November 23, 2014

Fantasy Baseball: Scouting the Waiver Wire — Week 3

Sadly, it looks as though I was correct about Scott Baker’s innings pitched for this year. Let’s take a look at where injuries have affected some teams and let’s not waste a moment trying to determine what Bruce Bochy is doing to Brandon Belt. The theme this week seems to be underappreciated players on bad teams and good players on great teams. Now, onto the show!

American League Waiver Wire

Catcher

Kurt Suzuki leads all catchers in ABs with 25. Yet, he’s only owned in 26% of Yahoo! leagues. Now, he hasn’t done much with those ABs. But as I wrote during spring training, we need to look for skills, but shouldn’t ignore opportunity. Suzuki has no one behind him and will play regularly. This playing time should lead to higher counting statistics at the risk of his batting average.  He’ll likely hit .240 to .250 but had back to back years of 70+ RBIs in 2009 and 2010 and could get there again in 2012.

On a side note, if Victor Martinez is floating around and you have a DL spot to stash him it may be worth your while come September. He did not need ACL reconstruction and it looks like he could be back in late August or September for your (and the Tigers) pennant push.

Corner infielder

I have a soft spot in my fantasy heart for Edwin Encarnacion so take this with a grain of salt. However, he’s owned in 68% of Yahoo! leagues. He’s got 2 HR and 2 SBs on the young season and won’t have to worry about defense all year. I’d rather have him than his teammate Adam Lind.

Middle infielder

Going a bit deeper, Kyle Seager has been getting regular playing time for the Seattle Mariners and is taking advantage of it. He’s always been a high batting average player in the minors with doubles power. He can certainly contribute while Franklin Gutierrez and Mike Carp are on the DL and he’s only 24 so he still has room to develop. Check your league’s eligibility as he may only qualify at third base.

Outfield

Jacoby Ellsbury’s injury did not look good and he could be out for a while (current speculation is six to eight weeks). The player to replace Ellsbury in the Boston Red Sox outfield will likely be Darnell McDonald. He’s got some power and some speed, but won’t come close to matching Ellsbury’s production. Che-Hsuan Lin will likely be called up. He’s a strong defender, but someone to be ignored in fantasy circles. Though, with a name like Lin, who knows what can happen.

If you are looking for a replacement for Ellsbury’s power/speed combo outside of Boston, take a look at Alejandro De Aza. He’s batting leadoff for the Chicago White Sox. He had a .920 OPS for the White Sox last year in 171 PAs and already has 2 HRs and 1 SB this year. He’s owned in just 47% of Yahoo! leagues.

Lorenzo Cain’s injury looks to be minor and he’ll likely be out for the minimum. If you need to pick from the remainder in the Kansas City Royals outfield, it looks like Jarred Dyson will get the first shot according to Ned Yost. Dyson is a burner, who can’t get on base, but could provide you a few steals during his time in the show.

For shallower leagues, Austin Jackson has looked like a different player this year. He’s owned in 78% of Yahoo! leagues, but his ownership should be closer to 100%. He’s leading off for perhaps the most potent offense in the league. In 28 PAs, he already has 5 BBs (against 6 strikeouts) after walking just 56 times in 668 PAs last year. He could approach 110 runs scored this year with his usual 10 HRs and 20+ SBs. He could be this year’s Jacoby Ellsbury.

Starting Pitcher

I know I talked about Matt Harrison last week and it looks like it did some good as his ownership percentage has jumped from 29% to 37%. However, that is not enough. Buster Olney tweeted Friday night that according to one player, Harrison has developed a turbo-sinker. Now, I don’t know what that is, but it sounds good. Oh, and he pitches for the Texas Rangers. Go out and get him. I expect to see him above 50% ownership next week. You have your orders.

We have some fifth starters finally getting a turn in the rotation in the AL West. Jerome Williams will come off the DL and start for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Williams was a feel good story last year with 4 wins, 3.68 ERA and 1.364 WHIP over 44 IP after not pitching in MLB for 4 years. He has first round pedigree and is on great team to pick up some wins. Waiting in the wings should Williams falter is Garrett Richards (also a former first round draft pick), a flamethrower who had a spectacular year in AA last year. Both are worth watching in deeper leagues as nearly any starter for the Angels will have value.

In Oakland, Tyron Ross will make his season debut as the fifth starter. Ross was excellent in a short stint with the A’s last year. He (and fellow starter) Graham Godfrey will likely be on short leashes as the Oakland Athletics have a bevy of youngsters in Jarrod Parker, Brad Peacock and Sonny Gray. Both Parker and Peacock are already on the 40-man roster so should either Ross or Godfrey struggle, the fill-ins are just a phone call away. Parker is the most likely to get the call first should the need arise and I see him making more starts in the major leagues than at least one of Godfrey or Ross.

Relief Pitcher

It looks like I was wrong last week about Joel Peralta being the pitcher to own in the Tampa Bay Rays bullpen while   Kyle Farnsworth is out. Fernando Rodney has three saves and has made some changes in his setup on the mound. R.J. Anderson over at Baseball Prospectus has a short piece worth reading about those changes. Rodney has the chance to succeed in the role; he’s done it before. He’s not the most skilled pitcher, but he has the ball at the end of games.

I’m also not sure what to make of the last two nights in the Texas Rangers bullpen. Joe Nathan had an ugly blown save so they gave him a night off and Mike Adams picked up the save. Tonight (Friday), Alexi Ogando came in for the save. If Nathan is bumped from the closer’s role, I believe Adams is the man to own, but don’t count out Ogando.

