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Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups Week of 8/17/15

Mario Mergola lists players you should grab from your fantasy baseball waiver wire.

In every fantasy sport, playing the waiver wire is as important to long-term success as a solid draft. Fantasy baseball, in particular, contains an unprecedented amount of league scoring settings, ranging from rotisserie to head-to-head with subsets for each. Still, the large pool of players generally allows for midseason acquisitions that can help bolster any roster. It’s just a matter of finding the right piece.

Below are this week’s suggested waiver wire adds, currently owned in less than fifty percent of Yahoo! leagues.

Cesar Hernandez – 2B/3B/SS – Philadelphia Phillies

Don’t look now, but the Philadelphia Phillies actually have some offensive talent. Philadelphia looked like the early favorite to hoist the unwanted trophy for ‘Lowest Scoring offense,’ only to put together a midseason push that closed the gap on a handful of teams. While they aren’t world-beaters, the Phillies are no longer a free win for an opposing pitcher.

Leading the charge for the Phillies’ offense has been third baseman Maikel Franco (mentioned in this column), but one of the largest benefactors of Franco’s run production has been Cesar Hernandez. Typically batting first or second in the lineup, Hernandez has become a solid source for runs, stolen bases, and batting average. He has no power, but is eligible at both middle infield positions – where power is generally less of a requirement – and third base.

Like the rest of the Phillies’ offense, Hernandez started the season slowly – a .238 batting average through May. As the team goes, so does Hernandez, and he has hit .303 since the start of June. At 23-years old, the young hitter looks to be coming into form just in time for the home stretch.

Josh Hamilton – OF – Texas Rangers

Josh Hamilton’s name has appeared on fantasy baseball lists for years, but rarely in the form of a free agent. The 2010 Most Valuable Player has seen a precipitous drop in production across the board, and may be on the final leg of his tumultuous career. He has been battling injuries all year, and appears to constantly on the brink of having his season cut short at any time.

The risk in adding Josh Hamilton is astronomical, but the potential reward he brings is difficult to ignore. A power hitter back in the ballpark in which he enjoyed his greatest seasons, suddenly in the middle of a Wild Card race, Hamilton’s planets are aligning. There appears to be no better time than now for the former slugger to begin producing.

Khris Davis – OF – Milwaukee Brewers

Every preseason, fantasy baseball owners scour the ‘sleeper’ lists for a few key words. ‘Breakout,’ ‘new role,’ and ‘unlucky’ tend to be among the top choices for preferred descriptions of players, but two of the most desired words to hear for a potential draftee are, ‘raw power.’

Khris Davis has long been the definition of the all-or-nothing slugger, complete with a low batting average, abundance of strikeouts, but the always enticing feature of ‘raw power.’ Davis has also long been a disappointment.

Stationed in one of baseball’s best ‘hitter’s ballparks,’ Khris Davis is dripping with upside. He still can’t make consistent enough contact to make him a must-own player, but he is arguably the best power option on the market. His season has been consistently below average, as a whole – worse than his previous two, in many categories – but his swing remains home run-inducing, nonetheless. In fact, he has already hit more home runs in August – five, as of this writing – than any other month, all season.

Steven Matz – SP – New York Mets

As soon as he hit the disabled list, Steven Matz should have also hit the ‘target list.’ In his brief stint with his Major League club, Matz was downright filthy, striking out fourteen batters in two starts, en route to a 1.32 ERA. Would that continue if he pitched the entire season? Of course not. But a highly-touted prospect with a fantastic debut is always worth watching.

The report is that Matz will return to the Mets in a few weeks, just in time for the fantasy baseball playoffs – it was thoughtful of the Mets to consider fantasy owners with Matz’s rehab. As his return date draws nearer, his ownership percentage will surely rise. Adding him now will cost a roster spot for some of the most important weeks of the fantasy baseball season, but his well-timed return might pay huge dividends, down the road.

The Mets should remain in playoff contention into September, and they will likely lean on all of their young arms in the process. Fantasy owners should do the same, and Matz is the last available option on the free agent market.

Erasmo Ramirez – SP – Tampa Bay Rays

Erasmo Ramirez is an enigma. After three years with the Mariners – each worse than the last – Ramirez was acquired by the Rays. Already with the most starts in his short career, Ramirez is arguably having his best season, yet.

The issue with Ramirez is inconsistency. He had shown progress in the middle of the season, but has lately followed good outings with bad ones. His most recent gem – seven shutout innings – came days after allowing five runs in six innings. His up-and-down nature has spanned his last handful of starts, but he went from May 30th to July 18th without allowing more than two earned runs in an outing, and he only allowed two runs once. It’s difficult to trust Ramirez for a long stretch of time, but he is a great streaming option based on circumstances and his midseason success.

Raisel Iglesias – SP – Cincinnati Reds

Raisel Iglesias was a late-round option in the deepest of fantasy leagues, this season, and took some time before assimilated into the rotation, but now provides excellent value on a game-by-game basis. He has yet to produce a scoreless outing – he has allowed one home run in six of his last seven games – but Iglesias strikes out batters at an excellent rate – over one batter per inning, 9.2 for every nine innings pitched.

Iglesias is an electric talent that appears to have a bright future in the league. Unfortunately, his 2015 campaign might be cut short due to an innings limit, making him a better candidate for a potential keeper than an immediate add. Regardless, he has lowered his ERA for five consecutive starts, and it should not come as a surprise if he burst through some of his best performances before the year ends.

Featured Image Credit: By User Keith Allison on Flickr (Originally posted to Flickr as “00076892”) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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