After a brief hiatus, the waiver wire is back. Did you even miss it? I’ll just assume that you did and we’ll move on. If you play in a H2H league, you have about 5 weeks left before the playoffs. Those in roto and point based leagues have another 9 weeks to go. The trade deadline in standard Yahoo leagues is next Sunday; custom leagues have their own deadlines, some of which may have already passed. Once that happens, the only way you will have to gain those few extra points or wins to get you into the playoffs will be through waivers. It can be done though if you just pay close attention to not only the f/a pool, but the players on your own roster. Finding hot players to roster is half the battle; spotting the cold ones on your own team is the other half and this is something some owners neglect to do. It’s time to assess your lineup and prepare for the stretch run, and I’ve got a number of players who deserve your attention – starting with the Phillies.
OF (2B-SS) – Odubel Herrera (Phillies): The Phillies shipped Ben Revere off to Toronto which cleared the path for full-time at bats for Herrera. His numbers for the season are pretty respectable. Herrera hits equally at home and away, does well against righties and holds his own against lefties. He has a little pop in his bat and speed beyond his current total of 9 steals. Herrera hit .362 in July and is currently batting .450 in August. The most impressive number is the runs; he has scored 12 runs in the past two weeks which is almost one-third of his season total. He is locked into the second spot in the order which means the run total will continue to be high, especially since the Phillies have found their game and are hitting lately.
If you play on ESPN Herrera is available at SS and on Yahoo Herrera qualifies at 2B as well; MI is where his true value lies, but his numbers also have value as a 4th outfielder in deeper leagues and should at least earn him a bench spot in 12 team leagues. Players like Erick Aybar and Starlin Castro are owned in twice as many leagues, yet Herrera has outperformed both over the past 30 days – time for a change.
Available in 86% of Yahoo, 90% of ESPN and 77% of CBS leagues
1B – Ryan Howard (Phillies): Like I said above, the Phillies have found their groove and Howard is leading the charge. Other than the .280 he batted in May, Howard’s average has been a mess – especially against lefties. That all changed on July 25th with a 2-4 performance against the Cubs. Counting that game he has had a half-dozen multi-hit games, has scored 10 runs (1/4 of his season total) and is batting .356. He also has 2 home runs in that stretch (and 4 doubles), but his power was never a question this year with 18 homers on the season. Maybe things have finally clicked; maybe this is just a hot streak. I always say play the hot hand, and considering his ownership is going up fast you have a limited time to take advantage. Howard makes a great play for your CI or utility slot.
Available in 69% of Yahoo, 65% of ESPN and 47% of CBS leagues
OF – Domonic Brown (Phillies): Brown broke out in the first half of 2013, but he has been irrelevant ever since – until recently. His June call up didn’t go smoothly, but Brown batted .293 for the month of July and is hitting .308 over the past 14 days with 3 home runs and 13 RBIs. He still isn’t drawing enough walks but at least he cut down on his strikeout rate (14.5%). While his ISO score is a paltry .112, it is .188 so far in August and .234 on fly balls so don’t let the low overall score sway you. This is still the same player that hit .273 with 23 home runs in the first half of 2013. While I don’t expect that type of power over the remaining months of the season, it isn’t unrealistic to think he can’t hit for a decent average while contributing above average numbers in the HR and RBI department – and a few steals to boot. The Phillies are looking to next year which means Brown will be in the lineup until his bat deems otherwise.
Available in 95% of Yahoo, 93% of ESPN and 83% of CBS leagues
The odds of Maikel Franco, Ken Giles and Aaron Nola being available in your league are small (except on Yahoo), but all three should be rostered if they are available. Over the past 14 days Franco hit .298 with 2 home runs, 12 RBIs and 8 runs scored. Giles successfully converted his first 4 save opportunities and has only allowed 1 earned runs since the calendar flipped to July. As for Nola, he went from pitching for LSU in 2014 to pitching in the big leagues in 2015. His numbers in college, the minors and his first 4 games in the majors are all somewhat similar and his xFIP and SIERA are in line with his current ERA.
