Week 5 Waiver Wire Watch List

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Welcome to Week 5 of The Watch List. We have had a few iterations already, but here’s a friendly reminder for those who forgot: 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 eight 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.

We switched things up a little bit last week, and the changes were successful, as we cut down on the total number of names on our list, and instead of sorting strictly by own percentage, the names will be ordered by personal preference. (Reminder, these are Yahoo ownership and positions.)

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.

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Players to Watch in 10-team Leagues

Scott Schebler (Cin, OF): 21%

We highlighted Schebler here last week, but thanks to a five-homer week, he demands to be written about again. Schebler is doing his best Adam Duvall impression right now, having slugged eight home runs already this season, seemingly out of the blue. It’s easy to say he’s just using the friendly confines of Great American Ballpark to his advantage, but six of his eight homers have been on the road. He’s not going to keep up a HR/FB rate of 26.7 percent, but it might not drop as much as you’d think. Last season Schebler had a HR/FB rate of 15.8 percent, and he’s hitting the ball harder in 2017. It’s not hard to imagine him maintaining a HR/FB rate in the upper teens. If you add that to his impressive fly ball rate that he has going right now (54.5 percent) and add in not only a homer-friendly home stadium, but a division with plenty of homer-friendly stadiums, and there’s a lot of power potential for Schebler. Schebler already has a decent walk rate (8.8 percent) and that figure is only going to improve once pitchers start to adjust and throw him fewer strikes. In OBP leagues, Schebler is worth an add and in BA leagues he’s right on the cusp.

Eduardo Rodriguez (Bos, SP): 22%

Rodriguez continues to rack up the Ks, as he whiffed nine Chicago Cubs in an excellent Sunday night performance that is bound to call attention to his start to 2017. E-Rod now has a 2.70 ERA and 11.96 K/9. He'll be a hot add in almost all leagues this week for sure.

Taylor Motter (Sea, SS/OF): 35%

Motter added another homer and a steal to his 2017 stat line in the past week, and he’s settling in further to a nice batted ball profile (24.0% line drive rate, 46.0% fly ball rate, 48.0% hard hit ball rate).

Jarrod Dyson (Sea, OF): 26%

Dyson continues to be a one-trick pony, but he’s really good at that trick. Three steals last week brings him to eight on the season, and I’m still lost as to why Billy Hamilton is owned in more than three times as many leagues.

Justin Wilson (Det, RP): 20%

While K-Rod took the loss in his only appearance in the last week, Wilson also gave up his first two runs of the season, cutting just a bit into his sheen as the potential Tigers’ closer. He still has elite stuff (17 strikeouts in 10.2 innings), and K-Rod has been mighty shaky. He’s the best non-closer to have right now.

Joaquin Benoit (Phi, RP): 27%

Phillies closers just seem to not want to hold on to the job for long, as Hector Neris was the latest to implode, giving up four runs in a third of an inning, including an insane three home runs in Saturday’s loss to the Dodgers. Neris still has the job as of this second, and he leads the team with three saves. Benoit still holds the veteran advantage, however, and he now also holds the edge in lowest ERA among the relievers Philadelphia has tried at the closer’s spot. All of this may be a bit of ado about nothing as the Phillies as a team aren’t going to offer tons of save opportunities, and not a single one of these pitchers has impressed in 2017. Saves are saves, though, and most of us still have an entire category dedicated to them. Neris still has the best stuff, and that tends to win out in the long term, but MLB managers love their veteran presences in the bullpen and it wouldn’t surprise me if there are several more changes to be made at the back end of the Phillies rotation this season.

 

Players to Watch in 12-team Leagues

Zack Wheeler (NYM, SP): 20%

Wheeler continues to be close but not quite there in his return from Tommy John. He faced the Nationals twice in the last eight days, giving up five runs over 11.2 innings, a victory with the way the Nats offense is going right now. He didn’t get a win in either, though, and didn’t make it out of the fifth in the latter start. He’s getting closer though.

Jordan Montgomery (NYY, SP): 12%

Montgomery continues to throw solid innings for the Yankees, and it’s somewhat surprising he isn’t owned in a higher percentage of leagues. The tall lefty is striking out more than a batter an inning (9.55 K/9) and has been solid in terms of run prevention. His 4.15 ERA isn’t going to win any Cy Young awards, but it is backed by a solid 3.60 FIP and 4.32 xFIP. He has one win and two quality starts in his four outings, and as he learns to be more efficient with his pitches, both of those categories could begin to improve. Montgomery’s velocity is far from overwhelming (91 mph on his fastball), but he mixes his pitches well, throwing four pitches at least 15 percent of the time. He gets a lot of Ks with the slider, and his long-term outlook is even better than his short-term outlook, which is still good.

Mitch Moreland (Bos, 1B): 26%

Moreland has cooled off a bit since his red-hot start, and he has yet to see all those doubles turn into homers as some might have hoped. He’s still in a potent lineup in Boston and is seeing full-time at bats, though.

Mike Foltynewicz (Atl, SP): 16%

Folty is flashing some of the potential we thought he might have before the season, going a combined 20.0 innings and allowing just five combined runs in his last three starts. Foltynewicz also has 18 strikeouts over that stretch and his strikeout to walk rate in his two most recent outings is 15:2. Foltynewicz caught the eye of fantasy owners last year with a 95 mph fastball - a relative rarity from a starting pitcher. Foltynewicz sported a 4.30 ERA and 4.18 xFIP in 2016, and both of those figures are better in 2017. His ERA is now down to 2.81, and while his xFIP (4.13) suggests he’s been a bit lucky, the last two outings have been excellent per ERA as well as xFIP. His next start will be in Atlanta against the Cardinals, a decent matchup with the way St. Louis has struggled offensively this season.

