Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Anibal Sanchez, Josh James make case for Week 27
There may not be a miracle pickup available on the waiver wire this time of year, but that doesn't stop you from making a defensive claim, according to Scott White.
I'll be honest with you: I'm about over this waiver wire nonsense.
We're in the last 10 days of the season now. The last 10. Even assuming your league includes all of that and you're looking to participate in it, there's not much to be found at this point.
Most waiver wire pickups are a response to a first glimmer of potential in someone. Most are long-term projects who you hope will eventually become trusted parts of your lineup, but you're generally not putting them in there right away.
Anyone you add at this point in the season, though, is someone you have to be willing to use now, whether it's tomorrow or next week, because that's all there is. And if I come up with multiple options who meet that criteria today, I'm spouting nonsense. The players who've earned that level of trust by now are the ones you added three weeks ago.
Or they're Adalberto Mondesi, who I'd rather not get into again. Sorry, but I have two more of these to write. I need to pace myself.
There is such thing as a defensive pickup, though, meaning a player who you aren't willing to trust in yet but who you don't want to see beat you either. And Tuesday gave us a prime example.
It'd be tough to make a case to add Dylan Bundy anyway given his dramatic ups and downs all season, but he does appear to be on the upswing again, delivering back-to-back starts in which his slider was the elite swing-and-miss pitch it's often purported to be, most recently contributing to his 20 swinging strikes Tuesday against the Blue Jays.
Think back to April and June, when he had the look of a Fantasy ace. You wouldn't want him tapping into that for two starts against you next week, right? That said, he'll be facing the Red Sox and Astros in those two starts, so you wouldn't (and shouldn't) have the guts to use him yourself. It's a total defensive pickup.
It was reasonable to doubt Anibal Sanchez in June, but September's pushing it. He has more strikeouts than innings pitched, one of the best soft-hit rates in the game and a FIP in the mid-threes. He's pretty good, he has been all year, and he presumably will be in his two starts next week. Maybe it ends up being only one, as happened in Week 26, but better to add him now and let the probable pitchers sort themselves out later.
Yeah, he's pushing the magical 80-percent threshold, which this late in the year probably means Michael Conforto isn't getting added anywhere else, but I still want to take the opportunity to point out just how drastically his season has changed in the second half, during which he has hit .273 with 15 homers and an OPS just shy of .900 compared to .216 with 11 homers and an OPS just over .700 before the All-Star break. The difference is pretty much all in the ISO, which suggests he simply needed a little more time to regain the strength in his shoulder after last year's surgery. It's an exciting development for next year, if nothing else.
If not for Craig Stammen blowing the lead in the eighth inning Tuesday, Kirby Yates would have secured his 10th save and eighth since the Padres dealt Brad Hand to the Indians at the start of the second half. It's an underwhelming number, but three (and nearly four) saves have come in the past 10 days. The slow saves pace — which was never an issue for Hand, by the way — is the only reason Yates is still available in nearly half of CBS Sports leagues, considering his dominant numbers otherwise. If you need saves help down the stretch, maybe you don't have to dig as deep as Yoshihisa HIrano or Ty Buttrey.
Derek Holland didn't have the greatest showing Tuesday against the Padres, allowing four earned runs in five innings, but it doesn't negate the long run of success for the left-hander, who saw his quality start streak snapped at four. What he has done since June 1 he has done with a normal BABIP and a better strikeout rate than you probably realize. And with another start against the Padres to kick off a two-start week next time out, he's a sneaky pickup to close out the season.
Now you see what makes Josh James so exciting. His spot start Tuesday had him flirting with triple digits and piling up 16 swinging strikes. In his only other start Sept. 1, he struck out nine in five innings, making a couple of multi-inning relief appearances in between. I can't say for sure if the breakthrough 26-year-old, who compiled a 3.23 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 13.5 strikeouts per nine innings in the minors this year, will make another start in the season's final week, but with the Astros looking to align their rotation for the postseason, it seems likely. And that start would come against either the Blue Jays or the Orioles.
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Scott White is an award-winning Fantasy Baseball analyst
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Scott White is an award-winning Fantasy baseball analyst