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Waiver Wired

Aiming Lowe

by Ryan Boyer
Updated On: June 23, 2022, 11:28 am ET

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MIXED LEAGUES

(Players rostered in under 50 percent of Yahoo leagues)

Note: Percentages are from the morning of Thursday, June 23

AJ Pollock, OF, White Sox (Yahoo: 40 percent rostered)

Acquired late in spring training from the Dodgers for Craig Kimbrel, Pollock lasted all of one full game before landing on the injured list with a strained hamstring. He really struggled to get rolling after that, putting up a meager .197/.231/.328 over a 36-game stretch. Pollock has finally perked up since then, though, batting .350/.391/.500 with one home run and 10 RBI across his last 13 contests. The power has been lacking for Pollock, but he does have an xSLG of .481 which is 84 points higher than his actual slugging percentage of .397. He’ll always be a poor bet to stay healthy, but Pollock generally is quite productive when on the field, as he was last season with a .892 OPS, 21 homers and nine steals in 117 games.

Nathaniel Lowe, 1B, Rangers (Yahoo: 36 percent rostered)

Lowe went through a deep slump beginning in late April and dragging into mid-May, as he was sitting on a lowly .233/.287/.292 batting line through his first 32 games. Since then, however, the first baseman has put up a .316/.355/.581 batting line with eight bombs and 19 RBI over 31 contests. Lowe has always hit the ball pretty hard, and that’s been no different this season with an exit velocity ranking in the 65th percentile. What’s held him back at times has been too many strikeouts and too many groundballs. The strikeouts have steadily improved, and he’s begun to loft the ball more during his hot stretch with an 11 degree launch angle which would easily be his highest since his abbreviated rookie season.

Brad Hand, RP, Phillies (Yahoo: 17 percent rostered)

Admittedly, among Phillies relievers I would rather have Seranthony Domínguez on my roster. I wrote about him a couple weeks ago, though, so it’s time to highlight Hand, who is also in the mix for saves following Corey Knebel’s demotion. It was Hand who picked up the team’s first save after Knebel was demoted, and he got the second save chance, too, but blew it before Dominguez locked things down. Hand isn’t close to the elite closer he once was, but he does have a 2.21 ERA and has struck out more than a batter per inning.

Nick Lodolo, SP, Reds (Yahoo: 13 percent rostered)

Lodolo cracked the Reds’ Opening Day roster and had uneven results in three starts before going down with a back injury. While he posted a 5.52 ERA, he also had a 19/5 K/BB ratio over 14 2/3 innings. The former first-round pick has been prolific from a K/BB ratio in the minors, too, with a 116/13 K/BB mark across 73 frames. Lodolo is on the comeback trail, as he’s slated to make one more rehab start Thursday before likely rejoining the Reds’ rotation next week. He has the Reds’ roster and ballpark working against him, but Lodolo has legitimate upside.

Johnny Cueto, SP, White Sox (Yahoo: 26 percent rostered)

Wait, recommending Johnny Cueto? In this economy? Well, Cueto has actually been quite good since being summoned by the White Sox, putting up a 2.95 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 33/11 K/BB ratio over 42 2/3 innings. He has posted a quality start in five of six tries, and in his last outing against the vaunted Astros lineup went seven shutout frames and gave up just two hits. I’m under no illusions that the 36-year-old Cueto can keep this up for the duration of the season, but I’m fine with using him in good matchups while he’s pitching well. He has one of those his next time out against the Orioles.

Josh Lowe, OF, Rays (Yahoo: 8 percent rostered)

Manuel Margot (knee) is expected to be on the shelf for a long time and Kevin Kiermaier (hip) recently landed on the injured list, as well. Those injuries in addition to others should give Lowe the opportunity he needs to seize a regular job for the Rays. The 24-year-old hasn’t done much with his limited chances in the majors to this point, but he’s a top-50 prospect who has put up a .293/.381/.536 batting line with 28 homers and 113 RBI while going 32-for-33 in stolen base attempts in 147 games the last two years at the Triple-A level. Lowe strikes out more than you’d like, but he draws a bunch of walks and is a legit power/speed threat.

Deeper Dandies:

(Players rostered in under 10 percent of Yahoo leagues)

Mitch Keller, SP, Pirates (Yahoo: 5 percent rostered)

Here we go again. Keller has been a big disappointment when he gets hyped up, from his first three seasons in the big leagues to again this spring when he showed an uptick in velocity. He was demoted to the bullpen last month and has since converted from using a four-seamer as his primary fastball to a sinker. The results have been pretty promising overall, with Keller holding a 2.42 ERA and 18/11 K/BB ratio over 22 1/3 innings in four starts. The walks will have to come down, but worth noting is that five of them came in his first start since re-entering the rotation. I’ll be quick to bail here if things turn sour again, but I think Keller is worth rostering while we see if this new pitch mix works.