National League Waiver Wire

Catcher

As we continue to look for under-owned catchers, Jonathan Lucroy pops up. He’s been a bit overshadowed in the early season for the Milwaukee Brewers by his back up George Kottaras. But, Lucroy has started well in his own right as he is at .357/.474/.571.  Don’t forget about Lucroy as you peruse second tier catchers.

Corner infielder

It looks like David Wright is heading to the DL for the New York Mets. Ronny Cedeno and Justin Turner are the likely fill-ins in the lineup for Wright as Daniel Murphy will move to third. Turner is the more interesting player (he did bat third in the order Friday night) from a fantasy perspective, but just barely. Neither is likely to garner enough playing time to be worthwhile except in the deepest of leagues.  Murphy may also see a bump in his numbers as he moves back to his natural defensive position. Of course, Terry Collins played Murphy at 2B and Turner at 3B tonight so you never can tell.

Adam LaRoche is a streaky hitter and he’s on one of his hot streaks right now. Go out and grab him (especially with Mike Morse out another six weeks) to ride the wave.  But know that he will come crashing back down to earth sooner rather than later. Morse’s injury will open up playing time for Xavier Nady and Mark DeRosa. DeRosa has only played 73 games the last two years, but he got the start Friday night. Nady hit a homerun off the bench (off a lefthander). Nady crushes lefties (as does DeRosa), but struggles against righties (as does DeRosa). DeRosa may get the playing time, but he will harm your batting average.

Lastly, I really like Paul Goldschmidt. That is all. He’s 85% owned in Yahoo!, but see about making a deal for him if you can. Or if he’s available, grab him.

Middle infielder

Rafael Furcal is off to a hot start with the St. Louis Cardinals. He’s always a candidate to get hurt, but snag him while his is off the DL and hitting at the top of a potent lineup. He’s owned in 58% of Yahoo! leagues and I’d prefer him over Yunel Escobar (who is similarly owned).

Also, Jed Lowrie is back off the DL. The Houston Astros lineup isn’t much to look at, but he’ll bat near the top and has always been a good source of power for a middle infielder when healthy. He’ only owned in 9% of Yahoo! leagues.

Outfield

It looks like Jordan Schafer is going to run (and run and run and run). The Astros will need to try every trick in the book to score runs this year and Schafer could be the beneficiary.  He’s got 5 SBs (as of late Friday evening) and he certainly has a good shot for 20+ SBs if he stays healthy. He’s currently at 28% ownership in Yahoo! leagues. Schafer has the former prospect pedigree (a top 50 Baseball America prospect two years running when he was with the Atlanta Braves).

In the same outfield is J.D. Martinez. He’s regularly batting third in the lineup and has a history of solid power in the minors. He could be a useful fourth or fifth outfielder in deeper leagues and may even be worth a look in shallower leagues. He’ll get playing time as he is part of the future in Houston, such as it is.

One last Washington Nationals note with Rick Ankiel set to return from the DL, this may push Roger Bernadina out of the lineup or perhaps out of Washington.

Starting Pitcher

Joe Wieland is set to make his major league debut for the San Diego Padres on Saturday. He has solid minor league numbers. He won’t win many games, but he’s got a chance to be a difference maker in strikeouts and WHIP. Go the extra mile to grab him for a bench spot and see what he can do.

Ryan Vogelsong is due to come off of the DL and pitch for the San Francisco Giants. He had a break out year that was not fully supported by his peripherals. However, his slide back will just push him near league average which still makes him a useful player in deeper leagues.

In shallower leagues, Ryan Dempster’s return looks to be for real. He’s got 15 Ks through his first 14 1/3 innings and is owned in 78% of leagues. He was a target in the pre-draft time frame and continues to be someone I’d own in a shallow league.

Relief Pitcher

Aroldis Chapman may strike out more batters than some regular starters this year. He seems to have dialed his fastball back a couple of miles per hour which has led to better control without a loss of effectiveness. He’s only owned in 58% of Yahoo! leagues, but I’d rather have him then some of the lower rung closers (or closers in waiting like Kenley Jansen).

What should we make of the closer situation for the Washington Nationals? Drew Storen is out until the All-Star break so there are saves to be had. The two contenders are Brad “Closer Experience” Lidge and Henry “Closer of the Future” Rodriguez.  Rodriguez has had control issues for most of his minor and major league career. Lidge’s recent history has been full of extreme highs and lows. Rodriguez came on in the ninth inning of a tie game on Friday night and he was followed by Lidge in the 10th. It’s tough to read exactly what that means, as Lidge blew the save Thursday night.

Davey Johnson said that they would alternate opportunities at the beginning of the season. I believe Rodriguez is the long term play here and would bid more for him than for Lidge. Perhaps Rodriguez can take some notes from Aroldis Chapman on how to harness otherworldly stuff to become a pitcher and not a thrower.

That’s it for this week. See you in the same spot next week. Shoot me a note on Twitter or in the comments if you have any other questions as I can’t cover everyone 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.

About Chris Garosi

Chris Garosi is a Contributor to District Sports Page. Chris is a diehard Maryland Terrapins fan in all sports and a fan of things New England sports-related (except for football). Chris has played fantasy sports since the pre-Internet days and participates in any league for any sport to which he’s invited. He also writes for The Fantasy Fix. You can follow Chris on Twitter at @chrisgarosi.

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