There has been a lot of bullpen activity over the past few weeks. The Padres shipped Fernando Rodney out-of-town, and the Diamondbacks did the same with Brad Ziegler. Add on injuries to Wade Davis and Craig Kimbrel and you’re left with a slew of fantasy owners scrambling to the waiver wire in search of a replacement. Fortunately you still have time as a number of freshly minted closers are still available for the taking.
Koji Uehara (Red Sox)
Available in 85% of CBS, 70% of Y! and 94% of ESPN leagues
With Craig Kimbrel on the shelf for the next three to six weeks. Uehera becomes a speculative add. For the season he has a 4.96 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. While the ERA may be bad, his WHIP is playable, and his 12.67 K/9 is in elite status. Fortunately Junichi Tazawa has been just as bad lately, but the Red Sox recent acquisition of Brad Ziegler could have Uehara on a short leash. Uehara picked up back to back saves on Friday and Saturday so the job is his for now, but keep a close eye on the situation.
Tyler Clippard (Diamondbacks)
Available in 80% of CBS, 63% of Y! and 94% of ESPN leagues
Following the Brad Ziegler trade the closer role is open in Arizona. Daniel Hudson would have been a consideration, but his recent bad outings have opened the door for Clippard. For the season Clippard owns a 3.06 ERA, a 1.21 WHIP, and is striking out over a batter an innings. Since his blowup on June 10th he has allowed just one earned run in his last 10 appearances, has issued just one walk, and has allowed zero home runs. Clippard proved in Washington as well as Oakland that he can handle the role and he should have a fairly long leash. Go get him.
Brandon Maurer (Padres)
Available in 79% of CBS, 76% of Y! and 88% of ESPN leagues
Those who immediately grabbed Ryan Buchter or speculated on Kevin Quackenbush when Fernando Rodney was traded were fooled with a curveball. Instead it is Maurer and his 5.67 ERA taking the role. He hasn’t had the success that he had last season in San Diego, but at least he’s getting strikeouts (11.12 K/9). He managed to get a save in his first opportunity, but also gave up a run on two hits.
Maurer may have been named the closer, but my money is on lefty Ryan Buchter taking over at some point. His ERA was below 1.0 in April and May, and had it not been for a four run game on June 2nd his ERA would have been below 1.0 in June as well. Roster Maurer if you’re looking for saves now, but if you’re thinking saves down the line you may want to stash Buchter.
Seth Smith & Franklin Gutierrez (Mariners)
Smith is available in 80% of CBS, 88% of Y! and 85% of ESPN leagues
Gutierrez is available in 93% of CBS and 98% of Y! and ESPN leagues
While Smith’s average reads .279, it is actually .292 (I don’t count those few rogue starts versus lefties). He is batting .324 over the past month with five home runs and 17 RBIs, and he is on pace to set career highs in runs, home runs, RBIs and batting average. Given his past I can see the skepticism, but almost every player is good for one career year. Now Smith sits versus lefties, and this is why I say pick up Gutierrez as well and play them in tandem.
Gutierrez rarely starts against righties and doesn’t produce well when he does, but against lefties he is batting .284 with seven home runs and 21 RBIs over 102 at bats. He did the same thing last season against lefties, batting .317 with eight home runs and 19 RBIs over 104 at bats. Now if you played both Smith and Gutierrez from the start of the season and rotated them in based upon the starter you would roughly have a .290 with 18 home runs and 59 RBIs.Those are the type of numbers you typically find on waivers.
If you’ve been struggling with your fourth outfield spot, this pairing could potentially solve all your issues.
Didi Gregorius (Yankees)
Available in 60% of CBS and 73% of Y! and ESPN leagues
For the second week in a row I find myself looking at previously recommended players and asking myself “Why are they still available”? Gregorius is hitting both home (.308) and away (.293). While all his power and speed is against righties, he is crushing lefties (.365). He hit .287 with two home runs, 14 RBIs and 11 runs scored in May and nobody blinked. He then hit .337 with four home runs, 18 RBIs and scored 15 runs in June and that got his ownership levels above 40% on CBS.
Wake up people! It is now July and Didi is batting .393 with two home runs. He has been a top-5 shortstop for well over six weeks and is a top-12 options for the season. Simple math here, but most leagues have 12 teams, right? That kind of production should warrant a bench spot at the very least. The BABIP isn’t inflated, the strikeout percentage is at a career low, and the contact rate ranks 32nd in the majors. Even if you don’t need him, don’t let your opponent have him.
Yangervis Solarte (Padres)
Available in 51% of CBS, 71% of Y! and 73% of ESPN leagues
Solarte was listed as a sleeper by some prior to the start of the season, but though May he only accumulated 50 at bats. He was finally given a chance in June and hit an acceptable .265, but over the final week right through to present time he has been on fire. Since June 21st Solarte has raised his average 47 points with six multi-hit games including four home runs. Hitting in the cleanup role has helped him total 14 RBIs over the past three weeks and score 13 runs. Over the past two weeks he has ranked inside the top-10 for first, second and third basemen on the ESPN player rater. This could be a hot streak, or it could be his coming out party.
