Just this week, Chicago White Sox pitcher Chris Sale has been a starter, the closer, injured, not injured and now a starter again. I’m not sure what is going in Chicago. I’m not sure Chicago knows what is going on in Chicago.
Enough of trying to figure out Chicago; who looks good this week!
American League Waiver Wire
There was big injury news (well, for catchers) this week in the American League with Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s Chris Iannetta out for the next six to eight weeks. There is nothing interesting among the current Angels’ backstops (Bobby Wilson and John Hester) to get excited about. Waiting on the minor league DL for the Angels is Hank Conger. He will likely be back in about two weeks and I can see him get the call to the majors. He’s got solid power, but is a batting average risk. However, with Mike Scioscia as his manger, Conger’s playing time will likely be predicated on his defense.
Beyond the Angels, there is old friend Ryan Doumit with 3 HRs and 7 RBIs over the last 14 days. In mixed leagues, Jonathon Lucroy will help your batting average without a ton of help in the counting categories.
I am in an extremely shallow league where Eric Hosmer (owned in 90% of Yahoo! leagues) was dropped this week. He has struggled mightily, but a quick look under the conventional statistics hood shows a player who has been unlucky. His current BABIP is .165, an absurdly low number. BABIP isn’t completely predictive this early in a season, but a mark this low is nearly unsustainable for a player with Hosmer’s skill. He makes a good trade target in redraft leagues. He has nowhere to go but up and the Royals will ride with him all year. For those in the shallowest of leagues, he may be sitting on the waiver wire so take a look.
Casey Kotchman has picked it up on the offensive end over the last couple of weeks. However, waiting in the wings at AAA is eternal prospect Matt LaPorta. He has a career .701 OPS over three season in the majors, but has shown some power. He is 27 years old now and is crushing AAA pitching yet again. At some point he will return for the Indians, but his major league track record says tread with caution.
Kyle Seager (46% owned) continues to bat 5th for the Seattle Mariners. He’s now been hot for a month with no end in sight. It’s time to take a look at him in shallower leagues.
Brandon Inge (9% owned) of the Oakland A’s has been on fire since joining the A’s. Will he continue this hot streak? In a word, no! He is not worth picking up. He hasn’t hit over .247 since 2006. If you didn’t have him this week, you’ve missed out on the bulk of his production for you the year. There are other fish in the sea.
In other Oakland A’s middle infield news, Jemile Weeks (53% owned) has picked up the pace over the last week. His average isn’t anything to write home about yet, but he’s got six stolen bases over the last 14 days. Stolen bases are the reason you drafted him and he’s starting to deliver in that area.
I haven’t mentioned Josh Reddick once this year and that is my mistake. Still owned in only 50% of leagues he has 8 HR, 19 RBIs, 23 runs scored and hitting .292. His major league profile has been as a 4th outfielder. He’s been dogged a bit by injuries in the past. However, he is 25 years old and hit 14 HRs in 231 PAs in AAA last year. He’s batting in the middle of the order and I believe he will continue to be solid for the remainder of the year.
Andy Dirks is batting in the number two hole (where we believe Brennan Boesch would stay and flourish). Dirks is taking full advantage where Boesch failed. Dirks is 26 years old and has been a good on base man in the minor leagues. Should he stay in the number two spot in that lineup, runs should come in bunches. He also has a little speed and could steal 10-12 bases over the remainder of the year.
For deeper leagues, the Minnesota Twins recalled Darin Mastroianni from AAA this week. His only tool is speed and I do not believe he will get enough playing time to be useful.
Also on Saturday night, it was reported that the Baltimore Orioles will recall Xavier Avery. Speed is also the name of Avery’s game. Again, I’m not sure what his path to playing time is and he has struggled to get on base to utilize his speed. He’s just 22 and could be a good stash in dynasty leagues.
This week we will look at three pitchers currently working their way back to majors. Detroit Tigers Jacob Turner was recently promoted to AAA. Turner was sent to the minors at the beginning of the year as he wasn’t able to get enough work in due to shoulder tendinitis. The Detroit rotation has been solid and Turner will likely need an injury or some ineffectiveness from fifth starter Drew Smyly to get a crack in the majors.
The Boston Red Sox are nearing the end of Daisuke Matsuzaka’s rehab and have a decision to make. Matsuzaka was hammered in his start for Pawtucket Saturday night and certainly doesn’t look ready yet. However, this isn’t out of the norm for Dice-K and especially for pitchers coming back from Tommy John surgery. The progression back from this surgery is not linear and he will have his share of poor, average and above average starts. He is a high risk player for this year and should only be added in leagues with deep benches.
Andy Pettitte returns to the major leagues on Sunday for the New York Yankees. Pettitte is 40 years old and hasn’t started a game in the major leagues since 2010. His four starts in the minors were not impressive and I’m not sure he has anything left in the tank. That said, he will pitch for the Yankees and should garner some wins. He’s a pickup/injury replacement in deeper leagues, but should be ignored in all others.
