MLB FAAB Factor: Waiver Pickups of the Week

MLB FAAB Factor: Waiver Pickups of the Week

This article is part of our MLB FAAB Factor series.

This FAAB article is in addition to the AL and NL FAAB articles that run Sunday. Bids are based on a $100 FAAB budget. Throughout the season, this column will have two goals:

1. Identify FAAB targets for fantasy managers in leagues with Thursday FAAB.

2. Offer a preview of FAAB targets ahead of Sunday's columns.

Several productive relievers will have a chance to carve out closing duties in the coming weeks, while there's been plenty of offensive production from position players who are available in most leagues as the weather has heated up this month. Both prospects and under-the-radar veterans have displayed potential recently, which should provide a variety of options for fantasy managers who need to add a mid-season spark to their lineups.

Starting Pitcher

Spencer Strider, Atlanta: Strider gave up five runs (three earned) during his first career start May 30 but has settled down since then for an Atlanta team in the midst of a long winning streak. The right-hander posted a 1.76 ERA and 0.98 WHIP in 15.1 innings over his last three starts and racked up a career-high 11 strikeouts during his most recent outing. Those three starts came against favorable opponents, but his June 4 appearance was at hitter-friendly Coors Field. Strider lines up for tougher tests against the Giants and Dodgers next week, but he's been dominant recently while pitching for the hottest team in baseball. FAAB: $8

Ross Stripling, Blue Jays: Stripling is in the column for a second

This FAAB article is in addition to the AL and NL FAAB articles that run Sunday. Bids are based on a $100 FAAB budget. Throughout the season, this column will have two goals:

1. Identify FAAB targets for fantasy managers in leagues with Thursday FAAB.

2. Offer a preview of FAAB targets ahead of Sunday's columns.

Several productive relievers will have a chance to carve out closing duties in the coming weeks, while there's been plenty of offensive production from position players who are available in most leagues as the weather has heated up this month. Both prospects and under-the-radar veterans have displayed potential recently, which should provide a variety of options for fantasy managers who need to add a mid-season spark to their lineups.

Starting Pitcher

Spencer Strider, Atlanta: Strider gave up five runs (three earned) during his first career start May 30 but has settled down since then for an Atlanta team in the midst of a long winning streak. The right-hander posted a 1.76 ERA and 0.98 WHIP in 15.1 innings over his last three starts and racked up a career-high 11 strikeouts during his most recent outing. Those three starts came against favorable opponents, but his June 4 appearance was at hitter-friendly Coors Field. Strider lines up for tougher tests against the Giants and Dodgers next week, but he's been dominant recently while pitching for the hottest team in baseball. FAAB: $8

Ross Stripling, Blue Jays: Stripling is in the column for a second consecutive week, as he's made two starts since rejoining the Blue Jays' rotation and has tossed 11 scoreless innings during that time. He's struck out just six batters across those two starts, but he's earned wins in both outings. Stripling's 91.5 mph average fastball velocity leaves something to be desired, but he's been effective at limiting runs over the last month and should have a chance to maintain his starting role with Hyun Jin Ryu set to undergo season-ending surgery. FAAB: $8

Hunter Greene, Reds: Greene has had inconsistent results so far this year, but he's put together strong performances in his last two starts. During those two outings, he allowed just one run while striking out 15 in 12 innings. Even when struggling to limit runs, Greene has remained effective at inducing strikeouts, as he has a 30.3 percent strikeout rate through his first 12 starts. While the 22-year-old has some outings in which he'll hurt ratios, he's productive at striking out batters and has had a better ERA and WHIP recently. FAAB: $7

Zach Davies, Diamondbacks: Davies struggled over the second half of May, but he's turned things around since the start of June, posting a 1.31 ERA and 0.87 WHIP in 20.2 innings over his last three outings. The right-hander was forced to settle for no-decisions in all three starts, which came against the lackluster Pittsburgh and Cincinnati lineups, but it's been encouraging to see Davies right the ship recently. He tentatively lines up for a two-start week next week. FAAB: $7

Taijuan Walker, Mets: Walker's 16.1 percent strikeout rate to begin the season matches his career-low mark, but he's had relatively sustained success over the last month. The righty has a 4-2 record over his last seven starts and has posted a 2.59 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in 41.2 innings during that time. He struck out a season-high 10 batters during Sunday's win over the Angels, though it seems unlikely that he'll maintain that kind of swing-and-miss ability. However, Walker has been a reliable option to limit runs recently and has picked up plenty of wins while pitching for a dominant Mets club. FAAB: $6