Domingo Santana (Mil, OF): 23%

Santana had just three hits in the past week, but all three were home runs. His average is down to .197, but he has five homers and three steals. If his .191 BABIP starts to turn around, expect him to produce around the level when expected heading into the season.

Trevor Rosenthal (StL, RP): 30%

Rosenthal had a solid week (one run in three innings with six strikeouts), but he drops a bit here because Seung-Hwan Oh also had a good week, pitching two perfect outings, meaning Rosenthal’s chance to take over the closer’s role is a bit further away than last week.

Travis d’Arnaud (NYM, C): 26%

d’Arnaud’s week was a bit bad (being removed from Saturday’s game with a stiff back) and a bit good (two-homer game on Friday against Washington), which means his stock stays just about the same.

 

Players to Watch in 16-team Leagues

C.C. Sabathia (NYY, SP): 25%

Sabathia took one on the chin this week, giving up seven runs on nine hits and two walks against a good offense in the Orioles. When you survive by trying to induce weak contact instead of having overpowering stuff, outings like this will happen every now and then.

J.C. Ramirez (LAA, SP): 6%

This is one of the names you can expect to see on lots of people’s radar heading forward after a week in which he tallied 16 strikeouts in two starts. Ramirez is a converted reliever who seems to be the rare pitcher who can find more success as a starter than as a reliever. Ramirez had a 5.40 ERA in five innings as a reliever this season, but his starter ERA is a far superior 3.97. Ramirez throws a 96 mph fastball that has some sinking action, but it has been the increased usage of his slider (88 mph) which seems to have allowed him to make the leap forward. He has gotten 25+ percent whiffs on the pitch in his last two outings, and he looks to be in the Angels’ rotation to stay.

Aaron Hicks (NYY, OF): 13%

Hicks still isn’t getting full playing time for the Yankees, but an injury to one of Brett Gardner/Jacoby Ellsbury/Matt Holliday seems more like a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if,’ and Hicks will stand to be the beneficiary when that time comes.

Justin Bour (MIA, 1B): 6%

Bour may just be waking up, as he hit .306 with two homers and nine RBI in the past week. Now four of those hits, one of those homers and six of those RBI came in a massive game Sunday, but games like that can sometimes get players going. Bour was a trendy preseason pick to provide lots of power at a cheap price. So far this season, Bour is hitting the ball just as hard as was expected, but he is hitting too many ground balls. His 50.0 percent ground ball rate before Sunday’s game is too high for a player who is going to have most of his value as a slugger. If Bour feels boosted by his recent home run success and can start elevating his swing a bit, the home runs will start coming fast and furious. This is a hitter who has 43 homers in 281 career games, a 25-homers-per-162-game pace.

Jorge Polanco (MIN, 2B/3B/SS): 13%

Polanco is an interesting case, as his line drive rate has plummeted, but he is still hitting the ball hard. His fly ball rate suggests he may be trying to elevate his swing too much, especially for a hitter who has had his most success hitting line drives, not long balls. Keep an eye on his swing to see if he settles back into his sweet spot of smacking line drives for success.

Derek Norris (TB - C): 2%

Norris finally got his first home run of the season and hit .222 for the week. He still seems due for some positive regression to the mean thanks to a 27.5 percent line drive rate and just .226 BABIP.

 

Players to Watch in AL or NL-Only Leagues

Andrew Toles (LAD, OF): 2%

Toles is starting to demand our attention thanks to another multi-homer week, a true surprise from a hitter who has never topped seven home runs in a season throughout his professional career. Toles is up to five homers in 2017, and he has 25 RuBIns (runs+RBI) to complement those long balls. Toles is yet to steal a base, despite the fact that he has been measured as one of the fastest players in the league, per Statcast data. It certainly seems likely that Toles will see his home run output slow down sooner than later, but he should also see an uptick in his stolen base production, as he 23 bases in the minor leagues last season. Toles also should see an uptick in his ability to get on base, as a .222 BABIP is currently dragging down his BA (.239) and OBP (.289). Toles sported a .385 BABIP in 2016, and while he probably won’t reach that height again, his speed and ground ball heavy profile mean he won’t be down around .222 for long. Toles is basically in a full-time role for the Dodgers right now, and there’s a lot to like here. He’s my pick to jump up a couple tiers by next week.

Charlie Morton (HOU, SP): 9%

Morton is showing that his big jump in strikeout rate that he flashed in just 17.1 innings last season may just be real, as he is striking out 9.96 batters per nine this season. That impressive strikeout rate has come with a 4.50 ERA, but Morton hasn’t had a single terrible outing so far this season, and he offers a lot of value in deeper leagues. Morton had his best outing of the season in his most recent start, striking out 12 in seven innings against Oakland. Now Morton still managed to give up four runs in that start, but that was due entirely to two long balls from Kris Davis, one of the best power hitters in baseball. Morton will make his next start against the Rangers in Houston, a good test to see where Morton is truly at.

Jed Lowrie (OAK, 2B): 4%

Another week, another .286 average with four runs. Lowrie is slashing .292/.354/.438 for the year, and should really be owned in more leagues by this point. He’s healthy, guys!

Scooter Gennett (CIN, 2B): 4%

Gennett is still slugging .540, so we have to leave him on the list, but with just one walk on the season and the 5’ 10” Red seemingly cooling down, his time on this list may be coming to an end.

 

Graduated - Ownership Too High

Joey Gallo (TEX, 3B): 59%

Wade Miley (BAL, SP): 55%

Jason Heyward (CHC, OF): 51%

 

Demoted

Logan Morrison (TB, 1B): 10%

David Freese (PIT, 1B/3B): 10%

Austin Meadows (PIT, OF): 6%

 

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