Week 14 Deep League Waiver Wire – 7/1

These four players can bring added value in deeper leagues.

Each week we’ll look at a handful of different players who fantasy managers in deeper leagues should consider picking up. Many of these players will have the most value in larger leagues where waiver wire options aren’t as plentiful. Still, they could also occasionally be useful additions in other, more standard-sized leagues depending on your options at their position. This week it’s Justin Lawrence, Josh Sborz, Colin Poche, and Joey Wiemer who are worth your time as potential additions in deep leagues.

All roster percentages mentioned in this column are via Yahoo fantasy leagues as of Friday afternoon.


Justin Lawrence – 17%


Rarely is there a player who appears to be his team’s primary ninth-inning option available in so many leagues, but that’s exactly the case with Justin Lawrence, who would appear to be the Colorado Rockies‘ preferred ninth-inning option at the moment.

The National League West club primarily used Pierce Johnson in the ninth inning earlier in the year, but Johnson has struggled mightily this year, with a 6.19 ERA and a 4.59 FIP in 32 innings, adding 48 strikeouts compared to 20 walks allowed.

Johnson does pace the team with 13 saves this year, but he’s logged just one since the calendar flipped to June.

At the same time, Lawrence has started to establish himself as the closer for Colorado, collecting five of the team’s last seven saves.

Rockies 2023 Saves Leaders

Overall, the right-hander has pitched to a 2.93 ERA and a 3.07 FIP in 36 appearances spanning 43 innings this season. His strikeout numbers, which include 44 total strikeouts, a 24.7% strikeout rate, and a 23.7% whiff rate, aren’t overly gaudy, but the 28-year-old’s ability to limit barrels and quality contact should serve him well in Coors Field as the team’s top ninth-inning option. Entering Friday, Lawrence had allowed just four barrels, good for a 3.6% barrel rate, and a .264 xwOBA to opposing batters.

If anything, Colorado’s previous bullpen usage with Johnson is encouraging when considering Lawrence’s fantasy upside moving forward as it suggests the team may just stick with one closer as opposed to mixing and matching or using some kind of committee. Of course, that’s all entirely speculative and could prove to not be the case in time, but Lawrence seems well-positioned to stay in the ninth-inning role in Colorado.

All told, it could be slightly better from a fantasy environment standpoint. Pitching in Coors Field on a regular basis is still rather unideal for any pitcher, and the Rockies aren’t likely to lead the league in save chances from here on out, with a 32-51 record as of the beginning of play on Friday. Still, saves are saves, and Justin Lawrence looks like the closer in Colorado.


Josh Sborz – 16%


Perhaps unsurprisingly given his effectiveness out of the bullpen, Josh Sborz has quietly and quickly established himself as arguably Texas’ most trusted high-leverage reliever outside of closer Will Smith.

Sborz is second on the team in high-leverage appearances (11) after Smith, paces the club in holds (nine), and is fourth on the team (all pitchers, not only relievers) in fWAR ahead of the likes of Jon Gray, Smith, Martín Pérez, and Andrew Heaney.

In fact, widening the lens to the entire league, only eight relievers have a higher fWAR than Sborz so far. Those eight? Félix Bautista, David Bednar, Alexis Díaz, Yennier Cano, Aroldis Chapman, Emmanuel Clase, and Josh Hader.

Not only has Sborz been an integral part of Bruce Bochy’s bullpen so far, but he’s provided fantasy managers with plenty of success so far too, especially those in saves+holds leagues.

The 29-year-old is sporting a 2.70 ERA and a 2.26 FIP in 33.1 innings this season, adding 45 strikeouts compared to just nine walks allowed.

And while he doesn’t have Texas’ only save that hasn’t gone to Smith this season, that save belongs to Jose LeClerc, Sborz makes for one of the better save stashes in the league if Smith dealt with injury or ineffectiveness.

If Josh Sborz did step into the ninth-inning role in Texas for any amount of time, the fantasy upside would be immense, as he’s already producing at an eerily similar rate to another elite reliever, just without the saves.


Colin Poche – 8%


Sticking with relievers, Colin Poche comes with a bit less upside than Sborz from a ninth-inning standpoint.

The owner of a 2.12 ERA and a 3.98 FIP in 29.2 innings this season, Poche probably isn’t going to get regular, or even part-time save work in Tampa Bay. For now, it looks like most of the saves will be funneled in Jason Adam’s direction when Pete Fairbanks isn’t working in the ninth inning.

Rays 2023 Saves Leaders

Somewhat similar to Lawrence, a key ingredient in Poche’s success this season has been his ability to limit hard contact. Opponents have managed just a 27.3% hard-hit rate, a .268 xwOBA, and a .272 xwOBAcon against the left-hander.

And while he isn’t posting above-average strikeout rates – his 17.9% strikeout rate sits in the 18th percentile league-wide – the reliever continues to be a trusted high-leverage option in Tampa Bay.

Rays’ 2023 High-Leverage Appearance Leaders

Poche is also tied for the eighth-most holds in the league with 12 and should continue to do well in the category for a pennant-chasing Rays squad. If you’re in a fantasy league where holds are part of the scoring, Poche could have a similarly impactful role down the stretch and in the fantasy playoffs this season.


Joey Wiemer – 8%


Hitting .210 with a .207 xBA in his first 270 plate appearances in the Majors this season, Joey Weimer probably isn’t going to provide impact production for teams in leagues where batting average is part of the scoring. It’s a similar story in leagues that utilize on-base percentage as part of the scoring as Weimer is logging a .281 on-base percentage as of the beginning of play on Friday.

But, the 24-year-old is bringing more than quality products to the table in other categories, making him a borderline must-add in deep leagues.

Despite those numbers and a 29.6% strikeout rate, Wiemer has still managed to collect enough barrels to reach double-digit home runs already.

The rookie owns a 12.1% barrel rate so far and has connected on 11 home runs. Elsewhere, he ranks in the 98th percentile in Statcast’s sprint speed metric and has already stolen 10 bases.

Like Poche, he’s a fantasy addition to specifically add value in one or two categories, but there’s plenty of upside here. Even with an increase in stolen bases league-wide, there hasn’t been an overabundance of players who’ve reached the double-digit mark yet in both stolen bases and home runs.

In actuality, there have only been 17 such players. Weimer is one of them, and chances are most of the other 16 are either early-round draft choices, close to impossible to acquire in a trade value-wise or both.

Players With Double Digit Home Runs and Stolen Bases


Graphic adapted by Aaron Polcare (@bearydoesgfx on Twitter)

Ben Rosener

Ben Rosener is baseball and fantasy baseball writer whose work has previously appeared on the digital pages of Motor City Bengals, Bleacher Report, USA Today, FanSided.com and World Soccer Talk among others. He also writes about fantasy baseball for RotoBaller and the Detroit Tigers for his own Patreon page, Getting You Through the Tigers Rebuild (@Tigers_Rebuild on Twitter). He only refers to himself in the third person for bios.

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