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The Waiver Wire Watch List: Week 19

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 19 - 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

Drew Smyly (SP, PHI)

Smyly was an absolute disaster for the Rangers this season, as he posted an 8.42 ERA across 51.1 innings. Since signing with the Phillies though, he's made two starts and been positively terrific. He's 1-0 across 13 innings and has yielded just one earned run and a 13:3 K-BB ratio.

It seems like a lifetime ago, but Smyly was downright excellent for the first few years of his career. He returned from Tommy John surgery in 2019, and it's possible that his struggles this year can be chalked up to a rough road back from that time off. The change of scenery has clearly done him some good, and he bears monitoring moving forward to see if he can get back on the right track.

Ivan Nova (SP, CHW)

Nova's season has been a disappointment by just about any metric, but just when you're about ready to put him on the "never again" waiver list, he rattles off three great starts in a row. In his last three turns, Nova is 2-0 with a 0.90 ERA and a 13:3 K-BB ratio.

The big red flag for Nova this year has been the homers. He's currently posting the highest HR/9 of his career (1.65) and that, coupled with his career-low strikeout rate, is a pretty thorough explanation for his disappointing season. These three starts are encouraging that he might have fixed something since the All Star Break, but not a sure sign that he's a regular fantasy asset yet. Keep him on the watch list for now.


Batters to Watch in 12+ Team Leagues

Matt Thaiss (1B/3B, LAA)

The 24-year-old slugger only has 16 professional games under his belt but he's already flashing some prodigious power. Thaiss' early .255/.314/.617 slash line is pretty darn usable for roto leagues, as are his five homers and 14 RBI so far. Like most young power hitters, Thaiss struggles with strikeouts--he's striking out in precisely 33.3% of his at bats. I fully expect him to cut back on that with time though, as he averaged a strikeout in roughly 17% of at bats in the minors.

Thaiss will likely continue to get pretty regular at bats given his ability to play first, third and of course act as a DH in the American League. He's a sneaky, cheap source of power right now who may be able to take another step forward contact-wise in coming months.

Austin Nola (C/1B, SEA)

Nola may be old for a rookie (29) but he's certainly not struggling to hit in the big leagues. Through 33 games, Nola has a .342/.398/.605 line with four homers, 14 runs and 10 RBI. The hitting is all well and good, but Nola's versatility is his main asset as far as fantasy prospects are concerned. Nola has caught and played every infield position this year besides shortstop, so he's going to be able to find his way into the lineup most days.

It's impossible to predict yet if Nola has turned some sort of corner as far as production is concerned, but he's undoubtedly producing at the moment. If he gains eligibility at another position, he'll be an excellent bench piece as long as he continues to hit.

Harold Ramirez (OF, MIA)

Ramirez has never been a bastion of big flies, but he's starting to produce a little more pop of late, which is interesting for fantasy purposes. His .272 batting average on the year is fine, but it's certainly not going to warrant a roster spot if there is nothing else to accompany it. With eight XBH in the last three weeks, it's possible the 24-year-old rookie is adapting his approach at the plate.

What I would really love to see is some more aggression on the basepaths. Ramirez has stolen 16+ bases on three previous occasions in the minors, so there is definitely some speed to be taken advantage of.

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