Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Adalberto Mondesi for steals, Ty Buttrey for saves
Adalberto Mondesi basically steals a base every time he plays now, and Ty Buttrey looks like the new Angels closer. But is it too little, too late for them? Scott White plays the waiver wire with only two weeks to go.
Tyler Skaggs is coming back Tuesday.
What, like I'm supposed to care?
Sean Reid-Foley is showing serious strikeout potential, recording 10 in two of his past three starts.
Yeah, but what about the start in between?
Reynaldo Lopez is throwing his changeup more, resulting in more swings-and-misses and a 1.10 ERA over his past five starts.
Too little, too late.
Yup, we've reached that point in the season when potentially exciting developments that would have sent us rushing to the waiver wire in pursuit some eventual payoff just a few short weeks ago are no more than distractions from the only goal that remains: winning a championship.
If they can't help you now, they can't help you. And these three can't help you now.
Skaggs was a must-start option for most of the season. But the last two times we saw him -- before initially going on the DL with a strained groin and then after a premature return from the DL Aug. 11 -- were kind of disastrous, raising his ERA more than a full run, so I don't see how you could activate him for his first start back. And since he lines up for two starts this week, it only leaves one more, against Oakland. Yeah, no thanks.
Reid-Foley showed big strikeout potential in the minors, too, but the fact is he's still a highly unproven commodity. In the one start between the two 10-strikeout efforts, he allowed six earned runs in 4 2/3 innings, walking five. Would you expose yourself to that sort of risk with so much on the line? Not me.
Lopez is the most reasonable choice to add of the three, but in standard mixed leagues, it's still a no-go for me. He doesn't have any more two-start weeks remaining, and his remaining two starts are against Cleveland, which boasts a top-five offense. If you're going the one-start sleeper route, you have to go with someone facing Kansas City, Detroit, Baltimore, San Diego, San Francisco or Miami, I think.
Of course, if you're going the one-start sleeper route, considering how good your roster must have been to advance to this point, something has gone seriously wrong.
So let's see who actually could be of some use off the waiver wire ...
Adalberto Mondesi's outlook seems to improve by the day, probably because hardly a day goes by without him stealing a base. He stole his fifth in six games Sunday, also hitting a home run, and as you can see above, he hasn't been a slouch in the power categories during this hot stretch. Now that he's actually playing every day, having started 12 straight games for the Royals, he's coming close to what everyone hoped Trea Turner would be at the start of the year, even if it's somewhat BABIP-inflated.
You may look at the ERA from his past six starts and think Joe Musgrove is a two-start pitcher to avoid, but I look at those other numbers and am amazed he's available at all. He has evolved in the most wonderful way during that six-start stretch, generating swinging strikes at a 15 percent rate — or roughly the equivalent of Justin Verlander — compared to a 10 percent rate in his first 12 starts, and it happened without him sacrificing his always excellent control. Against the Royals and Brewers this week, he's an easy call.
Brad Keller hasn't missed bats at the rate of Musgrove or at even an average rate for a major-league pitcher. But he can get away with it because he does something else exceptionally well: generate ground balls. It'd be the second-best rate in all of baseball if he had the innings to qualify. And while ground balls do yield more hits than strikeouts, those hits are rarely of the extra-base variety, which can make for the ERA-WHIP disparity we see here. Look, Keller is no stud in waiting, but he'll face the Pirates and Tigers this week.
The Diamondbacks can use the "committee" line all they want, but since demoting Brad Boxberger from the closer role, they've left little doubt Yoshihisa Hirano is their man. They've given him all three save chances, and after he blew the second one in particularly dramatic fashion Wednesday, they went right back to him Friday. Of course, he allowed two baserunners in that outing and gives up a little too much contact for such a critical point in the game, which is why you might be even better off with ...
Ty Buttrey struck out the side in a perfect ninth inning Sunday for his third save, giving him three of the Angels' past four. During time, he has also earned a couple holds, which keeps his role murky, but if nothing else, it's clear now he has first dibs over Blake Parker. And he certainly has the stuff to close, occasionally hitting triple digits with his fastball. He struck out 74 in 49 innings between two Triple-A affiliates, having come over from the Red Sox in the Ian Kinsler deal.
Brandon Lowe, who joined the big club in August, began his major-league career 0 for 19, which reminds me a little of Alex Bregman beginning his career 0 for 18, especially given what Lowe has accomplished since then. He always reached base at a high rate in the minors but took a big leap forward as a power hitter this year, homering 22 times in 380 at-bats between two levels, so to see that power translate to the majors gives you real hope he's going to be an instrumental part of the Rays lineup for years to come. And seeing as he has started six of the past seven games at second base in what looks like an audition for next year, it's hopefully true for the present as well.
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