Beyond the minor leagues, it looks like Max Scherzer has righted the ship. He and pitching coach Jeff Jones found a flaw in his mechanics in early May. Since then, he has started twice and has struck out 18 batters over 13 2/3 innings with only two walks. He’s owned in 65% of leagues so go out and grab him.
The long version of what is going on with the Chicago White Sox closer role is here. This week it will be a three-headed monster of Addison Reed, Hector Santiago and Matt Thornton based on matchups. I give up. I have no idea who to recommend nor do I believe if I had Robin Ventura writing the column he would know. At this point of the season, I would go with Reed to get the most saves for the rest of the year. Tune in next week to see if Bobby Thigpen comes out of retirement to close out games.
For holds leagues, Vicente Padilla has picked up three holds over the last 14 days. He will likely maintain an important place in the Boston bullpen as long as he is not needed in the rotation.
More Boston Red Sox relieve news centers around the demoted Mark Melancon. He is unscored upon in 10 appearances spanning 10 innings. He’s struck out 18, walked no one and has three saves. He’s ready to return to a high leverage spot in the majors for Boston.
Jordan Walden looks to slowly be righting the ship. Over his last four appearances since May 3 he’s pitched 3 2/3 innings giving up two hits, a walk and four strikeouts. Scott Downs picked up another save on Saturday afternoon and Ernesto Frieri set Downs up, so it may be a couple of more weeks until Walden is put back into the closer’s role.
Late breaking on Saturday night is that Oakland Athletics manager Bob Melvin has named Brian Fuentes his closer. He may get saves, but they will not be pretty and I doubt he holds the role for the long term.
National League Waiver Wire
This week let’s look at Colorado Rockies’ catcher Wilin Rosario. He’s splitting time with Ramon Hernandez now, but he hit two HRs over the last seven days and I believe he’ll be the full time catcher by the end of the year. He’s a player to monitor.
More late breaking news on Saturday night had Wilson Ramos leaving the Washington Nationals game with a non-contact leg injury. Should he be out for a long time, Jesus Flores will be the catcher and could be a worthwhile pickup.
In deeper leagues, the New York Mets’ Ike Davis is starting to come around. Owned in only 50% of Yahoo! leagues, he’s hit 2 HRs with 4 RBIs and 6 runs scored. More importantly, he’s getting on base at a .368 clip. He was a darling in most sleeper articles prior to the start of the year. It is possible that Davis’ ankle injury from last year was not fully healed. Whatever the reason, it looks lIke Davis is heading back toward relevance in shallower leagues.
The Washington Nationals Adam LaRoche also fits into this category. He had a bit of an injury scare, but is back to hitting in the middle of the lineup and continues to show off his power and on base skills. He’s generally a second half player (.889 OPS in the second half versus .771 OPS in the first half) so this production is just a bonus should he follow his personal history.
The Houston Astros’ Chris Johnson (owned in 31% of Yahoo! leagues) has been on fire for the last couple of weeks hitting .368 with 4 HRs, 11 RBIs and 6 runs scored. He has a solid if unspectacular minor league record so I do not see this power output continuing. However, he could he hit .280 with 15 HRs and 80 RBIs over a full season of ABs which can be valuable in deeper leagues. The 40-man roster includes two other third basemen in Jimmy Paredes (who is exclusively playing second base at AAA) and Brett Wallace who is splitting his time between first and third base. Both players are struggling so Johnson’s playing time is likely secured.
In news that surprises no one, Cincinnati Reds third base Scott Rolen hit the DL. Mike Constanzo was recalled from AAA, but my hope is that Todd Frazier gets a chance to show what he can do with regular playing time. I do not hold out hope that Dusty Baker will play Frazier as he is only 26 years old. Frazier has an intriguing mix of power and speed and would be a boon to fantasy owners if Baker just let him play. Watch the lineup over the next couple of days and be ready to pounce should it look like Frazier will get regular playing time.
James Darnell was recalled by the San Diego Padres this week. He is probably eligible at third base in your league, but could gain outfield eligibility soon as Carlos Quentin had a setback Saturday and Mark Kotsay left Saturday’s game with a back injury (and he has a history of back troubles). Darnell was rated as the number 90 prospect by Baseball America before the 2010 season. He had a .865 OPS in the hitter friendly PCL as a 25 year old this year. He has a bit of power (hit 24 home runs in 2011across three levels) and he might have a chance to get some playing time.
The Milwaukee Brewers first base situation is far from settled as Taylor Green has pushed his way into the playing time discussion. I still don’t believe Green will be able to hit enough while learning first base at the major league level. Stick with Travis Ishikawa, but keep tabs on Green as Green has more power in his bat and has upside. Ishikawa is a known quantity and an unimpressive one at that.
The St. Louis Cardinals will likely have quite a playing crunch when Lance Berkman returns (possibly this week). In Yahoo! leagues, Allen Craig is eligible at second base. I believe he will continue to have value even with Berkman’s return as a super utility player and a regular player versus lefties.
