There are just a few weeks remaining in the regular season for season-long fantasy baseball, so make sure to keep your roster dialed in for the stretch run. As teams continue to shift players’ roles and opportunities for the playoff chase, there are some nice chances to grab useful contributors off the waiver wire for many leagues.
In the next week, seven of the 30 MLB teams are scheduled to play seven games, with only the Houston Astros playing just five contests and the rest of the league scheduled to play six times. The number of games and upcoming matchups are definitely one factor to consider as you hit the waiver wire this week in addition to who is in an important role for their team. Check out my top two hitters and top two pitchers to target highlighted below. There are also some specialty options listed at the bottom of the post.
1B/2B/3B Mike Moustakas, Cincinnati Reds (at CLE, at ATL, at PHI)
Moustakas has been limited to only 29 games this season and was just activated following a trip on the 60-day injured list due to a heel injury. In his return, he reminded everyone of the power potential he brings by going 3-for-5 in his first game back with three doubles, two runs scored and two RBI. He is a great way to add a proven bat to your IF mix and carries some nice roster flexibility as well if someone gave up on him or didn’t want to wait out the injury.
In his 29 games this season, Moustakas has hit .264 with four home runs, a .220 ISO, a .356 wOBA and 119 wRC+. He has an ISO over .200, a wOBA over .300 and a wRC+ over 108 for each of the past five straight seasons. If he can stay healthy, he brings a proven bat and looks ready to jump in with good form after hitting .353 (6-for-17) with a homer and a double during his rehab assignment at Triple-A Louisville.
OF Rafael Ortega, Chicago Cubs (vs. MIL, at MIA)
The Cubs traded away many of their biggest bats at the trade deadline, but Ortega has proven he can help fill in the gaps while moving into a much more involved role. Unlike Moustakas, Ortega doesn’t have a track record of success. In fact, in stops with the Cardinals, Dodgers, Padres, Marlins and Braves, the 30-year-old has proven he can hit well in Triple-A but struggled when given chances in the Majors. This time has been different, though, and he has played his way into a regular role as the Cubs’ daily leadoff hitter.
In his past 20 games coming into the weekend, Ortega has gone 26-for-69 (.413) with four home runs, 11 RBI, 12 runs scored and three stolen bases. He has a 46.7% hard-hit rate and 8.9% barrel rate, showing that there hasn’t been anything fluky about his hot streak. He hasn’t shown he can sustain this long term, but for now, he’s worth adding as a hot bat in a premiere spot. If he starts slumping, there will be other heaters to jump on at that point, but for now, Ortega can fill in nicely, especially with the Brewers and Marlins coming up this week.
SP Ross Stripling, Toronto Blue Jays, (vs. LAA, at SEA)
Stripling will be appearing in his 20th game for the Blue Jays in his first start of the week when he’ll face an injury-depleted Angels lineup. His second start is also a favorable matchup since he’ll be in Seattle against the light-hitting Mariners in a pitcher-friendly park.
Stripling has had an up-and-down season for the Jays, but the 31-year-old righty has had good results over his last three outings, allowing three runs on 12 hits over 16 1⁄3 innings. He has 13 strikeouts during that run as well and has raised his K/9 rate to 8.97 for the season. With that kind of strikeout upside, a good lineup behind him and two favorable matchups, Stripling is my top widely available SP pickup if you need multiple strong outings.
SP Logan Webb, San Francisco Giants (vs. COL)
If getting a two-start SP isn’t a priority and you can just target a one-start option in a good matchup, check out Webb, who is scheduled to start at home against the Rockies on Thursday. The 24-year-old righty has been impressive in his 15 starts for San Francisco this season, going 5-3 with a 3.19 ERA, 3.05 WHIP and 9.34 K/9 rate.
He has been especially locked in over his past nine starts, going 4-0 without allowing more than two runs in any of those starts. He has 49 strikeouts in 47 innings during that run with a dazzling 1.72 ERA and 2.95 FIP. He’s only allowing a 30.6% hard-hit rate over those nine starts and has held opponents to a paltry .185 batting average. Taking on the Rockies away from Coors Field should be a great spot for Webb, and he can slot into an SP spot on your team for the rest of the NL West pennant race as long as he keeps rolling.
Specialty pickups to consider
Top of the Lineup Pickup: 2B/3B Jonathan India, Cincinnati Reds
Multi-Category Producer: OF Harrison Bader, St. Louis Cardinals
Power Pickup: OF Tyler O’Neill, St. Louis Cardinals
Power Pickup II: 1B Rowdy Tellez, Milwaukee Brewers
Hot Bat in a Bad Lineup: 2B/3B Abraham Toro, Seattle Mariners
Speed/Leadoff Spot: SS/OF Myles Straw, Cleveland Indians
Back from IL: 1B/OF Brandon Belt, San Francisco Giants
C Pickup: C Kyle Farmer, Cincinnati Reds
Finally Figuring it Out?: OF Jarred Kelenic, Seattle Mariners
Two-start Streamer: Jon Gray, Colorado Rockies
Two-start Streamer II: Logan Gilbert, Seattle Mariners
Young SP with Upside: Luis Gil, New York Yankees
Short-term Saves Pickup: RP Jonathan Loaisiga, New York Yankees
Longer-term Saves Pickup: RP Emmanuel Clase, Cleveland Indians
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