Timing is everything on the waiver wire. I didn’t get a chance to include Michael Kopech in a Waiver Wired column before he was rostered in 50 percent of Yahoo leagues, but it’s not like you need my help to convince you to pick him up. It was a shame to see the rain interrupt his much-anticipated major league debut, but we still got a chance to see what the hype was all about.
While Kopech needed a lot of pitches — 52 of them, to be exact — he whiffed four batters in two scoreless innings against the Twins while showcasing his electric fastball and a sprinkling of promising offspeed pitches. He topped out at 98.9 mph, according to Brooks Baseball. We all knew about his velocity, but he also showed an elite spin rate to go along with it. Giddy up.
While we’re all still waiting for Eloy Jimenez to arrive, Kopech earned his promotion after posting a 3.70 ERA and 170/60 K/BB ratio in 126 1/3 innings over 24 starts with Triple-A Charlotte. Missing bats hasn’t been the problem for him, but his control has only recently started to come around. He had a ridiculous 59/4 K/BB ratio in 44 innings over his final seven starts in Triple-A. He didn’t walk a single batter in his last three starts. Navigating major league lineups is obviously a different animal, but if he can keep his control in check, look out.
Kopech is already rostered in 58 percent of Yahoo leagues and he’ll almost certainly be a trendy pick in drafts next spring. Hopefully Jimenez isn’t far behind, but at least things are looking up for White Sox fans right now.
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Have specific questions about your roster? Ask @djshort on Twitter.
(Percentages are from the morning of Thursday, August 23)
Kendrys Morales 1B, Blue Jays (Yahoo: 31 percent owned)
Talk about a dramatic turnaround. After hitting just .143 with a .493 OPS through his first 26 games this season, Morales has batted .299 with 15 homers and a .903 OPS over 80 games since. This includes homers in each of his last four games, including two in Monday’s win over the Orioles. He’s showing more patience than ever before, but he also finds himself among the league leaders in both average exit velocity and hard-hit percentage. In fact, only Aaron Judge has a higher hard-hit percentage, according to Baseball Savant. That even took me by surprise. Morales is well worth a flier if you need to fill a corner infield spot.
Amed Rosario SS, Mets (Yahoo: 30 percent owned)
Rosario’s sophomore campaign has mostly been a disappointment, but he’s really turned things on of late while batting .328 (19-for-58) with two homers, three doubles, 12 RBI, four steals, and 11 runs scored over his last 13 games. He’s been the primary leadoff hitter for a month now and has swiped 10 bases over his last 34 games. That’s after going just 4-for-8 in stolen base attempts over his previous 85 games this season. Rosario has the green light and he’s taking advantage. The speed alone is enough to put him on the radar, but Rosario has shown better habits at the plate during this recent surge. It’s easy to forget that he’s still just 22 years old.
Welington Castillo C, White Sox (Yahoo: 17 percent owned)
It sounds like Buster Posey could require season-ending hip surgery before long, but there are suddenly a bunch of interesting alternatives at the catcher position. We already went over Danny Jansen and Taylor Ward last week, but don’t forget about Castillo, who is eligible to return from his 80-game PED suspension on Thursday. Omar Narvaez has surprised with an .809 OPS this season and deserves continued playing time, but obviously Castillo’s return complicates matters. Remember, the White Sox gave him a two-year, $15 million contract over the winter. Castillo slugged a career-high 20 homers in 96 games with Baltimore last season and had six homers over 33 games prior to his suspension, so he can’t be ignored in two-catcher mixed formats.
UPDATE: Castillo was placed on the disabled list Thursday, so most fantasy owners can afford to wait here.
CC Sabathia SP, Yankees (Yahoo: 43 percent owned)
Sabathia went down with mild inflammation in his right knee earlier this month, but it turns out he’ll only miss the minimum 10 days and return in a start against the Orioles on Friday. Sabathia has a chronic condition in the knee and the Yankees expected that they would have to rest him at some point, but it’s a good sign he’s able to return so quickly. The veteran southpaw allowed just one run in 11 2/3 innings over his final two starts prior to going down and holds a 3.32 ERA over 22 starts overall this season. He needs to be picked up in leagues where he was dropped and is a must-start with this matchup. He gets the White Sox in his next start, so this is a good time to get on board.
