For those of you in H2H leagues, the playoffs are less than 3 weeks away. Those in rotisserie and points leagues have a little over 6 weeks to play. If you’re making that final run in hopes of securing a playoff spot, you’ve got to be on top of every player available to you. Same thing goes for those in points and roto leagues, every point matters so start taking advantage of the hot hands available to you. If you are one of those top teams or your playoff spot is secure, this is no time to hit the cruise control button or rest on your laurels. Remember, no lead is secure and anything can happen. A few key injuries can turn a winning team into a loser over night, just ask the owners of Paul Goldschmidt, Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez and (insert big name on the DL from your team here). Short of a phenom prospect getting the call and hitting the cover off the ball from day 1, you’re not going to be able to replace any big player you lose. You should though, if you look hard enough, be able to find someone who can make up for some of those lost stats. That’s why you’re here today, right?
OF Avisail Garcia (White Sox): A torn labrum in his left shoulder was supposed to keep the young outfielder out for the season, but the 23-year-old defied expectations by returning last week. Garcia showed a lot of promise in his 2 brief appearances in the majors in 2012 and 2013. He doesn’t walk much and his strikeouts are somewhat troubling, but he has shown the ability to hit for average and has a nice combination of power and speed. While his shoulder may limit the amount of home runs he collects from here on out, Garcia should be able to contribute in the other 3 categories along with a handful of steals.
Available in 84% of Yahoo, 74% of CBS and 70% of Fantrax leagues
OF Norichika Aoki (Royals): He got off to a slow start, but since the all-star break he’s been hitting over .300. Over the past 2 weeks, Aoki is batting .318 with 1 home run, 5 steals, 10 RBIs and 11 runs scored. The Royals have also been playing much better and are currently in first place in the AL central. The stars are aligned for Aoki. While he won’t contribute to your home run total and only give you a limited number of RBIs, he should deliver a good number of runs and stolen bases with a batting average close to .300. For the past 2 seasons Aoki’s batting average has been 20 points higher in the first half, looks like this year he is reversing that trend.
Available in 56% of Yahoo, 50% of CBS and 42% of Fantrax leagues
SP Tsuyoshi Wada (Cubs): The 9 year veteran came to the states in 2012, signing a contract with the Baltimore Orioles. I think he came here for the medical insurance because he needed Tommy John surgery almost immediately. He was healthy by May of 2013 and spent the year toiling away in AAA. The O’s had seen enough and the Cubs quickly scooped him up. Before Wada was called up, he had a 2.77 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 120 strikeouts covering 113.2 innings. Pretty good considering it was the PCL, and those numbers aren’t that far off of what he put up in Japan. Others will say to take a wait and see approach, talk about the lack of velocity on his fastball, his high flyball percentage. I say ignore all that. Wada is a control pitcher, a seasoned veteran and knows how to pitch. He may give up an occasional homer, but the damage will be limited by his low walk and hit totals. Wada is not an ace, but he can be a solid number 4/5 pitcher. He is a streamer option for 10 team leagues and should be owned in leagues with 12 or more teams. I own him in every league so I’m all in, drink the cool aid.
Available in 96% of Yahoo, 73% of CBS and 78% of Fantrax leagues
SS Chris Taylor (Mariners): What the hell happened to Brad Miller. He was supposed to break out and put up oodles of numbers hitting in front of Cano. If Chris Taylor has anything to say about it, Miller won’t get a second chance. Before getting the call, Taylor was batting .328 for the Takoma Rainiers with 5 home runs and 14 steals over 302 at bats. Taylor had a 2-1 K/BB ratio and for his career it’s approximately 3-2. He hit .297 over his 3 years at the University of Virginia and .320 through the minors (the .297 last year at AA was his lowest batting average). While he is currently buried at the bottom of the Mariners order, I can see him getting moved up if/when Dustin Ackley or Austin Jackson cool off. In 10 and 12 team leagues, Taylor is someone to monitor as he will only contribute to your batting average. Those in deeper leagues, especially ones that use a MI slot (or lost Troy Tulowitzki) might want to give him a look. If he moves up in the order some and starts to steal some bases, he could quickly move up the rankings.
Available in 96% of Yahoo, 90% of CBS and 82% of Fantrax leagues
2B Jonathan Schoop (Orioles): Most people when they go through the waiver wire and see a guy with a .216 batting average, they ignore and move on. If you look deeper you’ll see that Schoop has begun to hit. Over the past week, Schoop has 3 home runs, 5 RBI, a stolen base and has scored 6 runs, all while batting .286. His minor league numbers aren’t overly impressive until you take into account that he was only 20 years old when he was in AA and 21 last season in AAA. He has talent beyond what his numbers have shown to date. I’m not sure if this is just a hot streak or we are getting a peak into the future of things to come. Regardless, Schoop is hitting now and like the title says, every point matters. He should be added in 14 team leagues or deeper. Those in 12 team leagues, he deserves a look but I wouldn’t drop anyone worthy to get him (not yet at least). If he continues to hit this week, you might want to rethink your current 2B or MI option if you have a weak player there.
