Sometimes when looking at the waiver wire, we don't get to talk much about upside. Sometimes, all you want is to ride a hot hand for a few weeks while you wait for an injury to pass, after all.
But that's not what we're doing today. Heading into Week 13, we're at least halfway through most Fantasy seasons. While MLB teams are still 10 games or so away from the true midway point, for Fantasy, we're getting closer to the stretch run. Which means you're either trying to shore up your squad for the championship push, or just get into the playoff picture. Either way, you want to target potential difference makers, and here are five to consider who could be in position to make an impact.
Five players to add on waivers
Zack Collins (5%) — Collins is set to make his MLB debut this week, and Fantasy players might as well go add him now, because he may not have catcher eligibility much beyond this season. Collins is an interesting bat, with power and patience, but it's not clear he'll be able to stick behind the plate long term. With James McCann and Welington Castillo already splitting time at catcher for the White Sox, don't be surprised to see Collins' bat in the lineup at DH, where they've received an impossibly bad .191/.294/.357 line collectively. You don't care where Collins plays, as long as his bat is in the lineup. He's worth a look in two-catcher leagues.
Jesus Luzardo (59%) — Between spring training and his rehab assignment, Luzardo has thrown 16.2 innings this season with 26 strikeouts, four walks, and 12 hits allowed. As long as the shoulder holds up, he looks like a potentially dominant starter, and with his rehab moving to Triple-A this week, he may be in the A's rotation before the end of the month.
Framber Valdez (60%) — In two starts since joining the Astros' rotation, Valdez has 15 strikeouts, two walks, and just three runs allowed in 13 innings. The control is the best sign, as he had 4.5 BB/9 prior to joining the rotation. Another win for the Astros, who continue to wring the best out of their pitchers.
Pablo Lopez (51%) — If you just remove his disastrous start against the Mets on May 10, when he was bombed for 10 runs in three innings, Lopez has a 3.18 ERA this season. Obviously, you can't just remove a pitcher's worst start and say that's who they are, but Lopez also has a 2.27 ERA in six starts since that outing, and his 3.54 FIP suggests he's been better than the overall numbers show. It's hard to argue.
Scott Oberg (20%) — Wade Davis just hasn't been right since coming back from the IL, allowing nine hits, three walks, and seven earned runs in 4.1 innings of work in five outings, with just three strikeouts. Oberg, on the other hand, has been dominant over the last month, sporting a 1.35 ERA with 19 strikeouts and just four walks in 13.1 innings of work. He picked up three saves with Davis on the IL, and is likely next in line if Davis is removed from the role.
Weekend winners and losers
Charlie Blackmon — Anyone who believed in a Blackmon bounceback season has been thoroughly rewarded, as the veteran is now hitting .336/.385/.652, right in line with what he managed in 2017's career year. Sure, a 15-hit series helped, but he'd been red-hot since the start of May, and looks like a borderline first-rounder yet again.
Edwin Encarnacion — Not that Encarnacion's power is really park dependent, but the move to the Yankees gives him a nice environment to hit for the rest of the season. There may be concerns about playing time elsewhere on the roster, but Encarnacion should get plenty of opportunities to drive in runs in a lineup that is about to return Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge.
Trevor Bauer — Bauer has talked about feeling like he's on track lately, despite the results not showing it, and maybe this will end up being a turning point. He tossed a complete game shutout in a win over the Tigers, and perhaps most importantly, did not issue a single walk in the game. Despite his inconsistencies, Bauer's ERA is down to 3.51 for the season, though he did have eight walks in his previous two starts.
Brendan Rodgers — Not every prospect hits the ground running, though in Rodgers' case, it would have been nice to see him get a legitimate shot. Rodgers started five of the first seven games after being called up by the Rockies, going 7 for 21 in those games, but never really found consistent playing time. He ended up starting just 12 of 27 games in his time with the team and is better served playing every day in the minors. His time will come.
Max Fried — In his first eight appearances, Fried was nearly unhittable, allowing a 2.11 ERA and going at least six innings in five of six starts. In eight since, he's gone six innings just three times, while posting a 6.10 ERA. Fried certainly isn't without talent, but he's still searching for consistency and a third pitch, and the Braves may not have much more patience with Dallas Keuchel set to join the team this week.
Derek Dietrich — Speaking of potentially running out of time … Dietrich looked like he might be mashing his way into an everyday role even when Scooter Gennett was healthy, but he's gone ice cold since his three-homer game, going 7 for 42 in that span. With Gennett beginning his rehab assignment this week, Dietrich is likely heading back to a reserve role before long.