With the MLB season approaching the halfway mark, division races are starting to shape up. The top spot for the American League East and Central divisions are still up for grabs, as only 5.5 games separate the first and last place teams. The Yankees’ six-game losing streak has allowed the Red Sox to creep up and tie them for the division lead while the Indians’ five-game winning streak coupled with the Twins’ four-game losing streak has propelled the Indians to the division lead. In the AL West, the Astros’ are still holding onto a comfortable lead for the division lead but with the rotation affected by injuries, their cushion may continue to crumble. On the other side in the National League (NL), the Nationals remain the top team in the NL East, the Cubs are closing in on the Brewers’ top spot, and the Rockies, Diamondbacks, and Dodgers have compiled impressive five-game, seven-game, and three-game winning streaks respectively, with the Rockies leading the division albeit by only 1 game over the Diamondbacks and Dodgers. With this recap, here are the top MLB fantasy waiver wire picks for Week 12:
Jon Gray, SP, Colorado Rockies
Although pitching at Coors Field may present a handicap for pitchers, Jon Gray has the stuff to be an ace, with an overpowering four-seam fastball. Coming off a rehab start in the minors, Gray threw 55 pitches in four scoreless innings, allowing four hits, five strikeouts, and a walk. Gray’s 4.61 ERA during the 2016 season may be slightly inflated since his fielding independent pitching (FIP) was 3.60 due to the effects of pitching most of his games in Coors Field. Additionally, opponents slashed .243/.317/.386 against Gray while compiling a 1.26 WHIP and a stellar 9.9 K/9. With a return to the Rockies’ rotation looming, Gray should be picked up wherever possible.
Wilmer Flores, 3B, New York Mets
With a plethora of injuries to the Mets’ infield, Wilmer Flores will receive an opportunity to be an everyday player. The Mets will also be facing five lefty starters this week, which will only serve to boost Flores’ value. Flores has fared well against lefties in his career, posting a .275/.321/507 slash line. While Flores has struggled more against righties, his career slash line of .257/.290/.384 coupled with a low strikeout rate, a 20.4% line drive rate, and a 38.2% fly ball rate suggests that he is capable of standing his ground. If Flores is able to maintain his 2017 slash line of .296/.316/.469, he will likely continue to see regular playing time, especially since he is able to play every infield position with the exception of SS.
Luca Duda, 1B, New York Mets
As previously mentioned with regards to the Mets’ infield injuries, Lucas Duda will also have a chance to become an everyday player. Having posted a mediocre .229/.302/.412 slash line in 2016, Duda is quietly bouncing back this season, with a .245/.355/.541 slash line so far. Additionally, with a .896 OPS, Duda is achieving a career high in this category. Duda’s exceptional 24%+ home run/fly ball (HR/FB) rate and 46.4% hard hit ball rate also boosts his value, making him a legitimate 30-homer first baseman.
The Mets have had a tumultuous season to this point. They are currently in second place in the National League East but that doesn’t mean much these days. They are still six games below .500 and are 10.5 games out of first. They have to find a way to play better at home if they want to have a shot at the playoffs. They are just 17-23 at Citi Field on the season.
Chris Taylor, 2B, Los Angeles Dodgers
Bringing up another injury, with Adrian Gonzalez sidelined by a back injury, Taylor’s path to becoming an everyday player is inevitable. Taylor is posting respectable .299/.384/.511 slash line this season, with an absurd .389 batting average on balls in play (BABIP), although this number should slowly regress to the norm. Additionally, Taylor’s impeccable eye for pitches (12.7% walk rate) along with his 25.9% line drive rate and 33.3% hard hit ball rate should add to his potential. With a good reputation for getting on base and stealing bags in the minors, Taylor should be picked up.
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