The fun thing about the waiver wire is, every time you think there is nothing left of value, more players pop up to prove you wrong. I am constantly looking on the waiver wire, not because I have to be, but because it is the only way to stay one step ahead of the rest of the league. The most commonly overlooked players on waivers are the DL guys.
Players on the disabled list are often forgotten about as their site rankings are usually so low that we forget they are there. It’s not until we read something about them or see another owner roster them that we remember, and in the latter case that is too late for you. Below I’ve listed a number of players who are working their way back to the majors that you might want to consider stashing, along with a few under-owned players who deserve more attention than they have been getting.
Michael Saunders (Blue Jays): I don’t like to rehash players, but in this case the fantasy community has left me with little choice. For those of you who may not have noticed (for whatever reason), Saunders is batting .302 with nine home runs, 17 RBIs and 24 runs scored. He hit .311 in April and is hitting .295 in May. Four of those nine home runs were in the last two weeks. He’s hitting lefties (.294) and righties (.306) equally so there is no time share. Those are the facts, yet for some reason Saunders is out there in over half of Yahoo and ESPN leagues and under-owned in CBS leagues. If Saunders is available, give yourself a slap across the back of your head (from me) – then go pick him up. Don’t make me repeat myself again.
Available in 40% of CBS, 54% of Y! and 58% of ESPN leagues
Matt Adams (Cardinals): The log-jam at first base seems to be resolving itself. Brandon Moss hit .226 with five home runs in April and seemed to be locked into a majority of the playing time. This month he is hitting .208,and over the past two weeks he is hitting just .160 with diminished at bats. The Matt Holliday experiment at first seems to be over (for now), so that leaves Mr. Adams.
Adams only has 48 at bats this month, but 33 of those have been in the past two weeks. He has hit .364 during that time with two home runs, 12 RBIs and more importantly, more at bats. Batting fifth should give him ample RBI opportunities, and with an ISO over .200, a FB% over 40, and a hard hit rate better than league average, I can see more home runs on the way. The Cardinals dismissed Adams as a first baseman, as did fantasy owners. Now it is redemption time for all.
Available in 88% of CBS, 95% of Y! and 96% of ESPN leagues
Wilmer Flores (Mets): Flores should be back from the disabled list by the time this goes to print. He’s been playing first base during his rehab games in what was presumed to be his new position with Lucas Duda out, but the James Loney signing put the kibosh on that. But now David Wright is having neck issues – this in unrelated to his already existing back issue – but it has the club worried. This works out well as Flores has played third base in the past.
He was batting just .180 prior to going down, but it’s not easy gaining any type of consistency when you’re only getting the occasional start. Now, if Wright is set to be out for any significant time, Flores could have himself a new full-time role. Last season he hit 16 home runs; only a half-dozen shortstops topped that. He also finished in the top 10 for RBIs and batting average among qualified shortstops.
Flores was an afterthought in drafts due to the fact he was not starting. Now he gets a chance to prove to his team and fantasy owners they were all wrong to dismiss him.
Available in 95% of CBS, 98% of Y! and 99% of ESPN leagues
Devon Travis (Blue Jays): Travis crushed in when he was promoted to the majors last April. Like all rookies he hit a wall the following month, but he snapped out of it by June and hit .300+ through July before going down for the season. Overall he finished with a .304 average with eight home runs and 35 RBIs over 217 at bats. That time missed towards the end of last season as well as the start of this year has caused some to forget about him (well, not on CBS, but everywhere else).
Travis showed a decent average and power in the minors, as well as during his brief time in the majors – that along with a good K/BB ratio. Manager John Gibbons has already said that Travis could find his way quickly to the top of the order. If that happens Travis will have strong protection so he should see some good pitches, and depending on where he is slotted a chance at solid to strong run and RBI totals.
Given the level of talent at second base I can see some hesitation. He might not measure up to the current top 12 right now, but he could easily be a middle infield option with the chance down the line to take over for whoever you currently have.
