Name recognition be damned, it’s about winning. While most of the names in this week’s waiver wire were mostly forgotten on draft/auction day, they each hold value toward bringing it hard and fast down the home stretch of Fantasy Baseball season. Championships aren’t won only because of great drafting and early season success on the waiver wire. No, this the stretch where winners are made; so step up and claim your haul of hidden gems.
Edwin Jackson, P, Nationals: The well-traveled and savvy Jackson has filled in for the injured Stephen Strasburg quite well. Heading into his start against the Padres on Thursday, Jackson had allowed one earned run in two of his past three starts while also flashing some strikeout potential with 19 Ks in his previous 18 innings of work. Owned in 33 percent of CBSSports.com leagues, Jackson’s heater remains his calling card, but he’s also mixed in a changeup that he occasionally uses to surprise the hell out of hitters. With the Washington team on its way to taking the NL East title, Jackson should be a good source of wins and a solid WHIP (1.18 this month). Strasburg is scheduled to return on Saturday, but Jackson will be a useful arm however the Nats choose to deploy him.
Hector Neris, P, Phillies: His WHIP this month (1.80) induces cringe-worthy moments, but Neris’ August high-wire act has included a 1.80 ERA and three saves for a team languishing with the worst record in baseball. Saves are saves are saves, and this late in the season, the mere thought of a dependable closer on the waiver wire will produce a frenzied rush, such as the case with the 43 percent ownership of Neris in CBSSports.com leagues. He has allowed just two earned runs in his last ten appearances dating from July 25 and has given up only one homer since the All-Star Break. The Phils appear to be all-in with giving their youngsters (Nick Williams, Rhys Hoskins, Jorge Alfaro to name three) extensive playing time and as they continue to grow toward the end of the season, Neris should be in line for more save opportunities.
Ryan McMahon, 3B, Rockies: He’s a Colorado prospect that has shown he can hit. Of course there’s going to be a run on him, as he is currently owned in 14 percent of CBSSports.com leagues. McMahon hit .375/.409/.625 at Triple-A Albuquerque and hit a combined 19 homers and drove in 82 between the Class-A and Double-A Hartford and has the ability to also play first and second base. The Rockies do intend to get his bat into the lineup a couple of times a week, and if something happens to either Nolan Arenado or Mark Reynolds, his value will rise rapidly. McMahon, the third-ranked player in the Colorado minor league system, has a bright future, yet should have the chance to flash his upside to the benefit of Fantasy players in NL-only or deeper mixed league formats.
Jose Pirela, OF, Padres: He’s become a fixture in the San Diego lineup, as the former Yankees prospect has a combined 21 homers, 71 RBIs and 11 stolen bases between Triple-A El Paso and the Pads. The 21.1 percent strikeout rate makes you uneasy, but it’s not like he’s flirting with Kennys Vargas territory. Overall, his plate discipline is better than it was in last season’s 15-game audition (6.9 percent walk rate compared to 2.4 percent) and anyone that calls Petco Park his home and still slugs .520 is going to open some eyes. Pirela has gone from 15 percent ownership to his current 27 percent in CBSSports.com leagues, and the percentage is going to go up. He’s a sneaky good source of pop that can quietly be a difference maker for your Fantasy team.
Tyler Glasnow, P, Pirates: The potential didn’t arrive as soon as the Pirates expected. Glasnow was battered with a 7.45 ERA and averaged nearly five walks per nine innings before being sent back to Triple-A Indianapolis. The filthy arsenal of elite pitches was rediscovered with an adjustment or two and has Glasnow on the verge of a return to Pittsburgh by season’s end. Owned in 29 percent of CBSSports.com leagues, Glasnow has averaged 13.5 K/9 at Indy and found his velocity, which is sitting in the 95-97 MPH range. It’s easy to forget Glasnow is only 23, so don’t be surprised if his September numbers are a precursor to a possible breakout in 2018.
Byron Buxton, OF, Twins: He’s quietly gone .326/.385/.435 since the All-Star Break. The slugging percentage will eventually climb, as Buxton is going to settle into being a 15-20 homer hitter with a high number of doubles. It’s the OBP that’s encouraging because if he can prove his newfound plate discipline is indeed a promising trend, he’s going to steal 40-50 bases sometime down the road. Buxton is owned in 37 percent of CBSSports.com leagues and, like Glasnow, is still more in the prospect stage. So, don’t label him for what he’s currently doing. Keep the faith with Buxton. There’s still time for him to become the star we’ve all envisioned him to be since the moment he became a pro.
Cam Bedrosian, P, Angels: Bedrosian enters the weekend with saves in each of his last three outings, and he has not allowed an earned run this month. He’s recorded 36 strikeouts in his 28 innings of work and if he can stay healthy, his ownership in CBSSports.com leagues will shoot over the current 40 percent mark. Since giving up six runs on July 26 and 28, which raised his ERA to 4.87, Bedrosian has shaved off 1.31 runs in that span while being efficient in his work, as he used 18 or fewer pitches in all but one of his last ten appearances. With Anaheim holding the second AL Wild Card spot, expect Bedrosian to be involved in high leverage situations down the stretch, and if his trend continues they will translate into saves.
Juan Minaya, P, White Sox: Minaya is owned in just five percent of CBSSports.com leagues. Those numbers will continue to climb considering he’s in the mix to earn save opportunities. Minaya has averaged 11.8 K/9 this season with a fastball that sets up a well-mixed curve and slider combo that has held opponents to a .219 batting average. He’s been better since the All-Star break, limiting hitters to a .190 batting average while dropping his ERA from 5.51 to 3.55. He will have to share the role with Jake Petricka and Gregory Infante, but I like Minaya not only for the remainder of the season, but as the potential stopper heading into 2018.
Jake Junis, P, Royals: The transition to the starting rotation has worked well for Junis, who has been outstanding this month. Junis has a 2-0 record with a 1.93 ERA and 0.57 WHIP thus far, and has seen his ownership go from three percent to 14 percent in CBSSports.com leagues. The one negative on him is that he’s prone to gopher balls (1.62 HR/9), but he counters that with an acceptable K/9 rate (7.2). Junis projects as a fly ball hurler, but he has four pitches which have found a collective stride this month. He might be more of a streamer candidate at this point, but Fantasy players in deeper leagues should at least give Junis a serious look.
Willie Calhoun, 2B/OF, Rangers: Part of the haul from the Dodgers in the Yu Darvish trade, Calhoun has hit four homers and driven in ten runs in his first 12 games with Triple-A Round Rock. Everyone focuses on his 5’8”, 190-pound frame, but Calhoun’s 27 homers and 77 ribbies this season is no fluke. He will hit for power once he comes up, whenever that may be, but Fantasy owners (11 percent in CBSSports.com leagues) are hoping there is a chance he makes an appearance in Arlington before season’s end. The bet is that he will, but once he does, Calhoun will become a .280-25-90 hitter with a handful of steals.