There are more than just Phillies on waivers though, so lets see who else is out there worthy of a roster spot.
1B – Travis Shaw (Red Sox): Mike Napoli is now a member of the Rangers which means first base is wide open for Shaw. He has done well in limited at bats so far, but let’s take a look at what he did prior to his promotion.
The power dipped upon promotion to AAA, but the double stayed constant leading me to believe there is room for growth in the 25-year-old. The walks also went down, but Shaw put up walk rates of 13.7% or better all the way up to AA. Strikeouts appear high, but they went down in his second and third stop in AA and also this year which was his second time in AAA. The batting average is the only real issue, but Shaw wouldn’t be the first minor league player with a low average to come up and surprise people at the major league level (see Freddy Galvis). Shaw has the element of surprise on his side since teams probably haven’t done much scouting on him and he hasn’t been exposed to the league for long. That alone makes him an intriguing unknown quantity. If you have a mediocre bench player, I might pick up Shaw as a wild card gamble; give him a few days and see what he can do. Larger leagues with deeper rosters should definitely take a chance. I’ve said this numerous times: it’s the guys with the lowest pedigree and least amount of fanfare that sometimes produce the best numbers.
Available in 99% of Yahoo, 97% of ESPN and 95% of CBS leagues
RP – Alex Wilson (Tigers): It appears that Wilson is now the man to own in Detroit for the remainder of the season. Wilson is not your prototypical closer; he doesn’t get many strikeouts, but he should get a decent number of save opportunities considering Joakim Soria racked up 23 saves before his departure. Wilson had an ERA below 2.0 and a WHIP under 1.0 in his limited time with Boston last season, and this year it is more of the same in double the innings. ZiPS and Streamer don’t give him much of a chance for the rest of the season calling for an ERA around 4.0 (which is where his xFIP currently sits), but projections aren’t always right. While Wilson doesn’t get many K’s, he does have a BB/9 of 1.56, a HR/9 of 0.31, a LD% just under 15 and a GB% of almost 51. Wilson will get you saves; that is what you are looking for in a closer. You can get your strikeouts elsewhere.
Available in 71% of Yahoo, 74% of ESPN and 68% of CBS leagues
C – Welington Castillo (Diamondbacks): He did nothing in Chicago and was sleepless in Seattle, but “Where’s the Beef“ Welington sure does love it in the desert. In the 43 games he’s played so far in Arizona, Castillo is batting .299 with 12 home runs, 25 RBIs and 24 runs scored. He’s been red-hot the past 14 days batting .382 with 7 home runs and 10 RBIs; those are the most productive numbers by a catcher in that time period. His numbers for the past 30 days rank him 3rd among catcher behind only Buster Posey and Kyle Schwarber. Meanwhile, widely owned backstops like Salvador Perez and Stephen Vogt have seen their averages and production plummet. With less than 2 months to go, loyalty goes right out the window. Stop looking at what your catcher has done and look at what he has done lately. If he is not cutting the mustard (can you cut mustard?), it’s time for a change.
Available in 65% of CBS and 78% of Yahoo and ESPN leagues
SP – Jake Peavy (Giants): People really need to stop looking at yearly totals when they shop for waivers and start sorting players by their more recent numbers. Peavy has a 3.77 ERA for the season; that is enough for most people to pass on him. Over the last 30 day (4 starts), Peavy’s ERA and WHIP are 2.96 and 0.99. Since returning from the DL Peavy has made 6 starts. In one game against Arizona he allowed 4 earned runs; he allowed 3 earned runs in a game against Oakland (still a quality start); in the other 4 he allowed a total of 4 earned runs. Peavy went at least 6 innings in each start, walked more than one batter once (his first game back), and allowed more hits than innings pitched once. The strikeouts remain low, but other than that he is putting up some good numbers.
