Fantasy Baseball

Waiver Wire Report: It’s Playoff Time

Well, if you’re here, you are obviously in the playoffs or one of those top teams in a point or rotisserie based league.  The time you’ve spent this season being loyal to those slumping players or heart picks on your bench has come to an end.  Those of you in keeper leagues still must endure those underperforming assets, but for the rest of you, it’s time to get rid of the names you know for those that will bring you to the show.  Players like Arismendy Alcantara and Joe Panik are the ones to own for second base right now, not Dustin Pedroia and Jason Kipnis.  You can get attached to a name in a keeper league, but in redraft leagues, it all comes down to “What have you done for me lately?”.  If you want to move onto the next round, it’s time to start thinking about the numbers.

2B Joe Panik (Giants): I mentioned him above, now let me tell you why you should roster him.  Panik has been a top 10 second baseman for the past month batting .389 over the past 30 days and .380 the past two weeks.  His minor league profile says average player, nothing special here, move along.  He’s one of those no name guys who was given an opportunity and he has run with it.  Lefty/Righty, Home/Away, it doesn’t matter.  Panik will give you a great average and score you a decent amount of runs hitting second for the Giants.  Cinderella will eventually turn back into a pumpkin, but until that time comes, take advantage of him (and I have in several leagues).  A perfect example of playing the numbers over the name.

RP Kevin Quackenbush (Padres):  Last week I suggested you monitor Edward Mujica with Koji Uehara on the verge of a demotion.  Mujica is a worthy pickup if you are fishing for saves if available, but so is Quackenbush.  Joaquin Benoit has an on again/off again shoulder issue so Quackenbush has been filling in as of late when needed.  He’s throwing a strikeout an inning, has a WHIP just over 1.0 and has only allowed 2 home runs all season.  He notched a save and a win on Monday and Tuesday and with the exception of a 3 run clunker two weeks ago, he’s been a machine.  If there are other closers out there in your league, someone who has a definitive hold on the closer role, I would suggest you pick them up.  If closers are a rare thing to find in your league, a speculative grab here might be warranted.  Keep you ears open on news about Benoit and act accordingly. 

3B Trevor Plouffe (Twins):  My joke before the season was, it’s only a matter of time before Trevor goes Plouffe.  Long term I’m going to stick to that prognosis, but in short bursts he has been useful this season.  Plouffe hit .317 in August with 5 home runs and 24 RBIs.  Over the past two weeks he has hit .364 so the big part of that August average is thanks in part to his recent streak.  While the streak may come to an end, I don’t see him going ice-cold so you should still get solid production from Plouffe for one more week (fingers crossed).  Third base has been brutal for fantasy owners this season.  I’ve owned Plouffe a few times this year, always felt dirty afterwards though.  If you need help at third, grab Plouffe for a week, and shower once you drop him.

OF Mookie Betts (Red Sox):  I thought it would take Mookie some time to get adjusted to the majors and didn’t think he would be fantasy worthy this season.  Oops.  The rookie did stumble when first called upon, but has since turned things around for the rebuilding Sox.  Betts is hitting .306 over the past 2 weeks with 3 home runs, 3 stolen bases, 8 RBIs and 9 runs scored.  He doesn’t hit well at home (.235 average but small sample size) so the upcoming series against the Orioles may not be the best time to play him.  After that, Boston is on the road at Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Baltimore.   His splits show him crushing lefties and getting murdered against right handers, but just like his home average, don’t read too much into it.  Betts could be a very good player in the future, and he’s giving us all a taste of that now.  Just like a slim jim, snap into this one.

C Dioner Navarro (Blue Jays):  Take a guess who has been the third best catcher in the league for the past month.  OK, since this about Navarro the cat is out of the bag, but I’m sure that bit of information took you by surprise.  Over the past 30 days, Navarro is hitting .316.  He hit .300 in July, .289 in August and .429 in a few at bats this month.  Considering the bad batting averages we’ve gotten from some catchers this season (Carlos Santana, Brian McCann, Miguel Montero to name a few), Navarro has been one of the more consistent hitters.  The biggest knock on the man is he doesn’t score runs (only 8 in the past 30 days).  If you can live with the low run totals, Navarro can more than make up for this with home runs, RBI and average.  It’s hard to find the total package when looking for a catcher, but you get above average numbers in 3 categories here along with a few runs.  It might be time to compare him to your current backstop and do a little comparison and decide who will help you more over the final month.

