Week 12 Waiver Wire Watch List

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Welcome to Week 12 of The Watch List. Each week we’ll be updating this list full of players who you maybe aren’t quite ready to pick up (depending on league size, of course), but who need to be on your radar regardless. We’ll look at several players in-depth each week and keep tabs on players “graduating” into the waiver wire pickups category, as well as players demoted off the list entirely. (Reminder, these are Yahoo ownership and positions.)

With the season beginning to stabilize a bit, there are simply fewer players graduating and being demoted each week. With that in mind, we’ll no longer have a set number of eight players highlighted each week, but rather somewhere in the five to eight range. However many players graduate/are demoted will be replaced and the new players will be highlighted.

Once again, if there are any names who you’d like to see highlighted next week, or even just added to the list as a whole, feel free to at me on Twitter (@FantasyBaseTurv). Let’s get this show on the road.

Editor's Note: Our friends at Fantrax have even more fantasy baseball advice columns and videos to help improve your teams. Be sure to also check them out!

 

Players to Watch in 10-team Leagues

Mallex Smith (TB, OF): 36% owned

Smith has been incredibly impressive while filling in for Kevin Kiermaier, as he has collected a hit in each of his nine starts since his return from Triple-A. Smith has started each and every game over that stretch and with his production (10 runs, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 4 SB) it’s easy to see why.  

Jarrod Dyson (Sea, OF): 18% owned

Dyson stole just one base last week, but he supplemented that steal with an average over .300 and an OPS over 1.000. His average still sits relatively low (.245), but with a 7.3 percent walk rate, he’s still getting plenty of stolen base opportunities. With 17 steals in 20 attempts, it’s clear he’s making the most of those opportunities.

Jordan Montgomery (NYY, SP): 37% owned

Montgomery continues to rise in ownership, as his last start was a pedestrian one, but he draws a Mike Trout-less Angels offense on Wednesday this upcoming week. If he can keep figuring out a way to keep the ball in the ballpark, he’ll provide plenty of value.

Zack Wheeler (NYM, SP): 29% owned

Wheeler had the roughest outing of his 2017 season, as he allowed eight earned runs in just 1 ⅔ innings this past week, a brutal outing for a pitcher who had probably won over a good portion of his owners into the “start him regardless of matchup” tier. He’ll need a nice bounceback in his two-start week in L.A. (Dodgers) and in San Francisco.

 

Players to Watch in 12-team Leagues

Bradley Zimmer (Cle, OF): 13% owned

Zimmer continues to do the most with the least on this list. He still isn’t getting full-time at bats, but his production has remained strong. He stole three bases despite just 13 at bats last week, and he is now slashing .286/.368/.506 in 86 plate appearances. One has to imagine something will break sooner than later and the 24-year-old sporting the 133 wRC+ will get a full-time role. You’ll want to be there when it happens.

Jed Lowrie (Oak, 2B): 25% owned

Instead of using this space to tell you about the most consistent player on this list (a player whose bandwagon I am the captain of), I’m going to recommend a few TV shows instead: Fleabag, Lovesick, and Dear White People. Add Lowrie to your roster and use the time you no longer have to stress about second base to enjoy some of those lovely programs listed above.

Max Kepler (Min, OF): 25% owned

Kepler slides down the rankings a bit this week, as he has hit a bit of a lull over the past two weeks. Kepler is still sporting a 34.4 percent hard hit ball rate, but it’s beginning to look as though his numbers will be right in line with last season instead of improving. His power production certainly has value in most leagues, and there is always the possibility of the youngster flipping the switch and really getting going in the second half.

Tommy Joseph (Phi, 1B): 20% owned

Joseph is having a bit of a strange 2017 campaign. Nine of his 10 home runs came in a 32-game stretch (only 29 starts) from May 1 to June 5. Outside of that stretch, Joseph has just one homer in 31 games. However, he has stayed productive enough to have a .263/.318/.411 slash line despite the hot and cold streaks in terms of homers.

Alex Meyer (LAA, SP): 9% owned

Meyer had a fair amount of buzz a few seasons ago when he was in the Minnesota Twins system, but because of a 6.75 ERA over 28.0 career innings before this season, he was written off a bit. He could potentially be showing why it is silly to write off a pitcher after so few innings at the major league level, as his 3.52 ERA and 10.76 K/9 rate are great signs for future success. Meyer was able to limit his walk total in his last outing, striking out nine and walking just one. In his previous two starts, he had walked a combined nine batters, so that’s why he’s watch list material. His next start will come against the Red Sox in Fenway, so it will be a nice test for the towering (6’ 9”) righty.

Sean Doolittle (Oak, RP): 7% owned

Doolittle earned back-to-back saves on over the weekend after Santiago Casilla was struck in the non-throwing shoulder by a foul ball. The relative ease with which Doolittle saved these games (just one hit compared to four strikeouts over the two innings), added to the fact that Doolittle has had closing experience in the past, means there may be a bit of a closer battle brewing in Oakland. Casilla has been solid but not great on the season, with 11 saves in 14 opportunities and a 4.07 ERA. Doolittle, on the other hand, has missed time due to injury (always a concern with him), but when he has been healthy he has put up strong numbers, with a 2.31/2.54/2.14 ERA/FIP/xFIP slash line and 13.89 strikeouts per nine. He has allowed only six hits and one walk over 11.2 innings, and his control has been as excellent as ever. It will be very interesting to see if he continues to get some save opportunities when Casilla returns, which should be soon given that the x-rays came back negative.

