Waiver Wire Pickups of the Week (Week of May 31, 2021): Best Players Available Under 50%, 40%, 30%, 20%, and 10% on Yahoo

by Mickey Bell

*Stats and Roster % as of the morning of May 30


  • Alek Manoah, SP, TOR (43% to 66%)
  • Rich Hill, SP, TBR (47% to 65%)
  • Framber Valdez, SP, HOU (49% to 62%)
  • Anthony Santander, OF, BAL (46% to 59%)
  • Tyler O’Neill, OF, STL (26% to 54%)
  • Alex Kirilloff, OF, MIN (49% to 53%)
  • Jordan Romano, RP, TOR (48% to 52%)
  • Yusei Kikuchi, SP, SEA (47% to 52%)


Shane McClanahan, SP, TBR (34% to 43%)

Alek Manoah gets the headlines but McClanahan continues to look great. He picked up wins in two of his last three starts and now consistently pitches five innings. His SwStr% on the year stands at 17.7%, which would lead the league over Shane Bieber (17.4%) if he qualified. His CSW% (called strikes plus whiffs) ranks 4th among starting pitchers with at least 25 IP behind Jacob deGrom, Corbin Burnes, and Bieber. Good company.

Honorable Mentions: 

  • CJ Cron, 1B, COL (50%)
  • Bryan Reynolds, OF, PIT (45% to 49%): Reynolds has 2 HR in his last three games. His Max Exit Velocity (EV) ranks in the 88th percentile portending future power success. He should be especially appealing to those looking for help in the average category as the switch hitter has a 0.282 career average and has no clear splits difference from either side of the plate.
  • AJ Pollock, OF, LAD (45%)
  • Jurickson Profar, 2B/OF, SDP (17% to 41%): Profar has been in my articles for weeks, and his rostership finally jumped after a ten game stretch with four steals. Profar’s limited overall upside must be emphasized. He helps you with steals and does often bat second for the Padres. However, expect below average power and batting average moving forward.
  • Casey Mize, SP, DET (42% to 50%): Your buy low period for Mize in dynasty has probably closed. And Mize’s improvements stress the importance of not giving up on elite pitching prospects when they struggle on their first try in the majors. He held the Yankees to one run while striking out seven in five innings. Over his last six starts, MLB.com’s #11 prospect has a 2.19 ERA (3.34 FIP) and a 0.92 WHIP. Remain cautious in tough matchups such as the White Sox next. His 10.3% SwStr% (Swinging Strike percentage) during these past six starts still has room for improvement and his 5.2% SwStr% against the Yankees means those seven strikeouts were not the result of a dominant performance in terms of whiffs.
  • Luis Severino, SP, NYY (48%)
  • Spencer Turnbull, SP, DET (47%)
  • Tony Gonsolin, SP/RP, LAD (39% to 42%): Gonsolin, who has been on the IL since the start of the year, owns a career 0.92 WHIP in 86.2 IP across two seasons. He has pitched in two rehab games and could rejoin the team if he stretches out sufficiently in his next rehab start. Once he comes back and builds his pitch count up, he should be relied on fairly heavily as the Dodgers do not have the same depth they have had in previous years.
  • Luis Garcia, SP/RP, HOU (21% to 41%): Jake Odorizzi, Framber Valdez, and Jose Urquidy are all returning, but it was Cristian Javier not Garcia who got the demotion to the bullpen. McCullers went to the IL so Garcia’s spot in the rotation will remain for the foreseeable future. Garcia (minors career: 2.50 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 12.5 K/9) has a 2.93 (3.59 SIERA), 1.02 WHIP, and 54 K in 46 IP. 
  • Jake Diekman, RP, OAK (47%)
  • Giovanny Gallegos, RP, STL (45% to 47%)
  • Michael Fulmer, SP/RP, DET (42% to 43%)
  • Tejay Antone, RP, CIN (41% to 43%): Antone has a 0.75 WHIP, a 0.118 BAA, and 36 K in 26.2 IP. His 25.5% CStr% (Called Strikes) leads the league among all pitchers with at least 20 IP. His CSW% ranks second to Matt Barnes. He throws his curveball and slider for strikes and yet no one can hit them. His only Achilles’ heel has been his fastball with a 24.1% BB rate.


