Fantasy baseball waiver wire: Tommy Pham, Ryan Pepiot among the top stretch run targets

Sep 6, 2023; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks left fielder Tommy Pham (28) hits a two RBI double in the third inning against the Colorado Rockies at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
By Al Melchior
Sep. 15, 2023

It’s crunch time! If you need to reinforce your roster for the final two weeks, there’s a little something for everybody on waivers this weekend. Particularly if you need outfield or rotation help in 10- and 12-team leagues, it’s not too late to fill those needs through your next set of FAB bids. If you want to feel the thrill of adding a top prospect to your redraft league roster, you can probably do that, too.

Outfield help in 12-team leagues

Two of the Top 15 outfielders from ESPN’s Player Rater for the past 30 days are widely available in 10- and 12-team leagues. Tommy Pham (40% rostered in CBS leagues) has not only been playing regularly for the Diamondbacks, but he has settled in as the team’s No. 3 hitter. That’s helped Pham to score 20 runs and drive in 26 runs over his 156 plate appearances since the Mets traded him to Arizona, and he’s batting .262 with six home runs and nine stolen bases to boot. Meanwhile, DJ Stewart (16%) has essentially picked up the slack in the Mets outfield, batting .289 with 10 home runs, 14 runs and 22 RBIs since Pham was traded on August 1. Stewart has been producing far enough under the radar that he may even be available in your 15-team leagues.


Eddie Rosario (61%) has been hitting well for several weeks, posting a .346/.402/.570 slash line since August 8, but it’s been hard to trust him in 12-team leagues due to being platooned. This coming week, the Braves have a seven-game schedule, and the Phillies’ Christopher Sanchez and the Nationals’ Patrick Corbin are the only lefties they’re projected to face. Rosario deserves at least some consideration with a five-start week. The same can be said for red-hot Mike Yastrzemski (44%), who is 11 for his past 21 (.524) with two homers, as he and the Giants are projected to face five right-handed starters across their series with the Diamondbacks and Dodgers. Of the two, Rosario clearly has the better schedule and the better lineup around him.

If steals are what you need (and if Pham is unavailable), Willi Castro (30%) is probably your best bet on waivers. He is also eligible at third base, and depending on your league’s eligibility requirements, he could also play second base or shortstop. Castro has stolen 31 bases this season for the Twins after having never stolen as many as 10 bases in a season, and he has started 10 games in a row since getting activated from an IL stint for an oblique strain.

Bidding for Pham: 1-to-2 percent of total FAB budget in 12-team leagues.

Bidding for Stewart: 0-to-1 percent in 12-team leagues, 3-to-4 percent in 15-team leagues.

Bidding for Rosario: 0-to-1 percent in 12-team leagues.

Bidding for Yastrzemski: 0-to-1 percent in 12-team leagues.

Bidding for Castro: 1-to-2 percent in 12-team leagues, 

The prospect parade never ends

The Diamondbacks’ promotion of shortstop Jordan Lawlar (37%) last week made a big splash, but he has started just five of eight games (though he sat one game due to a bruised hand). Given that all Lawlar has to show for his 17 plate appearances so far is two singles, a hit by pitch, seven strikeouts and a stolen base, it might be asking too much to expect him to make regular starts during the Diamondbacks’ playoff push. Still, he is available in some 15-team leagues and could be useful for steals.


Outfield prospect Evan Carter (29%) has been far more productive, going 5-for-14 (.357) with a home run and two stolen bases, but he has sat against two of the three left-handed starters the Rangers have faced since his callup. Fellow outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong (31%) has started each of the Cubs’ last two games, including Wednesday’s contest against the Rockies and lefty Ty Blach. He offers even great power and speed potential than Carter, but also more swing-and-miss. Platooning could be an issue for both hitters, but the Rangers are not projected to face any lefty starters next week, while the Cubs currently line up to face three.

The Orioles kept the steady stream of prospect promotions flowing by recalling Heston Kjerstad (17%) on Thursday, but the first baseman/outfielder was absent from the lineup for Thursday night’s game against the Rays, even with Ryan Mountcastle sitting due to a shoulder injury. Kjerstad’s role should be monitored closely over the weekend, as the 24-year-old hit for average and power at both Double-A Bowie (.310, 11 home runs) and Triple-A Norfolk (.298, 10 home runs) this season.

Bidding for Lawlar: 0-to-1 percent in 15-team leagues.

Bidding for Carter: 1-to-2 percent in 15-team leagues.

Bidding for Crow-Armstrong: 1-to-2 percent in 15-team leagues.

Bidding for Kjerstad: 0-to-1 percent in 15-team leagues (1-to-2 percent with regular playing time).