Available in 97% of Yahoo, 88% of CBS and 76% of Fantrax leagues
SP Jeremy Hellickson (Rays): Hell boy is back. I know last year was a disaster for him and some of you wrote him off. Even more of you jumped ship when he started the year on the DL. Despite last year’s meltdown and lackluster strikeout totals in the majors, Hellickson is a decent pitcher to own. In his first 5 games since returning, he has allowed more than one earned run in just one start. His last 2 starts he went 7 and 6 innings so his endurance is starting to build. His velocity is still down, but it’s even with what he was throwing in 2011 when he posted a 2.95 ERA. His flyball percentage is at 50, but that should come down and normalize as he gets a few more games under his belt. Plus the Rays have been hitting as of late so wins might not be as hard to come by as they would have been in the first half of the season. If you’re unsure but you have an empty roster space, add him to your bench for now. Even if you don’t start him, nobody else can. If he continues to pitch well you’ve got a winner for your playoff run. If not, you drop him for some hot big name pitcher receiving a September call up.
Available in 77% of Yahoo, 50% of CBS and Fantrax leagues
OF Travis Snider (Pirates): Snider hasn’t done much in his 6 year career and this year was shaping up to be more of the same. Funny thing happened though, Snider found his groove after the all-star break. He must have spent that time watching tapes of Steve Pearce because since the break, Snider is batting .309 with 6 home runs, 18 RBIs and has scored 13 runs. Thanks to Andrew McCutchen, Snider has been receiving full-time at bats this month so playing time is not an issue anymore. There are a lot of doubters out there, I’ll admit I am one of them. I also doubted Steve Pearce for the same reasons, I’m not going to do that again. Snider is hitting for power and playing full-time. Why not roll the dice and ride the hot streak while it lasts. I have several teams in need of power and I am grabbing Snider as a short-term add, what about you?
Available in 93% of Yahoo and 89% of CBS and Fantrax leagues
SP Mike Fiers (Brewers): I missed the boat on this one, but for some of you, there is still a chance. Fiers has had a successful minor league career and showed us a glimpse of things to come when he was called up in 2012. While he didn’t light the world on fire that year, he left us with a good impression. Before his promotion this year (his second promotion, I don’t count the cup of coffee in June), Fiers had a 2.55 ERA, a 0.95 WHIP and 129 K’s in 102 innings. Even more impressive is the fact that he did it in the PCL where the long ball is king. Over the course of 251 innings in AAA, Fiers holds a 2.55 ERA and 1.05 WHIP (and then there are those 277 strikeouts). This is one of those adds that is good for leagues of all sizes, so if he’s available in your league, find your weakest pitcher or worst bench hitter and make the swap.
Available in 66% of Yahoo, 47% of CBS and 81% of Fantrax leagues
OF Ender Inciarte (Diamondbacks): Things could get a little dicey once A.J. Pollock returns, but for now, Inciarte is a safe buy. You won’t find any power here, this one is all about the speed. Last year in AA Inciarte stole 43 bases, and in 2012 between A & A+ ball he stole 46. His batting average has improved as he has advanced in levels and while he’s capable of batting in the .280 range, I wouldn’t expect more than the .264 he is currently putting up. If he can maintain a decent average, he should be able to hold onto his leadoff spot in the lineup, so expect a healthy run total moving forward. When Pollock does return, it will come down to Inciarte and David Peralta. If it becomes a time share situation, Inciarte loses as he will receive the left-handed at bats which will limit his value. Until Pollock returns, enjoy whatever Inciarte gives you.
Available in 98% of Yahoo, 96% of CBS and 92% of Fantrax leagues
OF Jon Jay (Cardinals): Jay is not an unknown quantity, he’s been around for a few years now. With Allen Craig shipped off to Boston, he has been playing mostly every day. Jay is a better baseball player than he is a fantasy one, unless you catch him at the right time. That time is now. While he is batting a very respectable .305 for the season, over the past 2 weeks Jay is hitting .406 with 2 home runs, 8 RBIs and has scored 7 times. Peter Bourjos still steals some at bats from him, but Jay is still seeing the majority of them. There is minimal power and speed here, but batting 6th there should be ample opportunities for RBIs. I know you want more from an outfielder than a good average and RBIs, but in deeper leagues, especially those that use 4 or more outfielders, your choices are limited. If you have a hole to fill (Carlos Gonzalez owners), this might be a decent stopgap until something better comes along.
Available in 93% of Yahoo, 90% of CBS and 79% of Fantrax leagues
Yahoo Specials: Since the ownership levels on Yahoo are far below those of CBS and Fantrax, the following players might be available to you.
