Fantasy owners really need to alter their mindset when it comes to the waiver wire. Each and every year I see players available on waivers that have no issue being there, and this year is no different. Using Yahoo as an example, Brandon Crawford is the second ranked shortstop (in the entire league) and yet he is available in 47% of leagues. Dexter Fowler is a top 20 outfield option and yet he is available in 44% of leagues. Ender Inciarte is almost as good as Fowler and a top 25 option, yet he is only owned in 37% of leagues. Jimmy Paredes is a top 10 third baseman and is out there for half the leagues to scoop up. Adam Lind is doing everything Jose Abreu is doing, but Lind is available in over 40% of leagues. I’m sure I can give you similar examples on CBS and ESPN, but you get the point; there are too many useful players on waivers. But why?
The answer is simple really. Owners get caught up in a player’s past, fixated on previous production and have a hard time believing in said player. Instead of concentrating on the current numbers or a hot streak they focus on how long it could last as opposed to what that player can do for their team right now. Why pick up a player if he is going to go cold in a few weeks, right? Wrong! You don’t know if it is a hot streak that will last for weeks or a mini-breakout that could last months or possibly all season. Holding a replacement level backup player on your bench is silly if there is a player on waivers that is producing better than half the players on your team. How many owners are kicking themselves right now for not taking that chance on Mike Moustakas, Devon Travis or Marcus Semien (all previous recommendations)? Sure, for every Semien there is a Jed Lowrie or Micah Johnson, but just because you get burned by your pick doesn’t mean you stop taking chances. If your waiver wire guy doesn’t work out, throw him back and try another; that’s what the waiver wire is for.
SP – Rubby De La Rosa, Arizona Diamondbacks: When you go to the wire and you see an ERA over 4.0 you tend to move on to the next guy, but over the past 30 days De La Rosa has been a top 20 pitcher (or just outside depending on where you play). Over his past 5 starts (35 innings) Rubby has gone 7 or more innings in 4 of 5 starts compiling an ERA of 3.09 with a .89 WHIP along with 2 wins, 3 quality starts and 30 strikeouts. Granted there were two questionable games mixed in, but he is showing improvements. One of those areas he has improved is walks, lowering his BB/9 from 3.10 in 2014 to 2.04.
A big part of this is due to his changeup which generates a strikeout rate of 15% and the new command he has on his slider; this pitch is generating a strikeout rate just over 20%. Speaking of strikeouts, his K/9 is up to 7.98, about 1.5 points higher than it was last year and closing in on his minor league average. Rubby is moving from streamer option to mixed league relevant and is one or two starts away from an ownership spike (at least on Yahoo and ESPN). There may be a few more bumps in the road, but Rubby should produce quality starts more often than not and should not be on waivers anymore in 12 team leagues. His next start is tonight at home versus the Cubs followed by games against Milwaukee and Atlanta.
Available in 78% of Yahoo, 71% of ESPN and 32% of CBS
SP – Lance McCullers, Houston Astros: The former first round pick spent about a minute in AA this year before the Astros deemed him ready for promotion. I’m surprised the Astros moved so quick on this one, but he was tearing up AA.
Yup, his WHIP was higher than his ERA and the K/9 was over 13.0 after hovering around 10.0. Walks are still a problem (4.48 BB/9 minor league average) and it remains to be seen whether this new-found success can carry over to the majors. McCullers has also made adjustments along the way, worked on his changeup along with throwing more two-seam fastballs. Like any rookie with little experience this is a risky pick, but some said the same about Jose Fernandez a few years back. You’re either looking at lightning in a bottle that will quickly flash out or someone who could stick around awhile and be a useful pitcher to add to the back-end of your rotation. Considering the number of pitcher injuries already this year along with numerous disappointments, taking a chance here might be warranted.
McCullers next start is this afternoon at Detroit (a real test) followed by the White Sox, Orioles, White Sox and Mariners. His first start was short but sweet; another one or two like that and he won’t be on waivers for long.
