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The Waiver Wire Watch List: Week 9


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. 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 9 - 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

Andrew Cashner (SP, BAL)

The Baltimore pitching staff's fascinatingly horrible home run proclivity is masking the fact that Andrew Cashner has tossed quality starts in four of his last five outings. Cashner has quietly improved his strikeout (18.6%) and walk (8.7%) ratios all season, which is an odd development for a veteran of his standing. Also odd? The 32-year-old has added more than half a mile-per-hour to his fastball in 2019, and it's now up to 94.3 MPH.

He's also throwing his change-up and slider much more than in years past. That's all combining to produce his best ground ball rate (51.8%) since 2013. Let's be honest--Cashner is NOT going to be a fantasy diamond for you any time soon, but he's starting to carry some streaming potential in points and mixed leagues. Don't let the name on the front of the jersey cloud your judgment, padawan. Fear is the path to the dark side.

Felix Pena (SP/RP, LAA)

Pena has been filling that "bulk inning" role that comes after an opener, and he's been absolutely thriving in that role. The 29-year-old has a solid 3.30 ERA on the season backed up by a 3.76 SIERA, so there's likely not much regression coming his way. His .224 BABIP is a bit concerning, but as long as he keeps his walk rate to a career-best 5.1% a little uptick in WHIP shouldn't do much damage to his ERA. Perhaps it's the role itself that's the secret, because Pena hasn't made a ton of adjustments. He's using pretty much the same pitch mix, and he's actually lost more than a MPH off his fastball.

It seems like many of these bulk inning guys aren't getting enough love in fantasy circles. It's understandable--they don't get saves, quality starts, and they typically aren't going more than 4-5 innings, but there is value to be had with some of the better ones. Guys like Jalen Beeks and Pena are helping out ratios and collecting wins on the down-low, so don't write them off just because of the role.

Jose Urena (SP, MIA) 

Urena had an inauspicious start to 2019, getting hammered in each of his first three starts, but he's flipped the script since then. He's tossed quality starts in six of his last seven outings, and five of those six have been against the Phillies, Nationals, Cubs and Rays. He's not just feasting on bad offenses--he's truly stepping up and shutting down good hitters. The hard-throwing righty doesn't have a ton of peripheral stats to back up the turn-around, he simply seems to be throwing what works for him and getting the results. His modest K% (15.4%) is a bit uncharacteristic of a guy who sits around 95 and uses a slider as his primary off-speed pitch, but if it ain't broke don't fix it, right?

Urena is on an awful team and will not be dominant enough to continue to overcome the National League's best, but for now hie stuff is working. That's incentive enough to keep an eye on him and be ready to add him to the back of your rotation should a roster spot open up for you.

 

Batters to Watch in 12+ Team Leagues

Mark Canha (1B/OF, OAK)

A power surge is a power surge, right? With Matt Olson requiring surgery, Canha suddenly has a clear path to everyday playing time, and he's been taking advantage of it. The 30-year-old veteran has smashed five homers since May 13th, and tacked on 10 RBI in that span. His .224 season batting average still isn't great, but there are some signs of sustainability for his production. Canha is currently rocking a career-best 13.6% walk rate, and he's currently struggling through a baffling .178 BABIP. That batting average will shoot up as that normalizes, and that walk rate should keep his OBP up there as well.

Canha's ownership percentages across the major fantasy platforms indicates nobody has caught on yet, so don't think you need to rush out and add him right away if you don't have a roster spot ready to go. However, if he keeps hitting like this for another week, I'll be ready to ditch guys like Jay Bruce or Jesus Aguilar for Canha.

Bryan Reynolds (OF, PIT)

Bryan Reynolds is...(opens Google, scrolls, clicks)...an outfielder for the Pirates, and he's currently pushing Melky Cabrera out of left field for the everyday role with his ridiculous hot streak. Reynolds is seeing regular at bats, and in the last week the baseball has looked like a beach ball to him--over the last seven days (17AB), his OBP is .545, his batting average is .412, he's smacked three homers and added seven RBI.