Relief Pitcher

Seranthony Dominguez/Brad Hand, Phillies: It's somewhat rare for a manager to lay their cards on the table during the season regarding closing plans, but that's what Phillies interim manager Rob Thomson did Wednesday when he said that Corey Knebel would no longer serve as the team's primary closer. Unfortunately for fantasy managers, Thomson said that the team plans to use a committee-based approach in the ninth inning for now. Hand and Dominguez appear to be the most likely options for closing duties with Knebel shifting to lower-leverage work. Hand has more closing experience, as he converted at least 16 saves in each of the last five seasons. He was slightly less effective in 2021, converting just 21 of 29 save chances, but he's been more effective early in 2022 with a 1.96 ERA and 1.31 WHIP in 18.1 innings over 26 appearances. Dominguez has been the more dominant arm this season while working in a setup role, posting a 34.4 percent strikeout rate with a 1.88 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in 24 innings over 25 outings. It's not yet clear which pitcher will emerge as the preferred option, as Hand is the more experienced closer while Dominguez has more upside, but it seems likely that each pitcher will get a shot at carving out a ninth-inning role. Dominguez FAAB: $9; Hand FAAB: $8

Tanner Scott, Marlins: Scott converted three saves over the last week, but he was charged with the blown save Wednesday when he gave up three runs in two-thirds of an inning against the Phillies. The left-hander was dominant prior to Wednesday's outing, striking out 10 in six scoreless innings over his first six starts in June to earn two wins and four saves. Assuming Scott is able to right the ship soon, it wouldn't be surprising to see him in the mix for save chances even after Anthony Bender returns from his back injury. FAAB: $6

Kendall Graveman, White Sox: Liam Hendriks is in line to miss approximately three weeks due to a forearm injury, and manager Tony La Russa suggested Wednesday that Graveman will get the first shot at closing duties with Hendriks on the shelf. Graveman has generated some sustained production over the last few weeks, picking up two wins and four holds while posting a 1.74 ERA and 1.45 WHIP in 10.1 innings over his last 11 outings. While the White Sox will also have Joe Kelly available if needed, Graveman should have a chance for more high-leverage work following his encouraging results to begin the season. FAAB: $5

Catcher

Christian Bethancourt, Athletics: Bethancourt saw limited playing time for much of the year but has started each of the last six games. He snapped a five-game hitting streak Wednesday against Boston but still hit .400 with three homers, three doubles, five runs, five RBI and a stolen base over that six-game stretch. The 30-year-old has a career-best .260/.299/.433 slash line with four homers, 20 runs, 15 RBI and four stolen bases over 43 games this year, leading to the increase in playing time. FAAB: $3

First Base

Luke Voit, Padres: Voit has had an everyday role in the heart of the Padres' lineup recently and is in the midst of a power surge in which he's tallied eight extra-base hits over his last seven games. During that time, he's hit .281 with three homers, five doubles, 11 RBI and six runs. The 31-year-old's eight home runs over the first two months of the 2022 season are on pace to easily exceed his 11 homers from a year ago, and he's been productive for the surging Padres in recent weeks. FAAB: $7

Nathaniel Lowe, Rangers: Lowe has been on a tear recently, posting five multi-hit performances over the last eight games while slashing .382/.400/.735 with three homers, three doubles, six runs and six RBI during that time. The 26-year-old has cooled off slightly over the last few games by going hitless in two of the last three matchups, but it's been encouraging to see him with more consistent production while maintaining his everyday role. FAAB: $6

Seth Brown, Athletics: Brown recorded extra-base hits in all four games of the Athletics' recent series against the Guardians, homering in each of the final three games. The 29-year-old has gone 0-for-8 with two strikeouts in the two games since then, but he's maintained consistent playing time with a prominent spot in Oakland's lineup. While Brown is hitting just .204 this season, he's homered eight times while swiping six bags and is a widely-available player who has flashed some production recently. FAAB: $3

Second Base

Brendan Donovan, Cardinals: Donovan racked up multiple hits in four of the last five matchups and slashed .619/.667/.810 with four doubles, seven runs and five RBI during that time. The 25-year-old has homered just once over his first 44 major-league games but is hitting .341 with 22 runs, 20 RBI and two stolen bases. Although he isn't a source of much power, Donovan is a player who can help with ratios, runs and RBI while providing some modest speed. FAAB: $5

