Waiver Wire Targets: A Southpaw and a Couple of Outfielders

A couple weeks ago, I sung the praises of Sean Manea. He’s done little to disappoint since then, yet his ownership hasn’t risen that much, so I’m going back to the well to suggest adding him this week. The lefty is joined by a pair of outfielders who play in hitter-friendly home ballparks who deserve a look as well.

Sean Manaea – SP – Oakland Athletics (CBS: 41%, ESPN: 11.9%, Yahoo!: 9%)
Initially, I was going to provide an update on another hurler from the previously highlighted article, but I was surprised to see Dylan Bundy’s ownership rate higher than Manaea’s at CBS and Yahoo! I like Bundy, but the fact he’s higher owned at two of the three sites than Manaea is absurd when factoring in a number of things, chiefly how restrictive the O’s will be with using him down the stretch. Moving the focus back to the hurler highlighted in this article, Manea is turning into a damn good pitcher in his rookie season.

As promised a couple weeks ago, the punch outs have come. In his three starts since I touted him, Manaea owns a 26.3% strikeout rate with 20 strikeouts in 19.2 innings. In those three turns, he’s issued zero walks and tallied a 2.29 ERA (2.43 FIP and 2.55 xFIP) with a 0.97 WHIP.

Let’s have a little more fun with setting an arbitrary start and end date for looking at Manae’s pitching numbers. He first featured the new grip on his changeup in a May 16th start against the Rangers. It was his fourth start in his rookie season. He was good in two of his first three starts since tweaking his changeup grip, but it looks like he’s really taken off — namely in terms of missing bats — since his fourth start with the new-and-improved change.

Since June 1st, the 24-year-old has made 11 starts and been quite good. In those 11 starts, he owns a 3.41 ERA (3.44 FIP and 3.88 xFIP), 1.16 WHIP, 4.9% walk rate, 21.3% strikeout rate and 13.5% SwStr%. To put his SwStr% in perspective, Matt Shoemaker’s identical 13.5% SwStr% is the sixth highest among qualified starters in 2016. Among the top six qualified starters in SwStr% this year, Shoemaker’s 23.1% strikeout rate is the lowest, so Manaea should be projected to strike more batters out than his current 21.3% clip going forward if he keeps missing bats at his current clip, and his 26.3% strikeout rate in his last three turns isn’t all that unbelievable. Manaea should be universally owned at this point, and I’m not sure how he’s so low owned.

David Peralta – OF – Arizona Diamondbacks (CBS: 54%, ESPN: 37%, Yahoo!: 41%)
Peralta is easily the highest owned player in this week’s piece. Although he was jettisoned to the waiver wire in many leagues when he hit the disabled list again in the middle of June, and he’s due back tonight. It’s been a rough year for the soon-to-be 29-year-old outfielder, but his .277/.314/.464 line versus righties this year is rock solid. He’s regressed against southpaws, and there’s a good chance he’ll slide into a platoon role as opposed to returning in an full-time role. The good news is that he’ll be on the heavy side of the platoon, and less could prove to be more since he’s just a .220/.283/.330 hitters in 212 plate appearances versus lefties since reaching the majors in 2014.

It remains to be seen where he’ll hit in the lineup, but Paul Goldschmidt and Jake Lamb should be expected to hit third and fourth, respectively, so my guess is Peralta will hit second or sixth (after a right-handed batter) in order to split up lefty bats. Either lineup spot would provide him ample run production potential. What we do know is that when he’s taking cuts at home, he’ll be doing so in one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the bigs. Peralta’s pop hasn’t been there on his rehab assignment, but he’s hit .294/.368/.441 with a 7.9% walk rate and 7.9% strikeout rate. The lefty’s ability to put the ball in play consistently at the Triple-A level on his rehab assignment provides me optimism he’ll hit the ground running and shake off the rust quickly. That said, Kenta Maeda is a tough first assignment in his return, and Scott Kazmir is the probable starter Saturday. If you can keep him on your disabled list the next two days in favor of a player with more favorable matchups, I’d advise doing so.

Hyun Soo Kim – OF – Baltimore Orioles (CBS: 11%, ESPN: 3.6%, Yahoo!: 4%)
Kim’s first year in MLB almost wasn’t a thing. He scuffled badly in the spring, refused a demotion to the Triple-A level — which his contract awarded him the right to do — and there was loud chatter his rights could be sold back to the KBO. It’s safe to say the Orioles are glad they held onto him. Since the games began to count, Kim’s morphed into the hitter the Orioles thought they were going to get when inking him to a two-year deal in the offseason.

Kim’s exemplary control of the strike zone is best illustrated by his 10.4% walk rate, and he rarely gives away outs by strike three with just a 14.2% strikeout rate. Neither power nor speed are a big part of Kim’s game with only three homers and one stolen base in 181 plate appearances entering play Thursday night, but he can move the needle elsewhere in standard scoring leagues. The 28-year-old is hitting a scintillating .327 entering play, and he has even more value in leagues counting OBP with a .409 mark. His table-setting skills are perfect for his lineup spot hitting second, and his ability to get on base regularly should award him plenty of run scoring chances.

At first blush, his average probably looks lucky with a .366 BABIP. However, his batted ball profile looks the part of one that should generate a high BABIP. He uses the whole field, has yet to pop a ball up and sports a 32.1% Hard%. He doesn’t hit the ball in the air much with just a 24.3% flyball rate, but his groundball rate of 55.1% could be helping fuel his high BABIP and average since his ground balls aren’t garden variety type, as Jeff Sullivan noted in early June.

Kim has rarely played against southpaws with just 14 plate appearances, and he hasn’t recorded a hit against one yet. He has, however, walked three times and struck out just once in those 14 plate appearances. Joey Rickard is on the shelf for the foreseeable future with a torn ligament in his right thumb, the team failed to acquire Melvin Upton and Nolan Reimold is doing little to continue to warrant playing time on the short side of a platoon with just a 71 wRC+ versus lefties this year and a 97 wRC+ versus them since 2014. Perhaps Buck Showalter will continue to platoon Kim, but I wouldn’t write off the chance at some starts against lefties down the stretch, and his sample size is way too small to write him off as over matched by left-handed pitchers. Regardless, his .351/.425/.480 triple-slash line against right-handed pitchers warrants ownership in deeper leagues.

We hoped you liked reading Waiver Wire Targets: A Southpaw and a Couple of Outfielders by Josh Shepardson!

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Looking at two young guys, would you prefer Manaea over Taillon for the rest of this season?