Lourdes Gurriel 2B/SS/OF, Blue Jays (Yahoo: 30 percent owned)
Another DL stash situation, Gurriel is likely to be activated from the disabled list this weekend after missing all of August with ankle and knee injuries. The timing was really unfortunate, as Gurriel had an incredible 11-game multi-hit streak before going down. He’s one of only seven players to have such a streak. He was batting .500/.519/.740 with three homers and seven RBI during the stretch, pulling his batting average up from .226 to .322 in the process. With multi-position eligibility in his favor, he’s worth scooping up on the chance that he picks up from where he left off.
Scott Schebler OF, Reds (Yahoo: 11 percent owned)
I included Schebler in Waiver Wired three weeks ago when it looked like he was close to a return from a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder, but it turned out that he needed more time. However, he was able to resume a minor league rehab assignment this week and is expected to be activated from the disabled list on Thursday. Jesse Winker is done for the season after shoulder surgery and Adam Duvall was traded to the Braves at the deadline, so there should be plenty of playing time to go around. Schebler has quietly had a really nice year, with 12 homers and an .821 OPS over 76 games. He’s certainly capable of mixed league value the rest of the way.
Joe Musgrove SP/RP, Pirates (Yahoo: 31 percent owned)
I remain confused why Musgrove remains available in so many leagues. He was at 22 percent when I mentioned him four weeks ago. Since then, he’s posted a 2.00 ERA through four starts. Somehow that’s barely moved the needle. What gives? Musgrove actually has a 2.52 ERA over his last eight starts and has completed at least seven innings in six of them. He might not be piling up a ton of strikeouts, but the control has been great and he’s keeping the ball on the ground. At this point, he should really be rostered in most leagues.
Jeff McNeil 2B/3B, Mets (Yahoo: 12 percent owned)
McNeil was another player I recommended four weeks ago and he’s been worth the wait for Mets fans so far. Following a breakout season in the minors, the 26-year-old is batting .333/.392/.495 with nine extra-base hits (including two homers), 10 RBI, and 14 runs scored through his first 28 games in the majors. He set the Mets rookie record this week with hits in eight straight at-bats. While McNeil has only drawn six walks so far, he’s also struck out just 10 times, so he’s showing a knack for making contact and using the whole field. McNeil is getting an extended opportunity at second base while serving as the regular No. 2 hitter in New York’s lineup, so he’s worthy of attention in deeper formats.
Derek Holland SP, Giants (Yahoo: 20 percent owned)
From my quick research, this is the first time since 2014 that Holland has made his way into Waiver Wired. It makes sense given what we’ve seen from him since, but he’s been sneaky good with the Giants this season, posting a 3.75 ERA through 24 starts and four relief appearances to go along with a 137/49 K/BB ratio in 134 1/3 innings. He might not throw as hard as he did during his early days with the Rangers, but he’s currently sporting the highest swinging strike percentage of his career. He’s been on a pretty nice run over the past month, so I like the projected matchup back at home against the Rangers on Sunday.
Greg Allen OF, Indians (Yahoo: 10 percent owned)
The Indians acquired Leonys Martin with the idea that he would be a major contributor in center field down the stretch, but baseball isn’t even on the radar right now. He recently spent 11 days in the hospital while dealing with a life-threatening bacterial infection. Fortunately, he’s feeling better, but the Indians have officially ruled him out for the remainder of the season. It was a scary situation, but Allen has at least picked up the slack in the interim with a recent 10-game hitting streak. He’s swiped four bases in that time, bringing his total to 11 in just 59 games this season. He’s in the bottom-third of the order and doesn’t project to hit for much power, but he’s a worthy addition if you are playing catch-up on the speed front.
David Robertson RP, Yankees (Yahoo: 37 percent owned)
Zach Britton RP, Yankees (Yahoo: 31 percent owned)
Jordan Hicks SP/RP, Cardinals (Yahoo: 21 percent owned)
I’m bunching these guys together in case you want to speculate on various closer situations around the game.
We’ve been over a lot of the other ones in recent weeks. Dellin Betances (Yahoo: 60 percent owned) is already rostered in most leagues and should be considered the most likely fill-in while Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman is sidelined with left knee tendinitis, but Robertson and Britton have also been mentioned as possibilities. Neither are perfect options right now. Robertson was unavailable Tuesday due to a tender shoulder and Britton has shaky since coming over from the Orioles. To be fair, at least Britton has shown signs of progress with his recent outings. Bud Norris is still the primary option for the Cardinals and has been pitching well, but Hicks is clearly next in line on the depth chart. With Norris getting the night off, the young fireballer struck out the side in impression fashion against the Dodgers on Wednesday for his fifth save of the season. Hicks holds a 1.65 ERA in 15 appearances since the All-Star break.