I'll go ahead and submit a retraction regarding Shane Baz, who I said just three days ago wasn't deserving of our attention given that the Rays waited until the second-to-last week to call him up. My fear was that we were going in blind. He might struggle to adapt, as so many rookies do, and even if he didn't, he would probably be limited to five innings just as a matter of principle.
In a way, I was right. The second scenario came to pass. But because he managed to get a win in those five innings, putting him in your Fantasy lineup already appears to have paid off.
But it gets better (or worse, depending on your perspective). The Rays ended up using Michael Wacha out of the bullpen Tuesday, cutting their starting rotation back down to six pitchers and putting Baz in line to make a second start this week ... against the Marlins. In fact, they've already confirmed that's the plan.
If your league sets lineups daily rather than weekly, Baz is most certainly a priority pickup. What he did Monday came against the Blue Jays' high-powered lineup. The Marlins lineup is full of hitters much like the ones he was mowing down at Triple-A.
Of course, with the way he looked Monday, I'm not sure any lineup would stand a chance. He had 15 swinging strikes on just 65 pitches, playing a 98 mph fastball that seemed to defy gravity off a devastating slider. If he does something similar against the Marlins, and particularly if he goes beyond five innings, he'll also be worth using next week at the Yankees.
Baz isn't the most impactful pitcher you could pick up for the final week, though. That would be Joe Ryan, who returned to the mound Tuesday showed no ill effects from the liner he took off the wrist in his previous start.
The Twins were taking it easy with him, too, pulling him after only five innings. We know he's capable of more, given his seven one-hit innings at Cleveland in his second career start, and if it hadn't been eight days since his last turn, maybe he would have come back out for the sixth.
But either way, Ryan has now allowed just 10 hits in 22 innings across four starts, this after putting together a 2.47 ERA, 0.82 WHIP and 13.0 K/9 in the minors over the past three years. There were questions about how he'd adapt to the majors given his fastball-heavy approach, but I've seen enough to call him must-start with matchups as favorable as the Tigers and Royals next week. He should probably be your top priority on the waiver wire right now and is only 47 percent rostered.
If, however, you've already secured Ryan (and possibly Baz), here are some other pickups to consider ...
ATL Atlanta • #8 • Age: 30
Eddie Rosario performed miserably for the first three months, then strained his abdominal and landed on the IL, then got traded into a crowded outfield situation where he looked like the odd man out, so it's a wonder his roster rate remains as high as it does. But now, it looks like it needs to go up again because he seems to be getting preferential treatment over Joc Pederson, having started eight of nine for the hottest lineup in baseball. He himself is contributing to the heat, most notably by hitting for the cycle Sunday, and let's not overlook that he was basically a must-start player from 2017 through 2020.
CHC Chi. Cubs • #18 • Age: 29
I've mentioned over the past several Waiver Wire columns that I won't be featuring Frank Schwindel anymore because, well, surely everyone's tired of hearing about him. But his roster rate hasn't moved in two weeks! You're telling me only two-thirds of CBS Sports leagues have a single person who's still paying attention? That's where we're at now: He should be rostered everywhere. Ol' Frankie Two Hits continues to live up to the moniker, collecting exactly two hits in five of his past seven games, and he clearly isn't lacking for power either. In terms of priority, he should be added over everyone except maybe Joe Ryan.
Josiah Gray SP
WAS Washington • #40 • Age: 23
If there was anything Josiah Gray could do to put himself back in our good graces heading into the final week, it was what he did Wednesday. You see the line above, but he also equaled a season high with 20 swinging strikes, including 12 on the slider. It was a pitch that he seemed to lose confidence in over a miserable four-start stretch in which he struggled to find the strike zone and keep the ball in the yard en route to a 11.42 ERA. His vulnerability to the long ball makes him an especially risky play in his first start at Colorado next week, but then he gets a second start against the Red Sox. If you're in a position to sell out for upside, Gray could pay off.
COL Colorado • #7 • Age: 25
I came into the week saying Brendan Rodgers was due for some power production at Coors Field, and lo and behold, he homered in a two-hit game Tuesday. It was his fifth home run for the month of September, during which he's batting .325, so he seems to have put his August power drought behind him. You can see from his season line above that he's been pretty productive in general, better than what you'd normally find on the waiver wire at either middle infield spot. The Rockies have another series at home next week and then visit Arizona, where there isn't a quality pitcher to be found.
Lane Thomas CF
WAS Washington • #28 • Age: 26
I've been slow to come around to Lane Thomas, whose previous stints in the majors (all with the Cardinals) didn't amount to anything worthwhile, but he's getting more regular opportunities for a last-place that's simply playing out the string. And you see how it's gone for him in September. In addition to the numbers shown above, he has also scored 21 runs, his on-base skills being put to good use in the leadoff spot, and it's made him a top-five outfielder in points leagues for the month. Plus, he gets a series at Coors Field next week.