SP Miguel Gonzalez (Orioles):  Talk about someone who is under owned everywhere.  Since July 5th (that’s 9 starts spanning 63 innings), Gonzalez has allowed more than 2 earned runs once and has gone 6 or more innings in all but one game.  Gonzalez has a 1.82 ERA for July and a 2.96 for August and a 1.05 WHIP combined for both months.  I’m not sure what else he has to do to get your attention.  He doesn’t strikeout a ton of batters (6.42 K/9), but the rest of his number easily make up for that.  Gonzalez is a 2 start pitcher next week in Boston and at home verse the Yankees, and neither team is as scary as they used to be.

SP Jarred Cosart (Marlins):  The Astros version of Cosart was a borderline streamer options with a 4.41 ERA.  The Marlins got the second half player as Cosart has a 1.99 ERA since his move to the NL.  His first start wasn’t pretty, but in 5 starts since then he has allowed more than 1 earned runs just once (his last start).  The walk rate has been going down while the strikeout rate has increased along with the number of innings per game.  Is he someone to own?  That depends on the depth of your league, but he is someone worthy of a stream.  Up next is a road game against the Brewers, and the following week he will get two starts on the road verse the Mets and home against the Nationals.  If he handles the Brew Crew, scoop him up for the following weeks double-header and championship run.

3B Mike Olt (Cubs):  If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.  Olt’s all or nothing ways got him a one way ticket back to AAA.  It might have been what the doctor ordered as he hit .302 with 7 homers and 24 RBIs in 106 at bats.  Will his new-found success translate to the majors?  Flip a coin on this one, but it’s definitely worth monitoring.  Olt is said to have altered his swing and approach at the plate, and he did show a reduced strikeout rate while in the minors.  If he has turned things around, he could make a decent gamble as a third baseman or corner infielder.  I would not rush out and grab Olt with your playoff hopes on the line, but if you see a few multi-hit games in a row, grab him in anticipation of a streak.  The Cubs will have some interesting decisions to make next year if Olt has figured things out as will fantasy owners this year.

Going Deep

OF Juan Lagares (Mets):  The way Lagares has been playing, he could be relevant in shallower leagues, but his ownership puts him here.  A .284 average with 4 home runs and 9 steals doesn’t impress anyone given Lagares is closing in on 400 at bats.  Hidden beneath those mundane numbers are the 2 home runs, 5 steals, 10 RBIs with 9 runs scored in the past two weeks (with a .383 average).  Lagares is hot right now, and with the Mets playing for next year he will be in the lineup every night.  The Mets are home this week facing the Rockies and Nationals.  Colorado pitchers don’t exactly scare anyone and some of the Nationals pitchers have been sketchy as of late.  I’d still prefer Jordan Schafer who I recommended last week, but Lagares is the next best thing.

OF Gregor Blanco (Giants):  Just like Lagares, Blanco is here because of his ownership levels.  His season and career are nothing to write home about, but the last 14 days are.  Blanco has been a top 10 hitter the past two weeks, hitting .375 with 3 home runs, 10 RBIs and 10 runs scored (and he stole a base for the hell of it).  He’s been leading off for the Giants so there will be plenty of run scoring opportunities, and with the Diamondbacks and Dodgers on tap, maybe a stolen base or two.  This is just a hot streak and it won’t last long, but we’re only asking for one more week here. 

SP Vidal Nuno (Diamondbacks):  Nuno is on a roll, just look at his last 5 starts.

  • At Indians: 5.2 innings, 6 hits, 2 earned runs, 6 K’s
  • At Nationals: 7 innings, 5 hits, 2 walks, 2 earned runs, 7 K’s
  • Padres: 7.1 innings, 2 hits, 2 walks, 2 earned runs, 4 K’s
  • Rockies: 8 innings, 2 hits, 1 earned run, 7 K’s
  • At Dodgers: 6.2 innings, 7 hits, 2 walks, 2 earned runs, 5 K’s

That’s 5 games in a row with only 2 earned runs or less with at least 4 strikeouts.  Yea, it’s the Diamondbacks so he hasn’t been able to sniff a win, but you’ll get solid ratios, strikeouts and a quality start if your league uses them.  Next up is a road game against the Giants and then a 2 start week verse the Giants and Colorado.  Two weeks of Nuno looks like a wise investment for the playoffs, and not just in deep leagues.  If you’re not going to own him, he should be streamed.


Yahoo Specials:  Since the ownership levels on Yahoo are far below those of CBS and Fantrax, the following players might be available to you.