The Los Angeles Dodgers continue to hit Mark Ellis (owned in 7% of leagues) second in the lineup in front of Matt Kemp. He will continue to score runs (eight runs over his last 14 days) as long as he gets on base (currently at a .389 clip nearly 60 points above his career level). He’s even picked up a couple of steals. He’s certainly worth a flier as long as he keeps that spot in the lineup.
The Los Angeles Dodgers placed Juan Rivera on the DL with a ruptured hamstring and noted he could be out for two months or more. This should open up playing time for the recently acquired Bobby Abreu. Abreu was released by the Los Angeles Angels, but he could provide some help for your fantasy team with regular playing time. He looks like he has become a one-dimensional player. Oddly, at his age, Abreu’s one dimension looks to be speed. He’s stolen 20 or more bases every year since 1999 (and in 1998 he had 19). He’s kept a solid OBP even with his struggles and should be a great pickup for speed.
The Dodgers also recalled Scott Van Slyke from AAA. I do not see a spot for him at this point. He showed excellent power in 2011 and continued that hot streak into 2012. He is not young at 25 years old and the Dodgers do not seem interested in giving him a full time shot.
It looks like Yonder Alonso (also qualifies at first base) is beginning to live up to his prospect pedigree. He’s batting cleanup regularly for the San Diego Padres. He’s only owned in 19% of leagues. He’s hit 1 HR with 7 RBIs, 2 runs scored and a .457 OBP. He’s a former 1st round pick who is just 24 and could be a 20 HR player in a full season.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have been winning games with strong starting pitching and defense. One of those starting pitchers succeeding this year is James McDonald (21% ownership). He won’t get you many wins with the Pirates offense behind him. However, he looks to be maturing this year and he’s added a new trick. He is throwing his slider much more this year than last (18.7% versus 5.1%) and the assumption is he is getting more strikeouts with it. I believe he can maintain his growth and consolidate it over the year. He’s a great target for the rest of the season.
The Colorado Rockies have installed a couple of youngsters into their rotation for the near term. Alex White (owned in 1% of Yahoo! leagues; drafted in the first round of the 2009 amateur draft; acquired in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade) and Christian Friedrich (owned in 2% of Yahoo! leagues; drafted in the first round of the 2008 amateur draft). White was crushed in his Colorado debut last season owning an 8.42 ERA with a 1.76 WHIP over 36 1/3 innings. White was relatively effective at AAA this year, but I believe his walk rate is a bit too high and his strikeout rate a bit too low for Colorado. However, he does have a near 50% groundball rate in his short time in the majors. If he can keep the ball on the ground, he can succeed in Colorado.
Friedrich was on his way to stardom in 2009 after a 12.0 K/9 ratio over two leagues. He had a walk rate just above three, but that is manageable with such a high strikeout rate. He then struggled over the next two years at AA Tulsa with an ERA just about 5.00. His strikeout rate dropped, but he saw no drop in BB/9 rate. This season, Friedrich seems to have solved his walk problem (at least in the small sample size that is five starts) with a 27 to 4 K/BB ratio. I personally like Friedrich a bit more than White, but both will likely be up for a while as Drew Pomeranz was demoted this week and Jhoulys Chacin on the DL with shoulder issues.
Joe Blanton (14% owned) has struck out 21 over his last 23 innings for the Philadelphia Phillies. He’s been a pleasant bounce back this year after a dreadful 2011. However, this success is not sustainable. He is giving up more fly balls this year than last year, but he has a ridiculously low HR per fly ball (HR/FB) rate of 2.4%. His career average is 9.4%. As more of his fly balls leave the yard, Blanton’s ERA will climb. Avoid him or deal him if you have him.
Jorge de la Rosa left his start on Saturday night after one inning and 28 pitches. He’d given up four runs. Monitor his status if you have him stashed.
The Chicago Cubs’ Carlos Marmol hit the DL Saturday. Rafael Dolis has done all he has been asked to do (well, almost all) as the de-facto closer and James Russell hasn’t had an opportunity yet. However, with Marmol’s trip to the DL comes Scott Maine’s potential return to the major leagues. Keep an eye on him as he has the skills and minor league experience to take the role and run with it if given the opportunity.
That was a short break. Heath Bell is back as the Miami Marlins closer. It seems that one clean inning was all Ozzie Guillen needed to put his $27 million man back in his role. Since we haven’t heard anything to suggest an injury, Bell should have the role as long as he is healthy.
For those players in leagues with holds, there are a couple of players to target. The St. Louis Cardinals Victor Marte has five holds over the last 14 days and three in the last seven days. His strikeout rate is not elite so he won’t be a great help in strikeout leagues. Beyond Marte, there are two lefties in Tim Byrdak of the New York Mets and Antonio Bastardo of the Philadelphia Phillies who have picked up five and four holds respectively over the last two weeks. Both have elite K/9 rates to go along with the increase in holds. In leagues where innings are limited, both lefties can be an asset with the high K/9 rates.
Thanks for reading and let me know who I missed and you want to know more about.
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.