Available in 80% of Yahoo, 84% of ESPN and 46% of CBS
SP – Mike Bolsinger, Los Angeles Dodgers: Everyone wants to be like Mike; while teammate Carlos Frias is receiving all the attention on waivers, it is Mike Bolsinger that fantasy owners may want to turn their attention to. In three starts (17.1 innings), Bolsinger is 2-0 with 14 strikeouts and has only allowed 2 earned runs. While I don’t expect him to keep up this pace, I do think he can maintain respectable numbers worthy of a roster spot. Each time Bolsinger has been promoted to a higher level he has struggled, but the following year in that same level he adjusted and turned things around nicely. Bolsinger has a minor league K/9 just under 8.0, a BB/9 under 3.0 and an ERA of 3.40 (which is good considering it was produced in a hitters environment). His current GB% is close to 58 and the LD% is just under 16. Both of those place nicely given his home park and the other parks in his division.
Given the injuries to the Dodgers staff so far there is a chance Bolsinger could stick around for a while. His next start is today at home verse the Padres and then he’s on the road at St Louis and Colorado – the same Rockies he threw 6 innings of 2 hit ball against earlier this week.
Available in 87% of Yahoo, 76% of ESPN and 81% of CBS leagues
SP – Kyle Gibson, Minnesota Twins: Gibson is living up to the words spoken by Crash in the movie Bull Durham.
Strikeouts are boring and besides that they’re fascist – throw some ground balls, more democratic. Gibson doesn’t need to bring the heat and announce his presence with authority, and that seems to be working out well for him with an ERA sitting just under 3.0. With the exception of his first start against Detroit, Gibson has not allowed more than 3 earned runs in any of his starts. He’s not doing anything differently, but he is getting better results; that is minus the strikeouts. His xFIP and SIERA scream regression, and when the blowup happen I’ll be the first to say dump him. For now, he’s getting the job done and if you have K’s covered and just need someone to eat some innings and improve your ratios, Gibson is the man. His next Start is tomorrow versus the White Sox so I see another six inning quality start, maybe a win and 3 strikeouts.
Available in 90% of Yahoo, 82% of ESPN and 67% of CBS leagues
3B – Maikel Franco, Philadelphia Phillies: And so it begins as Philly sent Cody Asche down and recalled Franco. Jake Bridges recommended Franco as a player of interest the other day in his Farming for Gold column so I will not go into a ton of detail (you can read it for yourself). While I don’t share Jake’s enthusiasm about the power (at least short-term), I do think he can do well for a month or so before pitchers make adjustments and start throwing him differently. Short term Franco looks like a nice add for redraft leagues, but don’t get too attached here. Uber rookie Joc Pederson started out hot but is batting .212 over the past 30 days, .167 over the past 14 and .143 over the past 7.
This can go one of three ways for Franco. He could start off hot like Pederson then quickly fade (the most likely scenario). He could start off hot, cool down and produce replacement level numbers with flashes of brilliance mixed in for the remainder of the season (the next likely scenario). Option 3 is he starts off hot and produces at a high level all year (least likely scenario). I love prospects just as much as the next guy, but in redraft leagues we must temper our expectations. Pick up Franco and ride him for now, but if you can get a player in trade that produces above waiver wire replacement levels – take it. Otherwise enjoy the numbers and abandon ship when it starts to go down.
Available in 84% of Yahoo, 74% of ESPN and 43% of CBS
SS – Brad Miller, Seattle Mariners: I have to admit I almost missed Miller’s hot streak, mainly due to the fact I’m set as shortstop in all my leagues (thank you Marcus Semien). Last season’s sleeper has awaken, batting .289 with 4 home runs, 6 RBIs and 7 runs scored over the past 14 days. Miller hit above .300 at every level dating all the way back to his NCAA days at Clemson; while he is not there yet, the signs are pointing upward. Miller is even starting to see some time at the top of the lineup which is a big improvement over the 7-9 spot where he could be regularly found. I don’t expect Miller to end the year with 20+ homers, but another 10 for the year is realistic along with 7-8 steals. I also don’t expect a big breakout here, but I believe Miller could hit consistently enough from here on out to warrant an ownership spike soon.
We played this record last year so I’ll understand if you want to pass, but if your current SS or MI player is performing below par and you have an extra spot on your team, maybe give Miller a test drive. If he doesn’t work out – have no fear, I’ll have more recommendations for you next week.
