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The Waiver Wire Watch List: Week 8


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 8 - 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

Jalen Beeks (RP, TB)

The Rays are the first and foremost pioneers of the opener strategy, and Jalen Beeks is a great example of how much fantasy value can still be carved out of that situation. Beeks is the pitcher who follows the opener and actually chews up a big chunk of the innings, and he's done a terrific job of making those innings count. He's thrown 32 innings so far in 2019, and posted a record of 3-0 with an ERA of 2.25. In fact, Beeks has wins in three of his last four outings--and the one he didn't have a win in he threw 6.2 innings of shutout ball.

Beeks does not, and likely will not, carry a starter designation. As of right now he can only be used in a relief pitcher slot--but it's almost like sneaking an extra starter onto your team. He's unlikely to go the distance of a true starter (he's averaging just over 4.1 IP over his last four outings) and will not be eligible for a quality start, but he is still plenty capable of collecting a win and lowering your ratios as well. Don't sleep on him just based on the role.

Corbin Martin (SP, HOU)

One of Houston's top pitching prospects has broken into the starting rotation following the demise of Collin McHugh. "Demise" might be a strong word, so let's just say that the move to the bullpen was justified. Martin on the other hand if full of promise. The 23-year-old righty brings a 95 MPH heater to the bigs, and he's been a strikeout artist at every stop in the minors. He's made one start so far, and he certainly impressed, striking out nine Rangers over 5.1 IP and allowing just two earned runs.

Martin's sticking power in the Houston rotation is likely dependent on performance, but he's got a better chance to succeed than most. Given his sprint through the Astros' farm system and propensity for making hitter swing and miss, he's a good bet to hold onto his spot for at least a couple more weeks. If he throws another start as impressive as his first, I'll be ready to roll the dice.

Gio Gonzalez (SP, MIL)

After bouncing around the MLB this offseason (and early season), Gio Gonzalez settled in Milwaukee and has hit the ground running. So far he's made four starts, and through those four starts he's got an impressive 1.69 ERA and a 2-0 record. That'll play in any format, but beware some of the underlying issues that may lead to regression soon, like his absurdly lucky lest-on-base percentage. In 2019 Gonzalez has stranded a whopping 88% of the runners who have reached base against him, and while we are of course dealing with a small sample size that number is nowhere near sustainable.

His 1.69 ERA is backed by an ugly 4.43 SIERA, and that's likely due to the fact that Gonzalez is currently posting the worst strikeout rate of his career (18.3%). The 33-year-old veteran has taken some steps forward in the control department though, as he's also posting the BEST walk rate of his career (6.1%). This could be a case of a veteran pitcher making some adjustments to make up for the fact that he can't strike out as many hitters, and if that's the case Gonzalez could be a valuable back-end fantasy this year. I'm just not ready to add him yet in case it's more a case of luck than adjustment.

 

Batters to Watch in 12+ Team Leagues

Giovanny Urshela (3B, NYY)

Gio Urshela has been everything the Yankees could have ever hoped for as an infield platoon player. He's come up huge for them, playing a lock-down third base AND contributing significantly with the bat. Through 94 at bats Urshela is hitting a robust .330 with two homers, 13 runs scored and 15 RBI--he just walked off a game for them tonight, as a matter of fact.

With Miguel Andujar on the shelf for the year, the opportunity is there for Urshela to carve out a semi-full-time role on the Yankees. His strong defense makes him a valuable asset, and as long as he's hitting there will be ways into the lineup on most days. With 400 at bats in that lineup, Urshela could be the corner infield value play of your dreams.

Jarrod Dyson (OF, ARI)

The NL leader in stolen bases is doing a lot more this year than just running. Dyson has always profiled as a speed-first and speed-only guy--think Billy Hamilton but in the NL. However, in 2019 he's finally seeing regular at bats and making the most of them. The biggest factor for me is Dyson's improved plate discipline; his best asset is still his speed, so the fact that he's walking at a career-best clip of 14.5% is such a huge plus in that regard. He's swinging the bat much better too, hitting .290 so far (albeit with an unsustainable .338 BABIP).

Dyson is obviously valuable in roto formats, but in points leagues he's starting to gain some viability. He's already scored 21 times and has actually smacked three homers as well, so at the moment he's contributing points a little bit each day. That's absolutely usable in a points format, and there is no immediate threat to Dyson's job for the first time in a long time. Perhaps that security has his head in a different place? Whatever the reason, it's working.

Logan Forsythe (1B/2B, TEX)

Doesn't it feel like Forsythe's been in the MLB for like...15 years? Or is that just me? Regardless, the 32-year-old utility man has carved out a nice little role for himself as the reusable Band-Aid for the Rangers in 2019. Elvis Andrus just hit the IL, and Forsythe has been able to slide into that role right away. Should Rougned Odor not figure things out in a hurry following his ghastly start to the season, Forsythe can easily swap over to second base.

The veteran is hitting .320 as of this writing, and while that can't possibly hold up Forsythe should be able to continue hitting given his everyday role on the team. He's got 10-15 homers in him if he plays 120 games or so, and even if he hits .265 the rest of the season you'll certainly take that as a bench piece who is eligible at multiple positions. Let Forsythe occupy the same role on your fantasy squad as he does on the real Rangers.

 

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

Wade Miley (SP, HOU) - Add Now: Not his sharpest outing earlier this week, but nothing atrocious. A pitcher with good metrics on a great team.

Griffin Canning (SP, LAA) - Still Watching: A surprising loss of control last time out. Strikeout upside is still sexy, but not an immediate add right now.

Tanner Roark (SP, CIN)Still Watching: Coming off an incredibly pedestrian outing, Roark can be a good injury placeholder at the moment with a ceiling of more.

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, followed by a middling one. Still need to see it a bit more consistently before we are adding.

John Means (SP, BAL) - Still Watching: Two strong outings in a row have my eyebrows raised, and in deeper than 12-team leagues he's an add.

Daniel Norris (SP, DET) - Still Watching: Coming off a very rough start, Norris is tough to trust with little to no upside.

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: Righted the ship last time out, but still very little confidence in him as a fantasy asset.

Lucas Giolito (SP, CWS) - Add Now: I dare say he's "figured it out". Giolito is looking good every time out and has the strikeout working to boot.

Batters

David Fletcher (2B/3B, LAA) - Add Now: If you don't add him now, he won't be there for you next week.

Willy Adames (SS, TB) - Still Watching: The month of May has been kind to him, but we're not seeing consistent enough playing time or production to declare him an "add now".

Mitch Moreland (1B, BOS) - Add Now: Not unlike Fletcher, it's pretty much now or never on Moreland.

Melky Cabrera (OF, PIT) - Still Watching: Actually raised his batting average since last week (now at .339) but batting average is about all he's good for right now.

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.

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

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