3B Casey McGehee (Marlins): I know you want more from a third baseman, but sometimes a steady bat is better than a low average guy who hits home runs. For the season, McGehee is batting .303 with 60 RBI (9th among 3rd basemen). Looking at his monthly splits, the .288 batting average he has for August is the lowest monthly total he has this year. If you add in his run totals, McGehee is worth more in your lineup than guys like David Wright, Nolan Arenado, Lonnie Chisenhall and Pedro Alvarez. McGehee is available in 46% of Yahoo leagues.
SP Phil Hughes (Twins): He has had his ups and downs this season, but he’s on the upswing now. For the month of August he holds a 1.33 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP. Granted it was against SD, @OAK and KC, but his upcoming schedule isn’t that threatening. With games slated against Cleveland, and at Kansas City, it’s a good time to grab Hughes. After that he should face Baltimore on the road and then home verse the Angels and Cleveland (the Baltimore game is the only scary one). Hughes is available in almost 50% of Yahoo leagues and is used as a streamer in some. If that’s the case, grab him now for a nice 3 week stream.
SP Jason Vargas (Royals): Maybe it’s the name since he’s been around for some time, but for some reason, those on Yahoo don’t appreciate how good Jason Vargas has been this year. He has 15 quality starts out of 22. He’s only had 4 major blow-ups this season, 5 if you want to count the most recent one after returning from the DL, but I’m giving him a mulligan for that. For the season, Vargas has a 3.27 ERA, that ranks him number 32 among qualifying starters. He comes in at number 52 on ESPN’s player rater, sandwiched between Alex Cobb (92% owned) and Chris Archer (79% owned). Yet, despite his numbers, Vargas is available in 71% of leagues. That is a crime, and his availability in Yahoo is equal to his ownership on CBS. Sometimes you have to ignore the name and play the numbers. If Vargas is available in your league (regardless of where you play), pick him up.
Previous Waiver Wire suggestions Update.
In 12 team leagues, Collin McHugh, Chase Anderson, Kyle Hendricks, Odrisamer Despaigne and Edinson Volquez are still worthy additions. Colby Lewis borders between worthy add and monitor, let the depth of your league decide this one.
Joaquin Benoit & Neftali Feliz are still available if you’re searching for saves, but they won’t be for long.
Brock Holt, Denard Span, Kolten Wong, Kennys Vargas, Chris Carter, Jedd Gyorko, Josh Reddick, and Stephen Vogt are all still solid adds to those in 12 team leagues or deeper. A.J. Pollock suffered a setback but should be back soon and deserves consideration as a DL stash. Rymer Liriano has upside and is worthy of a gamble, but don’t go dropping anyone useful unless he starts showing something. David Peralta has slowed down but could bounce back, give him another week to turn things around.
Jacob deGrom, Jake Lamb, Josh Willingham, Arismendy Alcantara, Dustin Ackley, Oscar Taveras and Connor Gilaspie have been downgraded from add to monitor in 10 and 12 team leagues.
J.P. Arencibia, Will Middlebrooks, Grady Sizemore, Steve Pearce and Kevin Kiermaier can all be dropped and or taken off your watch list.
Continue to monitor Taijuan Walker and Mookie Betts, but neither one should be counted on until September.
Finding their way to waivers
It’s time to start trimming the fat and shedding your roster of those unwanted
pounds players. So far I’ve recommended Mike Minor, Allen Craig and Tim Lincecum. On deck this week is a pair of DL third basemen, Ryan Zimmerman and Brett Lawrie. Zimmerman is out for another 4 weeks which means if he doesn’t suffer any setbacks, you might have him back on your roster for the final two weeks of the season. Washington currently has a 6 game lead in the NL East. If they can maintain that lead they may not be in a rush to get Zimmerman back on the field. I’d expect some rust for that first week along with a few days off as the Nats will try to keep Zim as healthy as possible for the playoffs. Unless you have a team that is destined to go to the world series, Zimmerman is not worth holding onto.
Lawrie could be back anytime in September but there is no clear timetable when it comes to oblique strains. Considering the disappointing season he’s having already (ok, disappointing career), how much can you really expect from him. Those of you that had him through his first DL trip should already have a backup in place, and odds are whoever that is, they are producing better than he was anyway. If you have a DL spot open, be my guest. If you’re dealing with multiple injuries with DL players taking up bench spots, clear one out and drop Lawrie. Better luck next year Brett.
Oh, and for the 15% of you on CBS, the 25% of you on Yahoo and the 29% of you on Fantrax, Alfonso Soriano is 38, doesn’t have a job and wasn’t doing anything before he was released. This isn’t a 22-year-old rookie that could get a September call up, there is No Need to have him on your roster.