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Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire & FAAB Report: Bashing Belt and Blazing Berti

After 2020’s FAABapalooza the last two weeks with all big prospect promotions, this week calmed down a bit on the Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire. That certainly doesn’t mean that there are no intriguing options to improve your fantasy squads though. However, this week’s targets are more of the specialized variety. Need some speed? You’ll find some below. Power? Yup, you’ll find some of that too. Improving your roster doesn’t always have to be some spectactular high-upside grab.

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Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Hitters

Brandon Belt (1B/OF – SFG)

What’s that I see? Is that Brandon Belt back from the dead mashing baseballs? It sure is. Very quietly, Brandon Belt is slashing .316/.395/.605 with 11 extra-base hits and five home runs in 26 games. Those numbers are even better over the last two weeks as Belt has been scorching to the tune of a .500/.558/.974 slash line and four homers in 43 plate appearances. His statcast data backs up these numbers as well.

That’s a lot of red there. All of Belt’s expected stats are 78th percentile or better and he ranks in the top 8% of the league in wOBA, xwOBA, and xwOBACON while ranking in the top 3% for hard hit rate and barrel%. Simply put, the baseball must look like a beachball right now to Belt. He’s been a top-10 hitter over the last few weeks and has shown in the past that he’s capable of going on hot stretches like this. If you need a power spark or lost Aaron Judge AGAIN to the IL, give Belt a look.

Jon Berti (2B/3B/SS/OF – MIA)

A few weeks ago, I recommended picking up Jon Berti in deeper leagues, and now his continued performance has put him squarely back on the radar in 10-12 team leagues as well. On August 8th, Berti was hitting just .154. Since then, he’s hit .348 with 12 runs and seven steals in 43 at-bats while making starts at second base, shortstop, and in the outfield. Berti has never been a statcast darling and has a lot of blue on his baseball savant page, but you don’t want Berti for a power boost. No, you want Berti for his 97th percentile sprint speed, multi-positional eligibility, solid batting average, and runs scored he can rack up now that he’s settled into the leadoff spot for the Marlins.

Sam Hilliard (OF – COL)

Why do I continue doing this to myself? The Rockies have RockBlocked more than ever this season and Sam Hilliard has unfortunately been one of the casualties of it. Until recently that is. With David Dahl on the IL, Hilliard has been the primary beneficiary of the extra playing time and has been taking full advantage, racking up three home runs and two steals while hitting .320 (8/25) over his last seven games. Hilliard is still striking out at a higher 35.4% clip, but as long as he’s starting regularly, he needs to be rostered in mixed leagues for the power and speed he can bring to the table. Just don’t be surprised if he’s back in a part-time role in a few weeks, but we can enjoy this production while it lasts. Darn Rockies.

Ryan Mountcastle (1B/OF – BAL)

One of my personal rules for this waiver wire column is no double dipping in back tio back weeks. Well, I need to break that rule this week as Ryan Mountcastle is tearing the cover off the ball and no one seems to notice. Since his Major League debut on August 21st, Mountcastle is hitting .400 (8/20) and is currently on a five game hitting streak. The power hasn’t shown up yet, but Mountcastle displayed plus raw power throughout his minor league career and smashed 25 homers in 127 Triple-A games. He’s even showing much more patience than expected with four walks thus far as well. With his ability to hit for power and a high batting average, Mountcastle needs to be rostered is far more leagues than he currently is.

Deep League Target: Sam Haggerty (2B/OF – SEA)

Since Seattle added Sam Haggerty to the active roster on August 19th, he’s played in all nine games, starting eight of them in left field, and has recorded at least one hit in every game thus far. On top of that, the speedy outfielder has swiped four bags and added six runs, six RBI, and a home run while hitting .297. Haggerty was never considered a top prospect during his time in the minors, but Haggerty recorded three straight seasons of 20-plus steals including a 49-steal campaign in the High-A California League back in 2017. In his short time with Seattle this season, Haggerty has a 93rd percentile sprint speed and has been given the green light on the bases so far. I’m not confident he can make a big impact with the bat, but Haggerty at the very least can provide fantasy teams with a much needed speed boost.

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Pitchers

Brett Anderson (SP – MIL)

Remember when Brett Anderson was a top pitching prospect destined to follow in the footsteps of Mark Mulder, Tim Hudson, and Barry Zito in Oakland? That was over a decade ago now. Feel old yet? While this current version of Anderson is less exciting for sure and wasn’t really fantasy relevant at all from 2016-2018, he’s pitching well enough to warrant rostering right now in mixed leagues, at least for the next week or two.

It’s proven to be difficult to map out starters projected matchups this year with postponements, but as of now, Anderson is slated to take on the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates at home this weekend and then the Cleveland Indians later next week. Those are two enticing matchups for Mr. Anderson as both offenses have struggled this season.