Jonathan Villar, 2B/3B/SS, NYM (37% to 40%)

The Mets have an injury crisis with JD Davis, Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, Kevin Pillar, and Albert Almora out. While Alonso could return soon, Davis had a setback and most others are still a ways away from returning. Villar, who had 24 HR and 40 steals in 2019, has 5 HR and 5 SB in 121 AB this year. Similar to Whit Merrifield being the 38th ranked fantasy player despite a 0.683 OPS, Villar’s power/speed combo helps you in fantasy despite meh real life numbers. His three-position eligibility only adds to his value.

Honorable Mentions: 

  • Omar Narvaez, C, MIL (46% to 38%): While he has not had great results since returning from the IL, Narvaez should still be rostered in most leagues. His Sweet Spot % is at 51.7% meaning he makes solid contact and limits grounders and pop-ups. His K rate (17.9%) has returned to closer to his career averages after an aberrant 2020 (31.0% K rate). These factors combined mean his 0.303 average has not been lucky (0.297 xBA).
  • Avisail Garcia, OF, MIL (27% to 39%): Garcia, a mainstay in this article every week, has a 0.930 OPS in May (not including today in which he homered) and 10 HR and 4 steals on the year. His HardHit % is in the 83rd percentile. His warts include chasing and striking out too much and a 53.4% groundball rate leading to a poor 33.6% Sweet Spot %. Still, he steals (90th percentile sprint speed) and hits for power enough that he should be rostered almost everywhere.
  • Garrett Cooper, 1B/OF, MIA (3% to 34%): Similar to Profar, Cooper has been in this article every week but his rostership shot up after a good week. His per 162 game averages from 2019-2021 are 23 HR, 77 R, 79 RBI, and a 0.278 AVG.
  • Ryan Weathers, SP/RP, SDP (37%): His value is capped because he keeps starting and pitching four innings and being ineligible for wins. However, he has sparkling ratios (1.31 ERA, 0.90 WHIP) despite less than a strikeout per inning.
  • James Kaprielian, SP/RP, OAK (36%): Kap has three starts under his belt and allowed just 3 ER in 17.2 innings. He silenced the Mariners over seven innings in his most recent start. Once a Top 100 prospect while with the Yankees, he has pitched just 123.1 innings in the majors and minors combined since being drafted in 2015. Yes, you read that right. An innings cap will certainly be in play, but it is great to see an excellent pitcher healthy and hurling.
  • Adbert Alzolay, SP, CHC (34%)
  • JT Brubaker, SP, PIT (48% to 32%): Despite two straight bad starts, I promoted Brubaker as a streamer, and he threw six scoreless versus the Rockies. Currently on the bereavement list, he is still scheduled to start at home versus the Marlins on June 4.
  • Daniel Bard, RP, COL (31% to 33%): His 1.83 WHIP ain’t pretty but there are team-specific situations where you will do ANYTHING for saves. The Rockies closer has not allowed an earned run in seven of his last eight appearances.


William Contreras, C, ATL (24% to 23%)

Contreras’s batted ball numbers continue to impress in this small sample. His 10.8% Brls/PA ranks 14th in the MLB among batters with 40 or more batted ball events. 

