Waiver Wire Report: Crunch Time

For H2H leagues, playoffs are almost here.  Those in points and Rotisserie leagues, this is your last chance to make up any lost points you need to make that final push wherever you are lacking.  Five long months of playing and it all comes down to September.  Even if you are not one of those top teams or headed to the playoffs, that doesn’t mean you have to quit now.  I know, football season is more important.  You get a fresh start with a new team and a chance to win, but don’t ignore your fantasy baseball team in the process.  While you may not be able to win, you could play the spoiler role.  Maybe take a point or two away from one of those top teams telling them the road to the playoffs doesn’t run through your house.

You’ll also get a leg up for next year by sticking around as you get to see first hand what some of those September call ups can do, who finishes on a high note, and who continues to slump that you should move down your draft boards next season.  The only way to win next year is to be current on everything that happens this year.  All you do by checking out early is hand those top teams a championship by allowing them to use the waiver wire as an extension to their roster.  And trust me, they will.  I’ve done it myself and am doing it again this year in one league.  Since the bottom half of the league has basically stopped playing, I can pick and choose my lineups daily with little fear of someone else grabbing that next day f/a starter ahead of me.  Don’t be that guy.  Now on to the waivers.

RP Eric O’Flaherty (A’s):  With Sean Doolittle down and probably done for the rest of the regular season, Oakland needs a new closer.  It’s not Luke Gregerson nor is it Ryan Cook, the A’s named Eric O’Flaherty to the job.  This is a surprise for 2 reasons.  First, O’Flaherty is a lefty.  Doolittle was a lefty as well, but conventional wisdom dictates the job would go to a right-handed pitcher.  Second, O’Flaherty is fresh off of Tommy John Surgery and you would think the A’s would want to ease him back into things.  All that aside, O’Flaherty is now the man to add for saves.  He’s not a big strikeout guy, but he gets enough to pay the bills in fantasy.  His ERA since 2010 has been 2.5 or lower and his WHIP has been 1.15 or lower since 2011.  He’s a solid add as far as his numbers go, and he should get plenty of save opportunities pitching in Oakland.  If you’re fishing for saves in your league, this would be a decent catch.  Odds are there won’t be many closer changes over the final month so this might be your last chance unless…..

Available in 73% of Yahoo, 82% of CBS and 80% of Fantrax leagues

RP Edward Mujica (Red Sox):  …..unless the Red Sox make a change for the final month.  Koji Uehara has done well this year, but with a 5.56 ERA and 1.59 WHIP for the month of August, he could be in danger of losing his job.  It would be poetic justice if Mujica were to step into the closer role as just last year it was Mujica melting down and Trevor Rosenthal coming in to take his job.  While the Mujic man was shaky in the first half, he’s been his old self since the all-star break posting a 1.23 ERA and 1.09 WHIP.  Junichi Tazawa is another option, but this year managers have been leaving their setup men in the 8th and exploring other options when looking to replace their closer.  Mujuca is not an immediate add unless you’re a Uehara owner and want to handcuff your closer just in case.  Mujica should be closely monitored along with the bullpen situation in Boston.  If and when the change does happen, be ready to make the switch.

Available in 90% of Yahoo, 97% of CBS and 87% of Fantrax leagues

OF Drew Stubbs (Rockies):  I can’t believe we only have one month to play and not only is Drew Stubbs still relevant, he’s available.  Every time you think he will lose playing time someone goes down, either that or he’s hired his own personal hitman to disable the competition.  Stubbs is batting .296 for the year and .341 over the past 2 weeks.  He has struggled some against righties (.266) and on the road (.213), but at home and against lefties is all gravy.  The Rockies are at home next week facing the Giants and Padres and have another week-long home stand from the 15th to the 21st against the Dodgers and Diamondbacks.  If Stubbs is available, it might be prudent to take advantage of the match-ups for those two weeks if you need help in the outfield.

