Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Top 10 Pickups for Week 19
A new week, another batch of waiver-wire additions, just the way you like 'em: hot and fresh out of the oven.
From now until the end of the fantasy season, you'll find a rundown of the top waiver-wire pickups right here every Monday as you get set to face another week of lineup decisions and roster additions.
Some players mentioned last week—including Angel Pagan, Brandon McCarthy, Kyle Hendricks and Scooter Gennett—are already owned in many leagues by now, but they remain quality pickups if they're still available.
In the interest of keeping the names new, though, let's avoid any repeats. Here are the top 10 waiver-wire pickups for Week 21.
Mike Leake, SP, Cincinnati Reds (29.8 Percent Owned)
Wei-Yin Chen, SP, Baltimore Orioles (29.8 Percent Owned)
Bud Norris, SP, Baltimore Orioles (2.2 Percent Owned)
Justin Masterson, SP, St. Louis Cardinals (28.5 Percent Owned)
Everth Cabrera, SS, San Diego Padres (33.1 Percent Owned)
Kennys Vargas, 1B, Minnesota Twins (0.2 Percent Owned)
Dustin Ackley, 2B/OF, Seattle Mariners (21.1 Percent Owned)
Brett Anderson, SP/RP, Colorado Rockies (1.4 Percent Owned)
Vance Worley, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates (18.7 Percent Owned)
Kyle Hendricks, SP, Chicago Cubs (2.8 Percent Owned)
Stephen Drew, SS, New York Yankees (5.2 Percent Owned)
Luis Valbuena, 2B/3B, Chicago Cubs (4.3 Percent Owned)
Tommy Medica, 1B/OF, San Diego Padres (3.3 Percent Owned)
No. 10: Josh Reddick, OF, Oakland Athletics (28.0 Percent Owned)
It's been another inconsistent, injury-ravaged season for Josh Reddick, who had two separate stints on the disabled list for a knee injury sandwiched around a four-game "return" in late June.
Since coming back on July 22, though, the 27-year-old has done well, going 16-for-41 (.390) with four home runs—including two on Sunday night—over 12 games.
This is good timing on Reddick's part, as the Oakland Athletics, you might have heard, just swapped fellow outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, so they'll be giving Reddick regular run. You know, as long as he's healthy.
No. 9: James Paxton, SP, Seattle Mariners (16.2 Percent Owned)
After missing just shy of four months with a lat strain, James Paxton made his third start of 2014 over the weekend.
While it wasn't as good as his first two way back in April (4.1 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 5:3 K:BB), Paxton has the stuff to pick up strikeouts. Yes, it's been a while, but he did whiff 13 in his first 12.0 innings to open the season while also allowing just three runs on six hits.
For now, the 25-year-old is more of an intriguing add than an arm that you should be counting on, but there's enough time left for Paxton to make an impact. Grab him now, keep him on your bench for his home outing against the Chicago White Sox on Friday and then re-evaluate.
No. 8: Kyle Gibson, SP, Minnesota Twins (4.6 Percent Owned)
If you wanna win a bar bet, ask your friends to tell you which pitcher is just behind Adam Wainwright and just ahead of Clayton Kershaw in most games this year with at least seven scoreless innings. Then show them this after they guess every pitcher other than Kyle Gibson.
That's right: The 26-year-old Minnesota Twins right-hander has turned in eight such outings so far, two fewer than Wainwright's MLB-best 10 and one more than Kershaw's seven. Seriously.
So how does Gibson have an ERA just south of 4.00? Because he's prone to getting knocked around on occasion: He also has seven starts in which he's surrendered at least five earned runs.
In other words, you have to hope you get the good and avoid the bad here. What's interesting, however, is that Gibson has picked up the strikeout pace of late, with 13 in his past 14.0 innings across two games. For a guy sporting a 4.8 K/9 mark for the year, that's at least something to note.
Gibson goes again on Friday against the Oakland Athletics, which is a scary thought, considering they remain the highest-scoring offense in baseball. Then again, they did just lose Cespedes and the game is in pitcher-friendly O.Co Coliseum. Hmmm.
No. 7: Collin McHugh, SP, Houston Astros (11.2 Percent Owned)
A finger injury cost Collin McHugh a few starts in June, and apparently, was enough to make a lot of fantasy owners toss him aside.
Thing is, the 27-year-old has continued his breakout 2014 since making it back to the mound at the end of July. In his two starts, McHugh has given up five runs on 12 hits in 12.2 innings with an impressive 14-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
It's the strikeouts, in particular, that have made this former no-name useful this year, as "McWho?" actually has 107 in his 95.0 frames. Of course, his 3.32 ERA and 1.11 WHIP are pretty darn good, too.
If he's been dumped on your waiver wire, get him for his start on Thursday against the woeful Philadelphia Phillies—and keep him around after that, too.
No. 6: Jedd Gyorko, 2B, San Diego Padres (31.6 Percent Owned)
Yep, another injury-related add. Jedd Gyorko lost nearly all of June and July due to plantar fasciitis in his left foot. By the time that prompted the DL stint, however, there's a good chance he and his .162 batting average already had been jettisoned from a team or three in your league.
