I know no one wants to hear about someone else’s fantasy baseball team, but I will bore you for a couple of seconds with the pitching injuries I have been hit with in my 10-team AL-only 4×4 league. In the last couple of weeks I’ve lost John Danks, Derek Holland, Felipe Paulino (picked up for Danks), Drew Smyly, Drew Hutchison (picked up for Paulino) and Alexi Ogando.
So, which pitchers should be used to replace these guys in deeper leagues? Let’s take a look with this week’s waiver wire report. I apologize for the brevity of the piece this week, but work and other priorities have gotten in the way of fantasy baseball!
American League Waiver Wire
Salvador Perez has been progressing well in his rehab and looks to be back with next week according to Bob Dutton. Perez is a must own in two –catchers leagues and could be an option in shallower leagues and in H2H points leagues with his low strikeout totals in the minors.
Jack Hannahan has returned from the DL for the Cleveland Indians. He will likely win back the starting third base job (though he’s only playing every other day initially) due to his defensive process, thus relegating Lonnie Chinsenhall to AAA. Hannahan brings little to the fantasy table, but will get ABs for those in AL only leagues.
Brandon Moss had a fantastic week at Coors Field. Most players do. Moss has six home runs this year. I’d be surprised if he has six more for the rest of the year.
Don’t look now, but Baltimore Orioles infielder Mark Reynolds is heating up hitting .409 over the last seven days with 2 HRs. He is notoriously streaky so grab him for the short term especially if you need power.
Chris Getz was injured on Sunday and was seen walking out of the clubhouse in a protective boot. It seems he’s headed to the DL and Johnny Giavotella will head back to Kansas City. Kansas City has been loath to play Giavotella regularly when he’s been so expect more of the same (which means Yuniesky Betancourt and so I’ll pass).
Trevor Plouffe has the starting third base job in Minnesota. I’m not sure when he’s going to stop hitting home runs, but ride him as long as he does.
Ryan Kalish is getting recalled by the Boston Red Sox to replace Ryan Sweeney who is heading to the DL with a toe injury. There has been talk that the Red Sox believe Kalish can be their “spark.” (Inner monologue break: Spark? Like the Nationals with Bryce Harper? The Angels with Mike Trout? Red Sox fans can only hope). Kalish is still just 24 years old, but has been besieged by injuries throughout much of his career. However, he does have an intriguing speed/power mix. He did accumulate a 1.104 OPS during his rehab this year across three levels of the minor leagues. He won’t hit 40 home runs or steal 40 bases, but in full season he could be a 15/15 player. As long as he provides that “spark”, I believe Kalish may be up for good. The Red Sox need to find something to get them going and Kalish may be the answer. Bid aggressively in deeper leagues and monitor in shallow leagues.
Sticking with the Red Sox, it looks like Cody Ross will return from the DL next week. I’m not sure where his playing time will come from, but he could push Scott Podsednik to the bench. If not, he’ll play somewhere and be on the wrong side of a platoon.
There has been talk that the Boston Red Sox will send Carl Crawford out on a rehab assignment in the next week or so. I’ll believe it when I see it, but if he does go out, we could see him back in the lineup by mid-July.
The Toronto Blue Jays’ starting rotation has been decimated with injuries this week. The replacements look to be Brett Cecil, Carlos Villanueva and Jesse Chavez. I’ve always had a soft spot for Cecil as he went to the same high school and university as I did. That said, he looked lost early this year. He was sent to AA to work out his problems. He looked good in his first start back against the Philadelphia Phillies. However, he did give up two HRs in his five innings and the Phillies were 7-14 against lefthanders this year. Cecil will be in the rotation for a long spell unless the Jays make a trade. He’s a potential add in AL-only, but I’d pass in anything shallower.
Carlos Villanueva is also slotted to be moved into the rotation from the bullpen. Villanueva has never been able to succeed as a starter in the major leagues with over a run per inning difference in ERA. I don’t think the AL East is a good place to try to figure out how to be a starting pitcher so I will pass on Villanueva in all but the deepest of leagues.
Jesse Chavez is the third member of the Blue Jays backup rotation. Chavez is 28 year old journeyman who has 157 2/3 innings of experience over five seasons in the major leagues. He’s pitched surprisingly well at AAA on the launching pad that is Las Vegas. Even with his excellent performance, I would treat him as I would Villanueva and pass on him.