Available in 82% of Yahoo, 86% of ESPN and 62% of CBS leagues
2B – Danny Espinosa, Washington Nationals: It may or may not interest you to know that over the past 14 days, Espinosa was the 14th ranked hitter according to Yahoo. Over that time he batted .317 (1.027 OPS) with 3 home runs, 8 RBIs and 13 runs scored. Espinosa is hitting .339 on the road and .375 against lefties, something to keep in mind when setting your lineup and an interesting tidbit for DFS players. For the season his average is up to .269 (.281 in May). There is use here, but most times that use comes in spurts. While Espinosa is hitting, you may want to take advantage if you need help at second base in larger leagues or MI in standard leagues. The Nationals are on the road next week facing the Cubs and Cincinnati, and Espinosa has a career .351 average at Great American so this is good timing.
Available in 89% of Yahoo, 88% of ESPN and 74% of CBS leagues
OF – Todd Cunningham, Atlanta Braves: His numbers fit that of a middle infielder, but if your team is lacking speed and needs a quick boost in batting average, look no further than the newest Brave.
Cunningham hit the ground running going 9 for 17 over his first four games scoring 5 runs and stealing a base. While he won’t hit .400+ all season, he’s more than capable of hitting close to the .286 he was putting up prior to his promotion. There is also enough speed here to produce 30 stolen bases over the course of a season. Cunningham also knows how to draw walks and doesn’t strikeout at an alarming rate, but take that with a grain of salt in his first run though the majors. This is a short-term add with the potential for an extended stay. Sometimes it’s the lesser known prospects that surprise us with quality fantasy numbers. In larger and deeper leagues that use 4 or more outfielders, this might be an interesting addition.
Available in 99% of Yahoo, 96% of ESPN and 97% of CBS leagues
OF – Brandon Guyer, Tampa Bay Rays: Here’s a guy who had some decent minor league numbers but has had trouble replicating them during his brief call-ups to the majors. In 2014 he received an extended look and while the results where not great, he did not embarrass himself. Before we get to what he could do, lets take a look at what he has done so far at the minor league level.
Like I said, not bad. Guyer doesn’t walk much but doesn’t strike out much either so he is dependent on his bat to get on base. He has a little power and could be a 15 home run guy, but all those doubles hint there could be a few more than expected. The speed is nice as well so a 30 steal season is a possibility over a full season. It all comes down to the batting average. Last season Guyer hit .266 over 259 at bats and this season he’s hitting a respectable .276. Over the last 14 days he’s batting .310 with a homer, 5 RBIs, 7 runs scored and 3 stolen bases, and that’s with part-time play (only 29 at bats). As long as Buyer continues to hit he will force himself into more playing time.
I know he’s 29 so there is reason to be skeptical, but sometimes players like this rise to the occasion knowing there are not that many chances left. Steven Souza (.225) and Kevin Kiermaier (.240) aren’t doing well and Guyer can play all 3 outfield positions. Once he officially receives full-time at bats it will be too late so make the preemptive strike. Those in 12 team leagues that use 4 or more outfielders, add him to your watch list – just in case.
Available in 97% of CBS and 99% of Yahoo and ESPN leagues
Finding their way to the Waiver Wire
Each week I will feature players whose ownership level far exceed the players value that you should consider dropping for something useful. So far I’ve recommended Chase Utley, Devin Mesoraco and Steve Pearce and they have done little to change my mind. Adam Eaton has produced a nice batting average over the past week; but it will take more than that for me to change my mind on him considering I can count his HR, RBI and SB totals (combined) on one hand. Drop ’em all.
Jered Weaver, Brandon Belt and Marlon Byrd have heated up recently. I’m all for playing the hot hand so maybe dropping them might be premature, but I can’t see their recent good fortune lasting long.
Now on to this weeks drop.
Pedro Alvarez, come on down – Now go home! I know there were a number of people who had dreams and aspirations of Alvarez bouncing back and having a 30 home runs season, but it’s not gonna happen. Currently Alvarez is the 25th ranked third baseman and 30th ranked first baseman on Yahoo. That means there are 53 players ranked higher than Alvarez between the two positions, so in a 14 team league that uses a CI slot he is still a fringe bench player (at best). Not convinced? Lets play a game called which one is Pedro Alvarez.