The 24-year-old rookie has always profiled as an above-average hitter, with a batting average over .300 at literally every stop in the minors. The power he's shown in 2019 is a bit above what he's done in the minors, but I don't necessarily believe he'll drop off signficantly in that regard. Right now Reynolds is a terrific injury fill-in or a Hail Mary outfielder if you're struggling for batting average or OBP, and if he pushes out Cabrera permanently we could be talking about him as a legitimate regular starting option as early as June.

Jose Iglesias (SS, CIN) 

Jose Iglesias is one of the more unassuming names on the Reds roster, but he's been quietly having a career season in 2019. Iglesias has made 162 plate appearances despite the crowded nature of the Reds infield, and he's using that playing time to set career highs in just about every category. His .303 batting average and .426 slugging percentage are career bests, and he's generating the highest hard-hit percentage of his career too (29.8%).

Considering Iglesias has never hit more than six homers in a season and he's already at three, he likely won't be able to maintain that slugging percentage over the season. His .344 BABIP also points to some regression in the batting average, but this is a case of riding a guy while he's hot. Iglesias doesn't carry enough long-term upside for me to consider dropping one your bona fide starters for him, but he's definitely worth rostering and benching as an emergency fill-in.

 

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

Jalen Beeks (RP, TB) - Still Watching: Beeks got slapped around by the Dodgers his last time out, but he should still continue to provide solid ratios acting as the bulk-inning pitcher behind the Rays' typical openers.

Corbin Martin (SP, HOU) - Still Watching: Two rough outings in a row for Martin, but he should get another couple of chances to prove himself.

Gio Gonzalez (SP, MIL) - Still Watching: Limiting damage every time out but has yet to make it through six full innings. I imagine that will change as he gets stretched out.

Griffin Canning (SP, LAA) - Still Watching: Dominant his last time out, but it was the Royals so take it with a grain of salt. The high amount of swinging strikes he's generating is what makes him so appealing.

Tanner Roark (SP, CIN)Still Watching: An ERA around 3.50 is what Roark will settle in as, which is not without its uses. Just don't expect any dominant outings any time soon.

Tyler Mahle (SP, CIN) - Add Now: Just shut out the Dodgers for six innings. He's got the stuff and production to merit a roster spot right now.

John Means (SP, BAL) - Still Watching: Not sharp his last time out, but his ERA still sits below 3.00. If you're willing to take a chance on an Orioles starter, this is likely the one you want.

Daniel Norris (SP, DET) - Still Watching: Bounced back against the Marlins, but 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. Those home/away splits are tantalizing.

Pablo Lopez (SP, MIA) - Still Watching: This will likely be a mixed bag all season--some ace-level outings and some utter cluster-fs mixed in.

Eric Lauer (SP, SD) - Still Watching: Solid in four of his last five outings, I'm getting very close to designating him an Add Now. Wouldn't blame you if you took the lotto ticket now instead of waiting.

Batters

Giovanny Urshela (3B, NYY) - Add Now: Maybe the most unlikely .333 hitter in baseball, Urshela has a measure of job security right now and is making things happen in a shockingly good lineup.

Jarrod Dyson (OF, ARI) - Still Watching: Add him for the speed in roto, but in points we're holding tight. He's cooled off considerably in the last week.

Logan Forsythe (1B/2B, TEX) - Add Now: Still hitting over .300, Forsythe is the ideal guy to toss on your bench as an off-day or injury fill-in.

Willy Adames (SS, TB) - Still Watching: Starting to see him get on base and score consistently. Very close to an Add Now, and don't be afraid to pull the trigger if, say, you just lost Andrelton Simmons.

Melky Cabrera (OF, PIT) - Still Watching: Batting average is about all he's good for right now, but semi-regular playing time and a .333 average can do some good.

Eric Sogard (2B/SS, TOR) - Dropped: A cold streak has him off my radar for right now--there are options with much higher upside out there (like Willy Adames).

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