Welcome back to another season of Fantasy baseball waiver wire picks. Each weekend, we’ll highlight players that are widely available (not owned in more than 50 per cent of ESPN or CBS leagues). As always, expect some deep picks, some category specific choices, some minor leaguers, some stash options and some dynasty options. It’s a mixed bag of Fantasy baseball goodness!
This week, CC Sabathia had to come out early with a hip issue and is headed for an MRI; Milwaukee lost closer Corey Knebel (hamstring) for six weeks (see below for a possible replacement option); and Philly fans struck again, booing Manager Gabe Kapler before their home opener.
And now, let’s get to our first batch of Fantasy baseball waiver wire recommendations for 2018…
Trevor Williams, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates (ESPN: 9.8 per cent; CBS: 20 per cent): If nothing else, Williams’ start to the season is interesting. In his debut, he no-hit the Reds over six innings (see video below), a game in which he got some help from his defense, but had to be pulled as he issued five walks. On Friday, Williams showed much better command, but gave up 10 hits in 5 1/3 IP. However, he only surrendered two runs and came away with a second straight win. We’re not completely sold on Williams yet, but he’s definitely worth a pickup while we try to figure out what we’ve got on our hands here. Last year, he failed to land the fifth starter job our of Spring Training, yet still spent most of the season in the rotation. This year, Williams has a job from the get-go, and we think he could be a real surprise.
Jacob Barnes, RP, Milwaukee Brewers (ESPN: 7.5 per cent; CBS: 13 per cent): Barnes has been lights out early on, but with news that Knebel will miss several weeks, his stock is rising. Milwaukee Manager Craig Counsell has refused to name a replacement closer, claiming the Brewers will mix and match, going with a committee, but Fantasy owners have been all over Barnes as the top candidate. Barnes will be a Fantasy asset in holds leagues regardless, but right now, may have to fend off the likes of Josh Hader, Matt Albers, Jeremy Jeffress and Dan Jennings to earn consistent saves.
Chris Owings, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks (ESPN: 31.4 per cent; CBS: 35 per cent): Owings has been playing out of his mind early on. On Thursday, he was 3-for-3 with two runs, a double and a walk, giving him hits in six straight. Through the first week, Owings is third in the NL in hitting, teaming with Nick Ahmed to lead the D-Backs to a 6-1 start. Right… just like we all expected! We love the fact that Owings is drawing walks at an elite level all of a sudden (12.5 per cent walk rate). If this is for real, we’ve got a major breakout on our hands.
Joey Lucchesi, SP, San Diego Padres (ESPN: 1.6 per cent; CBS: 10 per cent): Lucchesi sure looked sharp in his second start on Thursday, hurling five shutout frames with just one hit allowed. The rookie has yet to give up a homer through 40 batters faced this season, and his 2.79 ERA through a pair of starts deserves some Fantasy attention. Last year, Lucchesi racked up a ton of Ks at High-A before moving on to Double-A, where he kept winning. He hasn’t gotten much attention up to this point, but is certainly worth a speculative pickup now to see how this plays out.
Preston Tucker, OF, Atlanta Braves (ESPN: 26.6 per cent; CBS: 23 per cent): Another early-season surprise, Tucker is raking so far, delivering hits in all seven games, scoring five and driving in seven runs over the last three and drawing walks in the last two. His strike zone judgment is massively improved so far, and he’s been a DFS darling in the first week of play. How long can Tucker keep this up? It’s worth picking him up to find out.
Victor Caratini, C, Chicago Cubs (ESPN: 0.3 per cent; CBS: 2 per cent): Simply a very deep NL-only or perhaps deep sleeper in DFS play, Caratini took over at first base on Friday with Anthony Rizzo (back) ailing. While Caratini, normally a catcher, had some adventures defensively, he did get a hit and an RBI. He was an extreme groundball hitter last year, but it’s not quite as pronounced in the early going, so perhaps we’ll get a bigger hint of the power he flashed at Triple-A last year (10 homers in 83 games).
Nick Pivetta, SP, Philadelphia Phillies (ESPN: 2.5 per cent; CBS: 19 per cent): Pivetta didn’t impress in his season debut, but he was on his game Thursday against the underwhelming Marlins. He hurled 5 2/3 goose eggs, fanning nine without a walk and just four hits allowed. Pivetta was really freezing the Fish, getting 23 called strikes, and the Phils fans were none to happy when Kapler came out to give him the hook. It’s early, but Pivetta is only averaging 85 pitches per start after tossing nearly 94 per outing last year.
Drew Waters, OF, Atlanta Braves (ESPN: NA; CBS: 1 per cent): Here’s our early-season Dynasty pick of the week. Atlanta’s 2017 second rounder is a Georgia boy and switch hitter, to boot. Waters is making his full-season ball debut this year after a productive first pro season at the GCL in 2017. He was promoted to the Appy League after a couple of weeks, and piled up plenty of runs there. Waters has the tools to be a minor league breakout candidate this year, so don’t be surprised to see him popping up on prospect lists as the season progresses.
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below who your favourite Fantasy baseball waiver wire pick of the week is.