Both players have a similar average, run and home run total; the only difference is in RBIs. Yet one player is owned in 15% of Yahoo and ESPN leagues while the other is owned in over 60% of those leagues. If you didn’t guess, Player A is Alvarez. Player B – who is currently the 13th ranked third baseman on Yahoo is……… David Freese. Yup, that guy everyone skips over when they are looking through waivers is doing better than the guy you’re all holding out hope for. Is Freese available in your league? If so, Why is Alvarez still on your roster? Pedro may hit 30 home runs again, but it won’t be this year.
Previous Waiver Wire Recommendations
I like to hold myself accountable for past recommendations so I will monitor
and misses from the previous weeks and adjust the players accordingly.
This is the last week Yasmani Grandal, Jimmy Paredes and Noah Syndergaard will appear here. With the exception of 10 team leagues, all of these players should be owned in any competitive league. If they are still available in your league you should add them; worst case scenario they will fetch you something better in trade than you can find on waivers.
Continue to add
- Delino Deshields, Aaron Hill, Chris Colabello, Justin Turner, Josh Reddick, Ender Inciarte, Alex Guerrero, Kyle Blanks, Nori Aoki, Hector Santiago, Dan Haren, James Happ, Miguel Montero and Nick Hundley are all still solid additions if they are available.
- Ryan Howard and Yunel Escobar have limited value but are still worthy of adds based upon your league size, format and scoring system.
- A.J. Ramos is worth adding as long as he is closing in Miami.
- Jace Peterson and Andre Ethier have reemerged from their slumps to become viable options once again.
- James McCann is handling the full-time role well with Avila on the DL, but he is more for leagues with a 2 catcher format. Mike Zunino is in the same boat, but either catcher could step up to relevancy in 1 catcher leagues with a little more production.
- Gerardo Parra, Cory Spangenberg, Rajai Davis, Juan Lagares, Odubel Herrera and Anthony Gose are good for larger and deeper leagues. Spangenberg and Gose are gaining traction in 12 team leagues.
Hold – Do not add them, but do not drop them yet if you own them
- Ike Davis was put on the DL Sunday. He was add prior to that and should still be useful once he returns.
- Jake Marisnick (6 for 42) and OF Chris Young (3 for 21) are mired in a 2 week slump (6 for 42). Keep him on your bench for now.
- A.J. Pierzynski hit a wall in May and is losing playing time to Christian Bethancourt. Neither are hitting well so you may want to explore other options in case things continue down hill. The same news applies to Calib Joseph who is several weeks away from losing playing time to the returning Matt Wieters.
- Wilmer Flores, Adeiny Hechavarria and Justin Maxwell have come around some; enough to warrant a hold but not enough to deserve increased ownership.
- Jake Lamb will more than likely be optioned to AAA once he returns from the DL given how the rest of the Diamondbacks are hitting. Drop if you need the room on your DL, but don’t get your hopes up if you hold him.
- Just like the graduates above, this is the last time Jarrod Parker, Chase Whitley, Micah Johnson and Justin Masterson will appear here. If you have not dropped these players, now’s the time to do so.
- Alejandro De Aza, Kevin Kiermaier, Alex Colome and Delmon Young move from hold to drop due to declining numbers and or playing time issues.
- Travis Wood‘s demotion to the bullpen negate any value he might have short of those in holds leagues.
- Brandon Morrow may not have a starting job when he returns from the DL, and given his injury history and track record there is no reason to hold him. The same applies to Yonder Alonso (minus the injury part); he was swinging a nice bat so larger and deeper leagues may want to hold, but everyone else can drop him
Do what you will – Caveat Emptor
- Chase Headley, Luis Valbuena, Nick Castellanos, Chris Heston and Danny Salazar are volatile players to own and can be considered adds, drops or holds depending on your league. Use your leagues waiver wire depth as a guide.
- Michael Taylor is not doing much with the limited at bats he has been given, but with Werth slumping and now “injured”, the door is open.
- Blake Swihart and Austin Hedges are drops in one catcher leagues and holds for 2 catcher leagues just for their upside. Keep in mind though that rookie catchers rarely work out their first year.
Need more waiver wire recommendations, 2-start pitchers, prospect news and general fantasy baseball goodness, head on over to Fantasy Rundown.