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Week 5 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

Martin Perez (SP, MIN)

Perez was talked about a bit during the preseason due to a decent little jump in velocity, but that didn't turn into early-season success. He began the season out of Minnesota's bullpen, and racked up a ghastly 7.56 ERA through his first three appearances. Since moving into the starting rotation though, Perez has shown significant improvement int he control department, which was one of the biggest flaws in his early outings.

Through three starts Perez has a shiny 3.00 ERA along with 11 Ks and, more importantly just three walks. Perez has never, and likely will never have blow-away stuff, so his upside is pretty limited. However, with two additional MPH on his fastball from his career average and much-improved control, Perez could carry some legitimate streaming value. For now, we're in wait-and-see mode, but his first three starts are encouraging.

Adam Wainwright  (SP, STL)

Well, here's a name I haven't considered in a minute. The 37-year-old has won 19 or more games four times in his career, but he is long-removed from those days. He's missed huge chunks of each of the last four seasons due to injury, but entering 2019 Waino is, in theory, fully healthy. So far, he's had a mixed bag of outings--three quality starts to go with two lousy starts in which he never made it to the fifth inning. Those all average out to a 2-2 record and a 3.96 ERA.

The three quality starts have been pretty vintage Wainwright--not much in the way of strikeouts but generating plenty of ground balls and keeping runs off the board. There isn't a ton to point to that indicates significant regression is coming; his BABIP, LOB% and SIERA look like the hit-and-miss nature of his starts will maintain. The three quality starts are enough to put him on my watch list though, especially his most recent six innings of one-run ball against the Brewers. If he can stay healthy you can deploy him based on matchup in most formats.

John Means (SP, BAL)

Means has been terrific across 20.2 innings this year, racking up 23 strikeouts compared to just six walks, and just two homers allowed so far. He got his first start last week and notched a victory after five innings of one-run ball against the White Sox, and thanks to the stark ineffectiveness of David Hess it appears Means has earned a spot in the starting rotation.

Let's take care of the Oriole in the room first--Means is on a bad team. The Orioles are dead last in the MLB with a -59 run differential, so if wins are what you're after, look elsewhere. However, Means carries some decent strikeout potential (26.7 K% in 2019) and bears keeping an eye on over his next few starts.


Batters to Watch in 12+ Team Leagues

Eric Sogard (SS/2B, TOR)

Sogard is mashing right now, at a level WAY above sustainability. Across just 41 at-bats Sogard is hitting .415 with three homers, two steals, eight runs and nine RBI, and he has clearly carved out starting playing time even when Freddy Galvis returns to the lineup. Sogard will likely shift over to 2B, and continue to see meaningful at bats--hopefully at the top of the lineup, where he's been in the past week.

There is virtually no chance that Sogard continues to hit like this (certainly not in the power department), but as fantasy owners deal with injuries Sogard could be the perfect placeholder in any format. That .400+ average certainly isn't sticking around given his .429 BABIP, but for the moment Sogard is worth owning.

C.J. Cron (1B/DH, MIN)

C.J. Cron busted out with 30 homers last season after never surpassing 16 in four seasons before. There were plenty of reasons to doubt his sudden power breakout, from the career-high hard-hit percentage to the skyrocketed HR/FB ratio. However, through 78 at bats Cron seems to be replicating his success from Tampa Bay in Minnesota.

Cron's got five homers already on the season, and while his .244 average isn't anything special, he's actually cut his K% down considerably (25.9% to 17.5%) and is slogging through a .246 BABIP so far. The average is likely to normalize, and if he can continue to prove the power increase from last season is real? Cron could be a downright usable fantasy first baseman.

Dexter Fowler (OF, STL)

Fowler's draft stock was as low as could be after a season in which he played just 90 games and hit a fascinatingly awful .180. But for those who haven't buried him in the waiver wire "do not adds", Fowler is showing a bit of the hitting prowess that got him an $82 million contract with the Cardinals.

So far in 2019, Fowler is hitting .303 with a steal, a big fly and 12 runs scored. He's been hitting seventh in the Cardinals lineup, but there should still be plenty of opportunities for runs scored if he can keep his OBP up. His hard-hit percentage is a healthy 37.5%, which is well above his career average of 30.8%, so it's possible that full health and a new lineup around him has him stinging the ball a bit more. But whether that's a true improvement or an outlier from the norm remains to be seen.


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.


Anthony DeSclafani (SP, CIN) - Add Now: Two straight quality starts and sporting the highest K% of his career. Low BABIP worries me a bit, but for now Tony Disco is worth owning and selectively deploying.

Jose Urena (SP, MIA) - Add Now: Three straight strong outings in a row indicate Urena has moved on from his early-season woes. No risk of him ever being more than an SP4 in fantasy, but that's plenty useful enough.

Daniel Norris (SP, DET) - Still Watching: One bad start, one good one so far. Not enough data here to make a call one way or another.

Lance Lynn (SP, TEX) - Dropped: Been absolutely hammered for 7+ ER twice now in the young season, and none of the peripheral stats show much reason for optimism. Not interested in owning if that's the kind of blow-up potential we're looking at.

Jorge Lopez (SP, KC) - Still Watching: Was slapped around a little by the Yankees this weekend, but still went seven innings and now has 16 Ks in his last two starts. I'm okay adding now if you need some rotation depth.

Jeff Samardzija (SP, SF) - Still Watching: Continues to be better at home than on the road. If you're okay with streaming him in only those starts, you can add now.

Pablo Lopez (SP, MIA) - Still Watching: Lopez dazzled in his last start, and most of the underlying metrics support some growth on the horizon. He underwhelmed on Sunday, which is why we don't add after one good start, but our finger is on the trigger.

Eric Lauer (SP, SD) - Still Watching: Can't seem to get deep into games and doesn't have a ton of strikeout potential, but still avoiding blow-ups.

Lucas Giolito (SP, CWS) - Still Watching: On the IL currently, but should be back before the end of April. Not confident enough to add him (especially coming off the IL) but there have been blips of potential in a few of his starts.

Spencer Turnbull (SP, DET) - Add Now: Lack of strikeouts have him as a likely streaming candidate in the long run, but he's a darn useful option as a back-of-the-rotation guy right now.


Mike Tauchman (OF, NYY) - Still Watching: Has hit a cold streak, but with most of the starting Yankee outfielders not due back any time soon, Tauchman will continue to see at-bats.

Brian Goodwin (OF, LAA) - Still Watching: Continues to get regular at-bats, and doing enough with them to justify as a fantasy OF4 or OF5.

Danny Santana (OF/2B, TEX) - Still Watching: Rougned Odor is returning from the IL, so Santana's path to playing time is decidedly shakier. He got some innings in at 1B though, and if he continues to hit he could evolve into an everyday player, and a useful fantasy asset. See how the playing time shakes out before adding.

Freddy Galvis (SS, TOR) - Still Watching: Dealing with a stiff leg, but should be addable if he doesn't miss any time.

Jorge Soler (OF, KC) - Still Watching: The strikeouts make him nearly useless in points leagues, but can provide some cheap power in roto leagues.

More Waiver Wire Pickups and Streamers