Waiver Wire Pickups of the Week (Week of May 3, 2021): Best Players Available Under 50%, 40%, 30%, 20%, 10%, and 5% on Yahoo

by Mickey Bell

*Stats and Roster % as of the morning of May 2, 2021

GRADUATED

  • Omar Narvaez, C, MIL (45% to 52%–10 Day IL)
  • Kolten Wong, 2B, MIL (19% to 53%)
  • Carson Kelly, C, ARI (46% to 78%)
  • Bryan Reynolds, OF, PIT (50% to 51%)
  • JD Davis, 3B/OF, NYM (47% to 53%)
  • Huascar Ynoa (42% to 52%)
  • Alex Wood, SP, SF (32% to 63%)
  • Austin Riley, 3B/OF, ATL (40% to 60%)
  • CJ Cron, 1B, COL (40% to 57%)
  • David Peralta, OF, ARI (40% to 65%)
  • Josh Staumont, RP, KCR (13% to 55%)
  • Jesus Aguilar, 1B, MIA (17% to 65%)
  • Kendall Graveman, RP, SEA (48 to 51%)

50% OR UNDER

Tejay Antone, RP, CIN (34% to 42%)

Antone got his first career save on Friday after Lucas Sims got squeezed on strike three in two straight at bats. Sims ended up walking three batters and a run. Antone got the final out on three pitches. Even though Sims did not collapse like it may look on paper, this might just be the small push David Bell needed to officially go with Antone at closer. He has a 0.64 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, and 20 K in 14 IP and looks downright dominant. The worst case scenario of picking up Antone is you get a guy like Giovanny Gallegos or Chad Green who helps you in ratios and strikeouts.

Honorable Mentions: 

  • Framber Valdez, SP, HOU (48%): Still on the IL, he was cleared to face live batters this week. If he is available in your league, this is the rare chance to get a borderline ace for free.
  • Andrew Benintendi, OF, KCR (45%): After 2 HR on Saturday, Benintendi has 3 HR, 15 R, 10 RBI, 4 SB (3 CS), and a 0.262/0.340/0.417 triple slash. Benintendi averaged 16 HR, 17 SB, and a 0.276 AVG from 2017 to 2019 and there is no reason to not expect a similar line just because of a poor 52 plate appearance (PA) sample size in 2020.
  • Ryan Weathers, SP, SDP (43%): After Weathers left his last start after an inning due to elbow inflammation, manager Jayce Tingler said there’s “maybe a good chance” he could make his next start. While this is positive news, I almost wish they would take it easy with the 21 year old.
  • Brandon Nimmo, OF, NYM (48% to 44%)
  • Giovanny Gallegos, RP, STL (43% to 44%)
  • Taijuan Walker, SP, NYM (37% to 47%)
  • Christian Walker, 1B, ARI (45%): Walker is coming off the IL soon. There is nothing too flashy here, but Walker should provide consistently hard hit batted balls, 25 HR upside, and around a 0.270 average. He has struggled in 2021, but his 0.207 BABIP to date is about 100 points under his career average.

40% OR UNDER

Raimel Tapia, OF, COL (28% to 37%)

As the Rockies’ primary leadoff hitter, Tapia has been underrostered all season. And even though his rostership creeps up, I still think this is the case. Tapia has a career 0.284 AVG and should be a plus in that category playing half his games in Coors Field.  

Last year, Tapia had just 1 HR but 8 steals in the shortened season. While he only has one steal so far, it is reasonable to expect him to approach 20 steals with regular playing time and his speed and track record. As a bonus, Tapia has 3 HR already this year and his Max EV (a sign of raw strength) is 109.9 MPH, easily a career best by 2.7 MPH. While no one expects a power breakout, this EV could suggest he will chip in more home runs than in previous years.

Honorable Mentions: 

  • Wade Miley, SP, CIN (43% to 39%): Miley, who had a 3.52 ERA over 248 IP in 2018 and 2019 before a poor 14.1 IP in 2020, faces Cleveland and Pittsburgh in his next two starts. Stream him for these games then assess. He is a strikeout detriment but should provide good ratios.
  • Joakim Soria, RP, ARI (39%): He is coming off the IL soon, and could slide back into the closer role pretty quickly. Stefan Crichton is 3-for-3 in save situations but has a 5.00 ERA and 1.78 WHIP. 
  • Jacob Diekman, RP, OAK (32% to 35%): To me, the Athletics closer situation looks like a platoon between Diekman and Lou Trivino that depends on the matchups. Both will get saves going forward.
  • Lorenzo Cain, OF, MIL (33%): Cain is expected to return from the IL this week and can provide a mild power/speed combo.
  • Kwang Hyun Kim, SP, STL (38%): In a 52.2 IP sample size in the MLB, Kim has a 2.05 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and a 6.84 K/9. The swinging strike percentage (SwStr%) on his slider has risen from 10.7% last year to 21.7% in 2021. I am not getting too excited, but he is a matchup-dependent streaming candidate.
  • Madison Bumgarner, SP, ARI (40%)

30% OR UNDER

Tyler O’Neill, OF, STL (21%)

O’Neill has our attention after 4 HR and 2 SB in his last seven games since returning from the IL. O’Neill has been on our radar for four years, but one thing is undeniably different: he now has no competition for playing time. Matt Carpenter (56 wRC+) was benched for six straight games and Tommy Edman has taken his place in the infield, freeing up O’Neill to play every day. 

