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.

Heading into the final three weeks of the season, the recent influx of prospects has quieted down, but there are plenty of veterans who have taken on more fantasy-relevant roles recently. There are also several widely available players who displayed inconsistency earlier in the season but are hitting their stride as the regular season draws to a close.

Starting Pitcher

Drew Smyly, Cubs: Smyly gave up seven runs in 2.1 innings against the Cardinals during his first start in September, but he's turned things around over his last two starts en route to back-to-back wins. Even with his rough outing against St. Louis on Sept. 3, the left-hander has been productive since the start of August. Over his last eight starts, he's posted a 4-2 record with a 2.23 ERA and 0.99 WHIP in 44.1 innings. Smyly tentatively lines up for a two-start week next week and has certainly been a strong fantasy contributor over the last month and a half. FAAB: $10

Alex Cobb, Giants: Cobb has had consistent length in his starts for most of the season, and he's been particularly effective since the All-Star break. He's lasted at least

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.

Heading into the final three weeks of the season, the recent influx of prospects has quieted down, but there are plenty of veterans who have taken on more fantasy-relevant roles recently. There are also several widely available players who displayed inconsistency earlier in the season but are hitting their stride as the regular season draws to a close.

Starting Pitcher

Drew Smyly, Cubs: Smyly gave up seven runs in 2.1 innings against the Cardinals during his first start in September, but he's turned things around over his last two starts en route to back-to-back wins. Even with his rough outing against St. Louis on Sept. 3, the left-hander has been productive since the start of August. Over his last eight starts, he's posted a 4-2 record with a 2.23 ERA and 0.99 WHIP in 44.1 innings. Smyly tentatively lines up for a two-start week next week and has certainly been a strong fantasy contributor over the last month and a half. FAAB: $10

Alex Cobb, Giants: Cobb has had consistent length in his starts for most of the season, and he's been particularly effective since the All-Star break. He's lasted at least five innings in nine of his 10 second-half starts, with his lone exception coming last week when he lasted just 4.1 innings against the Dodgers. Over his 10 starts since the break, he's logged a 2.75 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in 59 innings. Although he's had to settle for a 3-2 record over that stretch, Cobb offers plenty of fantasy value for ratios and has a 24.5 percent strikeout rate this year, something that should also be appealing to fantasy managers down the stretch. FAAB: $8

Mitch Keller, Pirates: Keller struggled in the middle of August but has improved over his last three starts. He's lasted at least six innings in each of his last three outings and has posted three consecutive quality starts. Over that trio of appearances, he's recorded a 0.95 ERA, 18:7 K:BB and 0.95 WHIP in 19 innings. He's lined up for a matchup against the sputtering Mets on Friday followed by matchups with the Cubs and Reds over the next two weeks, so he should have plenty of opportunities to maintain his momentum down the stretch. FAAB: $7

Brayan Bello, Red Sox: While Bello has a 1-3 record over five starts since rejoining the Red Sox, he's lasted at least four innings in each of those outings and has certainly shown improvement compared to the lackluster start to his major-league career. He's recorded a 2.84 ERA, 27:10 K:BB and 1.30 WHIP in 25.1 innings over his five appearances since returning to the big leagues, and most of those outings have come against postseason contenders. Bello has logged just one quality start over that stretch but has been a solid option for ratios and strikeouts across the last few weeks. FAAB: $5

Kyle Freeland, Rockies: Freeland has held his opponents to two or fewer runs in each of his last four starts, and he's been rewarded with back-to-back wins over his last two appearances. Across that four-start span, the southpaw has posted a 1.54 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in 23.1 innings. Three of those four outings have come away from hitter-friendly Coors Field, but it's still been encouraging to see him generate some consistency after giving up 15 runs (14 earned) in 16.2 innings over three starts between Aug. 10 and Aug. 21. Freeland has certainly encountered his fair share of struggles this year, and he tentatively lines up for home starts against the Giants and Padres next week. However, he's worth considering in case his success continues down the stretch. FAAB: $4