Isaac Paredes, 2B/3B, Rays (Yahoo: 3 percent rostered)

Picked up from the Tigers just ahead of Opening Day in the Austin Meadows trade, Paredes has suddenly turned into a power hitter for the Rays. The 23-year-old posted the first three-homer game of his career on Tuesday against the Yankees and then followed it up with another bomb on Wednesday. Paredes’ overall numbers remain fairly pedestrian even after the recent uptick, but he’s already clubbed nine home runs in just under 100 plate appearances. He’s always been elite in terms of making contact, so if Paredes can combine that with his recent power surge, we could have something here.

Zach Jackson, RP, Athletics (Yahoo: 2 percent rostered)

This is kind of a similar situation as with the Phillies and Dominguez/Hand. If pressed, I would prefer A.J. Puk to Jackson, but I already wrote about him recently and it’s a bullpen pecking order which is far from settled. Dany Jiménez is out with a shoulder injury and had been in the midst of a really rough stretch prior to that. Former closer Lou Trivino is still around, but he’s been a disaster this season. Puk has pitched better than Jackson overall, but Jackson has been the superior bat-misser and picked up a save earlier this season.

Weekend Warriors:

David Peterson at MIA (Yahoo: 19 percent rostered)

Peterson has been needed more than the Mets envisioned this season due to injuries in their rotation, and he’s done a fine job with a 3.18 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and 42/22 K/BB ratio over 45 1/3 innings, with eight of his 10 appearances being starts. His last start was his best one, as he struck out seven across 5 1/3 shutout innings on Monday against the Marlins. As it so happens, in his next start Peterson will again go up against the Marlins, a team which has really struggled versus left-handed pitching.

Josh Winckowski at CLE (Yahoo: 7 percent rostered)

Like Peterson, Winckowski is also coming off his best outing of the season, having gone 6 2/3 innings while limiting the Tigers to two runs on Monday. Winckowski has had a fine season this year at Triple-A Worcester, as well, putting up a 3.38 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 43/8 K/BB ratio across 42 2/3 innings of work. The 23-year-old earned himself another look in the Red Sox’ rotation, as he’ll take on the Guardians on Cleveland over the weekend.

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AL ONLY

Nick Allen, 2B/SS, Athletics (Yahoo: 0 percent rostered)

Allen has always been lauded for his glove since the A’s picked him in the third round out of high school in the 2017 Draft. His bat has also slowly but surely come along, and he’s put up a .266/.371/.358 batting line with two home runs and 10 stolen bases this year at Triple-A Las Vegas. Allen has started both games since his recall – one at second base and one at shortstop – and went deep in his first game back Tuesday. You probably can’t count on much power, but Allen has some on-base skills and can run.

Jonathan Aranda, 2B, Rays (Yahoo: 1 percent rostered)

The aforementioned Paredes is swinging the hot bat but Aranda might have the more promising future of the two. Aranda experienced a breakout last season between High- and Double-A, posting a .331/.419/.543 batting line with 14 home runs over 102 games. He has followed that up with a .310/.386/.512 line with 11 bombs over his first 63 games this season to earn a promotion. There’s probably not room for Aranda when the Rays are healthy, but they’re beat up right now so he could get a little run.

NL ONLY

Bligh Madris, OF, Pirates (Yahoo: 1 percent rostered)

The hype among recently promoted young Pirates position players has, understandably, gone to the toolbox known as Oneil Cruz. Madris has turned into an interesting young bat himself, though, earning a callup after putting up a .304/.385/.519 batting line with five home runs and a couple stolen bases over his first 179 plate appearances with Triple-A Indianapolis. He’s hit the ground running in the majors, too, going 5-for-13 with one home run, two doubles, six RBI and a steal in his first three tilts. Madris was up in the No. 3 spot in the Pirates’ batting order Wednesday.

Paolo Espino, SP/RP, Nationals (Yahoo: 1 percent rostered)

Espino was a useful swingman for the Nationals last season and this year has been better, posting a 2.29 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 27/8 K/BB ratio over 35 1/3 innings. His last two appearances have been starts, and he’s been solid in allowing four runs – three earned – across 8 2/3 innings. The Nats have been searching for anyone to give them viable innings in their rotation, and Espino looks like one of their better bets even if the upside is limited. He’s a viable single-league play.