We’re at the point in the fantasy baseball season where you have to dig a little deeper to find waiver wire pickups who can help your team. There’s value to be found, largely among players rebounding from slow starts (Marwin Gonzalez, Harrison Bader, Lance Lynn), returning from injuries (Miguel Sano), pitching in a new role (Sean Newcomb, Brandon Workman), or getting their first taste of big league action (Brendan Rodgers, Cavan Biggio, Nicky Lopez, Corbin Martin).
We’ll help you determine which players are worth adding to your roster heading into Week 9, though a lot depends on which stats you need. Fortunately, we have a little something in the power, speed, wins, and saves departments.
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Week 9 Fantasy Baseball Top Waiver Pickups
Ownership percentage from ESPN – for consensus ownership, visit FantasyPros
Position eligibility based on ESPN’s default settings
1B/2B/SS/3B/OF Marwin Gonzalez, Twins (46 percent owned) – A disturbingly slow start has given way to a torrid May for Gonzalez, who is now batting .358 this month with three home runs. Given his two-year stretch of fantasy excellence with the Astros before signing in Minnesota, we can trust the most recent version of Gonzalez is the real one. His versatility alone makes him a nice addition to any roster, though with Miguel Sano now back in the fold, playing time could soon become an issue when Nelson Cruz (wrist) and Mitch Garver (ankle) return.
3B Miguel Sano, Twins (27.2 percent owned) — Speaking of Sano, the 26-year-old masher is finally off the DL (heel), and he’s had a hot start with four HRs, eight Rs and eight RBIs in his first six games. The batting average will never be great thanks to his high strikeout percentage, but with the Twins offense on pace to set single-season records, Sano can provide plenty of production. — Matt Lutovsky
OF Harrison Bader, Cardinals (42.1 percent owned) — Bader was a popular sleeper going into the season, but a slow start had him on the fantasy chopping block. He’s regained his form (.300/.378/.450 in May) and is back to playing almost every day. It’s unfortunate he hits eighth, but Bader has enough power and speed to help you out in a variety of categories. If he’s out there, he’s worth grabbing. — Matt Lutovsky
SS Brendan Rodgers, Rockies (16.6 percent owned) – The recently called up first-round draft pick already has a three-hit game under his belt, and he should continue to develop as the season progresses. In a couple of years this might be a 20-HR, 10-SB guy over a full season, but for now we’re likely looking at more modest production bolstered by Coors Field.
C Christian Vasquez, Red Sox (18.6 percent owned) – Vasquez has provided a rare power-average combination from behind the plate this season, hitting nearly .300 with six home runs. He’d never been a very good hitter before the past few months, but he is hitting the ball harder than ever before, according to Statcast, and his walk rate is slightly improved, too. He’s at least someone to keep an eye on moving forward if you’ve still not found stability at catcher.
SS Nicky Lopez, Royals (8 percent owned) – Lopez was a fascinating minor league player before the Royals called him up, walking in 14.5 percent of his at-bats in Triple-A this year while striking out just 3.6 percent of the time. That simply doesn’t happen at any level very often, particularly as players swing for the fences at an increasing rate. As a result, Lopez could be a guy who gets on base often, and his above-average speed will keep him on the move given the Royals’ aggressive baserunning philosophy.
2B Cavan Biggio, Blue Jays (1.1 percent owned) – After tearing up Triple-A this year, the son of Hall of Fame second baseman Craig Biggio will make his big league debut this weekend. His most exciting quality for fantasy users is his speed. In an SB-starved waiver market, he instantly becomes one of the top bag-swiping options around after stealing 20 bases (in addition to 26 HRs) at Double-A last season.
MORE WAIVER SUGGESTIONS: Week 8 | Week 7 | Week 6
SP Kyle Gibson, Twins (38.8 percent owned) – It’s taken Gibson until his 30s to become a consistently decent starting pitcher, but he’s really rounded into form the past couple of years, finally making good on his strikeout potential. You’re not going to get a star here, but you could get a 13-win pitcher with an acceptable ERA and BB/K rate.
SP/RP Sean Newcomb, Braves (29 percent owned) – It’s unclear what role Newcomb will occupy for the Braves long-term, as he could realistically serve as a starter, middle-reliever or closer moving forward. He’s in the bullpen for now, and if Luke Jackson continues to struggle, Newcomb could begin earning more saves. It’s probably best to wait until his role is clarified to pick him up, but he could have significant value later in the season.
SP Corbin Martin, Astros (18.8 percent owned) — Martin impressed in his first big league start last week, limiting the Rangers to three hits and two runs while striking out nine over 5.1 innings. His next two outings haven’t been great (16 baserunners, five earned runs, three Ks in 7.1 innings against the Red Sox and White Sox), but the 23-year-old righty still has upside as long as he’s in the rotation. He dominated throughout his minor league career (2.31/0.99, 9.7 K/9), so Martin is at least a streamer to watch in favorable matchups. — Matt Lutovsky
SP Lance Lynn, Rangers (9.1 percent owned) – Lynn dominated the Mariners this past week, striking out 11 across seven innings. The long-time workhorse should regularly go enough frames to earn wins with a solid Rangers offense behind him. Like Gibson, there are far flashier starters around the league, but veteran solidity is always an asset, too, particularly in deeper formats.
RP Brandon Workman, Red Sox (4.4 percent owned) — With Ryan Brasier struggling and Matt Barnes seemingly locked into a pre-ninth high-leverage role, Workman will have an opportunity to pick up more saves. The veteran righty has been fantastic this year, striking out batters at a career-high rate (13.3 K/9 ratio). Righty Marcus Walden has also been dominant (1.59/0.81, 10.5 K/9 ratio) and could be in the mix for saves, so if you have a deep roster, grabbing one or both makes sense. — Matt Lutovsky
SP Trent Thornton, Blue Jays (4.3 percent owned) – Any starting pitcher with a K/9 above nine is worth a glance, and Thorton has been added in enough deep leagues to be worth a shout here. However, there’s not much upside here to better his pedestrian ERA (4.41), so it’s probably worth laying off of him regardless of format.
RP Amir Garrett, Reds (2.2 percent owned) – Garrett is becoming one of the few non-closers worth considering on the waiver wire due to his crazy strikeout rate (13.7) and stellar ERA (1.33). This is a deep league play, but if you need help in the secondary pitching stats, he’s a quality option.
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