Tyson Ross (Tex, SP): 33% owned

Ross made his first start since April 4, 2016 this week, and people are already buying on him, with an ownership rate possibly higher than he deserves right now. The name value is solid with Ross, a pitcher who had a 3.07 ERA over three seasons from 2013-2015 in San Diego. However, this is a pitcher who now pitches in a far less pitcher-friendly stadium in a far less pitcher-friendly league in 2017. He also missed basically all of 2016 and the first two months of 2017 with arm injuries. Ross did well to hold the Mariners to two runs on five hits and two walks over 5 ⅔ innings in his 2017 debut, and his five strikeouts were just what you want to see. His next outing is against a far hotter offense (Toronto) and will once again be at home in a tough home stadium. Personally, I’d watch another start or two before buying in shallower leagues.

Lucas Duda (NYM, 1B): 14% owned

Duda remains a solid option in BA leagues (.245) and a very strong option in OBP leagues (.355). He left the yard twice more last week and has 12 homers this season thanks to a 24+ percent HR/FB rate that may be due for a bit of regression. The 46.4 percent hard hit ball rate is awesome, though.

 

Players to Watch in 14+ team Leagues

Seth Lugo (NYM, SP): 23% owned

Lugo made his first two starts of 2017 in the past week, tossing a pair of quality starts and jumping into the seemingly-unlimited mix of Mets pitchers right of the periphery of fantasy rosters. Lugo had been out since spring training, after he may have been overworked in the World Baseball Classic. Lugo was outstanding in the WBC, however, and was building some buzz before the injury. Lugo first went on the road to a tough hitter’s ballpark in Atlanta before hosting the Nationals in a pair of tricky matchups that he navigated well. Interestingly enough, through two starts, Lugo is once again sporting a massive gap between his ERA and FIP, something we saw him do in his 64.0 innings last season. Lugo does have one of the top spin rates in baseball, but that likely is not enough to explain the nearly-two-run gap between his ERA and FIP, and while he may well put up some solid numbers, don’t get overly hyped on him just yet.

Delino DeShields (Tex, OF): 8% owned

DeShields stole another three bases last week and is an excellent low-price option for steals right now. The biggest thing with DeShields is getting at bats and he got 18 of them last week - a good sign for the speedster.

Robert Gsellman (NYM, SP): 12% owned

Wheeler wasn’t the only Mets pitcher to get hit around in a tough matchup, as the Nationals got to Gsellman for seven runs over five innings this past week. Similar to Wheeler, he has a two-start week with the Dodgers and Giants on the docket. The latter of the matchups is especially appealing.

Matt Davidson (CHW, 3B): 12% owned

I’ve been ignoring Davidson when it comes to this list for a long time, but with five homers in his last seven games, it may be time to stop ignoring him. It wouldn’t be surprising to see his ownership nearly double as a result of the past week, as he now has more homers than big boppers Chris Davis, Nelson Cruz, and Mike Napoli. There are still some questions with Davidson’s profile, however. His 39.3 percent strikeout rate trails only Keon Broxton this season, and no other player in the top ten in strikeout rate has a walk rate as poor as Davidson’s (5.6 percent). That’s backed by the second-worst swinging strike rate and fourth-worst contact rate overall. Now a 40.9 percent hard hit ball rate will make up for a good portion of that swing and miss, and when it’s added to a 51.9 percent fly ball rate it’s not so surprising to see the lofty home run total. His HR/FB rate is bound to come back to earth a bit, but if you’re in need of homers, Davidson is your man.

Danny Valencia (Sea, 1B/3B/OF): 23% owned

Valencia hit a pair of bombs in the past week, but that was about it, as he tallied just two runs and two RBI outside of those two swings. With his red-hot streak over, that means a lot of week with this type of production. It has value, but might be a bit overvalued judging by ownership rate.

Joe Biagini (Tor, SP): 18% owned

It was one start. It was a terrible one (six earned in just one inning total), and it came in a matchup that looked favorable (White Sox), but the baseball season is long for a reason. If he struggles his next start (in Texas), it will be fair to begin to question how real the results will be moving forward.

 

Players to Watch in AL or NL-Only Leagues

Colby Rasmus (TB, OF): 2% owned

Rasmus had the best week of any returning player to the list, collecting nine hits including a homer and added a steal, shooting him up to the top of the “Only” ranks. He stays in this tier because he is still a platoon player and will almost certainly stay that way with the depth Tampa Bay has in their outfield.

Tommy Pham (StL, OF): 6% owned

Pham had a homer and a steal in the past week, but he also had two games in which he had only one at bat. He’s definitely a deep-league option right now but nothing more just yet.

Jorge Bonifacio (KC, OF): 3% owned

Bonifacio has stayed solidly right around a .250 average, and he continues to hit about one homer a week. He has a consistent spot in the Royals lineup and is the perfect type of AL-only-but-nothing-else player this season.

Keone Kela (Tex, RP): 4% owned

Kela got a hold and allowed just two runners over three appearances, while striking out four. Matt Bush was successful in his only save attempt, so the (faint) calls to move on from Bush may already be subsiding.

 

Graduated - Ownership Too High

Joe Ross (Was, SP): 41% owned

 

Demoted

Trevor Rosenthal (StL, RP): 30% owned

Mike Foltynewicz (Atl, SP): 24% owned

Pat Neshek (Phi, RP): 20% owned

Joe Mauer (Min, 1B): 5% owned

 

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