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The All-Star Break has come and gone, but I know what you are thinking…..I can still make my team better. Trades are always a possibility, but they are so hard to find a willing partner, and then get someone who is not trying to rip you off. As I’ve been saying all year, the best place to improve your team is the fantasy baseball waiver wire.

I know it is getting harder and harder to find quality players on waivers as we get deeper into the season as the wire has been picked over throughout the first three and a half months of the season. There are still good choices we gave you earlier in the season that are still available in more than half of leagues like Didi Gregorius, Tim Anderson, Bartolo Colon, and Adam Conley.

This week we offer you three new hitters and three new pitchers. The hitters are led by a high powered Cuban defector who finally found a home but isn’t ready for a few weeks. There is also a second year player who was sent back to the Minors to get his head straight and he took full advantage of that opportunity and has been recalled. Finally, there’s an under the radar prospect that is getting an opportunity on a poor offensive team to shine in an otherwise weak hitting lineup.

The pitchers feature a Californian pitcher who has been dominant on occasion, and more good than bad this season but isn’t getting the proper fantasy love. We also offer the latest stop on the closer carousel as it never stops spinning. The third is a former top prospect who has lost his luster, but is getting another opportunity to shine again with some dynamite pitches.

The dog days of summer are upon us, but it is never too late to hit up the fantasy baseball waiver wire. Whether it is the suggestions above, or the players featured below, there are still plenty of options to help you win that championship. You can always follow me on Twitter @fightingchance, and if you want to read more of me please head to www.fightingchancefantasy.com.

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Week 16

Hitters

Michael Conforto, OF, New York Mets

What started out as a magical season for Conforto went from bad to worse as the guy not only stopped hitting home runs, but started to strikeout at a terrible pace. The situation got so bad that the Mets took the step to send him down to Triple-A to get his head straight and get back on track. Well, Conforto handled the demotion like a true professional and went to Las Vegas and he hit, and hit, and hit some more! In the 16 games there he hit .344 with three homers and drove in 15 runs. Not only that but he seemed to get his batting eye back as he walked eight times, but even more importantly only struck out eight times in those 16 games.

It still appears that the Mets are going to sit Conforto against a lot of left-handed pitching. However, if Conforto really can get back the form he showed at the end of last season and the playoffs, the Mets will be hard pressed to keep his bat out of the lineup when their lineup looks anemic at times. It may take a week or so for Conforto to get back in Manager Terry Collins’ good graces, but I still believe in this kid and think he will finish the season strong.

Yulieski Gurriel, 3B, Houston Astros

After defecting from Cuba this winter, Gurriel was declared a free agent by Major League Baseball, and he certainly drew a lot of interest. And why shouldn’t he have? Gurriel was one of the premiere hitters in Cuba and his resume includes a trip to the Olympics and three World Baseball Classics. In 49 games last season he hit .500 with 15 homers and 51 RBIs. Obviously those numbers won’t translate to Major League Baseball, but the upside is enticing. He is 32 years old, and the Astros clearly would like a return on their near $50 million investment soon.

It will be an interesting race to the Majors between Gurriel and top prospect Alex Bregman. It is possible that eventually Bregman can play third and Gurriel can play second, but that is getting a little ahead of ourselves. Gurriel isn’t quite ready to be in the Majors, and will probably take three or so weeks in the Minors to prepare himself. Keep that in mind if you are looking to pounce on him now, but when he does come up, he could pay handsome dividends during the fantasy playoffs.

 

Ryon Healy, 3B, Oakland Athletics

The A’s have had a really tough year, and their offense has been sputtering for most of 2016. They are hoping for a boost by calling up 24 year old Healy who was mashing it in the Minors. He started the season in Double-A before being promoted, and in 85 games between the two levels he had 28 doubles, 14 home runs, and 64 RBIs. If he could live up to this potential, Healy could quickly become one of the top hitters on the Athletics quickly.

He is going to have to battle somewhat for playing time, unless the A’s are able to trade off Danny Valencia, but being in the American League, the DH is always an option for either. He has two doubles and a homer since being called up, and he is slowly climbing up the batting order, as he hit seventh on Wednesday. He might be a bit of a deeper call on the waiver wire, but Healy certainly looks like he has a chance to have some serious power in his bat.

Pitchers

Matt Shoemaker, SP, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

It has been a really tough season for the Angels with all of their injuries, but Shoemaker has been one of the few bright spots in the pitching department. He had a great 2014 before a horrific 2015 that put him off of fantasy radars anywhere. While the Angels haven’t been a good offensive team, there is still a strong possibility that Shoemaker can be a solid fantasy pitcher.

Shoemaker was masterful again on July 17th as he twirled a complete game shutout with 13 strikeouts and no walks. He has allowed one earned run or less in four of his last seven starts, and struck out six or more in five of those. I have no idea how this guy is owned in less than half of leagues in both ESPN and Yahoo, but sure enough that is the case. He is owned in all of my leagues, but if you are a lucky one, go get yourself some Shoemaker pronto!

Dylan Bundy, SP, Baltimore Orioles

Once one of the top prospects of the Orioles organization as a late teenager, some of the shine has come off of the star of Bundy over the years. Injuries have played a major part in this as Bundy did undergo Tommy John Surgery. He hasn’t been able to pitch a full season since the surgery, but still remained among the top 100 prospects in baseball.

The Orioles brought him to the Majors this season as a part of the bullpen, and he was pitching lights out. He pitched so well, and the rest of the Orioles pitched so poorly that Baltimore decided to give him a shot at the rotation. Things didn’t go overly well for Bundy in that start as he allowed four runs in just 3.1 innings, and he also walked three guys. He did strikeout four batters in those three innings, so it wasn’t all bad. It isn’t guaranteed that Bundy stays in the rotation but this kid has some out of sight stuff, so considering how poor the Orioles rotation is, I bet he sticks.

Jim Johnson, RP, Atlanta Braves

When Johnson came over to the Braves in the offseason, I thought there was a chance that he could be the closer. That didn’t work out, and he wasn’t really pitching that well in the first half of the year. Arodys Vizcaino has landed on the DL with an oblique injury, and there has been no timetable set for his return as of now.

The Braves haven’t exactly been a fantasy owner’s dream as they have the worst record in baseball. Vizcaino has only ten saves in the first half of the year. Johnson has had some great success as a closer as he had back to back 50 save seasons for the Orioles in 2012 and 2013. He isn’t a big strikeout pitcher, and he is closing for a horrible team, so I would only move on Johnson if you are really just in need for saves.

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