Orlando Arcia, Atlanta: For fantasy managers looking to replace Ozzie Albies in their lineups, a viable option is Arcia, who will be taking over as Atlanta's primary second baseman. Arcia has appeared in just 19 games this year but has been productive over a limited sample, slashing .375/.439/.607 with three homers, 12 RBI and seven runs. The 27-year-old hit just .198 in 2021 but should have plenty of opportunities to maintain consistent playing time during Albies' extended absence. FAAB: $4

Danny Mendick, White Sox: Mendick has carved out increased playing time at shortstop with Tim Anderson sidelined due to a groin injury, and he's responded well by recording hits in each of his last seven games. During that time, he's slashed .276/.344/.586 with two homers, a triple, a double, eight runs, eight RBI and a stolen base. Although Anderson is expected to rejoin the White Sox sometime next week, it wouldn't be surprising to see Mendick maintain relatively consistent playing time since he also has the ability to play second base. FAAB: $3

Third Base

Jake Burger, White Sox: Burger missed the last two games with a hand injury but is expected to return to the field for Friday's series opener against Houston. The 26-year-old was one of the hottest players in baseball prior to his absence, slashing .406/.457/.906 with four homers, four doubles, 10 runs and 10 RBI over his last nine games. Burger moved up in the batting order in recent matchups and has managed to carve out consistent playing time for the underperforming White Sox. FAAB: $8

Ezequiel Duran, Rangers: Duran is one of the Rangers' top prospects and has had an everyday role since joining the major-league roster. The 23-year-old is in the midst of a five-game hitting streak in which he's slashed .381/.409/.667 with a homer, three doubles, five runs, four RBI and two steals. His plate discipline leaves something to be desired, as he has a 29.5 percent strikeout rate and 2.3 percent walk rate in the majors, but he owns a .341 on-base percentage and should have plenty of chances to maintain consistent playing time. FAAB: $5

Shortstop

Oneil Cruz, Pirates: Cruz appeared in two games for the Pirates last year but began the 2022 season at Triple-A Indianapolis. The team wanted to get him more playing time at the Triple-A level early in the year, but farm director John Baker indicated Wednesday that Cruz is close to rejoining the big-league club. The 23-year-old has been a strong contributor in Indianapolis, slashing .232/.341/.429 with nine homers, 39 runs, 33 RBI and 11 stolen bases over 51 games to begin the season. Once Cruz is ultimately called up by the Pirates, he should remain in the big leagues and hold down a regular role. FAAB: $7

Luis Garcia, Nationals: Garcia has been filling in at shortstop for the injured Alcides Escobar recently, and manager Dave Martinez said Wednesday that Garcia will continue to serve as the Nationals' everyday shortstop once Escobar is cleared to return. Garcia certainly earned the vote of confidence from his skipper, as he's slashed .417/.440/.583 with a homer, a double, three runs and three RBI over the last six games. The Nationals struggled to find middle-infield production early in the season, but the 22-year-old has provided a spark over the last few weeks. FAAB: $6

Outfield

Michael Harris, Atlanta: Although Harris has remained at the bottom of Atlanta's lineup, he's been an everyday player since joining the major-league club in late May. The 21-year-old has been especially good at the plate recently, as he's in the midst of an eight-game hitting streak in which he's had four multi-hit performances. Over those eight matchups, Harris slashed .433/.469/.800 with two homers, a triple, three doubles, eight runs, eight RBI and two stolen bases. While Harris' production could dip once Atlanta cools off as a team, he's been able to generate consistent results early in his big-league career. FAAB: $9

Alek Thomas, Diamondbacks: Despite hitting mainly in the bottom third of Arizona's lineup, Thomas has put together an eight-game hitting streak and has crossed the plate in seven of those contests. During his streak, he's slashed .379/.471/.414 with a double, seven runs, five RBI and three stolen bases. While the 22-year-old hasn't homered since June 3, he's one of the top prospects in baseball and has been a well-rounded contributor since joining the Diamondbacks. FAAB: $7

Michael Taylor, Royals: Taylor has had consistent playing time in center field recently, drawing starts in 11 of the last 12 games since his return from the COVID-19 injured list. During that span, he slashed .371/.439/.571 with two homers, a double, five runs, five RBI and a stolen base. In spite of Taylor's recent production, he remains widely available in fantasy leagues, a rarity for an everyday center fielder. FAAB: $3

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jason Shebilske
Jason joined RotoWire in 2019 as his first position covering fantasy sports. In addition to RotoWire, he writes for Sports Broadcast Journal.
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