Available in 43% of CBS, 73% of Y! and 75% of ESPN leagues
Alex Reyes (Cardinals): Reyes is finished with his suspension and picked right back up where he left off last year – mowing down hitters. In his first start at Triple-A he went four innings and struck out eight without giving up a run. Reyes has been a strikeout machine in the minors (12.0 K/9), does a great job at keeping the ball in the yard (only eight home runs surrendered over 273 innings), and can be downright unhittable at times (6.86 H/9). Walks are, and have been, his nemesis, but as long as he keeps the ball on the ground and continues striking guys out, he can get away with that early on.
If you had asked me at the start of the season if Reyes had a chance at cracking the rotation I would have said no. Now, I’m not so sure. Wainwright has only had one game with fewer than three runs allowed, and four games with four or more runs. Martinez now has three bad games in a row and has given up four or more runs in four of his last five. And Wacha, he has a 6.55 ERA and 1.67 WHIP over the past 30 days.
If Reyes continues dominating, the Cardinals might not have a choice to either demote one of Martinez or Wacha, or potentially send Wainwright to the DL with a mystery injury. Reyes is coming. They say he will go to the bullpen, but the current staff is making every case for him to be a starter.
Available in 68% of CBS, 94% of Y! and 96% of ESPN leagues
Mike Minor (Royals): Minor made his debut in 2010, made slight improvements in 2011, made even more during a full season in 2012, and then in 2013 he kicked the door down and established himself as a top 20 pitcher. We all know what happened next: Minor fell apart in 2014, was injured, and then non-tendered by Atlanta. The Royals took a shot on him, and now it looks like that gamble might pay off.
Minor has a 4.97 ERA through his first three rehab starts (7 runs in 12.2 innings). The ERA is unimportant. What matters is that his fastball was sitting in the mid 90’s and topping out at 96 MPH. During his entire major league career his fastball sat between 90.3 and 90.9 and topped out under 94. I’m not sure what this extra velocity will do for his game, but the early results are 17 strikeouts over 12.2 innings.
The Royals are hurting for pitching right now, with afterthought Dillon Gee holding down the fourth spot and Danny Duffy getting pulled out of the bullpen to take the fifth. There is a realistic shot Minor will have a spot waiting for him upon promotion. He’s only two years removed from being an ace and is throwing harder than ever. That right there interests me enough to roster him.
Available in 87% of CBS, 98% of Y! and ESPN leagues
Hyun-Jin Ryu (Dodgers): According to Rotoworld, Ryu threw four scoreless innings on Wednesday in his third rehab start. He had three strikeouts, did not walk a batter, and induced a lot of ground balls. That’s perfect since Ryu has a groundball rate close to 50%. As long as the ground balls and velocity are there, it’s just a matter of time to build up arm strength and sharpening control.
Ryu put up virtually identical seasons in 2013 and 2014, with numbers good enough to warrant being a number four or five pitcher on fantasy teams. While everyone is hunting for the next big thing, do yourself a favor and pick up the old and reliable guy who will give you steady numbers. There is no upside, and there is a risk given he is coming off major surgery, but if he’s available that means he’s free. You can’t beat that sticker price.
Available in 59% of CBS, 88% of Y! and 85% of ESPN leagues
Jeremy Hellickson (Phillies): Hell Boy has had a few bad games, and the problem is those bad starts have overshadowed the good ones, along with how solid Hellickson has really been. While his ERA stands at 3.97, his xFIP and SIERA are 3.37 and 3.44 respectively. He is posting a K/9 the likes of which we have not seen since his days in the minors. He is also sporting the highest SwStr% since his rookie year. The contact percentage is in elite territory, ranking just outside the top 12, and his zone contact rate is the 11th best in the league. His BB/9 is 2.22, but Hellickson has only had two games where he walked more than one batter. Other than an elevated HR/FB ratio, Hellickson is doing everything right.
