Fantasy

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire (8/7/15): Joe Ross is the Boss

Source: www.masnsports.com

Source: www.masnsports.com

Greetings, fantasy baseball minions! I had been doing a weekly “Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire” feature for another site, but the good news for all the No Coast Bias faithful is that feature will now be presented here on Fridays! TGIF! Can we flashback to 1998 and get a “raise the roof” motion up in here?!  And a “BOO YA!” for good measure.

Before we look at this week’s recommendations, let’s examine how last week’s recommendations have been doing.

***NOTE: To qualify as a waiver wire recommendation, a player must be owned in less than 50% of Yahoo and ESPN leagues and less than 60% of CBS leagues (players typically have higher ownership levels on CBS).

LAST WEEK’S RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Adam Eaton has gone 8 for 22 (.364 AVG) with 6 runs and 3 SB in 6 games since last Friday, and his ownership level has shot through the roof as he is now owned in at least 66% of leagues across each of the three major platforms. He should continue to be a good source of runs with a solid batting average, and it’s very encouraging that he has done a lot of base stealing in the past week to bring his season total up to 11.
  • Jung Ho Kang laced 3 doubles on the day that he appeared in the FFLockerRoom waiver wire article, and he has also added a HR since. So overall, he has gone 5 for 19 (.263 AVG) with 1 HR and 2 RBI in the 5 games the Pirates have had since last Friday. Kang’s ownership level has gone up by about 20% across all the major platforms, but he still comes in at under 50% on Yahoo. With eligibility at the shallow position of shortstop (in addition to being eligible at third base), Kang should be considered a borderline top 10 fantasy shortstop right now.
  • Delino DeShields has only gone 2 for 17  (.118 AVG) in 5 games played since last Friday, but he has contributed 3 RBI, 5 runs, and 2 SB. A possible regression in his AVG was mentioned in last week’s article, but it’s the runs and SB that give him value.  And because of his knack for drawing walks, he will still be able to score and steal bases a lot even if his AVG regresses. After going all of July with just 3 SB, he already has 2 SB in less than a week of play in August. His legs seem to be feeling better now after a previous stint on the DL with a hamstring strain. DeShields’ ownership level barely moved since last week, so he still is readily available in many leagues when he should be owned by any fantasy team that is in need of speed.
  • Rusney Castillo has gone 6 for 23 (.260 AVG) while chipping in 4 RBI, 1 run, and 2 SB since last Friday. His playing time may suffer a little bit with the pending return of Mookie Betts from the 7-day concussion DL, but the upside is there for him to become a mainstay in the starting lineup for the Red Sox. Keep monitoring his performance. His ownership level has increased a bit, but he still would qualify to be included as a waiver wire recommendation.
  • Hector Olivera has joined the Braves organization after being traded from the Dodgers, but he has been dealing with a hamstring issue that has kept him from debuting with the Braves AAA affiliate. However, he should be ready to play very soon and he shouldn’t need too much time before joining the Braves infield. Olivera’s ownership has gone up a tad in ESPN and CBS, but he won’t be added to the Yahoo player database until he debuts in the Majors.  He still makes for a quality waiver wire add as a preemptive strike since his path to playing time is much more clear with the Braves than it was the Dodgers.
  • Michael Conforto, Mets top outfield prospect, was recently promoted to the Majors and he appeared to be in line for a good chunk of playing time until the Mets struck a deal to acquire Yoenis Cespedes from the Tigers in the minutes winding down to the trade deadline. Since last Friday, Conforto has only made two starts with Cespedes blocking him. However, he did manage to hit his first Major League home run. Unless there’s another opening created in the Mets outfield, Conforto can safely be left on the waiver wire for redraft leagues while remaining a must have for dynasty leagues.
  • Matt Shoemaker‘s ownership level has increased anywhere from 12-18% across the major platforms and for great reason. If you picked up the Angels righty and started him against the Indians this week, he gave your fantasy squad 6 shutout innings with 10 strikeouts. The strong start extended his scoreless inning streak to 19 with 27 strikeouts during that time. As mentioned last week, after Shoemaker’s velocity was diminished for the better part of the 2015 season, his velocity has been at peak levels lately to provide him with some extra pizzazz and an in-season rebirth. The window to pick him up is now closed in a lot of leagues.
  • Roberto Osuna‘s ownership has increased by at least 11% on all sites since last week, but he’s still owned in under 50% of leagues across the board. He gave up a run in an outing since last Friday, but he recorded 2 saves and still has yet to blow one in 8 opportunities. With the Blue Jays choosing not to make a move at the trade deadline for a big time bullpen arm, Osuna’s job seems relatively secure and he definitely should be owned in more than 50% of leagues. Osuna may not receive a whole lot of save opportunities because the Blue Jays win by a large margin much of the time due to their powerhouse offense, but he still is the main man.
  • Arodys Vizcaino has stepped in as the Braves closer and his ownership level has risen between 18-29% in all major platforms, but he is also still owned in less than 50% of leagues. He recorded his first save on Thursday since assuming closing duties and he has 8 straight scoreless outings. Vizcaino may not receive many save opportunities for the opposite reason of Osuna — the Braves offense is just not great, especially after losing Freddie Freeman to the DL again this week. So the Braves just may not have many late leads. Nonetheless, Vizcaino is the guy in Atlanta and should be owned if in need of saves.
  • Edward Mujica was named as the A’s closer following the trading away of Tyler Clippard, but Mujica has yet to see a save opportunity since then and he has been charged with two losses since last week. He’s not the prototypical closer and he surely isn’t as sharp as he was in 2013 when he closed for the Cardinals, but if desperate for saves then Mujica still makes for an okay grab for the time being. Long term, he may not last in the role depending on how he and the rest of the A’s bullpen perform. Somehow Mujica’s ownership level in Yahoo decreased since last week despite him being cautiously announced as the closer, which shows the general fantasy public isn’t all too confident in Mujica.
  • Patrick Corbin didn’t have a great start this week against the Nationals this week (1.1 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 1 K), but he looked pretty sharp in his previous starts and still should be worth owning in many leagues. His velocity and control have been great, and those are probably the most important things in his first season back from Tommy John surgery. His ownership level has jumped a good amount, so he no longer qualifies as a waiver wire recommendation here, but he’s still available in more than half of Yahoo and CBS leagues.
  • Robbie Ray started against the Astros this week and didn’t have superb results (5 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 5 K), but it was a tough matchup. As stated last week, Ray had been fortunate to have an ERA and WHIP as low as he did so he was due for some regression, but he still has made legitimate adjustments that should give him more fantasy consideration. His ownership level is relatively unchanged from last week.