Available in 74% of Yahoo, 59% of CBS and 55% of Fantrax leagues

OF Oswaldo Arcia (Twins):  I’ve been ignoring Arcia for weeks now, mostly for the fact that he can barely hit his weight.  If you’re like me, it’s time to put the batting average bias aside and look at what else he can contribute.  For the past 30 days, Arica has 7 home runs, 21 RBIs and 14 runs scored.  He did all that with a .235 average so it’s not surprising that he’s still readily available in many leagues, but numbers are numbers.  While I can’t condone picking up Arcia, I can’t condemn it either.  If you need power and RBIs and can afford to take a hit in average, Arcia is for you.

Available in 85% of Yahoo, 61% of CBS and 55% of Fantrax leagues.

SP Hector Santiago (Angels):  Santiago is still walking far too many batters and has had some luck on his side, but you know the old saying, better lucky than good.  It appeared he was in over his head for the first two months of the season, but everything has been clicking since June.  The 3.12 ERA in July and 1.14 WHIP in August are his highest totals for the past three months.  Santiago has a K/9 of 7.75 which is better than league average, his H/9 is almost a full point below what he averaged last season and he has done a much better job at keeping the ball in the park this year.  Over his last 4 starts, Santiago has allowed only 3 earned runs, and one of those games was at Arlington.  Looking ahead to September, the Angels have home games against Houston, Seattle & Texas and road games against Houston, Minnesota, Oakland, Seattle & Texas.  September looks like a good time to own a pitcher for the Angels.

I will note that if you play in league that uses quality starts, Santiago might not be your cup of tea as he doesn’t always make it to the sixth inning.

Available in 85% of Yahoo, 66% of CBS and 68% of Fantrax leagues

SP Miguel Gonzalez (Orioles): April and June were not kind to Gonzalez, but in between he’s been a useful pitcher to own or stream.  Since July 5th, Gonzalez has allowed more than 2 earned runs just once (a 4 run game to Seattle).  Over that stretch he has issued only 12 free passes, that’s 12 walks over 47 innings.  Gonzalez needs that control because he is prone to the longball (8 home runs over those 7 games and 21 for the season).  He’s not a big strikeout guy (6.33 K/9), but he will give you a solid ERA and WHIP (most nights) along with a chance for wins and a virtual lock for a quality start.  There is nothing fancy here, just a solid pitcher to anchor to the back-end of your rotation.

Available in 93% of Yahoo, 84% of CBS and 74% of Fantrax leagues

OF Rusney Castillo (Red Sox):  I wrote about him last Saturday after he was signed by the Red Sox which you can read hereI’ll admit, it’s a coin toss what Castillo will bring to the table, but his potential is better than anything you’ll find on waivers.  He has better than average speed and more power than past scouting reports give him credit for.  Some, including his new teammate Yoenis Cespedes, have compared him to Yasiel Puig, but I wouldn’t go that far.  He has the potential to be an elite talent, but there’s an equal chance he ends up being like his former teammate in Cuba, Leonys Martin.  That’s not a bad thing, but it’s a far cry from being Puig.  Fantrax added Castillo to their player pool the day he was signed and CBS was just a day behind.  If you play on either of these site, he should be rostered, sight unseen.  Castillo is waiting on his work visa, but once that goes through he will be in the lineup.  Until then, we play the waiting game with fingers crossed.

Available in 76% of CBS and 73% of Fantrax leagues (Sorry Yahoo users, still waiting)

OF Carl Crawford (Dodgers):  He is not getting full-time at bats, but he is doing a lot with the little he is being given.  Over the past month, Crawford has hit .338 in 77 at bats and for the past 14 days he is hitting .370 with 1 home run and 5 stolen bases.  He has only had 27 at bats in the past two weeks (sitting against lefties), but if you have daily moves this should not be an issue.  At a time where every point counts, and given what Crawford is doing in limited at bats, now is the time to stream Crawford in and out of your lineup.