Hellickson is pitching like the player of old, except this time his metrics support the improvements as being something other than luck. Moving forward I see a lot of quality starts, a high number of strikeouts, and as long as he continues to give up only a few runs, a fair number of wins. He deserves to be owned in more leagues, but past prejudices along with a few big games to skew his bottom line are preventing that. Push the past aside and ignore his final line; it will only get better.
Available in 54% of CBS, 77% of Y! and 80% of ESPN leagues
Nathan Eovaldi (Yankees): Just like Hellickson above, now that Eovaldi’s ERA is under four, maybe fantasy owners will take notice that he has been very good this month – all season really. Sure there have been a few hiccups, but let’s look at the big picture here. The ERA may be 3.95, but the FIP (3.67), xFIP (3.30) and SIERA (3.35) all say he’s better than that. Eovaldi has a GB% over 50, a FB% under 30, and a LD% below 20 – three positive factors right there. Despite the low fly ball rate, his HR/FB ratio (15.6%) is a little high. Expect that to come down some. The strikeouts are up (K/9 of 8.23), thanks in part to his split-fingered fastball which is generating a SwStr% of 16.1 along with a GB% over 60. Finally his BB/9 (2.14) ranks just outside the top 25.
Eovaldi may have had issues in the past, but he looks like he has taken that next step to being a solid major league pitcher. If you’re not convinced after what he just did to Arizona and Toronto in his last two starts, I don’t know what to tell you. His next start is Sunday (today) at Tampa Bay. Give him a stream start if he’s available.
Available in 48% of CBS, 73% of Y! and 74% of ESPN leagues
Previous Waiver Wire Recommendations
I like to hold myself accountable for past recommendations so I will monitor my hits
and misses from the previous weeks and adjust the players accordingly.
This is the last week Danny Valencia and Steve Pearce will appear here. Their ownership levels have reached a point to where they should be owned in all competitive leagues.
Continue to add
- Jonathan Schoop, Adam Duvall, Brandon Guyer, Trayce Thompson, Mark Reynolds, Michael Saunders (repeating myself again), Melky Cabrera, Tyler Chatwood, Matt Andriese, Rubby De La Rosa and Bartolo Colon are all still solid adds. Also Kevin Gausman on Yahoo and ESPN.
- Matt Bush should be added for holds leagues and could move into the setup role if he continues to perform well.
- Eduardo Nunez is still hitting well enough to be used as a middle infielder.
- Mike Napoli is doing everything right except hitting for average.
- Tim Lincecum and Jose Reyes are still interesting stashes.
Stash – Minor league players to stash prior to their promotion
- Tyler Glasnow, Josh Bell, Trea Turner, Blake Snell, Alex Bregman
Hold – Do not add them, but do not drop them yet if possible
- Trevor Bauer went from possible add to iffy after his last two starts. Let’s see where things go from here.
- Evan Gattis has had only one game behind the plate. He hit the ball well this week, but without that catcher eligibility his value is limited.
- Derek Dietrich has slowed down some, and Jake Lamb is seeing a lot of bench time with a good number of lefties on the docket in the past week. I still like both, but they are no longer a must add.
- Melvin Upton has been up and down all season, so if you own him you’ll have to weather the storm during the cold times.
- Javier Baez should only be held if you use a MI slot. Everyone else can drop him. The same goes for Brandon Moss except with a CI slot.
- Mallex Smith is starting to see a few more at bats. The counting stats aren’t there yet, but they could be on the way if he continues to increase playing time.
- Homer Bailey and A.J. Griffin are worth a hold, but only if you have a DL slot for them. Don’t waste the bench spot if you don’t.
- Jayson Werth is still worth a hold in leagues with 12 or more teams that use 5 or more outfielders, but everyone else feel free to jettison him.
- The shine has officially worn off of Jeremy Hazelbaker. Buh bye.
- Tony Kemp isn’t being given much of an opportunity, and with Gomez about a week away from returning, Kemp’s days are numbered.
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