One more hitter for the deeper leaguers

While none of the four recently-promoted prospects mentioned above may make much of a dent in fantasy this year, one-time prospect Dominic Smith (5%) just might make a big difference in the coming week. He’s locked in right now, going 12 for his past 31 (.387) with three home runs, seven barrels (25.0 percent rate) and only four strikeouts. The Nationals have a decent schedule at home next week, too. They have favorable matchups against the White Sox, and though a four-game series against the Braves will be considerably tougher, they will at least miss Spencer Strider.


Bidding for Smith: 1-to-2 percent in 15-team leagues.

Two-start pitchers (maybe) for 12-team leagues

With two weeks left in the season, I’m not sure there is such a thing as two-start pitchers anymore. Or at least pitchers projected to make two starts in a week who can be relied on to make both starts. However, there are four starters who could still be available in your 12-team leagues who have a chance to make two starts and could be worth using, depending on your circumstances.

Ryan Pepiot (69%) is worth adding, if available, simply because of the improvements he has made. Over his 27 innings this season, Pepiot has been much better at getting chases (38.1 percent O-Swing%) and ground balls (42.3 percent rate) than he was last season, while still managing to miss bats (29.8 percent CSW%). He also begins the week with a home start against the Tigers, and that alone should make for a good week. He could also draw the start in next Sunday’s home finale against the Giants.

Because he plays for the pitching-strapped Giants, Kyle Harrison (59%) actually has a decent chance to make both of his projected starts next week. This is a case where he might be better just making his first projected start, which would be on Tuesday at Arizona. If Harrison starts again on Sunday, it would be on the road against the Dodgers. The lefty has been surprisingly stingy with walks (7.5 percent rate), and while he has struggled to whiff batters in his past two starts (7.0 percent SwStr%), that can probably be chalked up to facing the Guardians (9.9 percent SwStr%) both times. If you need wins, maybe look elsewhere, as Harrison projects to match up against Zac Gallen and Pepiot, but at a minimum, he should help with strikeouts.

John Means (41%) made his first start since his return from Tommy John surgery on Tuesday, and Kyle Wright (63%) made his first start in over four months on Monday. Both had mixed results in their returns and both have an opportunity to make two starts next week. Both also start with a difficult matchup (Means gets the Astros; Wright faces the Phillies) but both could finish the week against a weak-hitting opponent (the Guardians for Means and the Nationals for Wright). While Means notched just one strikeout against the Cardinals, his average fastball velocity of 92.5 mph was back at previous levels, and he did manage a respectable 9.3 percent SwStr%. Wright did get three strikeouts in his three innings against the Phillies but only two swinging strikes in 62 pitches. Means had the more encouraging outing, and looks to be the safer option despite facing an Astros team that leads the majors in wOBA (.365) in September.

With a projected start on Wednesday at home against the Blue Jays, Michael King (43%) will not be a two-start pitcher next week, but he could be one for the final week of the season. He has not allowed more than one earned run in any of the five starts he has made since joining the Yankees rotation in late August while tallying 29 strikeouts over 21.1 innings. King may get road starts against the Blue Jays and Royals after his upcoming one-start week.

Bidding for Pepiot: 2-to-3 percent in 12-team leagues.


Bidding for Harrison: 1-to-2 percent in 12-team leagues.

Bidding for Means: 1-to-2 percent in 12-team leagues.

Bidding for Wright: 0-to-1 percent in 12-team leagues.

Bidding for King: 2-to-3 percent in 12-team leagues.

A couple of deep league pitching options

The Tigers and Athletics will meet up for a four-game series in Oakland next week, providing some favorable matchups for all starters involved. The A’s have actually been hitting for power, posting a .209 ISO in September, but their propensity for striking out could provide an opportunity for Sawyer Gipson-Long (3%) to help deep-leaguers next week. Gipson-Long made his major league debut last Sunday, holding the White Sox to two runs on four hits over five innings with five strikeouts. Between Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo this season, the 25-year-old righty struck out 126 batters over 99.2 innings, so if he can avoid the home run issues that plagued him at both levels, he could have a productive outing against the A’s.

Opposing Gipson-Long will be Ken Waldichuk (9%), who has posted a 1.91 ERA over his past 37.2 innings. He has benefited from an astronomical 89.5 percent strand rate, but a 12.3 percent SwStr% and 84.4 percent Z-Contact% bode well for success against one of the majors’ weaker offenses.

Bidding for Gipson-Long: 1-to-2 percent in 15-team leagues.

Bidding for Waldichuk: 1-to-2 percent in 15-team leagues.

Note: Season-to-date stats are for all games played through Wednesday, September 13

Statistical credits: FanGraphs, Baseball Savant, Baseball-Reference

(Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports)

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Al Melchior

Al Melchior is a contributor to The Athletic as a writer and podcast host. He has been a fantasy baseball writer since 2000, when he began writing articles on Scoresheet Baseball for BaseballHQ. He has been a writer and data analyst for, and he has written for RotoGraphs,, Fantrax and more. Follow Al on Twitter @almelchiorBB