1B Kennys Vargas (Twins):  He still might be available to you on Fantrax or CBS, but he is under owned on Yahoo at 41%.  I’ve recommended Vargas here before, but considering what he has and can do, he deserves another mention.  He only has 6 home runs, but he is batting .319 for the season and receiving full-time at bats.  Over the past 2 weeks, Vargas has hit .349 with 3 home runs, 15 RBIs with 9 runs scored.  A .281 batting average against lefties means you don’t have to worry about playing the matchups, and he’s a lock when you play him at home (especially against right-handed pitchers).  The Twins are on the road next week and while Vargas is only batting .288 on the road (I say only because he’s hitting .355 at home), his opponents are the White Sox and Indians.  This might be the boost you need to move onto the next round.

SP Edinson Volquez (Pirates):  His ownership on CBS is 60% and slightly higher on Fantrax, but on Yahoo it’s only 24%.  For the season, Volquez has a 3.31 ERA, a 1.26 WHIP and 11 wins.  In comparison, his numbers are right in line with Chris Tillman who is owned in 71% of leagues.  Over the past 30 days spanning 6 starts and 39 innings, Volquez has a 1.38 ERA and a WHIP of 1.10 with 31 strikeouts.  He hasn’t allowed more than 3 earned runs in a game since July 21st.  I don’t care what his name is or what he has (or hasn’t) done over the course of his career, the man is zoned in this year and can help you in the playoffs.  He’s a 2 start pitcher next week, facing a hapless Phillies team on the road and then home verse the Cubs.  If you’ve been staring at Volquez on your waiver wire all year, well, you should be slapped.  After you’re done smacking yourself around, pick him up.


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; for some of these men, it should have gone up.  Regardless they are still worth looking into.

In 12 team leagues, Drew Smyly, Miguel Gonzalez, Mike Fiers, Collin McHugh, Kyle Hendricks and Jacob deGrom 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.  Hector Santiago is someone to look at in leagues that don’t count quality starts due to his inability to go deep into games.

Joaquin Benoit is still available in 45% of Yahoo leagues (I don’t get it).  Eric O’Flaherty is still out there as well if you’re searching for saves.  Edward Mujica should be considered with Koji Uehara’s innings being limited in September

If you’re looking for a hitter, Christian Yelich, Jordan Schafer, Russell Martin, Carl Crawford, Jon Jay, Ender Inciarte, Oscar Taveras, Dustin Ackley, Arismendy Alcantara, Brock Holt and Conor Gillaspie are all still solid adds to those in 12 team leagues or deeper.

Travis Snider and Steve Pearce could be worthy additions if they return soon, but I wouldn’t hold them if you have something better on waivers.  Monitor both and act accordingly.  Chris Carter’s batting average is down, but he is still hitting for power.  A.J. Pollock has been recommended for weeks as someone to stash.  While he is off the DL he still isn’t 100%, but he did go 3-4 on Thursday with a stolen base so he can do damage when he’s in the lineup.  Jonathan Schoop has gone cold, but keep your eye on him incase he starts to hit again.  Taijuan Walker is someone to monitor and deserves a quick add if he gets called upon for a spot start.  Rusney Castillo has yet to make his debut.  With all the hot hitters available on waivers, maybe stashing him isn’t a good idea (and it kills me to say that).


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, Jean Segura, Ryan Zimmerman and Brett Lawrie (and pleaded with those who own Alfonso Soriano to just let 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.  Last week I recommended Chris Davis, but apparently he took offence to this by hitting .318 with 2 home runs and 9 RBIs over the past week.  Do what you will with him.

This week Eric Hosmer receives the honor of being the player to drop.  He was red hot in April and July, but he has been a hot mess the rest of the time.  Even when he was hitting for average, there was zero power behind the swing.  Now he is fresh off the DL from stress fracture to his hand so any pipe dreams you had of September home runs are gone.  He has had 2 good seasons in between 2 to forget, and in none of them did he reach 20 home runs or 80 RBIs.  Hosmer is 24 years old so he could still have a bright future, but that future isn’t now.  Almost all of the players above would be a better choice over Hosmer.  Try again in 2015.  One additional name that should be dropped (if you haven’t done so already) is Justin Verlander.  Cleveland smacked him around for 6 runs on Wednesday so the previous game against the White Sox was just a tease.  Normally if I looked ahead and saw a potential schedule of KC, CLE, @KC and MIN, I’d get excited.  With the playoff on the line, don’t do it.  Even if you see him on waivers with a good game, don’t…., just don’t.  Leave him where he is.  Just like a Band-Aid, just rip it off quickly and move on.

Good Luck to all of you in the playoffs.

By Jim Finch

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.