to start this year, at Triple-A, he hit 13 in 61 games. The good news is that he was able to add this power without much of a drop in the batting line, and this should bode well for fantasy owners looking to add a short-term piece to the hot corner. There is no way to expect him to keep hitting above .300 the rest of the way, but with that lineup, he will get pitches to hit and will be the beneficiary of plenty of other hitters. This seems like a low-upside play, who in his prime might hit a dozen homers, but with a decent batting average could be a valuable piece at third. Buying now seems to be a safe bet.

SS - Freddy Galvis (SS, SDP) - 3% owned

Cooling off since the hot start in San Diego, Galvis looks to be nearing the end of his time in a starting role in the majors, even as he is only 28. That being said, for the time being, until some prospects are called to the club, Gavlis is the sure starter with the Padres, and this adds some value to what there is in the batting line. In 120 games to date, Galvis is hitting .237/.296/.355 with eight homers and six steals. This puts him on a pace to pass last year’s power totals but should fall short with speed on the bases. The other interesting line is that Galvis is both striking out and walking more, with both numbers up a few points, but still hitting for less power than last year as well. The reason to add the rest of the way is the .278 batting average so far in the second half, which offers a marked improvement on the beginning to his time with the Padres. If he can keep that up, this is an above average hitter with a starting role, who could run into some more power.

OF - Chris Bostick - (OF, MIA) - 0% owned

When he last appeared on this list, Bostick was at Triple-A for the Pirates and on the bubble for a call. Now, he has been dealt to the Marlins, where he might slot right into the starting line-up with their offensive issues to date. In the minors this year, he was slashing .295/.351/.436 with four homers and six steals. While more of a batting average play that any of the counting stats, he does score a bit with 32 runs in 78 games. To be honest, it was a surprise to see him dealt to Miami for cash, as he looks to be a legitimate OF4 in the bigs, with more upside as he grows into his frame. He is only 25, so that speed should stick around for a bit, even if he might never steal more than 15 in a campaign. This is an easy buy-low, as he might be a starter by the end of the week.

OF - Alen Hanson (2B/SS/OF, SFG) - 2% owned

How Hansen has fallen, as at the start of the year, backed by a good month, he was the fantasy darling. And now, available in 98% of leagues, which seems to be a bit of an overreaction from the community. The season-long stat line is still appealing with a .281/.305/.476 slash through 73 games. Add to that six steals and homers, with 31 runs, and this is not just an empty batting line that might scare some owners away. At the same time, while he features as an outfielder here, with the ability to slot in on the infield as well, the lack of standout counting numbers mean that he is still valuable. Even better? A .292 batting average in August could say that he is rebounding to the breakout May.  If not, Hansen still looks to be a safe add.

OF - Adam Frazier (2B/OF, PIT) - 2% owned

Another player in the Hansen mode, Frazier lacks standout numbers but still offers more production to fantasy lineups than most might think. First, if you can play second and the outfield, this list will find a slot for you. That flexibility is worth its weight in gold, as owners can cover three plus positions with one bench slot. Second, Frazier has been good in the box with a .285/.350/.435 slash in 73 games supported by 30 runs. Even with a short demotion to the minors, Frazier is a worthy player to have, and even more when his stats seem overly skewed by one bad month. In May he hit .212 but has not fallen below .250 in any other month this season. Take out that May, and he is a .300 hitter with 0.5 runs a game, making him a top-eight fantasy second baseman in the national league. When he available in 98% of leagues, owners should jump on this, and slot him right into a starting role.  

P - Dylan Floro (RP, LAD) - 1% owned

With the Kenley Jansen news from Colorado this week, the Dodger bullpen looks to be in a bit of flux. It would seem that Josh Fields has the inside track to the interim closer role, but owners should hedge by adding Floro as well. To date, in 51 innings, he has posted an ERA of 2.68 with 7.76 K/9 in support. The walks are a bit high at a flat three but with only 0.53 HR/9 those offers to real red flag with a late-inning role. While never posting a save in the majors, he did have seven while at Triple-A with the Rays in 2016, so there is some track record. Floro has been effective this season and might work his want into that late-inning role if others continue to struggle. For owners chasing saves, this is the dart to throw.  

P - Jesse Biddle (SP/RP, ATL) - 3% owned

After a month away, Biddle is making a return to the list, and the young lefty seems to have the rest of the season to prove his worth to the club. After spending eight years in the minor with three teams, Biddle looks to not only have a path to playing time but also is performing well enough to keep that role. In 45 innings this campaign he is striking out 9.20 per nine innings, and only allowing an ERA of 2.60. The other good sign is that his GB% is up 12 points from his minors average, and while this might regress a bit, if it keeps, then Biddle is an intriguing option to pair with A.J. Minter for the Braves. The one concern is that even in the minors, Biddle tends to a walk a bunch, but another spot that has seen movement in the right direction since he made the team. Another pitcher with a plus 50 GB%, Biddle is a clear buy-low with some ratio upside.

P - Sal Romano (SP, CIN) - 2% owned

Finding a starter for the list this week was somewhat tricky, which means that Romano with his 4.96 ERA is the best option for desperate owners. And yet, there are a few reasons to be hopeful for fantasy production down the stretch. First, Romano is quite effective against righties with .226 average so far this year. Against lefties, the numbers are not as good, with a .291 average, but owners can look to matchups for some help in determining Romano’s usability. Second, the strikeouts are up from the beginning of the season when he was averaging 4.94 K/9 in April, and now is posting a 6.35 line. While not great, this is close to a two per game improvement, so something is changing in the approach. While there will not be many wins to be had, it does look like Romano is a better pitcher now than earlier in the year. Worth a dart at the very least.


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