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ESPN Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups – Week Of July 23, 2017

People on social media have been asking why closers are not included in my weekly waiver wire pickups. There are two reasons why closers are usually not included in these recommendations. The first is that the changing nature of many teams’ closers does not lend themselves to a weekly article. By the time the article is written, published and read, the closer on that team may have changed. In 2016, around two-thirds of teams changed closers, with some teams changing multiple times.  The second reason is that many of these teams employ the dreaded “closer by committee.” The players who closed on Monday and Tuesday might not be who get the call the rest of the week. Picking closers is sometimes like playing the stock market, as it requires speculation. Our own Eric Cross recently wrote an article about closers-in-waiting that you might want to use to pick up a player that potentially could end up getting a shot as that team’s go-to guy for saves. So let’s move on to this week’s recommendations of players who are owned in less than 50% of ESPN leagues. Stats as of July 21.

Yoan Moncada, 3B, Chicago White Sox

The White Sox called up Moncada after they traded Todd Frazier and David Robertson to the Yankees. If someone wants to add Moncada to their roster, and they probably should, patience would be the keyword. Moncada played eight games for the Red Sox in the final month of the 2016 season and struggled, and will likely experience similar failure in his early stages with the White Sox. However, there is a tremendous amount of upside with him. The 22-year-old Cuban put together a .285/.381/.452 slash line with 12 homers and 17 stolen bases this year in Triple-A.  Moncada is viewed as a tremendous all-around talent on offense with the ability to hit for average, hit for power, take walks (13.7 BB% this year), and use his speed on the basepaths.

Brent Suter, SP, Milwaukee Brewers

Suter delivered two consecutive quality starts in a pair of outings prior to the All-Star break and should keep his place in the rotation as the Brewers contend for a playoff spot, even after a forgettable outing recently against the Pirates.  He has actually been a useful major league player across his two partial seasons, registering a 3.19 ERA and 1.34 WHIP. Suter owns a strong 2.89 FIP, though that’s taking into account an unsustainably low 0.28 HR/9 rate.  He should remain a useful pickup unless the Brewers decide to deal for another starting pitcher, which would force Suter to the bench.[the_ad id=”384″]

Gerardo Parra, OF, Colorado Rockies

Parra has been red hot as he has improved his average to .556 (20-36) since returning from the disabled list July 7.  During this stretch, he has had seven multi-hit showings, two homers, 12 RBI, and 12 runs through those nine games. Parra’s simplified approach at the plate is making him the tough out, and with his body fully healthy from the strained quadriceps that sidelined him for more than a month, Parra is on pace for his best offensive season. He has made more strong contact this season than ever by posting a career-high 34.2 percent hard-hit rate.

Ian Kennedy, SP, Kansas City Royals

For the first time since July 2014, Kennedy is using his curveball at a higher rate than his changeup. This change in approach seems to be working, as he has gone 3-0 with a 3.14 ERA over his last seven starts. Maria Torres of The Kansas City Star reports that even though batters are hitting .385 against Kennedy’s curve, they’re also being fooled into chasing at an above-average rate, as 36 percent of swings made against his curveball have resulted in batters missing their mark. Many hope that Kennedy repeats his 2016 season in which he went 11-11 with a 3.68 ERA and a WAR of 4.0.

Nick Williams, OF, Philadelphia Phillies

After going 2-for-4 with two triples, two RBI, and two runs scored in the Phillies victory over the Miami Marlins on Wednesday, Williams has a .963 OPS since being called up on June 30. He will continue to be in the lineup even as Howie Kendrick returns from the disabled list. In Triple-A, Williams had a .230 ISO and .358 BABIP, which indicates that his major league numbers are not a fluke. These numbers are also supported with a .280/.328/.511 showing through 306 plate appearances at Triple-A Scranton. His prospect pedigree may not be as flashy as Moncada’s, but his numbers are showing that he could be nearly as good.

Collin McHugh, SP, Houston Astros

Owners looking to pick up McHugh are hoping that he performs like he did during his last eight starts of the 2016 season. During that stretch, he went 6-0 with a 2.45 ERA while striking out 40 hitters in 47 2/3 innings pitched. During his minor league rehab, McHugh had a 3.60 ERA, 1.47 WHIP and 11:4 K:BB in 15 innings over three starts with Double-A Corpus Christi. His fastball velocity reached 90-92 mph in his most recent rehab assignment and his secondary pitches are about where they should be, according to the Astros. Regardless of what happens in Saturday’s first appearance, McHugh is a player with a great deal of upside.



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