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Week 3 Waiver Wire Watch List


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 - it is a list of people to keep a very close eye on in most leagues, 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

Lance Lynn (SP, TEX) 

Lynn has had two excellent road outings in a row, throwing seven innings of two-run ball against the Angels last week before following it up with six innings of one-run, nine-strikeout ball against the Diamondbacks on Wednesday. I am cautiously optimistic with Lynn's start, considering that very few of his peripherals indicate massive regression is on the way. His K% is a shade above his career average, but that's buoyed by the nine-strikeout outing. His LOB% (64.4) and BABIP (.315) are actually lower than his career marks as well.

The reason he is a "watch" and not an "add" for me is the regression I foresee coming in the control area. So far Lynn has walked just three batters across 18.2 innings, good for a 3.8 BB%. His career mark is 9.1%--almost triple his current rate. I find it extremely hard to believe (although not impossible) that at age 31 he has magically fixed his control issues so that ERA should shoot up a bit as more runners get on base against him.

Lynn does have a rotation spot locked down in Texas though, and he's been a pretty durable player for almost his entire career, so as a back-of-the-rotation guy for your fantasy staff he is likely in "add now" territory for deeper leagues.

Jorge Lopez (SP, KC)

Lopez has been solid for the Royals in 2019, posting a 3.71 ERA and 1.18 WHIP across 17 innings of work. However, there are plenty of red flags that keep Lopez on the Watch List. Firstly, that 3.71 ERA is backed by a ghastly 4.84 SIERA, as Lopez simply doesn't have swing-and-miss stuff to offset a lot of the damage hitters will do against him.

He has also been fortunate in his opponents, as the Tigers and White Sox are bottom-10 offenses. On top of all that, his BABIP is a ridiculous .229, meaning there has been plenty of luck factored into his production so far--a benefit of having one of baseball's best defenses behind you.

The Mariners actually are the highest-scoring offense in baseball through 15 games, so his five shutout innings and final line of six innings, three hits and two earned runs is actually fairly impressive. I fear some regression for the above reasons though, and I would not be surprised if Lopez is off this list within the next couple of weeks. For now, keep an eye on him and see if any of the peripherals balance out.

Jeff Samardzija (SP, SF)

Shark lost most of his 2018 season to injury, but before that, he was a workhorse. Five straight seasons of 200+ innings of work, and at least 160 Ks in each of them--and he cracked 200 Ks three times. It's pretty easy to peg Samardzija's long-term production at this point in his career; he'll have an ERA floating between 3.75-4.50, a K% between 17.0 and 24.0, and he'll go on a few dominant stretches along with some dreadful patches.

That doesn't mean there isn't value in that. Even the savviest waiver wire hound can't load their staff with aces, and Samardzija's predictability can be an asset if deployed correctly. He has always been better at home than on the road during his time in San Francisco, and there is no reason that should change now.

He's coming off an absolute gem against the Rockies (at home) in which he posted seven innings of shutout ball along with seven strikeouts and just three hits allowed. If he tosses another quality start next time out, I'd pull the trigger on him and ride the hot streak, but be careful about which matchups you deploy him in.

 

Batters to Watch in 12+ Team Leagues

Josh Phegley (C, OAK)

My kingdom for a backstop! In these catcher-starved times, any slight uptick in production is worth noticing, and Phegley's is no exception. He's never played more than 73 MLB games in a season, so he is NOT a permanent solution for anyone with catching woes. However, he has always shown pretty consistent fly ball prowess, and he's continuing to do so in 2019. He has three home runs in his last four games, and while he's hot it's likely that he'll hold on to the lion's share of at-bats in his platoon with Nick Hundley.

Both are probably losing their playing time once Chris Herrman is healthy, but for now, it's Phegley who should garner the most at-bats. As long as he's got the power stroke going, he's worth keeping an eye on.

