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The Waiver Wire Watch List: Week 7


As important as it is to be active on the waiver wire, snagging that next hot bat or pitcher on a roll before anyone else can, let's be honest--there are only so many roster spots. That's why your watch list is just as important as your waiver wire activity, and perhaps even more so.

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.

This is not necessarily a list of players you should add right away at the start of week 7 - 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.

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Pitchers to Watch in 12+ Team Leagues

Wade Miley (SP, HOU)

Miley has never had overpowering stuff, but that doesn't mean he can't be extremely effective. Miley has actually shown improvement as a member of the Astros over where he was last year with the Brewers. He's improved his strikeout percentage, modest though it might be, from 14.8% to 16.2%, while simultaneously lowering his walk rate from 8.0% to 6.0%. Miley did make only 16 starts last year, and he's now already at eight in 2019.

As it sits right now Miley has thrown quality starts in four of his last five outings--and in the fifth he went 5.2 with just one earned run allowed. With a season ERA of 3.18, 3-2 record and the best WHIP of his career (1.10), Miley is proving very useful in any format. I think you can likely add him in deeper formats, but I'm still watching and waiting to see if this is the real deal before committing to him. His .241 BABIP and 4.62 SIERA mean there is a very real chance that regression is on the way, and you don't want to waste a transaction or FAAB on a pitcher like this given his lack of strikeout upside.

Griffin Canning (SP, LAA)

Canning has done well in his two starts this year against two weak offenses (Detroit and Toronto) thanks to his high strikeout rate. He's got 13 Ks through 9.2 innings, and he's quite literally struck out a third of the batters he's faced. He's also walked just two batters, which is better than his minor league marks but not by a significant margin.

Canning has shown strikeout ability at every level of the minor leagues, using a slider and a curveball to counteract his 94-MPH fastball. For now it appears that Canning will have a long leash as long as he's pitching well, as Andrew Heaney has no return date as of right now. With another good start Canning will be on everyone's "add" list, so be ready to pounce.

Tanner Roark (SP, CIN)

Roark got off to a bumpy start to the season, managing just a 4.08 ERA across his first six starts, never throwing more than 5.1 IP in any start. Since the calendar flipped to May, Roark has been excellent. In his last two starts, he's thrown 12.2 innings for a 2-0 record and posted a minuscule 1.42 ERA.

Roark has never been an exceptional talent, but he has always been perfectly serviceable--I'm afraid that's as firm a commitment as I can make to him. His career 3.58 ERA is a direct parallel to his talent level. For now there are a few things that have me optimistic for 2019, but there are plenty of detractions too. His increased strikeout rate (20.7%) and much-improved home run rate (0.44 per nine innings pitched) point to some potential for this turn-around to be real, but his career-high walk rate (10.6%) and 4.88 SIERA don't have me running to add him just yet.

 

Batters to Watch in 12+ Team Leagues

David Fletcher (2B/3B, LAA)

The new-look Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have plenty of names that make you go "Who?" and Fletcher might be the most prevalent in that regard. The 24-year-old quietly played in 80 games for the Angels and posted unremarkable numbers--a .275 batting average with three steals, but just one homer in those 80 games. Overall he's too free a swinger to strike out much, which can certainly be a benefit--he's always going to have a solid batting average floor.

In 2019 Fletcher has taken some steps forward that give me some hope. In just 36 games he's already stolen another three bags, matching last year's total, and this time he's already gone deep three times. He's making much better contact this season, with a hard-hit percentage nearly 10 points higher than his previous mark (38.7% vs. 29.0%). He's also lowered his already-low strikeout rate to a microscopic 4.8%, and compounding that with a .308 batting average. Fletcher has no shot of ever being a multi-category fantasy stud, but he's very quickly becoming a useful asset for those looking for batting average and perhaps 15 steals.

Willy Adames (SS, TB)

Adames is another player who turned it on once the calendar flipped to May. After a dreadful April in which he hit .225, the 23-year-old shortstop has hit .360 in May and is, as of this writing, riding a modest four-game hitting streak. He's hitting a lot more line drives in 2019 (22.1% vs. 17.5% in 2018) and that's part of his steadily improving batting average.

The highly-touted former prospect tallied 10 homers and six steals in 323 plate appearances last year, and I think it's fair to extrapolate those figures out over the course of a full season. Adames is capable of a 20/15 season if he gets hot and stays healthy. However, his .278 batting average may have had a bit of luck associated with it. I think it's highly unlikely he replicates his .378 BABIP from last year, so I think it's more plausible that Adames is a .260-.265 hitter. Keep an eye on him as the weather heats up and be ready to strike, as those figures (plus a little upside) are acceptable for a fantasy middle infielder.

Mitch Moreland (1B, BOS)

A red-hot week has Mitch Moreland back on my radar. Another guy who is nothing more than average even at his best, Moreland started off the year cold as could be, but in the last couple weeks he's gone on a tear. Since April 30th Moreland has smoked five homers, collected 14 RBI, nine runs scored and hit .290.

The power needs to be there for Moreland to make an impact as a fantasy first baseman, but the more intriguing part is his role in the sleeping giant that is the Red Sox offense. It was always only a matter of time before that entire team started to heat up, and Moreland should occupy a run-producing slot in that offense as a regular cog if he keeps hitting.

 

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

John Brebbia (RP, STL) - Still Watching: Brebbia has been terrific and is a pretty clear handcuff to Jordan Hicks. Helps your ratios in the meantime.

Tyler Mahle (SP, CIN) - Still Watching: Two great starts in a row, but need to see it a bit more consistently before we are adding.

Chris Bassitt (SP, OAK) - Add Now: Bassitt has been terrific and has the peripherals to back up the surface numbers.

John Means (SP, BAL) - Still Watching: A great start against the Red Sox is another step in the right direction.

Daniel Norris (SP, DET) - Still Watching: He's been solid albeit unspectacular, and needs to go deeper into games to merit adding.

Jeff Samardzija (SP, SF) - Still Watching: Average in just about every way. You've gotta be desperate to add him permanently, but streaming him in the right matchup is a possibility.

Pablo Lopez (SP, MIA) - Still Watching: Uh, yikes. This every-other-start thing is getting old quick.

Eric Lauer (SP, SD) - Still Watching: Absolutely clobbered his last time out, and still not going deep in games. Dangerously close to being dropped.

Lucas Giolito (SP, CWS) - Still Watching: Ace-level outing this past week, and I'm one good start away from declaring him an "add now". After his rocky start he's really turned things around.

Batters

Hunter Pence (OF, TEX) -  Add Now: Absolutely crushing the ball right now.

Melky Cabrera (OF, PIT) - Still Watching: Cooling off a bit, but still at .328 on the season.

James McCann (C, CHW) - Add Now: Crushing the ball so far this season, and the catcher pool is so shallow it's worth pouncing now.

C.J. Cron (1B/DH, MIN) - Add Now: Prime position in the heart of one of the better lineups in baseball, and the power numbers just keep coming.

Eric Sogard (2B/SS, TOR) - Still Watching: Makes for an ideal injury replacement at the moment, and is a fine MI option while he's hot.

Dexter Fowler (OF, STL) - Add Now: Not much in the way of power but Fowler is just plain hitting this year. The counting stats are coming.

Freddy Galvis (SS, TOR) - Dropped: Ice cold without enough upside to warrant keeping on this list.

Jorge Soler (OF, KC) - Still Watching: Want homers? He can help there. Want anything else? Not so much.

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