For shits and giggles, O’Neill’s career stats in 511 PA are: 26 HR, 78 R, 68 RBI, 8 SB, and a 0.231 AVG. If he did that for the rest of the year, he would have 30 HR and 10 steals which should certainly be intriguing. He has a 37.5% K rate this year and a 34.4% career rate and that will keep his average down. But O’Neill is hitting the ball harder and more consistently than ever so far, and his 99th percentile sprint speed adds to the appeal. There is not much risk in picking up O’Neill and the potential for big rewards if he can outperform his career numbers to date.

Honorable Mentions: 

  • Rafael Dolis (26%): Everyone loves Jordan Romano, but he still has no saves. Saves hold an inordinate amount of importance in this game we call fantasy baseball. Dolis has two saves and a 0.88 WHIP. He seems like the favorite to continue to get called on in save situations while Romano will be the fireman.
  • JA Happ, SP, MIN (12% to 22%): Happ has basically been good since 2015 (3.69 ERA). He gets Texas then travels to Detroit for his next two starts. Stream him and expect good ratios and underwhelming strikeouts, similar to Miley.
  • Evan Longoria, 3B, SFG (30% to 31%): If he can continue to make hard contact like he has at the top of the Giants’ lineup, it should translate to four-category success.
  • Jurickson Profar, 2B/OF, SDP (26% to 23%): The Padres like Profar enough to start him most days. He already has five steals, and while he does not have a homer yet, his track record (20 HR in 2018 and 2019; 7 HR in 2020) suggests he is a 20 HR guy.
  • Chad Green (27%): Green has a 158 ERA+, 0.96 WHIP, and 12.1 K/9 since 2017. During that time, he has earned a sneaky 20 wins. He always seems to end up in the top 100 in value at the end of the year.
  • Nick Senzel, OF, CIN (29% to 28%): This week, he followed up a 4-for-4, one steal night with his first home run of the year. His expected stats suggest a breakout could be coming. 
  • Jonathan Loaisiga, RP, NYY (13% to 21%): Loaisiga is similar to Green (and the aforementioned Antone and Gallegos) in that he will help your team by being a dominant pitcher. 
  • Gregory Soto, RP, DET (19% to 23%): Make no mistake, Soto is a pickup if you are desperate for saves and are willing to sacrifice your WHIP to get them.

20% OR UNDER

Shane McClanahan, SP, TBR (15%)

That he went four innings in his Rays debut is actually encouraging in a way. It means he will not be used like Patino for two or so innings at a time. Since he was allowed to go four innings in his debut, I have no doubt he will be relied upon to eventually go the minimum five innings to earn a win and thus boost his value. The lefty touched 101 MPH and showcased a 93 MPH slider. He averaged 97.4 and 89.6 MPH on those pitches, respectively. He had an excellent 41% CSW (Called Strikes + Whiffs) on the night as well. This is an exciting prospect who you should take a risk on.

Honorable Mentions: 

  • Lucas Sims, RP, CIN (20% to 17%)
  • Avisail Garcia, OF, MIL (19% to 10%)
  • Luis Patino, RP, TBR (12% to 15%): Patino should be viewed more like Chad Green than Shane McClanahan as he can help your ratios and strikeouts but will not help you with wins or saves.
  • Brandon Belt, 1B/OF, SFG (10% to 14%)
  • Jakob Junis (18%): Start him against Cleveland and reassess afterwards. 
  • Stefan Crichton, RP, ARI (14%): The ratios are not great but he has the closing job for the Diamondbacks at least until Soria gets healthy and back in high leverage situations.

10% OR UNDER

Adbert Alzolay, SP, CHC (7% to 8%)

While his ERA is 4.71, he has a 0.90 WHIP and his xFIP and SIERA are around 3.50. Alzolay has a great slider and throwing it more than his fastball has led to some success. He throws them both around 45%. Alzolay might need a consistent third pitch to enter the upper echelon of starting pitchers. He gets the Dodgers next but should get an enticing matchup against Cleveland if he stays in the rotation. Monitor his start versus LA.

Honorable Mentions: 

  • Pavin Smith, 1B/OF, ARI (3% to 10%)
  • Austin Slater, 1B/OF, SFG (6% to 7%): Hanging on by a thread here thanks to the appeal of his five steals.
  • Willians Astudillo, C/1B/3B (6% to 9%): He’s nothing special but he starts most days for the Twins and has catcher eligibility.

5% OR UNDER

Willie Calhoun, OF, TEX (4%)

Calhoun excited us all with 21 HR in just 337 PA in 2019 before struggling mightily last year. He has an eight game hitting streak going in which he has slashed 0.344/0.400/0.563. The batting average will regress (BABIP: 0.361; career: 0.264) but could stabilize around 0.260 with 30 HR potential and R/RBI upside. He has now batted leadoff in six of the Rangers last ten games and should continue to do so against righty pitchers. Encouragingly, he has been starting more against lefty pitchers albeit from the seven hole in the lineup. 

Honorable Mentions:

  • Luis Urias, 2B/3B/SS, MIL (4%): He has always had great plate discipline (17.1% in 2021). Now the diminutive infielder has added seven XBH so far, more than he had in all of 2020.
  • Ryne Stanek, RP, HOU (3% to 5%): He vultured a save this week when Ryan Pressley needed a rest. That will happen from time to time.
  • Robbie Grossman, OF, DET (4%)
  • Garrett Cooper, 1B/OF, MIA (2%): Cooper has scuffled to start the year but he hit 21 HR with a 0.281 AVG and an 0.806 OPS in 554 PA across 2019 and 2020. He can hit.
  • Sam Haggerty, OF, SEA (1% to 3%)
  • Andrew Young, UTIL, ARI (0%): He is not getting starts yet, but keep an eye on him if he does. Check out this tweet to see what I think about Andrew Young.

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