THIS WEEK’S RECOMMENDATIONS

Now that the trade deadline has come and gone, things are a lot more settled and we now have a better scope of some situations that were up in the air, and a new view on some players whose fantasy value increased after the trade deadline. So let’s take a look at a new batch of players (6 hitters and 6 pitchers) to consider off the waiver wire for the new week.

HITTERS

Khris Davis OF, Brewers (Ownership: Yahoo 22%, ESPN 7%, CBS 26%)

Not to be confused with Chris “Crush” Davis of the Orioles, Khris “Krush” Davis began the season as the starting left fielder for the Brewers, but after a month of play, Davis had only krushed 1 HR. Davis had a better month of May but began to take a seat more often in favor of Gerardo Parra. Davis then landed on the DL with a knee injury at the very end of May and Parra stepped in on a full-time basis and suddenly became one of the hottest hitters in the league. So when Davis was ready to return in the first week of July, he had to take a back seat to Parra. But lo and behold, the Brewers dealt the impending free agent Parra to the Orioles right at the trade deadline, which allowed Davis to reclaim a full-time starting role in the Brewers outfield. He hasn’t done a whole lot since Parra was traded, but the important thing is that he is getting the playing time to possibly allow him to settle into some sort of groove, and Thursday’s performance may be the impetus as he went 3 for 5 with 2 HR and 6 RBI. The big game brought his season line to an unimpressive .244 AVG, 9 HR, and 31 RBI in 69 games. But from 2013-14, Davis hit one HR every 19.3 AB, which was the 20th best rate in the Majors during that time (minimum 600 plate appearances). So he certainly has some legitimate power and if you’re looking for home runs, then Davis might be the guy to pluck off the wire. But just beware that his batting average may not get much better than .250.

Welington Castillo C, Diamondbacks (Ownership: Yahoo 17%, ESPN 16%, CBS 29%)

Castillo began the season as the backup catcher for the Cubs and then was traded to the Mariners to also fill a backup role. He then landed in Arizona on June 4 via trade and spent his first few weeks in the desert in a timeshare with Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Saltalamacchia then landed on the DL to allow Castillo to get full-time catcher starts and his fabulous play at the plate seems to have earned him the lion’s share of playing time going forward. Since coming to the Diamondbacks, Castillo has hit a robust .299/.386/.612 with 11 HR, 24 RBI, and 23 R in 42 games — which has been good enough to make him a top 5 catcher play during that time. What makes this streak even more impressive is that he’s hardly been taking advantage of his favorable new home hitters park as only 2 of his 11 HR with the Diamondbacks have come at Chase Field. Coming up through the Cubs farm system, Castillo always showed that he could potentially develop into a 20+ HR hitter. His batting average might come down a bit, but we need to consider his power output as a reality. Castillo surely should be owned and started in all 2-catcher leagues, and he is even deserving of being started in 12-team 1-catcher leagues.