Luis Valbuena (Astros)
Available in 76% of CBS and 93% of Y! and ESPN leagues
Valbuena has been even hotter than Solarte over the past two weeks, batting .362 with four home runs and 15 RBIs, ranking in the top-10 for first and third basemen. Thanks to the hot hitting he has found himself batting in the top half of the order as opposed to the customary 6th through 8th spot.
At the halfway mark he is halfway to matching last season’s run, home run and RBI totals, but with a much better batting average. Most of his production comes at home and against righties, but he is also hitting lefties (.281) and putting up a decent average on the road (.254). As long as Valbuena can keep the batting average at a respectable level he is a worthy corner infield play.
Davis Freese (Pirates)
Available in 78% of CBS and 87% of Y! and ESPN leagues
Nobody gave Freese much of a chance to stick, and most everyone assumed that one Jung-Ho Kang returned it would be back to the bench for him. For the season Freese is batting .300 with 10 home runs and 38 RBIs along with 42 runs scored. He’s hitting lefties and righties equally, as well as home and away. The batting average did drop to .266 in June, but it was .293 or higher in April and May and is over .400 in July.
His overall numbers have him ranked 20th for first and third basemen. Over the past two weeks he has ranked in the top-12, just behind Valbuena and Solarte, with about a quarter of his total production coming during this span. On the days that Kang does play Freese has been sliding over to first, displacing John Jaso. That may get tougher to do now that Josh Bell has arrived, but given Kang is slumping, Freese should continue to see the lions share of work at third for the immediate future.
David Dahl (Rockies)
Available in 84% of CBS and 98% of Y! and ESPN leagues
We’ll end things today with a future stash. Dahl spent the second half of 2015 in Double-A where he batted .278 (.352 BABIP) with 16 doubles, six home runs and 22 stolen bases over 288 at bats. The walk total was less than desirable (3.6 percent) and the strikeouts were a little high (23.8 percent), but overall it was a solid debut.
Dahl started this season in Double-A, and just like last year he totaled 288 at bats and hit .278 with a similar .351 BABIP. The results, however, were quite different. Dahl hit 21 doubles with 13 home runs and 16 stolen bases. He almost doubled his RBI total (24 to 45) and figured out how to draw walks (11.7 percent). The only negative was his strikeout rate which went up again to 25.6 percent.
Dahl was recently promoted to Triple-A where he has been tearing the cover off the ball, batting .500 (13 for 26) with three doubles and two home runs. He has yet to strike out, but I expect that to change some as he is exposed to the league. Short of a trade or injury Gonzalez and Blackmon have their roles cemented, but Gerardo Parra could be pushed aside should the Rockies decide Dahl can no longer be contained in the minors.
Don’t wait for the Rockies to make a move. If your outfield is weak and the waiver wire is thin on talent, it might be in your best interest to stash him now (just like Hunter Renfroe who was recommended here a few weeks ago).
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 monitor their progress until they either graduate (over 50% ownership on all three sites) or are listed as drops (sometimes you’ve just got to cut a man loose).
This is the last week Kendrys Morales will appear here. His ownership level has reached a point to where he should be owned in all competitive leagues.
Continue to add
- Hitters: Josh Bell, Melky Cabrera, Didi Gregorius, Mark Reynolds, Brett Lawrie, Javier Baez, Devon Travis, Tim Anderson, Marcus Semien, Lonnie Chisenhall, Tyler Naquin, Max Kepler
- Pitchers: Anthony DeSclafani, Bartolo Colon, Zach Eflin
- Justin Bour hit the DL Wednesday with an ankle sprain. I would still add him to stash.
- Jose Reyes is starting to hit and should soon qualify for third base; his real value is at shortstop though.
- Yasmany Tomas has three hits since I recommended him. It’s just a slump (hopefully). The same goes for Colby Rasmus with just one hit last week.
- Hunter Renfroe and Alex Bregman should be up at some point and both players could make a fantasy impact.
Hold – Do not add them, but do not drop them yet if possible
- Kevin Gausman is good for streaming at home, but not much else. You can hold him for that, but there should be better options available on waivers.
- Daniel Mengden‘s stock is plummeting; one more bad start and he’s dead to me until he figures things out.
- Kolten Wong is hitting good enough to not be dropped, but not well enough to warrant being added.
- Blake Snell was saved from the drop pile after a six inning two run performance. Not sure if he warrants adding yet, but it’s a good sign.
- A.J. Reed does have two homers, but he also has 15 strikeouts in 31 at bats. I can see Houston sending him down soon. Drop or hold depending on the depth of your waiver wire.
- That’s four really bad starts for C.C. Sabathia. Hold him if you like, but don’t pass up worthy available players to stash him.
- Matt Adams is back to being irrelevant.
- I’m still a fan of Brandon Guyer, but he has just six hits over the past two weeks.
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