Well, there's still a long (looong) way to go, but the 25-year-old has gotten his average up to .181 by going 8-for-23 (.348) since returning on July 28. Oh, and he's hit a pair of homers and knocked in seven in those seven games, which is a good sign after the early-season power outage from a guy who hit 23 out as a rookie last year.
Oh, and while you might be a bit leery of picking up a San Diego Padres hitter, the club actually has been putting up some crooked numbers of late. The Padres are fifth in MLB—and first in the NL—in runs scored since the All-Star break. That won't continue, but it's good to know they're at least capable of crossing home plate a little more frequently than they had been.
No. 5: Jon Singleton, 1B, Houston Astros (9.2 Percent Owned)
Is something starting to click for Jon Singleton? Maybe. Just maybe.
The 22-year-old rookie has had a tough time making contact in his first go at the majors, having whiffed in 73 of 209 plate appearances—or nearly (gasp) 35 percent. That's simply way too high a rate to have success.
But for just the second time so far, Singleton hasn't been rung up for three consecutive games, which is at least promising, right? Plus, the lefty slugger has smacked four home runs in his last eight contests while hitting .333 (8-for-24) in that time to raise his season mark to a (still-ghastly) .195.
The former top prospect remains little more than a pickup for power, but hey, that's always in demand, and Singleton is hot right now.
No. 4: Dallas Keuchel, SP/RP, Houston Astros (34.8 Percent Owned)
Despite being a Final Vote candidate for the MLB All-Star Game last month and a 2.97 ERA and 1.23 WHIP for the season, there's a reason why Dallas Keuchel has been dumped off many a roster over the past few weeks.
Just as fans were casting ballots for his All-Star cause, the 26-year-old lefty went through a stretch from mid-June to mid-July where he allowed—count 'em—20 earned runs on 48 hits over 29.2 frames in five turns. In a word: Ooof.
His two most recent outings? Much, much better, as Keuchel has given up just one earned on 13 hits in 16.0 innings with a 12-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio. By the way, his last start was a complete-game win over the A's, so extra points.
Keuchel gets the Phillies on Tuesday. You'll want him for that one.
No. 3: Danny Salazar, SP, Cleveland Indians (38.4 Percent Owned)
Following that disastrous beginning to his first full season in the majors, since working his way back to the bigs on July 22, Danny Salazar has looked a lot like his 2013 self, which was at times brilliant.
We suggested you give him another chance two weeks ago, but that was before Salazar had even gotten back on a major league mound. What he's done in his three starts—3-0 with a 2.00 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and 17 strikeouts in 18.0 frames—is enough to kindly remind you to grab him again in short order.
Keep things in perspective, as Salazar has done that against the Minnesota Twins, Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers, so he's yet to face a top-notch offense. But don't be afraid to use Salazar in yet another good matchup Wednesday against the injury-riddled Cincinnati Reds.
No. 2: Kevin Gausman, SP/RP, Baltimore Orioles (4.3 Percent Owned)
Just do us a favor and get Kevin Gausman already, will ya?
The 23-year-old rook has been very solid as a starter for the Baltimore Orioles, with a 3.70 ERA (3.46 FIP) and 1.34 WHIP—and there's more in there from the former No. 4 overall pick.
To be sure, the strikeouts haven't been there—yet—which is a bit odd for an arm like Gausman, who regularly reaches the upper-90s and features a lefty-equalizing changeup. But there's a sense—call it a hunch—that Gausman is just one killer start away from everyone jumping on board what could be a big-time second-half breakout.
That could come Monday in a tough Beltway Series showdown against the Washington Nationals. If it does, you don't want to be late in having Gausman on your roster.
No. 1: Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals (18.2 Percent Owned)
Look, folks, we get it: Oscar Taveras might have been a top-of-the-line prospect entering 2014, but he's performed like anything but through his first 35 big league games. A .217/.257/.321 line just ain't gonna cut it.
But the 22-year-old has too much talent in his bat to be that bad. Like most first-year players, Taveras just requires a little extra patience along the way. Besides, the way he was being used—jockeyed up and down from Triple-A and not put in the lineup consistently—wasn't helping.
Well, that should change going forward now that Allen Craig, who was Taveras' main competition for at-bats in right field, has been traded. An everyday gig is there for Taveras to take, and while it might just have been a coincidence that he went out and homered mere hours after learning that Craig was no longer in the mix, it also could be an indication of what's to come. Taveras has a hit in each of his past four games and has driven in five.
If he disappoints yet again, so be it—the risk isn't all that high at this point. But the reward? That, friends, is too high to pass up, no matter how Taveras' career began.
All ownership percentages courtesy of ESPN Fantasy Baseball. Players owned in more than 50 percent of leagues were not considered. Statistics are accurate through Aug. 3 and are courtesy of MLB.com, Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs, unless otherwise noted.
To talk baseball or fantasy baseball, check in with me on Twitter: @JayCat11