Available in 46% of Yahoo, 52% of CBS and 43% of Fantrax leagues

 

Going Deep

 Jordan Schafer (Twins):  He was nothing more than a bench player with some speed for years in Atlanta, but Schafer has found new life in Minnesota.  Since arriving he has hit .305 with 9 stolen bases in 59 at bats.  He had 15 swipes before arriving and stole 20+ the past two seasons in part-time play.  The average is something new.  I don’t know how long it will last, but take advantage of it while you can.  You’re rostering Schafer for one reason, to steal bases.  Everything else you might get from him is a bonus.

Available in 98% of Yahoo, 92% of CBS and 90% of Fantrax leagues

Jerome Williams (Phillies):  The move to the NL seems to be agreeing with Williams so far.  He’s allowed only 4 earned runs in his first 3 games with the Phillies.  He went 7 innings against Seattle and 8 against St. Louis, each resulting in a win.  For his career, well… that is kind of an ugly subject.  He has shown flashes of brilliance like this in the past only to come crashing back to earth hard.  His hot streak does have a chance to continue since he is in a new league full of batters who have not seen much of him.  While I may not endorse Williams, I’m not in any 16 team or deeper league where the talent pool is thin.  If I were, I might roll the dice on him, especially with the way the schedule lines up for him (@Mets, @WASH, PIT, @SD and @OAK).

Available in 98% of Yahoo, 95% of CBS and 93% of Fantrax leagues

Daniel Hudson (Diamondbacks):  Hudson has recovered from Tommy John surgery, all but finished up his rehab assignment and is slated to rejoin the Diamondbacks in September.  Hudson had a breakout season in 2011, but that was followed by an injury plagued and shortened season in 2012 which resulted in his first Tommy John Surgery.  Hudson required a second TJ surgery in 2013 which brings us to the present.  What does Hudson have to offer?  The rotation is full of guys who are begging to be replaced but who gets cut?  If he is put back in the starting role, will Arizona treat him with kid gloves and baby him? Can he be an effective starter for fantasy owners?  All good questions, and I really don’t have answers to any of them.  Hudson has the stuff to be a number 3 pitcher.  He is fresh off his second TJ surgery so I wouldn’t expect much.  The team in general is bad this year so wins would be hard to come by even if he is able to go 5 to 6 innings.  That said, despite all the negativity, he could post numbers better than those players currently on waivers in deep leagues.  His velocity is at 93 MPH which is where it was pre-surgery so he may surprise us.

Available in 99.9% of Yahoo, 97% of CBS and 92% 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.

C Russell Martin (Pirates):  Judging by his lowly 42% ownership levels on Yahoo, I’m assuming players there are unaware that Martin is the 8th ranked catcher on ESPN’s player rater.  Even if you sort the catchers on Yahoo he is ranked 8th for the season, 2nd for he past month hitting .347 in August.  Guys like Wilin Rosario, Brian McCann and Joe Mauer get all the love even though Martin has outplayed them all this year.  It’s time to compare your backstop to Martin if he is available and ask yourself, who has the better numbers?

Christian Yelich (Marlins):  His ownership is just under 70% so this is for a limited audience.  Considering his numbers for the season, I’m surprised his ownership isn’t in the 90% range like it is on CBS and Fantrax.  For the season, Yelich holds a .290 batting average with 9 home runs and 16 stolen bases.  For the month of Auguast, Yelich hit .351, and don’t forget the .308 he hit in July.  Why he isn’t universally owned I don’t know, but if he’s available in your league, first slap yourself in the face…. then go pick him up.

Drew Smyly (Rays):  Available in 56% of leagues is obscene when you look at his yearly totals.  Looking at his last 4 games: 7.2 innings @TEX with zero earned runs and 9 K’s, 7.0 innings verse the Yankees with 4 hits and 2 earned runs, a 2 hit 9 innings @TOR and a 2 hit 1 run game @BAL.  Seriously, he’s available in over 50% of leagues?  Tim Lincecum is owned in 53% of leagues and THIS guy is out there?!?  I don’t care if he pitches for Tampa, I don’t care if he pitches in the AL East, I don’t even care if you like him or not.  This is not someone who should be floundering away on waivers.

 

Previous Waiver Wire suggestions Update.