Hunter Dozier (3B/1B, KC)

This disappointing former first-round draft pick finally got a chance to play in the big leagues last year, and he disappointed pretty severely. His plate discipline was the big thing, as his 28.1 K% and 6.2 BB% led to a miserable batting average and OBP with almost no slugging to back it up (.395). Through 10 games he's shown some slight improvement, with a K% under 18.0, and he's already smacked three homers in just 41 plate appearances. There is room for some cautious optimism due to his age, as it's very possible a 27-year-old can make some significant improvements as he gets accustomed to major league pitching.

If he plays at least 130-140 games this year, Dozier is a candidate for a 15/10 season. However, he likely won't see enough opportunities to reach those numbers if he continues to strike out at such an alarming rate. At this point, just watch Dozier's production with a very close eye on his plate discipline peripherals--if he can sustain some improvement there over the course of the first few weeks, be ready to pounce.

Freddy Galvis (SS, TOR)

Freddy Galvis is one of those guys who seems to always have a job somewhere, and always produces in some small way--enough to keep the job, basically. He's proven remarkably durable, playing in 150+ games in each of the last four seasons, and he's averaged 13 homers and 13 steals in that time frame. He is solid, yet unspectacular.

Surprisingly enough, he's started off the 2019 season with a stunning display of power, as he's already hit four homers and is slugging .744 through 13 games. That pace is, of course, unsustainable, but you're looking at a shortstop playing in a good hitter's park who is a candidate for a 15/15 season. If you add him and that's where the floor is, why not take a chance on him during a hot streak like this? I personally would be looking to add him anywhere that you have a need at MI, especially in roto leagues where those homers and steals out of the shortstop spot are helpful. For now, we'll watch him to see if he cools off, but don't be afraid to pull the trigger now.

 

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

Pablo Lopez (SP, MIA) - Still Watching: Two sub-par outings in a row have Lopez towards the bottom of the list. Too early to knock him off yet, but he's approaching the edge.

Eric Lauer (SP, SD) - Still Watching: Nine ER over his last two outings with 10 Ks in that time has my eyebrows raised, but I still think there is potential here.

Matt Harvey (SP, LAA) - Dropped: Shelled twice in a row, looking the old Matt Harvey. Bye bye, Dark Knight.

Lucas Giolito (SP, CWS) - Still Watching: Giolito's second start was very reminiscent of most of his 2018 outings--five ER, four BB, four K. Not what you want, but not dead to me yet.

Sandy Alcantara (SP, MIA) - Still Watching: Not unlike Giolito, Alcantara's control problems from last year showed up in his last outing, in which he walked five in four innings of work.

Spencer Turnbull (SP, DET) - Still Watching: Turnbull's lack of "stuff" showed up in his last outing when he got tagged for eight hits in four innings of work. Optimism and pessimism are balanced with Turnbull.

 

Batters

Trey Mancini (1B/OF, BAL) - Add Now: Mancini is carrying the Orioles by himself with a .375 OBP and an absurd .725 SLG so far. With his 1B/OF eligibility combo and a power streak, add Mancini now if he's available.

Kolten Wong (2B, STL) - Still Watching: Wong was red-hot for the first week of the season, but we cautioned against adding him for a reason. He's ice-cold now and actively hurting lineups with strikeouts.

Jorge Soler (OF, KC) - Still Watching: Soler is starting to heat up at the dish, and if you're dealing with injuries in the outfield you could do worse than him as a speculative add.

Joc Pederson (OF, LAD) - Dropped: Pederson's power surge is over for the time being, and consistently taking a seat when the Dodgers face lefties, it's hard to count on him for long-term value. Use him for deep roto leagues maybe, but certainly not for points.

Niko Goodrum (OF, DET) - Add Now: Goodrum's speed/power combo and his multi-positional eligibility make him a nice bench piece for any format, but understand the risks of him being in a terrible offense.

Dansby Swanson (SS, ATL) - Add Now: Swanson is still swinging a hot stick, so add him now and enjoy. However, we have seen this before only for him to fall off a cliff. If you add him, keep a close eye out for signs of a downturn, and be ready to cut bait.

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