I know the concerns with Peavy; his injury history combined with his age make him a risk. Ask yourself a question though: is he any more of a risk than that guy from AA or AAA who just got called up? The numbers being produced by Peavy put him on par with Mark Buehrle. Mark Buehrle! Look at this guys track record and tell me he should be owned more than Peavy. This is a good player to slot into the back-end of your rotation.
Available in 60% of CBS and 87% of Yahoo and ESPN leagues
1B – Ben Paulsen (Rockies): Paulsen can’t hit lefties, but he is in the lineup against righties which is the important side of a platoon. He’s batting .300 for the season and .360 over the past 2 weeks. Considering his normal spot in the batting order I would not expect a lot of runs, but RBI opportunities will be there. Paulsen has 8 home runs in just over 200 at bats and we could see another 7 more before the end of the season now that the job is exclusively his. With Justin Morneau’s return this year in doubt and Rosario back in the minors, owners have no reason to doubt Paulsen’s playing time, which is one of the things that held some of you back.
Available in 89% of Yahoo, 73% of ESPN and CBS leagues
Yahoo & ESPN Special
SP – Jimmy Nelson (Brewers): The odds of finding him available on CBS are slim, but Nelson is available in over 50% of Yahoo and CBS leagues. Over the last 30 days covering 5 starts, Nelson has allowed earned runs in just one game (3 earned runs against the Pirates). In this span both his ERA and WHIP are under 1.0, has not allowed a home run and he is racking up close to a strikeout an innings. Nelson is also going deeper into games too, pitching a minimum of 6.1 innings which means 5 quality starts. He also has 3 wins and it should have been 4 had the bullpen not had a complete meltdown. If Nelson is available in your league – well, you know what to do.
Finding their way to Waivers
Aaron Hicks has been a popular pick lately, batting .349 for the month of July. So far in August he has a .241 batting average with 1 home run and 2 RBIs. The walks have dried up and so has his potential usefulness.
Mike Moustakas was a waiver wire darling for the first 3 months. Unfortunately he hit .188 in July and is currently batting .133 in August. If he’s still on your team, dump him for something useful or maybe pawn him off on an unsuspecting owner (if possible).
Stephen Vogt was another lightly drafted player and popular pick earlier this season. Just like Moustakas, Vogt had a horrid batting average in July (.163) and August isn’t looking any better (.158). Vogt is not even making up for the average with power; he had one homer in July and has one this month.
Kevin Pillar gave us 7 home runs, 13 stolen bases and 48 runs scored before the all-star break. Since the break he has batted .200 with no homers, 2 steals, 5 runs scored and just 2 RBIs. I should probably mention his teammate Chris Colabello as well. C.C. slumped through July and is fighting for playing time in August thanks to the arrival of Ben Revere.
Brock Holt’s average got him more at bats and his eligibility all over the diamond pushed his ownership up. Since the all-star break Holt is batting .210 with no home runs, 4 RBIs and 4 runs scored. You can find better on waivers.
Previous W.W. Recommendations
Mike Leake and Chris Tillman are both a little banged up, but neither have issues with their arm so continue to add them. Jonathan Niese is also worth owning; he’s just not a reliable source of strikeouts.
Tyler Saladino has cooled off signifigantly over the past few weeks and can be dropped if you picked him up. The same holds true (to a lesser extent) for Nick Castellanos, although let your needs and league depth determine what you do with him.
Francisco Lindor is still hitting the ball well, but he is not generating enough counting stats to warrant a roster spot in 12 team leagues. Stephen Piscotty has the same issue; he is producing a high but empty batting average.
The addition of Yoenis Cespedes has cut into the playing time of Michael Conforto lowering his value in mixed leagues. C.J. Cron feels Conforto’s pain since the arrival of David Murphy and David DeJesus have pushed him back to the bench. Until either of them start getting full-time at bats, they are not worth holding on to.
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