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The Waiver Wire Watch List: Week 11


So we're two months into the season, and a lot of pictures are becoming more clear. Maybe you hitched your wagon to Joey Votto and are in need of a corner infielder? Perhaps you've been riding George Springer to success but are now stuck without your best outfielder for weeks. No matter the situation, it could be time for a roster refresh--but not just the hum-drum obvious waiver wire adds.

Throughout the season, you want to get the jump on your competition and sniff out the breakout players before they break out. That's what this list is all about--using some in-depth research and advanced analytics to find the players who aren't quite there yet but are on their way. Some of these may suit your needs for an immediate pick-up depending on your team's situation.

This is not necessarily a list of players you should add right away at the start of week 10 - it is a list of players to keep a very close eye on in most leagues as we further into May, and to consider picking up in deeper formats. In some cases, we will even caution you not to pick up a widely-added player, and steer you away from the fool's gold. Use it to build your own watch list.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season MLB Premium Pass for 50% off, with exclusive access to our season-long articles, 15 in-season lineup tools and over 200 days of expert DFS research/tools. Sign Up Now!

 

Pitchers to Watch in 12+ Team Leagues

Cal Quantrill (SP, SD)

After some back-and-forth between AAA and the MLB, the Padres' young righty has 16 strikeouts in his last 11 innings (spanning two starts) while walking just two, and is performing well enough to merit future starts. It's certainly a small sample size, but there isn't anyone really knocking down the door for that fifth rotation spot, so any flash of talent bears watching, as is the case with Quantrill.

His 4.06 SIERA is almost a full run better than his actual ERA in the majors (4.85), and with his change-up and slider starting to miss more bats I have some optimism for the 24-year-old heading into the upcoming week.

Framber Valdez (SP/RP, HOU)

At long last, FRAMBERMANIA IS RUNNING WILD. I have been unjustifiably attached to Valdez since his red-hot finish to 2018, where he went 4-1 with an ERA of just 2.19 across 37 innings (five starts, three relief appearances). There were plenty of reasons to think that 4.50 SIERA that accompanied those 37 innings was the truer number, the big one being his startling 15.6% walk rate. While Valdez is a ground-ball pitcher through-and-through, a .213 BABIP and 87.3 LOB percentage were the main reasons that his ERA stayed down in 2018.

He's made some actual progress in 2019, shaving some points off that walk rate (11.7%) and seeing the BABIP level out a bit (.280). His 3.12 ERA is likely still too high (4.65 SIERA) but given how he focuses on a sinker and curve ball for groundouts, it's possible that this is just the kind of pitcher he'll always be. There is absolutely no reason to add him at this moment, and his first start is against Baltimore so that will only tell you so much. For now we watch, and we wait...while FRAMBERMANIA runs wild.

Jason Vargas (SP, NYM)

What the...how'd you get in here, Jason? The 36-year-old veteran snuck onto the watch list after a very impressive complete game shutout of the Giants that came on the heels of seven innings of one-run ball against the Dodgers. Vargas missed almost all of May with a hamstring injury, but since returning he's actually been terrific. Three starts have yielded 21 innings with an ERA of 0.86, and all of a sudden Vargas doesn't look like waiver wire trash anymore.

I won't sit here and try to manipulate stats to make it look like this level of success is sustainable--it's not. But something worthy of a roster spot is certainly possible, as Vargas has shown the ability to throw to a 3.50-4.00 ERA over the course of a full season before. For now you can add him if you're desperate for pitching depth and play the matchups.

 

Batters to Watch in 12+ Team Leagues

Colin Moran (3B, PIT)

The unassuming Pittsburgh third baseman has been doing his best Nolan Arenado over the last three weeks, and very few have noticed based on his ownership percentages. Moran has slugged four homers and knocked in 12 RBI in his last 16 games, and is actually up to eight homers on the season after hitting just 11 in 144 games in 2018.