If you don’t see what you are looking for above, maybe one of my previous suggestions might be to you liking.  Their ownership may have gone up since I last recommended them, and for some of these men, it should have gone up.  Regardless they are still worth looking into.

In 12 team leagues, Mike Fiers, Jeremy Hellickson, Tsuyoshi Wada, Collin McHugh, Kyle Hendricks, Jacob deGrom  and Edinson Volquez are still worthy additions if you are in need of pitching help.  Odrisamer Despaigne is borderline worthy depending on the matchup, let your league depth determine his value.

Joaquin Benoit is still available in 45% of Yahoo leagues (I don’t get it).

If you’re looking for a hitter, Jon Jay, Ender Inciarte, Kennys Vargas, Oscar Taveras, Dustin Ackley, Arismendy Alcantara, Mookie Betts, Brock Holt and Conor Gillaspie are all still solid adds to those in 12 team leagues or deeper.  Travis Snider and Steve Pearce are also worth and add if their injuries turn out to be minor.  Chris Carter’s batting average is down, but he is still hitting for power.  A.J. Pollock should be back any time now and is still worthy of a DL stash.  Kolten Wong and Josh Willingham have struggled lately.  If those struggles continue next week, drop them from add to monitor.

Grady Sizemore, Stephen Vogt, Colby Lewis, Jonathan Schoop, Chris Taylor, David Peralta, Jake Lamb, Chase Anderson, Avisail Garcia, Nori Aoki and Jedd Gyorko have been downgraded from add to monitor.  If their struggles continue, you can remove them from your watch list all together. 

Continue to monitor Taijuan Walker for a September call up or maybe pick him up in advance.

 

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, Tim Lincecum, Ryan Zimmerman and Brett Lawrie (and pleaded with those who own Alfonso Soriano to just let go).  This week over on Fantrax I added Jean Segura to the scrap heap so if you didn’t read it and own Segura, it’s time to let him go.   Mike Minor has since turned things around (or appears to have turned things around).  He has burned me too many times for me to own him again or recommend as a pick up, but don’t let my personal bias and hurt feelings sway you if he is available on waivers in your league.  I do leave you with 2 words regarding Minor, caveat emptor.

On deck this week was going to be Shin-Soo Choo, but he caught wind of that and took himself out to save me the trouble.  Instead I’m going to give you a name that may not sit well with some folks, but it needs to be said.  Chris Davis, come one down, you’re the next contestant to be finding their way to waivers.  Normally I would not recommend dropping a first round pick, but it’s late enough in the season and we have all seen enough that it is something to consider.  I know what he did last year, but what has Davis done this year to warrant a roster spot?

  AB  HR  RBI  AVG OBP BB K
April  73 14  13  .260 .385 13 23
May 67 11  5 12  .209 .329 10 25
June 97 10  16  .175 .292 16 36
July 78  10  .167 .250 8 38
August 86 12  12  .151 .213 6 34
Total 404 54  23  63  .188 .291 53 158

His peak was in April and it’s been all down hill since.  You can’t even look at his splits to find a favorable matchup scenario to use him in, he’s bad all around.  June was his best month for numbers, otherwise you’re looking at 5 home runs, 12 RBIs and 10 runs a month.  You can get those runs and RBIs elsewhere with an average 80 points higher.  In my opinion, those few homers he might give you just aren’t worth the trouble.

I wrote about Davis last week, comparing him to Adam Dunn and Mark Reynolds.  If you looked at the numbers above and they had the name Mark Reynolds attached to them, would you hold onto Reynolds the same way you are holding on to Davis now?  Odds are you would drop him like a dirty shirt.  If your team is hurting for home runs and you can deal with that (expletive deleted) batting average, go on and hold him.  If you can live without those few homers, it’s time to see what is left on waivers and who is coming up in September.

Jim Finch

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The self proclaimed Grand High Exhausted Mystic Ruler of Fantasy Baseball. While I am not related to Jennie or Sidd Finch, I will attempt to uphold the integrity of the Finch family name as it relates to baseball.