Jacob Turner will be recalled to start for the Detroit Tigers on Thursday. Turner came into 2012 as the #22 prospect in all of baseball according to Baseball America. He was expected to start the season in the Tigers rotation, but injuries during spring training led him to start in the minors. Turner’s results were solid in the minors this year, though his K/9 rate took a huge drop in AAA. I’d be a bit concerned about Turner in the early going. He’s a must add in AL-only leagues, but wait in shallower leagues. Jason Martinez at MLBDepthCharts.com speculates that Turner will stay up potentially shifting Drew Smyly back to AAA when he returns from the DL. I tend to agree with Jason so bid as if Turner is in the rotation for the rest of the season.
Justin Grimm was recalled by the Texas Rangers and won his major league debut on Saturday. I do not see Grimm staying up long term (perhaps one or two more starts) as Roy Oswalt is waiting in the wings. Grimm may get one more start before Oswalt is ready. He’s a good sport start this week against Colorado Rockies at home. For a full scouting report on Grimm, head over to Lone Star Dugout and Jason Cole’s piece on him.
Franklin Morales pitched a gem in his first start of the year for the Boston Red Sox. However, it was against the Chicago Cubs so I’d rather wait to see how he performs against a stauncher opponent before grabbing him.
The Minnesota Twins reported that Matt Capps has a sore shoulder. They hope that he will be able to pitch Tuesday. The bigger question is who would replace Capps should he be hurt (or just as likely be dealt). Joe Christensen of the Star Tribune said that manager Ron Gardenhire would choose between Glen Perkins (the left hander) and Jared Burton (a right hander) based on matchups.
Prior to the start of the year, the thought was that Glen Perkins was the heir apparent and I see him as the stronger speculative bid. He started the season off slowly, but has righted the ship somewhat. Burton looks to have the better “stuff” with a higher K/9 rate, but knowing a bit about how the Minnesota Twins work, they will likely stick with the home grown talent to close out games should Capps miss significant time.
Jonathan Broxton is another closer who could potentially be dealt in the next month to a contending team looking for help in the back of the bullpen. Again, who replaces Broxton if he gets dealt?
Greg Holland was the replacement last season when Joakim Soria missed time and picked up four saves. I think Holland is the speculation play here because he has some experience, is right handed and was considered in spring training to share the role with Broxton. Holland has missed some time this year with a rib injury, but I do not have concerns.
Tim Collins has been extremely successful this year the top lefty out of the pen. He can go multiple innings and I believe the Royals like that flexibility and will keep him in that role.
The Royals also have Aaron Crow, Jose Mijares and Kelvin Herrera. I see those three pitchers staying in their current roles irrespective of who is the closer for the Royals. Crow has an outside chance of being moved into the closer role, but his stuff isn’t quite as good as Holland’s and has no experience in the role.
Ryan Cook has three saves for the Oakland Athletics since last week. He looks to have the job for the remainder of the season barring injury. Brian Fuentes can be dropped as can Grant Balfour (though I would retain Balfour in leagues where holds are a category).
National League Waiver Wire
A.J. Ellis looks to be slowing down a bit. I never expected him to keep up his torrid start for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Now, might be a time to see if you can deal him for someone like a Miguel Montero or Wilin Rosario who I believe will have better numbers for the rest of the year, but are rated below Ellis in standard 5×5 leagues. I’d also consider a deal for Rod Barajas if you are in need of power and can give up the batting average.
Martin Maldonado has likely had his entire career in the last week or so. I do not believe he will continue his run for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Pedro Alvarez is back for the Pittsburgh Pirates with four home runs over his last two games. Go out and grab him for the next week or two and then cut him immediately before he goes 0 for eternity with 50 strikeouts. He could help you win an entire week in H2H with his patented hot streaks.
Scott Rolen is set to return from the DL on Monday. I can only assume that Dusty Baker will immediately install him in the lineup and relegate Todd Frazier to Gatorade cup holder or some similar bench role.
Skip Schumaker is due back for the St. Louis Cardinals this week. The Cardinals always seem to find playing time for everyone. We could see Schumaker move into the mix in center field while Jon Jay continues to mend. This could mean less playing time for Shane Robinson and Ardon Chambers.