Moran is striking out more in 2019, but he's not trading batting average for power. His walk rate is consistent and he's actually sitting at .280 on the season, which is a few points better than last year's mark. Maybe he's tinkering with launch angle? Whatever he's doing is working, as Moran is quickly approaching startability in your corner infield spot.

Ramon Laureano (OF, OAK)

If you thought Ramon Laureano was all spectacular catches and absolute piss-missile throws from the outfield, think again! Turns out there is some steak to this sizzle. Laureano is the primary center fielder for the Athletics at the moment, and is finding success hitting behind the thumpers in the Oakland lineup. The 24-year-old product of the Astros farm system ascended through the minors rather quickly and made his mark in limited action last year, hitting five homers and swiping seven bags in just 48 games.

There were those out there who believed that Laureano had 15/30 potential over the course of a full season, but in 2019 it's skewing more towards 20/20--Laureano has eight homers and six steals through 62 games. He's been red-hot of late, and while you wouldn't be blamed for adding him now, you certainly aren't cutting anyone valuable to get him on your squad at this point.

David Bote (2B, 3B)

Bote represents an interesting case, as he's not an everyday player but he's playing like he should be. My formal plea for the universal DH can be found below.* Bote is hitting a robust .281 with seven homers and 30 RBI, and he's filled in just fine in the field wherever he's been asked to play. Addison Russell has underwhelmed at every turn this season, and seems to be losing at bats every week to Bote at second base, so it could be a matter of time before he gets overtaken.

If Bote earns the lion's share of at bats at second base for the Cubs, he'll return terrific fantasy value hitting anywhere in that potent lineup, but he'll most likely be behind the big boppers. Keep your finger on the trigger with Bote, you won't regret owning him if Joe Maddon does lean heavier in his direction.

*Please make the DH universal so the Neanderthals in the National League will stop forcing pitchers to hit and we can get more guys like David Bote regular at bats. And so we don't need to watch pitchers try to square around and break fingers or just look silly.

 

Recapping The Waiver Wire Watch List

In the section, I will review the progress and current outlook of players that I wrote about in previous articles in this series.

Pitchers

Jake Junis (SP, KC) - Still Watching: Not particularly sharp his last time out. His June 11th date against the awful Tigers offense will be telling.

Touki Toussaint (SP/RP, ATL) - Still Watching: Performing well, but without an injury to the Braves' starting rotation Toussaint is likely locked into a low-leverage reliever role for the time being.

Brett Anderson (SP, OAK) - Still Watching: Unexceptional in just about every way, but depending on the depth of your league an ERA under 4.00 is worth something.

Andrew Cashner (SP, BAL) - Still Watching: Hasn't pitched since last week but has a tough matchup against the Astros tonight (6/8), so keep a sharp eye on him.

Jalen Beeks (RP, TB) - Still Watching: Will still continue to provide solid ratios acting as the bulk-inning pitcher behind the Rays' typical openers.

Jeff Samardzija (SP, SF) - Still Watching: He's worthy of the last spot on your roster, but not much more than that. His 3.61 ERA and 1.17 WHIP are usable, but his ceiling isn't much higher than that.

Pablo Lopez (SP, MIA) - Still Watching: He makes a lot of sense to add now with the caveat that you WILL have to eat a complete stinker of a start every now and then.

Batters

Garrett Cooper (OF, MIA) - Add Now: Dude just keeps raking. Piling up counting stats despite being entrenched in one of the MLB's worst offenses.

Hanser Alberto (SS/2B/3B, BAL) - Still Watching: Cooled off considerably since we added him to the list. Skill set still bears monitoring.

Orlando Arcia (SS, MIL) - Add Now: Still hitting, and your window to add him is closing quickly.

Jose Iglesias (SS, CIN) - Still Watching: A rough week has him trending down on the watch list.

Jarrod Dyson (OF, ARI) - Still Watching: With David Peralta back Dyson is merely a part-time player and doesn't merit much consideration unless you're looking for steals in a roto league.

Willy Adames (SS, TB) - Add Now: The pop is starting to shine through, and he raised his batting average more than 50 points in the month of May.

 

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