Bailey Falter, Phillies: Falter was held without a win over his first 11 appearances of the 2022 campaign but has now picked up wins in each of his last five starts. He's lasted at least 5.1 innings in each of those outings and has posted a 2.43 ERA and 0.84 WHIP in 29.2 innings across that span. The southpaw should get at least one more turn through the rotation, but it's possible that he shifts to a relief role once Zack Wheeler is cleared to return from his shoulder injury. In spite of the uncertainty heading into the final three weeks of the regular season, Falter is at least worth picking up in deeper leagues in case he's rewarded with some late-season starts. FAAB: $4

Relief Pitcher

Jose Leclerc, Rangers: Leclerc blew a save Wednesday against the Athletics but had appeared to be the Rangers' preferred option for save chances ahead of Wednesday's rough outing. He converted saves in three of his four appearances prior to Wednesday, and it wouldn't be surprising to see him continue to serve as Texas' closer in spite of his blown save. The right-hander has been a strong contributor since the All-Star break, posting a 2.17 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in 29 innings over his last 24 appearances. While Leclerc's fantasy value will take a hit if he's removed from the closer's role, he seems to have built up decent job security given his solid results over the last few months. FAAB: $7

James Karinchak, Guardians: Karinchak picked up the occasional hold earlier in the year but has been used exclusively in a high-leverage role over his last six appearances. Over that stretch, he's converted all three of his save chances while also earning three holds with a 3.18 ERA and 1.59 WHIP in 5.2 innings. Emmanuel Clase should still be considered the clear favorite for save chances in Cleveland, but it's clear that Karinchak has plenty of trust built up for games in which Clase is unavailable. Karinchak's fantasy value is propped up in leagues that score using Saves + Holds, but he's also worth considering in deeper leagues with standard categories. FAAB: $4

Dylan Floro, Marlins: Floro hasn't seen many save chances over the second half of the season, but he's tossed seven scoreless innings over his last seven appearances. He was rewarded with a save Friday when he was brought in to preserve a three-run lead in the ninth inning against the Mets after Tanner Scott pitched in the seventh inning. Floro's usage for most of the season suggests that he shouldn't be counted on for regular closing duties, but it's possible that he's in the mix for some save chances down the stretch since Scott has had some control issues recently. FAAB: $4

Catcher

Elias Diaz, Rockies: Diaz has been out of the lineup for two of the Rockies' last three games, but he's been productive when on the field over the last week. Across his last four games, the 31-year-old has gone 7-for-16 with two home runs, a double, eight RBI and four runs. Although he's split time at catcher with Brian Serven since returning from the injured list, Diaz has certainly showcased his upside over the last week. FAAB: $2

First Base

Carlos Santana, Mariners: Santana has started the last five games and has displayed plenty of power, going 4-for-18 with three homers, six RBI, four total runs, a walk and six strikeouts. His uptick in playing time can be mainly attributed to the absence of Mitch Haniger, who is day-to-day with a back injury. Santana's .196 batting average this year leaves something to be desired, and his at-bats will likely decline once Haniger is back to full health. However, it's possible that he keeps working his way into the Mariners' lineup if he continues to hit for power, and he at least has some intrigue for fantasy managers in deeper leagues. FAAB: $2

Second Base

Tony Kemp, Athletics: Kemp has had little trouble reaching base recently, recording hits in 13 of his last 14 games while slashing .340/.407/.547 with two home runs, a triple, three doubles, 14 runs and 12 RBI over that stretch. The 30-year-old has homered in his last two games, but he's now up to just six home runs this season, so fantasy managers shouldn't expect too much power down the stretch. However, Kemp has had consistent playing time and can certainly provide fantasy value for those looking for ratios, runs and RBI. FAAB: $4

