We’re to the point in the season in that each free agent you scoop up off of the waiver wire is a long-term solution that can help you make the playoffs and ultimately win a championship. Sure there are players you can stash if you have the flexibility to do so, but are those players going to help you win is the real question at hand.
Aaron Nola, PHI SP (66% ownership), FAAB Bid - $18 – The free agent pitching pool is scarce right now, and by scarce we mean difference makers. However, Nola could be that guy for you. Over 111 innings in 2016, Nola posted a 9.81 K/9 mark, while inducing groundballs at a 55.2-percent clip. He hasn’t been the same pitcher in terms of missing bats thus far in ’17, nor is he getting as many groundballs. That said, we saw him get grounders at a 52.4-percent clip during his last start, which shows us the light in terms of getting back to where he was last season. He’s been victimized by Citizens Bank Park this year, but has held opponents to a .288 road wOBA. Nola has SP2/3 potential and with a think player pool, he’s worth taking a shot on in all formats.
Brandon Crawford, SS SF (43% ownership), FAAB Bid - $7 – After two straight really successful offensive campaigns in 2015 and ’16, ’17 has been anything but. He’s been awful over the past two weeks going 9-for-44 (.205) and has notched a measly .291 wOBA on the year. But we have him here being picked up in virtually all formats, why is that? Crawford has excelled versus southpaws this year slashing .304/.370/.522, which is good for a .892 OPS but vs. RHP, he’s posted an OPS of just .629. Thing about it is, he’s making more hard contact versus righties (34.2%) than left-handers (30.2), which shows how unlucky he’s truly been. Crawford is a prime buy candidate at a shortstop position you can probably use an upgrade at if you don’t have one of the top guns.
Mitch Moreland, BOS 1B (22% ownership), FAAB Bid - $12 – Moreland is obviously not David Ortiz, but he has been a really good replacement. Over the last 30 days in particular he’s hitting .331 with seven homeruns and 21 RBI. He has raked vs. RHP this year, posting a .889 OPS and a .371 wOBA against them. He’s making 45.1-percent hard contact on the year which is a clear indication these numbers aren’t going to regress at all.
Mike Zunino, SEA C (21% ownership), FAAB Bid - $11 – Whatever Zunino is on we want, unless it makes our balls shrink of course. The once top pick/prospect has come on extremely strong lately, especially over the last 14 days as he’s hit .405 and driven in 18 runs which ties him with Gary Sanchez for the league lead over that span. The improvement seemingly started in May when he made just 6.3-percent soft contact while making hard contact 43.8-percent of the time. Catcher is definitely one of the more weak positions in baseball, so the addition of Zunino could make the difference going forward if he can continue to stroke the ball this way.
Mike Fiers, HOU SP (23% ownership), FAAB Bid - $9 – There is no denying that Fiers has been excellent over his recent four starts. He’s allowed just five earned runs over those four starts, which is a sample size of 25.1 innings. What’s been most impressive has been his ability to keep the ball in the yard. He allowed 18 homeruns over his first nine starts and none during this recent stretch. He still ranks fourth in the game in HR allowed, but he’s gotten outs via groundballs 61-percent or more in three of the aforementioned four quality outings. Fiers has turned things around for the better and is someone you can trust in most formats right now.
Nick Castellanos, DET 3B (36% ownership), FAAB Bid - $9 – It’s tough to look at Castellanos season-long numbers and think he’s worth the pickup, but he’s turned it around in June. He’s hit .333 thus far in the month and has as many homeruns (4) as he did in April and May combined. His K-rate has also decreased each month as his June mark is down to 23.2-percent. Another massive uptick is his wOBA, which hadn’t been north of .329 in each of the first two months but for June, it’s at an elite .445 level.
Eduardo Escobar, MIN SS, 3B (7% ownership), FAAB Bid - $6 – Escobar is a great deep-league addition at this point of the season. He’s been especially hot of late, posting four multi-hit outings over his last five contests including one five-hit game and three homeruns. As of today, June 17th, Escobar has an .823 OPS with a .347 wOBA. The only drawback on Escobar has been his split-time with Jorge Polanco, but Polanco is simply not producing at the same level Escobar is.
Daniel Norris, DET SP (11% ownership), FAAB Bid - $3 – Norris has been inconsistent throughout the year, but has seemingly gotten better of late, especially missing bats. He’s struck out 21 opponents over his last three starts spanning 17 innings. Two of those starts registered as quality outings and the third was a five inning, two-run outing. His strikeout percentage for the year sits at 21.4 but just in June it’s 28.8. He’s risky because his inconsistencies, but if he can continue missing bats he’s worth an SP4/5 spot on most rosters.
*ownership percentages courtesy of Yahoo
** FAAB bids based on $100 budget