With just a little over one week remaining in the 2018 MLB regular season, we’re throwing out the usual format on Waiver Wired in favor of focusing on categories and maximizing rosters. I’d usually write lengthy explanations for each player included in this column, but this format allows for folks to grab and go as needed. There might be some overlap in regard to categories for these players, so don’t get too hung up on the classifications. Besides, that’s not such a bad thing anyway. It just makes them potentially more useful over these final days.
My best advice for the next week and a half is to stay alert and flexible. If you have a key player who is dealing with a lingering injury, don’t get overly sentimental. Ideally you should be able to drop and pick up someone who you know is healthy and should be in the lineup most of the time. Also be cognizant that plans change often down the stretch. Maybe a team is resting regulars after clinching a playoff spot or moving around their starters to set up for the postseason. It happens a lot. Just be on the lookout for these scenarios in anticipation for alternate plans. Good luck out there. I’m counting on you.
Have specific questions about your roster? Ask @djshort on Twitter.
(All players below are available in more than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Power: Ryan O’Hearn, Franmil Reyes, Hunter Renfroe, Randal Grichuk, Joc Pederson, Ji-Man Choi, Scott Schebler, Daniel Palka, Luke Voit, Todd Frazier, Trey Mancini, Francisco Mejia, Avisail Garcia, Jorge Polanco, Peter O’Brien, Billy McKinney
Speed: Amed Rosario, Ramon Laureano, Roman Quinn, Harrison Bader, Alex Gordon, Rajai Davis, Adam Eaton, Delino DeShields, Jr., Travis Jankowski, Greg Allen, Terrance Gore, Adam Engel, Victor Robles, Cedric Mullins
(All of the pitchers below are available in more than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Note: Ross Stripling is rostered in 57 percent of Yahoo leagues, but it’s possible that he could still be available in some shallow formats. He’s still getting stretched out after his DL stint, but he’s well worth grabbing with upcoming projected starts against the Padres (at home) and Giants (on the road).
Adam Wainwright SP, Cardinals (Yahoo: 12 percent owned) - vs. Giants on Saturday
Is Adam Wainwright back? Well, probably not, but he looked really good against the Dodgers last Sunday, allowing just two hits over six scoreless frames while walking three batters and striking out nine. Wainwright hadn’t struck out that many batters in a start since April 21 of last year, but his curveball looked like a real weapon once again. I still don’t think he’s an especially reliable mixed league option moving forward, but a matchup against the weak-hitting Giants is a great spot to take a chance on him delivering another solid outing.
John Gant SP/RP, Cardinals (Yahoo: 26 percent owned) - vs. Giants on Friday
Yes, I’m picking on the Giants, but for good reason. They are tied with the Marlins for the fewest runs scored since the All-Star break. Even more troubling, they are batting just .216/.260/327 as a team this month. Yikes. Gant was hit hard in his last start against the Dodgers, but he’s been generally good as a starter this year (3.69 ERA in 17 starts) and it doesn’t get more inviting than this as far as matchups go. It’s a no-brainer stream here, even with the risk.
Tyler Glasnow SP/RP, Rays (Yahoo: 20 percent owned) - at Blue Jays on Saturday
Speaking of risk, Glasnow carries plenty of it. Some fantasy owners might be a bit gun-shy after his disaster start against the Blue Jays earlier this month, but he’s followed up that outing with two runs allowed in 13 innings with a 9/2 K/BB ratio over his last two starts. The hard-throwing 25-year-old now owns a 4.06 ERA with 49/14 K/BB ratio in 44 1/3 innings through his first nine starts with the Rays. The progress with his control has been really encouraging and he’ll surely be on a lot of breakout lists next spring. As for the short-term, he deserves another chance here.
Lance Lynn SP, Yankees (Yahoo: 36 percent owned) - vs. Orioles on Saturday
After a surprisingly shaky start in a promising matchup against the Tigers earlier this month, Lynn has bounced back by allowing three runs in 11 innings with a 9/1 K/BB ratio over his last two starts. The veteran right-hander has been up-and-down since coming over from the Twins at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, so there’s definitely some volatility here, but it’s hard to pass up on a matchup against the worst team in the majors. David Hess (5.22 ERA in 17 starts and two relief appearances) is slated to start for Baltimore, so I like Lynn’s chances of walking away with a win here. Lynn’s teammate CC Sabathia (Yahoo: 44 percent owned) is another option this weekend even though he’s been shaky this month.
Jake Junis SP, Royals (Yahoo: 38 percent owned) - at Tigers on Saturday
There’s no doubt that Junis disappointed in his most recent start. He lasted just three innings against the Twins while giving up four runs on eight hits (including three homers) and one walk. Still, Junis produced a dominant 2.15 ERA and 44/5 K/BB ratio over 46 innings over his previous seven starts. It should be said that he’s given up five homers combined over his last two starts. He had really settled down in that area during this recent impressive stretch. This would be a bad time for things to go south again, but Detroit offers a fine chance at a rebound. The Tigers have lost eight out of their last 10 games, including a sweep at the hands of the Twins this week.
Brad Keller SP/RP, Royals (Yahoo: 24 percent owned) - at Tigers on Sunday
I recommended Keller as a two-start option in last week’s column, but here’s another heads up in case you missed it. Keller is coming off an uneven effort against the Pirates where he allowed four runs on 10 hits and one walk over six innings, but he also struck out seven batters. He had 1.85 ERA over his previous six starts, so most fantasy owners should feel safe about putting him back out there for this promising matchup.
Derek Holland SP, Giants (Yahoo: 34 percent owned) - vs. Padres next Monday
Moving on to next week, Holland gets another chance against the Padres. The southpaw was off his game in his start against San Diego on Tuesday, allowing four runs on five hits and two walks over five innings. It was the first time since August 10 that he allowed even more than two runs in a start. Still, it’s not like it was a disaster outing. He still struck out six batters and boasts an impressive 3.57 ERA and 165/63 K/BB ratio over 163 2/3 innings on the year. This is still a great matchup, so don’t overthink things. Start him with confidence.
Josh James SP, Astros (Yahoo: 6 percent owned)
Here's a bonus pitcher. It’s actually unclear if or when James will get another start, but odds are we’ll see at least one more from him as the Astros line up their rotation in preparation for the postseason. Or at least a lengthy relief appearance. After a breakout season between Double- and Triple-A, the hard-throwing 25-year-old has posted a 2.81 ERA and 24/6 K/BB through his first 16 innings in the majors. This includes seven strikeouts over 5 1/3 scoreless innings against the Mariners on Tuesday. He generated 16 swings and misses in his 87 pitches while topping out at 100 mph on his fastball. Assuming James gets another start, he should be a priority add.