Mark Mathias, Rangers: Mathias has had fairly sporadic playing time over the last several weeks but has started three of the last four games. He's crossed the plate in each of those starts and has homered three times over his last two games. Across the last four matchups, he's gone 5-for-13 with three homers, a double, seven RBI, five runs and a stolen base. While the 28-year-old's fantasy outlook remains somewhat limited outside of deep leagues, it's possible that his recent output earns him some more at-bats to close out the regular season. FAAB: $2

Third Base

Gio Urshela, Twins: Urshela has been an everyday player for the Twins recently and has had multi-hit performances in three of his last seven games. During that time, he's slashed .458/.517/.625 with a home run, a double, four runs and two RBI. While Urshela's run production hasn't been what might be expected given his recent on-base abilities, the 30-year-old has provided fantasy value for those in search of ratios and runs. FAAB: $3

Brian Anderson, Marlins: Anderson has recorded hits in four of the last five games, a span that includes three multi-hit performances. During that time, he's hit .350 with two homers, four runs and four RBI. The 29-year-old largely struggled prior to his recent surge in production, slashing just .151/.253/.279 with three homers, two doubles, 10 RBI and six runs over his 25 games after returning from the injured list. Although Anderson's results immediately following his return weren't very encouraging, his recent uptick in results makes him worth considering in deeper fantasy leagues. FAAB: $2

Shortstop

Elvis Andrus, White Sox: Andrus is included in the column for a second consecutive week since he's continued to display increased production following his change in scenery. The 34-year-old has been dominant since joining the White Sox, accumulating 11 multi-hit performances over his last 17 games. He's slashed .371/.421/.657 over that stretch with five home runs, five doubles, 16 RBI, 13 runs and two stolen bases. Andrus has been an everyday player for his new team and should continue to have plenty of opportunities to provide fantasy value as the White Sox fight for a postseason berth. FAAB: $9

Rodolfo Castro, Pirates: Castro is in the midst of a seven-game hitting streak in which he's slashed .267/.313/.633 with three home runs, two doubles, eight RBI, five runs and a steal. The 23-year-old has also been featured more prominently in the Pirates' lineup recently, hitting third in each of the last nine games. Castro's production was somewhat inconsistent earlier in the year, but playing time hasn't been a major concern when he's been in the majors. If he can continue to reach base consistently down the stretch, he's a player who has the potential to offer fantasy value, especially given his defensive versatility. FAAB: $5

Outfield

Oscar Gonzalez, Guardians: Gonzalez has experienced a power surge at the plate recently, racking up eight extra-base hits over the last nine games. Across that span, he's slashed .417/.475/.861 with four home runs, four doubles, 11 RBI and seven runs. The 24-year-old has had an everyday role in the heart of the Guardians' order and has put up five multi-hit performances over the last nine matchups. Gonzalez is certainly showcasing his full potential recently and warrants fantasy consideration in most formats. FAAB: $8

Robbie Grossman, Atlanta: Although Grossman has hit near the bottom of Atlanta's batting order over the last month, he's maintained regular playing time and has had plenty of chances to drive in runs recently. Over the last seven games, the 32-year-old has slashed .348/.400/.652 with two home runs, a double, eight RBI, four runs and a stolen base. Grossman is hitting just .211 this season, but he should continue to see consistent at-bats down the stretch and has renewed fantasy value following his recent surge in production. FAAB: $6

Bubba Thompson, Rangers: Thompson hasn't displayed much power or run-producing upside recently, but he's showcased plenty of speed on the basepaths with five stolen bases over his last seven games. The 24-year-old has just four runs and an RBI over his last 11 games, but he's had regular playing time for the Rangers and has 15 stolen bases over 37 big-league games. While he won't provide much power or run production, Thompson can provide fantasy output with his speed. FAAB: $4

Lane Thomas, Nationals: Thomas snapped a 10-game hitting streak Wednesday against the Orioles but tallied six multi-hit performances during his hitting streak. Over the last 11 contests, he's slashed .367/.426/.551 with a home run, a triple, four doubles, seven runs, seven RBI and a stolen base. Thomas hasn't had much power over the last two weeks, but he's a player who can provide value in ratios, runs and RBI. 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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