Honorable Mentions: 

  • Evan Longoria, 3B, SFG (29%)
  • Andrew Vaughn, 1B/OF, CWS (29%): Since hitting homers in back-to-back games last week, Vaughn’s quality of contact has decreased a little. Still, on the year, his HardHit% ranks in the 89th percentile. 
  • Pavin Smith, 1B/OF, ARI (16% to 28%): Smith still ranks 10th in the league (Min: 100 PA) in HardHit/PA, a statistic coined by Alexander Chase (@chase_rate on Twitter). He has batted 0.444 over his past nine games with a 1.154 OPS. Smith’s batted ball numbers and excellent contact skills imply he could continue to do great things with his hard hit balls and maybe even be reward with more XBH (extra base hits).
  • Jeimer Candelario, 1B/3B, DET (27% to 28%): If you combine Candelario’s 415 PA from 2020 and 2021, he has a 0.291 average, 0.819 OPS, and 11 HR. While I buy him as a good real life hitter, his below average power and lack of steals limit his upside in fantasy.
  • Lorenzo Cain, OF, MIL (29% to 27%): Better days are ahead for the 35 year old who still has 84th percentile sprint speed.
  • Ty France, 1B/2B/3B, SEA (26%)
  • Greg Holland, RP, KCR (28%): After Josh Staumont went to the IL, Holland got and converted the first save opportunity for the Royals with a 1-2-3 inning.
  • Chad Green, RP, NYY (25% to 26%) 
  • Jonathan Loaisiga, RP, NYY (23% to 24%): He has 4 wins and 2 saves on the year. Since he goes multiple innings at times, he gets those chances to pick up decisions more often.
  • Hansel Robles, RP, MIN (22%): The Twins’ closer job is currently shared by Robles and Taylor Rogers.
  • Joakim Soria, RP, ARI (23% to 22%): Stefan Crichton continues to get hit around, but the Diamondbacks have also lost 13 straight games.


Willy Adames, SS, MIL (9% to 18%)

Adames got traded to the Brewers and has started off hot with a 0.938 OPS over his first 31 PA there. Sometimes a change of scenery is enough to jumpstart a talented player’s career and Adames, who had a 124 wRC+ last year, is certainly talented. But Adames has also openly said he struggled to hit at Tampa’s Tropicana field and his career splits show that (Home: 0.616 OPS; Road: 0.864 OPS). Adames did not know what caused it; it could have been the lighting, the batter’s eye, or something else. Regardless, he now moves to a hitter-friendly home park. Adames strikes out too much, but projection systems think he should hit about 15 HR the rest of the way while chipping in around five steals. And who knows? Maybe the shift to Milwaukee will help him even more.

Honorable Mentions: 

  • Zach McKinstry, OF, LAD (16%): McKinstry started and played right field in his return from the IL. He could soon get 2B as he has played six games there so far this year. AJ Pollock’s nearing return from the IL could affect McKinstry’s playing time.
  • Willie Calhoun, OF, TEX (16% to 11%)
  • Tyler Anderson, SP, PIT (25% to 14%): Anderson gets the Royals next and can be streamed.


Tyler Stephenson, C/1B, CIN (5% to 6%)

Stephenson plays just about every day (18 starts at C, 6 starts at 1B) and recently picked up 1B eligibility on Yahoo. Joey Votto remains out so Stephenson will continue to see starts at first base. He bats cleanup or fifth most days. The results (0.699 OPS) have not been so nice yet, but this is a catcher with consistent playing time and a prime lineup slot we are talking about. He ranked in many Top 100 prospects lists to start the year and his calling card is his elite power potential.

Honorable Mentions: 

  • Jacob Stallings, C, PIT (10% to 8%)
  • Corey Dickerson, OF, MIA (9% to 8%)
  • Brendan Rodgers, 2B/SS, COL (7%): While Rodgers has just a 0.473 OPS in 126 career AB, he also has never gotten an extended chance to get comfortable. Trevor Story went to the IL this week with elbow inflammation so Rodgers should get a chance to start at SS every day. He holds a 0.858 career OPS in the minors, peaked as high as #10 on MLB’s top prospect list, and plays his home games at Coors Field. 
  • Josh Naylor, OF, CLE (6% to 4%)
  • Trevor Larnach, OF, MIN (3%)
  • Alex Cobb, SP, LAA (6%): Cobb has allowed just one run over his past 17 innings and gets the struggling Mariners offense next.

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