In a way, I've already given you all the waiver wire recommendations you need for the rest of the year. In my 15 Pickups for Championship Week, I looked at every team's remaining matchups, along with probable pitchers, and identified the potential pickups most likely to decide your league's championship. Be sure toif you haven't already.
But things do change from one day to the next. Not everything I pointed out in that article will hold true for the next 2 1/2 weeks, and other useful players could emerge in the meantime. I'm also able to go into more detail for repeat recommendations here, given that I'm highlighting fewer players in general. What I'm trying to say is that the Waiver Wire article still serves a purpose even with the calendar dwindling to nothing.
Where else are you going to hear about the latest prospect call-up, Heston Kjerstad?
Mitch Garver DH
TEX Texas • #18 • Age: 32
A point I may not have stressed enough when I brought up Garver in Waiver Wire articles past is that there's almost no overstating his upside in his current role. His start Wednesday was his 25th in the Rangers' past 26 games, which is itself enough to make a catcher-eligible player a Fantasy stud, but this particular catcher-eligible player has a better home run rate than Will Smith for his career. Garver added another home run Wednesday, his ninth (to go along with a .287 batting average) during that 26-game stretch, and at this point, it's not unreasonable to start him over struggling studs like Sean Murphy or even J.T. Realmuto.
Kris Bryant RF
COL Colorado • #23 • Age: 31
Bryant just returned from an IL stint for a fractured finger three games ago, and already he has two home runs, going 4 for 11 with two walks. True, both of those home runs have come at Coors Field, and that's not where the Rockies will be playing next week. But it is where they'll be playing all seven of their games the following week, which is Championship Week in many leagues. Coors Field is the reason we've held out hope for a Bryant resurgence the past couple years. Injuries have prevented it from happening, but it's still a venue that could bring out the best in him. Given that he's come out of the gate hot, showing no ill effects from the injury, it's reasonable to think he could be a league-winner in that final week.
CHW Chi. White Sox • #52 • Age: 32
I didn't include Clevinger in my 15 Pickups for Championship Week, but maybe I should have given how he performed Wednesday against the Royals, striking out seven while allowing just two earned runs in six innings. The deeper you dig, the more impressive it looks. He had 12 swinging strikes on just 82 pitches. His average exit velocity was just 79.7 mph. More importantly, it was his third start in four of that caliber, yielding a combined 1.35 ERA, 0.60 WHIP and 10.8 K/9 with an 18 percent swinging-strike rate. Awesome stuff! Here's the rub: the one bad start during that four-start stretch was an eight-run, 12-hit disaster. So can we really trust him over the final two weeks? Well, he lines up for two starts next week, the first being against the Nationals. There's risk for sure, but the occasional eight-run implosion has been standard fare among the starting pitcher ranks this year.
MIA Miami • #27 • Age: 25
Cabrera's second outing back from the minors Tuesday was a mixed bag. The six walks will immediately jump out at you, but it was his second straight allowing just one hit over four-plus innings. While his overall walk rate is high, his game-to-game walk totals have ranged from one extreme to another, and when he's on -- as we saw in his first outing back against the Dodgers, in which he struck out eight while allowing just three baserunners in four innings -- the Fantasy impact is considerable. Cabrera has two double digit-strikeout efforts in his 19 big-league outings this year, let's not forget. If you can tolerate the risk, the rewards could be considerable given his remaining matchups against the Mets, Brewers and Pirates (possibly following an opener). If nothing else, he's worth adding just to prevent your opponent from using him against you.
PHI Philadelphia • #61 • Age: 26
What makes Sanchez's career-high 10 strikeouts Wednesday all the more impressive is that they came against the historic pitcher demolition crew that is the Braves lineup. Sure, he served up a couple home runs, leading to four earned runs total, but he lasted beyond seven innings for the first time ever and just kept racking up whiffs. His velocity was up about 1.5 mph across the board, and he threw his changeup 49 percent of the time instead of the usual 30 percent, collecting 18 swinging strikes on it alone. If he turns out to be some measure of bat-misser to go along with his elite ground-ball rate, then his upside is high indeed. The one concern for him heading into a two-turn week is that there's been talk of him piggybacking with Michael Lorenzen, presumably with Sanchez taking the early innings, so his outings may be limited moving forward. Still, he's likely to show up in my sleeper pitchers for Week 26.
BAL Baltimore • #13 • Age: 24
Kjerstad was pulled from the Triple-A lineup and put on a plane after Ryan Mountcastle suffered a shoulder injury Wednesday, so I think we all know what's coming next. And though the No. 2 pick in the 2020 draft is primarily an outfielder, he has gotten plenty of work at first base this year. It's not clear he'd be the favorite to start over Ryan O'Hearn, who also bats left-handed and has put up good numbers, but Kjerstad is the more exciting choice as a natural slugger who has taken a big step forward with his contact skills this year. Of particular note is his 89.7 percent zone-contact rate, which means when he swings at a strike, he rarely misses. It's hard to put much trust in him at this late stage of the season, but he could make the sort of splash Jasson Dominguez did.