  • Pittsburgh: Last in OBP, SLG, OPS, 27th in HR. Mid-pack in OPS vs LHP
  • Cleveland: Last in OPS vs LHP, 9th most strikeouts

Coming off back to back strong starts of six innings, two earned runs or less, and one walk total, Anderson could very well keep this momentum going in these two good matchups. Don’t expect many strikeouts (6.7 K/9 in 2020), but Anderson could help stabilize rations for the short-term.

Ian Anderson (SP – ATL)

Another Anderson to consider adding this week. And this one has much more upside. With Cole Hamels and Felix Hernandez not pitching, coupled with another erratic and ineffective Kyle Wright stint, the opportunity arose for Ian Anderson to lock down and run with this rotation spot. He certainly didn’t disappoint in his Major League debut, allowing just one hit (solo HR) and two walks with six strikeouts over six innings of one-run ball against the mighty New York Yankees. In that start, Anderson had all three of his pitches working, finishing with a CSW above 30% on all three offerings.

All the Anderson supporters had to be ecstatic with this debut. All three of Anderson’s pitches graded or flashed above-average to plus coming up through the minors and each one can be used as an out pitch. His changeup was especially impressive in this start, as noted by Connor Kurcon:

The knock on Anderson for me has always been his inconsistent command and control. He’s not erratic to the point where it will cause him to consistently implode, but it’s something to keep an eye on moving forward. With his strong debut and upside of a #2 starter, Anderson is worth grabbing in mixed leagues moving forward. As of now, he’s slated to face off against Boston in Fenway on Monday and then either at home versus Miami or Washington, depending on how Atlanta handles their scheduled doubleheader on Friday.

Tony Gonsolin (SP – LAD)

When called upon this season, Tony Gonsolin has been absolute money. In his three starts, Gonsolin has yet to allow a run, while giving up only six hits and two walks with 12 strikeouts over 14.2 innings. Unfortunately for anyone rostering him so far, those have all been spot starts, filling in for injured rotation mates. Well, now Walker Buehler has been placed in the IL and won’t return to the active roster until September 2nd at the earliest. That gives Gonsolin at least one start this weekend and maybe a 2nd later next week if the Dodgers decide to give Buehler a bit more time off due to their gigantic lead in the NL West.

Even when Buehler does come back, it’s not a guarantee that Gonsolin is the one bumped out of the rotation as Ross Striping has struggled over his last five starts to the tune of a 6.75 ERA and 1.68 WHIP. If Gonsolin pitches well again this weekend against the Rangers, it could force the Dodgers to bump Stripling back to the bullpen and keep Gonsolin in the rotation.

If that happens, Gonsolin would need to be rostered nearly universally. So why not get ahead and add him now in hopes of that happening. At the very least, he has a good matchup this weekend against a Texas squad that has posted a rough .197/.287/.320 slash line against right-handers this season while ranking dead last in home runs.

Devin Williams (RP – MIL)

Who would’ve thought that we’d have two Brewers in this week’s waiver wire report? With one being a reliever, no less. In 11 appearances out of Milwaukee’s bullpen this season, Williams has allowed only four hits, five walks, and one earned run while striking out 25. That equates to a stellar 0.77 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, and 19.3 K/9. And if you look at his statcast data below, the sliders are even more impressive if that’s even possible. If you happen to be a bull, you might want to skip this part as there’s a lot of red.

Williams has found this success on the strength of his fastball/changeup combination that he’s thrown 95.2% of the time this season. While his fastball is generating plenty of whiffs, all four hits and that lone home run were allowed on the offering. William’s changeup, however, has yet to allow a hit in 25 at-bats with a .074 xwOBA, 61.2% whiff rate, and 51.4% putaway rate. To take it one step further, William’s 49% CSW on his changeup is the best in baseball. While he might not be getting any save opportunities right now, Williams can certainly help with ratios while providing a boatload of strikeouts.

Deep League Target: Ljay Newsome (SP – SEA)

If you’re looking for a big prospect pedigree here, you won’t it. While Ljay Newsome made many top-30 Seattle prospect lists, he’s never been considered a can’t miss prospect or the future savior of the Mariner’s lackluster Major League rotation. However, the 23-year-old right-hander is coming off a solid showing in 2019, posting a 3.54 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 1.0 BB/9, and 9.8 K/9 in 28 starts across three levels.

Newsome saw his velocity tick up into the low-90’s in 2019 after previously being in the mid to upper-80’s previously. He’ll also mix in an above-average curveball in the upper-70’s and a serviceable changeup as well. The upside here isn’t very high at all, but Newsome’s exceptional command and control could allow him to carve out some value in deeper leagues now that it appears he has a rotation spot following the Taijuan Walker trade. Newsome has posted a 2.57 ERA and 0.86 WHIP without walking a batter through 7.2 innings so far this season.

Media/Link Credit: Baseball Savant, Connor Kurcon, Pitching Ninja, Adam Davis/Icon Sportswire

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