With the Major League Baseball season almost two months old, your season-long team may need a tweak or two to keep it in top shape heading into the dog days of summer. As pennant races heat up and we start to see which teams have staying power for the long season, there are some nice additions available on many leagues’ waiver wires. Below you can find my top two hitters and top two pitchers to target on waiver wires along with some specialty options if your team is in need of a boost in a specific category.
Throughout the week, I’m available for lineup and waiver wire advice on Twitter at @ZT_Sports, where I’ll also send out pickup alerts if there’s the potential to pick up a key addition during the week. As always, remember to consider your specific team needs and league rules when making your pickups.
1B/OF Andrew Vaughn, Chicago White Sox (at MIN, at NYY)
Vaughn was expected to DH and play a little 1B for the White Sox this season, but the 23-year-old top prospect has been pressed into an everyday role in the OF due to multiple injuries for Chicago and the emergence of Yermin Mercedes as more of an offensive force than expected. Vaughn is starting to contribute some thump of his own as well, and has two homers and eight RBI in his past 11 games while going 7-for-34 (.206) but also working six walks. Vaughn has done a great job working counts and getting on base, so if your format rewards OBP or OPS, he’s even more of an asset.
Coming into the season, Vaughn was expected to be one of the better young hitters to reach the majors this year after a strong spring training and a good year of work last year at the alternate site. He was ranked as the No. 1 prospect for the White Sox coming into the season by both Fangraphs and MLB Pipeline after his quick progression through the minors following an outstanding college career at Cal. So far in his rookie season, he has a .153 ISO and .334 wOBA, but both those numbers have climbed in May despite a decline in BABIP. If he returns to league average BABIP, those numbers should go even higher especially with his impressive 55.0% hard-hit rate.
C/1B/2B Austin Nola, San Diego Padres (vs. COL, vs. SEA)
Nola may have gone undrafted in your league or been dropped as he got off to a slow start after returning from his fractured left middle finger a little later than expected. He seems to be finding his stride now, though, and offers outstanding positional flexibility helping fill in behind the plate along with being part of one of the most productive lineups in baseball.
In his first nine games back, Nola went just 2-for-19 without a single multi-hit performance, but he has picked up multiple hits in two of his three most recent starts, going 5-for-10 with a double, six RBI and his first home run of the season. He should continue to trend in the right direction and is a big part of the Padres’ plans, so take advantage if someone bailed on him too early and he’s available on your waiver wire.
SP Yusei Kikuchi, Seattle Mariners (vs. DET, at SD)
The Mariners’ southpaw has been rolling lately, and not even a matchup with the mighty Dodgers this past week could slow him down. He has allowed three earned runs or fewer in three straight starts while pitching into the seventh inning in each outing. He had a season-high 11 strikeouts in that start against the Dodgers, which resulted in a no-decision. He’s just 1-2 on the season with a 4.30 ERA and 4.10 FIP, but he has been a nice source of strikeouts as well with 45 Ks in 44 innings.
Kikuchi’s hard-hit rate is actually up a little bit from last season, but he has been diversifying his repertoire and throwing his fastball much less, down to 29.9% after 37.7% and 49.1% in his first two seasons. His velocity on his fastball has actually increased a little bit as a result, and his new blend of pitches has resulted in a 31.1% called and swinging strike percentage. If that number stays high, he should continue to pile up strikeouts and pitch deep into games for Seattle. He starts this week with a great matchup against the Tigers on Monday.
SP Luis Garcia, Houston Astros (at OAK, at TEX)
The 24-year-old righty hasn’t been working especially deep into games for the Astros, but he has been impressive in his six starts and was able to get his first win of the season on Saturday by limiting the Rangers to one run in five innings. He has a 4.44 FIP with his 3.34 ERA and has totaled 40 strikeouts in 35 innings for an impressive 10.3 K/9 rate. Garcia has gone at least 4 2/3 innings in five straight starts and hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any outing this year. The Astros are going to be careful with their prospect, but he gets the benefit of a very productive lineup behind him, so more wins should be possible moving forward.
Garcia has been relying more on his cutter this season, throwing that pitch 18.6% of the time compared to just 5.4% last season, and it has brought great results. He has a 30.6% called and swinging strike percentage, which indicates the strikeouts should keep on coming for the young starter and this week he’ll get a favorable rematch with the Rangers.
Specialty pickups to consider
AVG/hits Pickup: Adam Frazier, Pittsburgh Pirates
OBP/Runs scored Pickup: SS Miguel Rojas, Miami Marlins
SB Pickup: OF Robbie Grossman, Detroit Tigers
HR Pickup: OF Hunter Renfroe, Boston Red Sox
Two-start streamer: SP Adbert Alzolay, Chicago Cubs
Saves Pickup: RP Stefan Crichton, Arizona Diamondbacks
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