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ESPN Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups – Week Of August 20, 2017

Miss one week of doing trivia and some people lose their minds, So a tough trivia question will be included this week. However, we still need to discuss the issue at hand, which is to find a player to help your fantasy team. Players on the list this week include those who can help in your playoff stretch run as well as a few who can help those in keeper/dynasty leagues. Before we look at players who are owned in less than 50 percent of ESPN leagues with stats as of August 18, here is the promised trivia question in honor of the eclipse giving some darkness during the afternoon of August 21. The first night game in MLB and National League history occurred in 1935 as the Cincinnati Reds hosted the Philadelphia Phillies.  The American League held their premiere night game four years later in 1939. Can you name the two teams involved in that game? (Answer at the end of article)

Chad Bettis, SP, Colorado Rockies

This may seem like a sentimental pick as Bettis returned to action after being diagnosed with testicular cancer last November. In his first outing since chemotherapy and surgery, Bettis pitched seven scoreless innings while giving up six hits and striking out two. Many are hoping that Bettis can return to the form that he demonstrated on Labor Day 2016 when he needed just 103 pitches to spin a nine-inning complete game, where he blanked the Giants while allowing just two hits. He also struck out seven and didn’t walk a batter. The only downside is that he pitches in hitter-friendly Coors Field. Regardless, we hope Bettis continues to win on and off the field.

Eddie Rosario, OF, Minnesota Twins

Since June 13, Rosario is hitting .344 with a .390 on-base percentage and .617 slugging mark. He also has hit 11 home runs, 17 doubles and 31 RBI during that same period. Even more impressive, Rosario has posted a BB/K of just 15/35. Much of the turnaround has come from the Twins hitting coaches being able to convince Rosario to move beyond his well-earned reputation as one of the game’s premier “bad-ball hitters.” It seems to have paid off, as he is swinging at fewer pitches outside of the strike zone. His rate was 44.5% in 2016 compared to 38.8% this season.

Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins

Since July 4, Buxton ranks fourth in the American League with a .361 batting average while compiling an on-base percentage of .413 during that same stretch. August has been just as good for Buxton, as he has three home runs, five steals, 10 RBI, and 12 runs that have led to a slash line of .345/.393/.582 through 17 games.  After striking out an unacceptably high 37 percent of the time in April, Buxton is down to just 27 percent since. He is starting to look like the player many had hoped when he performed well last September.

Manny Pina, C, Milwaukee Brewers

Pina should still see plenty of bats even when Stephen Vogt returns from the disabled list. Pina has been solid in 2017, hitting .287 with nine home runs and 39 RBI. His ninth home run was clutch, as it led the Brewers to a come from behind win against the Pirates on August 16. There is nothing really sexy here, just a really solid hitter at a very thin position.

Jake Junis, P, Kansas City Royals

The Rock Falls, IL native may be a better pick up for teams in keeper leagues but could provide a boost for those in deep leagues this season, as well. Junis has pitched 50 innings this year has a 4.50 ERA and 1.30 WHIP, with a 5-2 record and 39 strikeouts. The hope for the Royals and fantasy owners has come from the last two outings as he gave up only three earned runs in the 14 innings pitched. Junis has a devasting slider in his arsenal. Opponents are batting .145 off of it (8-for-55). He’s getting an above-average amount of swings and misses on it, with a rate of 5.0%. Righties are struggling against it (.167 BAA) and lefties are struggling even more (.105 BAA). Ignore the bad outing based on the poor decision by manager Ned Yost to pitch him in relief after only three days of rest. When he can control his home run rate, he will be a solid major league pitcher.

Mikie Mahtook, OF, Detroit Tigers

Mahtook started just 32 of the Tigers’ first 86 games. Since the All-Star break, he has hit .333 with a .920 OPS. We can ponder what would have been if Mahtook had been playing regularly, but now he’s putting up solid numbers in Detroit. This may have been due to an oblique injury that Mahtook suffered in 2016 that forced him into some bad habits at the plate. It took some time with the Detroit hitting coaches to help him regain a solid hitting stroke. This work has paid off as Mahtook now has a hard-hit rate above 40 percent.


Trivia answer: The Philadelphia A’s hosted the Cleveland Indians on May 16, 1939



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