We are now a few days into Week 18 of the fantasy baseball season, but it’s never too early or too late to scour that waiver wire.
Last week, we suggested a couple of closers that could help if you are in need of saves as well as an infielder who gained another eligible position thanks to a trade.
One of those closers was Jose Leclerc who continues to pitch well at the back end of the Rangers’ bullpen. He has racked up just one save since last week’s suggestion, which is the result of some blowout games both ways for a rebuilding Rangers team. He has enjoyed a scoreless outing in 16 of his last 17 appearances and continues to make sense as an add as he should get first crack at closing duties in 2019.
Anthony Swarzak has unfortunately hit in the DL since we suggested him last week as another closing option, but he should be back in short order.
Angels infielder David Fletcher has scuffled since last week, and we’ve yet to see his power translate to the big league level. We’ll see what positions he is eligible for next year, but a 24-year-old player eligible at third base, second base and shortstop who posted a .559 SLG at Triple-A this season remains an intriguing add if you have the patience to work into next season.
Let’s go ahead and move onto Week 18 and see who can help us out from the wire.
*All ownership percentages courtesy of ESPN
*All stats are as of before play on 8/8/2018.
***Waiver Wire suggestions are targeted toward deep leagues
Tyler Glasnow (TB)
Position Eligibility: SP, RP | %OWN: 9.6%
This one you may want to hop on right away as Glasnow is already making an impact since coming to Tampa Bay in the Chris Archer deal from Pittsburgh.
While he has yet to pitch more than four innings in his two starts for the Rays, they are simply working to stretch him out as a full-time starter as he was used out of the bullpen with the Pirates.
Over his two starts and seven innings so far with the Rays, Glasnow has allowed just two earned runs on four hits and a walk and has struck out 14. The strikeout upside here is immense as Glasnow posted gaudy strikeout totals throughout his minor league career which helped him rank as the Pirates’ top prospect in both 2015 and 2016.
Glasnow’s big frame (he’s 6’8” tall) has led to control issues in the past, but sometimes it takes a while for these body types to find their mechanics. The truth here is the upside is massive for the big right-hander, especially in the strikeout area, and now that he is going to be a full-time starter in the pitcher-friendly Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay, the time is now to hop all over Glasnow before it’s too late.
Robert Stephenson (CIN)
Position Eligibility: SP | %OWN: 2.7%
Another young starting pitcher that you should be giving a serious look to is Reds right-hander Robert Stephenson as he makes his 2018 big league debut today against the Mets.
While this game is about to get underway, let’s look at how Stephenson has fared at Triple-A this season. He has compiled a 2.87 ERA across 113 innings, although his 3.93 FIP and 3.85 xFIP point to a little bit of regression. Still, Stephenson has also displayed some serious strikeout potential with a 28.9% strikeout clip in the minors this season.
Let’s also not forget that Stephenson has already shown he can handle being part of a big league rotation. After getting roughed up for eight earned runs in 9.2 innings in his first two big league starts last season, Stephenson went on to post a 2.22 ERA in August and a 2.77 ERA combined in September and October. Stephenson also put his strikeout stuff on display with a 26.7% K-rate in August before posting a solid 22% mark in September/October.
While Stephenson is making his season debut today, it’s currently not clear how long he will hang around the big club as his addition to the rotation gives the Reds six starting pitchers. That said, my guess is that Stephenson gets an extended look, barring a blowup today, considering the Reds are well out of contention and should be focused on in-house scouting for the 2019 season. It’s also still very possible that starter Matt Harvey is traded away prior to the August 31st postseason-eligible deadline.
Therefore, I would take a serious look at Stephenson if you are in search of some starting pitching as the 25-year-old certainly has the upside to be a productive fantasy contributor if the second half of last season was any indication.
Jeff McNeil (NYM)
Position Eligibility: 2B | %OWN: 4.3%
In terms of position players with upside, let’s take a look at Jeff McNeil who has swung a powerful bat at both the minor league level and so far at the big league level as well.
The 26-year-old second baseman posted massive power numbers at Double-A this season in the form of a .299 ISO and a 1.028 OPS with 14 homers and 16 doubles in just 214 at-bats. He then moved onto Triple-A and continued to rake to the tune of a .368 batting average, .232 ISO and a 1.027 OPS with five homers and 10 doubles in only 125 at-bats. So far with the Mets across 36 at-bats, McNeil has hit two homers and two doubles, good for a .222 ISO and a .998 OPS. He posted a SLG of .626 at Double-A, .600 at Triple-A and .556 so far in the big leagues this season.
Not that it’s overly relevant in fantasy, but McNeil has displayed fantastic bat-handling abilities throughout his minor league career as he’s never had a strikeout rate above 16.4% at any minor league stop. This year, he owned a 9.5% K-rate at Double-A and a 13.3% K-rate at Triple-A, a number he has repeated at the MLB level so far. In other words, you don’t get many empty at-bats with McNeil and you rarely see that with a power hitter.