I'll admit that this final edition of Waiver Wire heading into Week 27 (Sept. 27-Oct. 3) feels a tad bit unnecessary. All that matters is what you're doing for the final lineup lock, and I've already spoken to that need with my Top 10 Sleeper Pitchers and Top 10 Sleeper Hitters for the upcoming scoring period. I encourage you to click on those links and explore those names if you haven't done so already.
But "waiver wire" is itself a popular search term, and I don't want to underserve those who've always relied on it. So I've gathered here some of my favorites from the sleeper pitchers and hitters articles, along with a couple surprises, and added a few details for those who've heard it all already.
All right, then ... for the best pickups other than them ...
LAD L.A. Dodgers • #26 • Age: 27
I'd like to be able to give Tony Gonsolin a more emphatic recommendation for this week, but it's unclear what kind of workload the Dodgers are permitting him. He managed to make it through five innings in each of his two starts back from a shoulder injury (with a multi-inning relief appearance in between) but didn't reach 70 pitches in either one. If he was less efficient, would the Dodgers have let him throw more to get through five innings still? I like his matchup against the already eliminated Padres and think his secondary stuff has looked better since returning, but I'm on the fence about using him this week.
Joe Ryan SP
MIN Minnesota • #74 • Age: 25
Picking up Joe Ryan wasn't even in question heading into the weekend, when he appeared to be in line for two starts, but a stint on the bereavement list has pushed his next turn back to Thursday. He'll still be facing the Tigers, which is the sort of matchup that regularly makes for sleeper pitchers, and with Ryan looking as unhittable through four big-league starts as he did in his minor-league career, I'm not sure how much the matchup even matters. He's still my favorite sleeper pitcher for this week, though not by as wide of a margin as when he was scheduled for two starts.
Shane Baz SP
TB Tampa Bay • #11 • Age: 22
As if Shane Baz's debut against the Blue Jays last week wasn't impressive enough, he showed us what he could do against a Triple-A lineup (or the major-league equivalent, anyway) over the weekend. Frankly, his stuff looks like it would overpower anyone, and what may have been most impressive about Sunday's start is that he barely used the slider that carved up the Blue Jays lineup, instead emphasizing the curveball. Only once in the minors this year did he exceed five innings, so the playoff-bound Rays seem motivated to extend him. I like his chances even at the Yankees this week.
WAS Washington • #20 • Age: 23
I didn't include Keibert Ruiz among my 10 sleeper hitters for this week, but since I omitted catchers entirely, I'll highlight him for those who have a need at that position. Daulton Varsho and Elias Diaz wouldn't be bad pickups either, but Ruiz, who broke through as a power hitter in the minors this year, finally hit his first two home runs with the Nationals over the weekend. He's been piling up multi-hit games recently, batting .471 (16 for 34) with just one strikeout over his past eight. Particularly with the Nationals traveling to Coors Field for three games this week, he's a reasonable bet to keep it going.
Alex Cobb SP
LAA L.A. Angels • #38 • Age: 34
Alex Cobb was too big of a risk against the Astros last week in only his second start back from a two-month absence, particularly after throwing just 66 pitches in his first start back. But he was able to extend himself to 93 pitches while limiting the majors' best offense to one run in 5 2/3 innings. So now he's fully stretched out for a meeting with the majors' worst offense, the Rangers, this week. The 33-year-old has leaned heavily on his splitter this year, boasting an elite ground-ball rate and career-best swinging-strike rate as a result, and his 3.34 xFIP suggests you can trust him with such a favorable matchup.
STL St. Louis • #48 • Age: 27
Harrison Bader had been showing signs of putting it together at the plate, and with his explosion this weekend, he's now batting .609 (14 for 23) with three homers, four doubles and two stolen bases over his past six games. He has maintained a much lower strikeout this year after addressing a vision problem in the offseason, and while his quality of contact has been lacking overall, it clearly isn't an issue right now. The Cardinals will miss Corbin Burnes and Freddy Peralta in their series against the Brewers this week, so overall, their matchups are pretty favorable.
Lane Thomas CF
WAS Washington • #28 • Age: 26
Lane Thomas stepped not just into the starting lineup but also the leadoff role following the Nationals' big sell-off in July, and in September especially, he's looked like a natural. We've seen him in the majors before, even earlier this year with the Cardinals, but the lack of regular reps may have held him back. The on-base skills weren't quite so pronounced in the minors and may not be here to stay, but he's a hot-hand play who happens to have a series at Coors Field this week.
DET Detroit • #32 • Age: 28
If Giovanny Gallegos is long gone but your saves needs as present as ever, Michael Fulmer may be the pickup for you. He's flying under the radar because he only recently stepped back into the closer role for the Tigers, recording four of their past six save chances (he needed a couple days off at one point) in the span of two weeks. Your choices are likely between him and the Rangers' Joe Barlow, but Fulmer plays for the better team, not to mention the one with seven games this week.