Fantasy Baseball

Waiver Wire Report: Playing the Hot Hand

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For standard leagues, today is the trading deadline.  That means if you do not make a move today, you are at the mercy of the waiver wire.  I try to stay positive when it comes to waivers; truth be told, they are barren in most competitive 12 team leagues – even more so in larger and deeper leagues.  Sure, there are the occasional under-owned players available, but on a whole you will be playing the hot hand from here on out. 

Some of those names that you ruled irrelevant or unplayable in the first half might be showing some signs of life.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (and again), look at a players recent production and not their yearly totals.  It is the only true way to find players who can deliver for you during crunch time (and not a bad habit to get into when playing DFS).  Happy Hunting.

OF – Andre Ethier (Dodgers): His season numbers are quite respectable, and you would think his ownership levels would be higher based on that alone.  Just like in real life, Ethier gets no respect.  He is hitting ..371 this month and it might surprise you to know that with the exception of June, Ethier has hit above .300 in each month this year.  He’s also batting .300 against righties and .336 at home if you want to take full advantage.  The Dodgers still have a crowded outfield, and Ethier continues to push his way into the lineup.  The only leagues I can see Ethier being available in are those that have weekly roster lineups (because he sits against lefties) and 10 team leagues.  For everyone else, he (at the very least) deserves a bench spot and is more than capable of being a fourth outfielder in a 12 team league.  Joc Pederson may be the future, but Ethier has more value right now.
Available in 76% of Yahoo, 66% of ESPN and 52% of CBS leagues

2B/SS – Asdrubal Cabrera (Rays): The hot pickup at MI is Odubel Herrera, but the better hitter over the past 2 weeks is actually Cabrera.  So far in August, Cabrera is batting .512 (22-43) and has scored 10 runs.  With the exception of last season, Cabrera has historically had 1 and sometimes 2 Really good months each season; he’s in the middle of one of those months now so take full advantage.  Don’t drop anything useful for Cabrera because odds are this will all come crashing down in September.  But for now – enjoy the ride.
Available in 70% of Yahoo, 71% of ESPN and 63% of CBS leagues

2B – Jonathan Schoop (Orioles): I’ve been a Schoop fan for years, but I have always said it will take a few more years for his talent to catch up to him.  This may be the start of things; Schoop is batting .314 since the all-star break and .372 over the past 2 weeks.  His hot bat has gotten him moved up in the order some so we could see that RBI total go up some.  And while I think his true power won’t be evident until next season, don’t be surprised if he hits another 4-5 home runs the rest of the way.  I see Schoop as more of a middle infield option that a primary second baseman in standard leagues, but if the RBI total does go up that will easily raise his value – and change my mind.
Available in 88% of Yahoo, 79% of ESPN and 70% of CBS leagues

OF – Abraham Almonte (Indians): Long ago, in a minor league park far-far way, there was a player who looked to have the potential to be very similar to Carl Crawford.  He had a good K/BB ratio, some home run pop, 30+ stolen base speed and a respectable batting average.  None of that has been seen at the ML level, but that doesn’t mean that the 26-year-old Almonte is done trying.  Now with his 4th team, he has been given an opportunity and is running with it.  Since arriving in Cleveland, Almonte is batting .357 (10-28) with 2 homers, 6 RBIs, 7 runs scored and 1 steal.  Was he due? Was it beginners luck?  Can he sustain this?  I don’t know and I don’t care, and neither should you.  Almonte can provide immediate help for your OF and will only cost you a waiver pickup.  If he stinks next week you toss him back, but if he keeps this up you can laugh as your league mates curse at you for getting blood from a stone.
Available in 99% of Yahoo and 97% of ESPN and CBS leagues

OF – Khris Davis (Brewers): If you’re looking for power and can afford to take a hit in the batting average category, this is your man.  Davis only has 12 home runs for the season, but he has 5 in the past 14 days along with 14 RBIs (one for each day).  Keep in mind that unlike the past two years, his power is more focused at home this season with 11 long balls at home. Davis is also having issues against lefties this year so he sits against most lefties.  I would look elsewhere, but if you are in a roto or points based league and a few homers and RBIs mean an extra point or two – do what you gotta do.  Just do it quick before the magic mojo wears off.
Available in 71% of Yahoo, 82% of ESPN and 63% of CBS leagues

SP – Chris Bassitt (Athletics): Another typical scenario by the A’s, moving an unheralded arm into the rotation and having them experience immediate success.  Bassitt has made 7 starts so far (not including yesterdays game against the Orioles) and has:

  • limited his BB to 2 or less per game
  • kept his hits below his inning pitched
  • allowed only 2 home runs
  • given up 2 or fewer runs in 6 out of 7 starts and no more than 3 ER in a start
  • averaged close to 7 innings in his last 3 starts

I like the fact that his stamina is building and he is going deeper into games.  In addition his home park should help keep the home run numbers suppressed some if/when the 40% flyball rate catches up with him.  You may not get a lot of wins from Bassitt, but he should continue to deliver quality starts and above average strikeout numbers.  If you’re looking ahead, Bassitt’s next opponents should be Tampa, @Seattle, Los Angeles (Angels), Houston; that’s 4 games in favorable parks.
Available in 72% of Yahoo, 70% of ESPN and 58% of CBS leagues

