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The Waiver Wire Watch List: Week 12


So we're two and a half months into the season, and a lot of pictures are becoming more clear. Some players have been lost to injury time, plenty are underperforming, and there are of course new faces rising. 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 12 - it is a list of players to keep a very close eye on in most leagues as we further into June, 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.

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Pitchers to Watch in 12+ Team Leagues

Shaun Anderson (SP, SF)

There are very few stats that jump off the page for rookie Shaun Anderson. Through the first six starts of his career, he's got a modest 22:11 K-BB ratio, an ERA just a shade under 4.00 (3.97) and he's done a decent job of keeping the ball in the park (1.06 HR/9). His SIERA is nearly a full run higher than his ERA thanks in large part to his unimpressive ratios, so he's likely overachieving a bit.

However, with three quality starts in a row, Anderson has our attention. Bearing in mind that he's faced the Orioles, Mets and Padres, we aren't ready to commit to the rookie, but hey! That's what this list is for! This week he draws the Dodgers, and that will be extremely telling as far as to what level we can trust him.

Steven Brault (SP, PIT)

Brault's season-long numbers are pretty bad thanks to Brault's extremely rough start to 2019. However, over his last six starts he's posted an ERA of 2.02 and has struck out least five hitters in three of those six--a feat he accomplished just one time previously.

Brault is posting the best K-BB ratio of his career, and while the ceiling isn't much higher than a quality start each time out, that's usable on a start-by-start basis. You're never going to roll Brault out there against the Brewers, Astros, Dodgers or Yankees, but there are plenty of lower-tier teams against whom Brault can give you a shot at a win.

Tommy Milone (SP/RP, SEA)

The Mariners may have figured out how best to use Milone - as a bulk reliever. The spot starter has had two outings in a row following an opener, and he was pretty good in those games. After 5.1 IP of one-run ball against the Astros, he followed with six innings of three-run ball against the mighty Twins, tallying a strikeout per inning.

Obviously, until the fantasy community updates scoring (and creates a valid statistic) to properly reflect the usefulness of a bulk reliever, fantasy value is tough to come by. They rarely get quality starts and certainly not saves, and really rely on ratios and occasional wins for their value. Still there are certainly uses for that kind of production, especially in roto formats.

 

Batters to Watch in 12+ Team Leagues

Todd Frazier (3B, NYM)

The Toddfather is re-emerging as a fantasy asset thanks to a solid two-week hot streak. He's hit three homers, knocked in 11 runs, scored eight of his own, and elevated his batting average to .253 (which is terrific for a guy who's hit .225 or lower each of the last three seasons). Most importantly, Frazier has a 9:8 BB-K ratio in that time frame, and he's currently riding the highest line drive rate of his career.

Frazier's main fantasy asset has always been his power, but not unlike a pitcher reinventing himself when he loses his fastball it's possible that Frazier is taking a new approach at the plate. It's worth monitoring to see if this is a real improvement or merely a hot streak.

Kevin Newman (SS, PIT)

Newman was given the opportunity to start for the Pirates heading into 2019, and he's taken advantage of the opportunity. Through 43 games, Newman is slashing .313/.363/.424 with two homers and three stolen bases. His .363 OBP is exactly what the Pirates were looking for in a leadoff hitter, and he's thrived in that role.

Newman always had excellent strikeout numbers in the minors, and his batting average and OBP are likely pretty sustainable. His current .353 BABIP indicates that a .300 BA might be too much to hope for over the course of a full season, but .285-.290 is perfectly possible. That will play in just about any format, and if he gets a bit more aggressive on the basepaths Newman can be a valuable contributor on fantasy teams.

Kevin Pillar (OF, SF)

Kevin Pillar has never been a standout performer in any format, but he's always been capable of a 15/15 season with plus defense and a mediocre but acceptable batting average. He's held true to all of those trends in 2019 with the exception of the batting average--he's hitting just .228 through 67 games.

However, that batting average is likely being impacted by some bad luck. His .235 BABIP is far lower than his career average, and it's something that is all but guaranteed for positive regression. Pillar already has eight homers and eight steals in 2019, and if that batting average creeps back up he will once again be a valid fourth or fifth fantasy outfielder.

 

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

Cal Quantrill (SP, SD) - Still Watching: A predictably rough outing in Coors last week--the long strikeout over four innings is slightly concerning, but let's chalk it up to a good offense.

Framber Valdez (SP/RP, HOU) - Still Watching: Two great starts since he joined the rotation, but they came against the Blue Jays and Orioles. Let's see him face a real test before we go adding.

Jason Vargas (SP, NYM) - Add Now: Beat the Yankees last week, and he's producing just about every time out now.

Jake Junis (SP, KC) - Add Now: Looked pretty good against the hapless Tigers, and now has quality starts in three of his last four starts. Add him now, but be prepared to bench him against the elite offenses.

Touki Toussaint (SP/RP, ATL) - Dropped: A very rough week has his ERA back up to 4.55, and he's simply not in the high-leverage position that you need for fantasy production.

Brett Anderson (SP, OAK) - Still Watching: Back-to-back quality starts against two of baseball's top teams (TB and TEX), and you're not crazy to add him now.

Andrew Cashner (SP, BAL) - Still Watching: Had a surprisingly great start last weekend against the Astros but then has been sidelined with a blister.

Jalen Beeks (RP, TB) - Add Now: Still thriving as a bulk reliever, and his ratios are terrific. Understand that quality starts and wins will be hard to come by if you do add him.

Jeff Samardzija (SP, SF) - Add Now: He's worthy of the last spot on your roster, but not much more than that. His 3.72 ERA and 1.21 WHIP are usable, but his ceiling isn't much higher than that.

Pablo Lopez (SP, MIA) - Add Now: Utterly dominant at the moment. A bad start is likely looming, but worry about that once it happens.

Batters

Colin Moran (3B, PIT) - Add Now: Mixed in a five-RBI night this past week, and is batting .322 since mid-May.

Ramon Laureano (OF, OAK) - Add Now: ALSO had a five-RBI night last week, but he added two stolen bases in that game. He's a multi-category contributor who should continue to be an everyday player given his plus defense.

David Bote (2B, 3B) - Still Watching: When he's in the lineup, he hits. Problem is, he's not always in the lineup.

Hanser Alberto (SS/2B/3B, BAL) - Add Now: Hitting well over .300 this month, and there's nobody knocking on the door for playing time.

Jose Iglesias (SS, CIN) - Dropped: He's fallen back into fantasy irrelevancy.

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.

 

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