Last Word on Baseball is back with your fantasy baseball waiver targets of the week. At the bottom, see how last week’s targets have fared.
For the sake of continuity, ESPN leagues are the baseline, and for a player to make this list, they must be rostered on no more than 50% of teams across the site (rounded to the nearest whole number). Slash lines are AVG/OBP/SLG. The list is in no particular order.
Ryan Yarbrough, TB, SP/RP (47% rostered)
Last 7 days: 1-0, 15 IP, 18 K, 0 BB, 0.00 ERA, 0.40 WHIP
Sophomore pitcher Ryan Yarbrough finished fifth in AL Rookie of the Year voting last year. The Tampa Bay Rays hurler has been sensational lately, and he barely makes the cut for this week’s list of fantasy baseball waiver pickups. Yarbrough has been utterly dominant over recent outings, and at this point in the fantasy season, ace-like starting pitching is nearly impossible to come by via free agency.
Yarbrough showed promise last season as a 16-game winning rookie (38 appearances, six starts), and this year has been even better from a peripheral standpoint. His overall WHIP is stellar, bolstered by an elite 6.8 H/9 and 1.1 BB/9, the latter of which is down exactly two full points from a season ago. Yarbrough has been used largely as a long reliever, but throughout the season as a starter, he’s shown he has much more to offer. His last two outings, both starts, have been scoreless, with an 18:0 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Going back even farther, since June 18th Yarbrough has appeared in 11 games, going 6-0 and allowing only nine runs in 56.2 IP. He has gone at least six full innings in all of his starts, and only two of those weren’t a quality start. If he’s still available in your league, don’t let someone else get him.
Ryan McMahon, COL, 1B/2B/3B (15% rostered)
Last 7 days: 21 AB, .333/.417/1.143, 7 R, 5 HR, 8 RBI, 0 SB
A hot Colorado Rockies bat is always a nice thing to have in a fantasy lineup. For Week 22, tri-eligible infielder Ryan McMahon has entered the realm of fantasy discussion. Sporting a decent season slash line of .269/.346/.474, things have picked up considerably for the 24-year-old. Drafted in the 2nd round straight out of high school in 2013, McMahon is finally making a statement at the big league level.
McMahon was a consensus top-50 overall prospect back in 2016. His minors numbers are excellent, so we know he’s got talent. Of course, that doesn’t always translate to major-league success, but it’s something to keep in mind nevertheless. Since the All-Star break, McMahon has 10 HR, 27 RBI, and a 1.009 OPS in 32 appearances. Granted, a large portion of that production has come at Coors Field (all but four of his homers all season have been at home). Strikeouts are still piling up. Regardless, McMahon is one of the hotter bats on the wire right now. Scoop him up — his eligibility at thinner positions could help you down the stretch.
Nick Ahmed, ARZ, SS (20% rostered)
Last 7 days: 27 AB, .407/.429/1.111, 6 R, 5 HR, 13 RBI, 0 SB
Known more for his glove, all of a sudden Arizona Diamondbacks veteran shortstop Nick Ahmed has become fantasy relevant. The 2011 2nd rounder entered this season with a career .229/.279/.368 line. So far this season, it sits at .273/.333/.465, and lately, he’s simply been smashing baseballs all over the place.
Last season, Ahmed “exploded” for 16 homers, almost doubling his previous career-high. Seemingly this was no fluke, as he’s already got 16 this season and showing no signs of slowing down. Five big flies over seven calendar days is extremely impressive. His BAbip sits at a healthy .299, meaning he’s not likely to regress. Sure, the home run rate will come back down, but Ahmed is consistently hitting. He’s also hit two doubles and a triple over the same stretch. Ahmed also is capitalizing with runners on base — 16 RBI in 15 appearances this month. Shortstop is thin, especially where power is concerned. Give Ahmed a look if you’re lacking there.
Mike Yastrzemski, SF, OF (11% rostered)
Last 7 days: 21 AB, .429/.455./1.190, 6 R, 5 HR, 8 RBI, 0 SB
One of the hottest rookies not named Aristides Aquino or Bo Bichette is San Francisco Giants outfielder Mike Yastrzemski. Continuing our trend of NL West hotties, Yastrzemski has put together an excellent rookie campaign thus far. He blasted three homers two days ago at Arizona, and he has 16 on the year to go along with a .278/.328/.547 line.
What might be most impressive for Yastrzemski is his plate discipline. Shockingly, the rookie has never struck out more than twice in a game. August 1st was the last time he struck out more than once. That’s 14 straight appearances with one or zero strikeouts — as a rookie. He doesn’t draw many walks, but his BAbip is .311, suggesting his numbers are legit. Post All-Star break, “Yaz” has a .312 BA and 1.026 OPS. He’s clobbering the ball at a 52-HR pace since the break as well. An overwhelming majority of leagues have Yastrzemski waiting to be picked up. You know what to do.
Marwin Gonzalez, MIN, 1B/2B/3B/SS/OF (40% rostered)
Last 7 days: 26 AB, .538/.538/.769, 6 R, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 0 SB
Look at all those positions! Minnesota Twins veteran Marwin Gonzalez is eligible for everything except catcher. Two years ago with the Houston Astros, Gonzalez surprisingly finished the season as one of the biggest bargains in fantasy baseball — he hit .303, had 23 HR and 90 RBI, and had a .907 OPS. Last year, he was a dud. And that’s been the case this year, more or less.
For the month of August, however, Gonzalez is slashing .375/.386/.536. In 15 games, he’s had two HR and 10 RBI. The 30-year-old is seeing the ball extremely well lately. He’s gone without a strikeout in 12 of his 15 games this month and only has six altogether. The power numbers aren’t what the Twins probably hoped for, but he’s still getting on base, scoring runs, and driving runs in. It’s possible that the 2017 version is right around the corner. He’s playing well enough to warrant rostering in any league, but his stock is even higher in hits and OBP leagues.
Last week’s list and their performances over the last seven days:
J.D. Davis: 21 AB, .333/.364/.333, 2 R, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 1 SB
Aristides Aquino: 27 AB, .222/.276/.667, 5 R, 4 HR, 9 RBI, 0 SB
Francisco Mejia: 20 AB, .350/.409/.650, 4 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 0 SB
Brian Anderson: 25 AB, .320/.346/.480, 3 R, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 0 SB
Dinelson Lamet: 1-0, 11 IP, 13 K, 4 BB, 4.09 ERA, 1.18 WHIP
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