SP – Raisel Iglesias (Reds): After a rough start followed by a demotion to the minors, Iglesias seems to be settling in.  Over his last 4 starts he has gone at least 6 innings, limited the number of walks allowed and is averaging just over a strikeout an inning.  Home runs are still an issue, but this one is a work in progress.  If you’re considering Iglesias you are grabbing him for his strikeout potential and upside.  His up coming schedule looks like this: Kansas City, Arizona, @Milwaukee, @Chicago (cubs), Pittsburgh, @San Francisco.  Pitching options on waivers are extremely thin at this point so you’ll have to roll the dice and take some chances from here on out.    
Available in 95% of Yahoo, 92% of ESPN and 77% of CBS leagues

SP – Matt Garza (Brewers): His season numbers say pass, but his recent numbers are begging for forgiveness.  Over the past 30 days (or 5 starts), Garza has an ERA of 2.56 with a WHIP of 1.11.  He has gone 6+ innings in four of those games and did not allow more than 3 earned runs in any of them.  While walks and home runs are still an issue, Garza cut his hit rate almost in half with just 22 hits allowed over the last 31.2 innings.  Now I’m not saying Garza can be the savior of your fantasy team, but he can be a stable arm for the back-end of your rotation for the foreseeable future.  He faces the Marlins on Monday followed by games @Washington, Cincinnati, @Cincinnati and @Pittsburgh – he did well against Washington and Cincy earlier this year and owned the Reds last season (something to keep in mind).
Available in 72% of Yahoo, 88% of ESPN and 80% of CBS leagues

Finding their way to Waivers
It’s time to clean house and throw out the trash.

Starlin Castro will be seeing time at second base, but he hasn’t had much value all season.  Add on the fact that it is close to September and the Cubs are sure to promote Javier Baez.  This is a prime example of a player whose ownership levels are based upon what he did last year.  Stop living in the past; there are better shortstops out there.

Chris Carter is hitting under .200 at home and away as well as against lefties and righties.  He’s hitting .181 for the season and .152 over the past 30 days.  Are the home runs really worth it?

Brandon Moss is doing slightly better than Carter in the batting average department, if you want to call a .210 better.  He’s batting .171 with one home run since the all-star break and only .147 with the Cardinals.  Stick a fork in him.

Doug Fister has given up 4 or more earned runs in half of his starts this year.  He has struck out 4 or more batters in a game 6 times in 16 starts and more than 4 only twice.  The FIP, xFIP and SIERA are right in line with his 4.55 ERA and while ZiPS and Streamer call for better numbers for the remainder of the season, I’m not so optimistic.

Since 2007 there has been 2 versions of Ervin Santana.  One of them will produce an ERA in the mid to upper 3’s and can be useful.  The other one gives you an ERA over 5.0 and is a burden to your team.  We saw flashes of the first guy when he returned from suspension, but it looks like we are going to get the other Santana from here on out.  Dump him!  If there is nothing out there, either stream the open slot or find a middle relief pitcher to plug in.

I may get some mixed reviews on this final one, but earlier this week I parted ways with Jeff Samardzija.  The strikeouts haven’t been there and the control and quality of his arsenal is too spotty for my liking.  Shark is capable of stringing together a few quality games, but he is equally capable of putting together a number of clunkers that will sink your ERA and WHIP.  If the K’s were consistent I might feel otherwise.  Do what you will with him, but it’s at a point where nobody will question you if you drop him.

Previous W.W. Recommendations

Continue to add:

With the exception of 10 team leagues, Odubel Herrera, Ken Giles, Alex Wilson, Welington Castillo, Ben Paulsen (for home games), Jake Peavy and Jonathan Niese should all be rostered if they are available in your league.

  • Francisco Lindor moves back up to add now that he’s scoring runs making him a 2 category player. 
  • Chris Tillman got slapped around his last time out but has 2 starts this week against Oakland & Minnesota. I smell a rebound. 
  • Domonic Brown hit a rough patch, but I’ll chalk it up to his recent illness and give him a pass for one more week.

Hold: players that don’t warrant an add but shouldn’t be dropped yet.

  • Travis Shaw has cooled after the Napoli trade, but give him another week if you already picked him up.  Same goes for Ryan Howard; his bat has gone cold but he’s been week to week all season and still has power. 
  • C.J. Cron is winning the battle over the David’s (DeJesus and Murphy).  I would love to continue endorsing him, but Mike Scioscia and his whimsical roster lineups prevent me from doing so. 
  • Stephen Piscotty is still hitting the ball well so he won’t sink your average, but he isn’t contributing enough anywhere else.
  • Mike Leake should return from the DL this week to face Pittsburgh on the road.


  • Tyler Saladino and Nick Castellanos can be safely dropped in all but the deepest of leagues.  The same goes for Michael Conforto who is not contributing enough even when he gets into the lineup.


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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.