Wait! What’s that? It’s a Stephen Drew sighting. Drew playing in his third straight rehab game and the reports I read said he looked good on defense (which speaks to his health). Drew will slot right back into the starting lineup (likely in the number two hole) and provide top 15 SS stats for the remainder of the season. He’s a must add in most formats this week.
Bryce Harper is likely heading into his first adjustment period. Ben Lindbergh at Baseball Prospectus had an entertaining column regarding the Yankees use of the slider against Harper. While it was partially tongue in cheek, just remember that Harper (and Mike Trout like him) will start facing pitchers who are adjusting to them based on data on their earlier at bats. The key to long term success for any young player is the ability to adjust to those adjustments. I have faith that Harper will adjust, but be aware he may hit some speed bumps along the way.
Jason Bay suffered what looked to be another concussion and is dangerously close to go the route of Corey Koskie. I assume Bay will be out for a long time (potentially the remainder of the season). It looks as though Scott Hairston will get the majority of playing time in left field and is a good add in NL-only leagues.
Dexter Fowler has turned back into a pumpkin going 7-40 over the last 15 days with 15 strikeouts. He’s Babe Ruth at home and a Baby Ruth on the road. In leagues with daily or weekly moves, he’s a good player to have. Otherwise, you will have to live with the ebbs and flows of this mercurial man for the Colorado Rockies.
Tim Lincecum is done for this year for the San Francisco Giants. I do not know why he is done, but he is someone I’d look to unload if I can get 50 cents on the dollar or drop in very shallow leagues. He doesn’t seem to be able to string together multiple good innings and the Giants don’t look like they will skip him in the rotation so he might work on fixing the issues he has.
Marco Estrada will likely be back in the major leagues for the Milwaukee Brewers in two weeks. He will make one to two more rehab starts. The assumption is he will slot back into the rotation and send Michael Fiers back to the minors. I’m not 100% certain that will occur as Fiers has presented himself well in his four starts. I would say that the odds are 75% for Estrada returning to the rotation, but he does have experience in the pen and could move back there.
Jair Jurrjens will be recalled by the Atlanta Braves on Friday to take Brandon Beachy‘s place in the rotation. In reading the tea leaves, there seems to be some concern that Beachy’s elbow injury may be of the long term variety (read: Tommy John surgery). Therefore, Jurrjens has a chance (perhaps his last) to establish himself in the rotation again. Is Jurrjens someone to target in fantasy baseball? In a word, no. His K/9 rate (never great) dipped to 4.5 in his nine starts at AAA this year. He carried a 5.27 ERA and 1.420 WHIP during his time there as well – neither worthy of investment. The only silver lining is that he had pitched better in his last three starts (22 IP, 2.05 ERA, 1.000 WHIP and 3.7 K/9). I would stay away from him in all but the deepest of leagues as he’s a WHIP threat and his only real value will likely come from wins.
The Washington Nationals designated Brad Lidge for assignment. This could be the end of the road for Lidge and he hasn’t been on the fantasy radar much this year. However, it does give us a chance to discuss the Nationals bullpen in general.
The current closer is currently Tyler Clippard and he has performed extremely well in the role. However, the Nationals did not initially place Clippard in the role when they had the chance preferring to keep him in his eighth inning role. The Nationals also have Drew Storen who is inching ever so close to returning to the active roster perhaps around the All-Star break. I believe they will reinstall Storen as the closer, but Clippard’s emergence in the role does give the Nationals the flexibility to deal Storen for a hitter (such as the widely speculated deal for Denard Span which seems less likely with the logjam of outfielders). Henry Rodriguez will move back into lower leverage situations and remain third in the pecking order.
Carlos Marmol has returned to the Chicago Cubs closer role. I’m glad so that I don’t have to continue to write about random Cubs relievers who might get a save chance if the Cubs actually have a lead in the ninth inning. I’d bid aggressively on him and know that his WHIP will be awful, but he’s got the other skills to close games relatively effectively. He’ll probably be a bottom ten closer for the rest of the season.
Thanks for your time this week and drop me a comment with any questions you might have especially if you are evaluating trades at this time of year. All of my previous columns can be found at here.
Chris Garosi is a contributor for District Sports Page. One of his favorite sports memories is witnessing Wilson Alvarez’s no-hitter at Memorial Stadium in 1991. Chris has played fantasy sports since the pre-Internet days and participates in any league for any sport to which he’s invited. You can follow him on Twitter at @chrisgarosi.