Fantasy Baseball | Waiver wire primer for Week 23

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 26: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Pitcher Blake Parker (53) screams after striking out the final out to save a MLB game between the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on August 26 2017 at Angel Stadium of Anaheim in Anaheim, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire) fantasy
Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire

Hopefully readers heeded Al Melchior’s sage advice from Monday and added St. Louis’ Luke Weaver. If so, cashing in on his second straight game with at least 10 strikeouts paid dividends in head-to-head matchups or in rotisserie formats. Three southpaws could make for interesting fantasy additions over the weekend with Tampa Bay’s Blake Snell leading the way. He has reeled in his control of late, allowing two or fewer walks in six of his last seven outings.

Over his last nine starts, Snell has posted a 3.31 ERA. In the second half, he has struck out 42 against 15 walks with a 3.66 ERA, 3.69 FIP and 1.16 WHIP, holding batters to a .222 batting average against. Of more importance, Snell has a 14.1 strikeout minus walk percentage since the break along with winning two of his last three while losing a win due to the bullpen his last time out on the road in St. Louis.

With much of the focus on the struggles of the Chicago Cubs’ bullpen, Mike Montgomery has returned to the rotation with consecutive wins. He has allowed only one earned run in these starts over 13 innings with eight strikeouts and one walk. Montgomery has limited hitters to a .203 average against in the second half, resulting in a 2.50 ERA. It’s rare a pitcher does better in regards to strikeout minus walk percentage starting compared to relieving, but Montgomery’s number jumps to 13.1 percent as a starter. His FIP is below four (3.96) with a 1.22 WHIP as a starting pitcher this season, and he could be a key factor in determining the Cubs’ postseason fate as a part of the rotation in September. Fantasy owners could stand to reap the reward as well.

The Angels’ Andrew Heaney has made only three starts off of the disabled list, but his last outing yielded a career-high 10 strikeouts on Monday night against the A’s. It also marked his first win of the season, and like Montgomery, Heaney’s last month will go a long way toward determining his team’s fate chasing a postseason berth. While his first two starts did not move the needle, Heaney’s underlying numbers should. His 27.5 strikeout percentage versus a 4.4 walk rate add up to a gaudy 23.2 strikeout minus walk percentage along with his swinging strike percentage reaching a career-best 14.9 percent following his start on Monday. Heaney’s small sample this year reflects a lower contact percent against along with an increase in his swings and misses generated outside the strike zone. There could be a bump in the road along the way, but for upside going forward, Heaney is an intriguing target for fantasy.

  • Saves chasers should check out two Blakes

Trusting a bullpen administered by Mike Scioscia can be difficult to do, but Blake Parker is taking the closer role and running with it for the Angels. He has recorded the team’s last three saves with six strikeouts and one walk without allowing a run. In August, Parker’s tidy 2.13 ERA and 0.63 WHIP with 14 strikeouts represent the exact type of upside teams needing saves down the stretch should focus on. He has owned the best skill set in the bullpen all season long and could prove it in September while trying to get Mike Trout into the postseason.

Oakland isn’t in playoff contention but seems to play in close games. Blake Treinen burned fantasy owners earlier this season when he was with Washington, but he has found his groove since joining the A’s via trade. He has made 20 appearances since arriving in Oakland, sporting a 1.96 ERA and reaching a career high with 10 saves. Treinen has been working overtime, notching saves requiring four or more outs in thee of his last four conversions. Many will overlook his strong performance and ground ball lean, but Treinen makes for a stealth addition for the last month of play.

  • Infielders of note in 12-team formats

Many felt the Minnesota Twins’ trades prior to the deadline signaled a white flag in terms of playing for a playoff berth. Adding in losing Miguel Sano to the disabled list and things looked worse. But, these moves allowed Jorge Polanco to gain playing time and he’s making the most of his chance. Along with Eddie Rosario, the two seem to be carrying the lead supporting roles to Brian Dozier heating up atop the lineup.

Polanco has hit safely in 23 of his 26 games in August with a .378/.413/.694 slash line. He has scored 15 runs in these games with six home runs, 22 RBIs and four stolen bases. In 103 games this season, Polanco has hit nine homers with 10 stolen bases. Adding a player who can contribute across all five categories this late in the year can make for an interesting add. There’s no guarantee Polanco can carry this momentum through all of September, but it may be worth finding out.

More known for his glove, Adeiny Hechavarria is surging at the plate as well for Tampa Bay. He has recorded eight extra-base hits in his last 13 games, going 14-for-45 (.311) with five multiple-hit games. Hechavarria has shown flashes during hot streaks in the past and seems less likely to maintain going forward, but teams needing a boost at middle infield can give him a look.

Battling through injuries and a concussion, the Cardinals’ Kolten Wong is finally settling in as the player fantasy owners hoped for. Despite his 10-game hit streak being snapped on Tuesday, Wong’s hitting a robust .347 in August with 19 runs, eight doubles, a triple, three home runs, 18 RBIs and a .952 on-base plus slugging percentage. He has hit three home runs with three stolen bases since the All-Star break as well and hit over .300 in each half this year. Some of his upside can be tempered based on where he hits in the lineup, but his recent production should not be ignored.

  • Two outfielders to consider

Despite hitting lead-off for Tampa Bay, Kevin Kiermaier’s ownership numbers remain too low compared to his potential upside. He has already tallied double digits in home runs (10) and stolen bases (11) in only 74 games this year. Kiermaier is also hitting .340/.389/.670 in August since returning from the disabled list with 10 runs, three doubles, a triple, three home runs and nine RBIs.

Those looking for a power boost can take a look at Scott Schebler, who seems to be a left-handed version of Reds teammate Adam Duvall. Schebler is also back from the disabled list, going 12 for his last 34 (.353) with eight runs, three doubles, a triple, three home runs and 11 RBIs. He has launched 26 home runs this year and pacing toward 32 in 136 games. Adding six homer upside for September with a chance for more due to his favorable ballpark makes Schebler a target for the stretch run.

Many teams could use a boost at catcher due to the dearth of production at the position this year. Take a look at James McCann. He’s playing full time for the Tigers and hitting .328 over his last 34 games with 16 runs, four home runs and 15 RBIs.

Our next waiver column on Monday by Al Melchior will cover the September call-ups, but two pitchers to keep in mind should join their teams soon. Jack Flaherty will make his major league debut for the Cardinals on Friday and makes for a strong stream candidate facing the Giants on the road. Walker Buehler of the Dodgers should bolster their bullpen soon and he has struck out 15 in his last 11 innings at Triple A.

Check back this weekend for the hitters matchup column, Jim Finch’s two-start pitching primer and Melchior’s Sunday stream article for the right pitchers to target in order to maximize lineups.

Statistical Credits:

Fangraphs.com, MiLB.com, ESPN.go.com, MLB.com

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