Aaron Hicks OF, Twins (Ownership: Yahoo 21%, ESPN 33%, CBS 38%)

Hicks struggled in about a month’s worth of playing time from May-June with a triple slash of .247/.293/.301, which led the Twins to call up the player who was widely considered to be the top prospect in all of baseball, Byron Buxton, to help them make their bid for a post-season berth. Buxton landed on the DL shortly after receiving his promotion, so there was an opportunity for Hicks to grab hold of the center field position in Minnesota again and it’s been a horse of a different story since his return. Since July 3, Hicks has hit .304 with 5 HR, 17 RBI, 18 R, and 3 SB in 29 games. Hicks, a switch-hitter, has also really been taking left-handed pitching to the cleaners this season with a .375 AVG and 5 HR in 67 AB. Buxton might only be a week (or less) from returning though, so Hicks’ time as a starter may soon come to an end. However, it could be difficult to put him into a reserve role with how hot he’s been. Until Buxton comes back, Hicks should remain relevant. When Buxton comes back, manager Paul Molitor may find a way to carve out a significant role for Hicks whether it’s sticking with him in center field, sliding him over to left field in place of Eddie Rosario, platooning him with Rosario in left field, or using some sort of outfield rotation. He’s worthy of a pick up right now in deeper leagues, but monitor the situation once Buxton returns.

Odubel Herrera 2B/SS/OF, Phillies (Ownership: Yahoo 13%, ESPN 9%, CBS 22%)

The Phillies made a deadline deal by trading away their leadoff hitter who filled in at each outfield spot, Ben Revere. The absence of Revere means that Herrera has become the unquestioned everyday center fielder for the Phillies. The left-handed hitting Herrera has spent a lot of time at the top of the batting order this season (either leadoff or second), but he was often being moved down in the order or benched entirely when the Phillies were facing lefties. But so far with Revere out of the picture, Herrera has been hitting in the 2-hole even when facing a lefty. Moving into an undoubted full-time starting role and hitting near the top of the order is a big boost to the value of this Rule 5 Draft pick and is giving deep leaguers reason to give him fantasy consideration. For the season, Herrera is batting .288 with 5 HR, 29 RBI, 41 R, and 9 SB, and he has been scorching since the All-Star break with a .392 AVG, 1 HR, 4 RBI, and 15 R in 16 games. Herrera does not have a lot of pop in his bat, but he can hit for a decent average while stealing some bases and scoring a decent amount of runs hitting second in the batting order. His value is the best for deeper leagues as a fantasy shortstop where he is eligible at on both Yahoo and ESPN.

Ben Paulsen 1B/OF, Rockies (Ownership: Yahoo 8%, ESPN 20%, CBS 24%)

With his ability to man both first base and the corner outfield spots, the 27-year old rookie Ben Paulsen has been a big beneficiary of the injuries to Justin Morneau and Corey Dickerson this season. Morneau has been on the DL since mid-May with a concussion and neck injury and Dickerson has dealt with various injuries to land him on the DL (where he currently is at) three times on the year. With no clear timetables for either Morneau or Dickerson to return, Paulsen’s fantasy value for the immediate future remains solid. Paulsen has never been super spectacular in the Minors as a career .277 hitter with 20 HR and 5 SB being personal bests, but he gets the boost in value as a Rockies player who gets to bask in the thin air of Denver. For the season, Paulsen is hitting .300 with 8 HR, 34 RBI, and 28 R in 68 games, and he’s been hot since the All-Star break with a .333 AVG, 3 HR, 15 RBI, and 10 R in 18 games. Most importantly though, like most Rockies players, Paulsen has demolished pitchers when he’s at Coors Field with a triple slash of .330/.392/.589. This weekend, the Rockies are beginning a 7-game road trip at Washington and New York, but then they will come home for a 9-game homestand where they are currently scheduled to face 8 right-handed starting pitchers. You’re going to want the left-handed hitting Paulsen for that homestand.

Jesus Montero 1B/UTIL, Mariners (Ownership: Yahoo 2%, ESPN 2%, CBS 12%)

Former top catcher prospect in the Yankees organization, Montero had a very good late season audition in 2011 for the Yankees before being traded to the Mariners for Michael Pineda. Montero then went on to have a decent official rookie season for the Mariners in 2012, hitting .260 with 15 HR and 62 RBI. But for the last few seasons, Montero has been toiling away in the Minors with the occasional call up. In between his two recalls this season, Montero has been one of the best hitters in all of AAA with a line of .346/.388/.551 with 16 HR and 75 RBI in 93 games. In his first game back in his most recent recall, Montero hit his first HR of the season and is hitting .333 in 6 games. With Logan Morrison battling a thumb injury and displaying some overall struggles with a .222 AVG, he appears likely to see less playing time when he is fully healthy, which means that Montero should enter some sort of rotation with Morrison and Mark Trumbo at the DH/1B spots in the Mariners lineup. If Montero gets hot — and with the way that he was hitting at AAA, it wouldn’t be surprising — then the Mariners should have no issue with giving him close to everyday starts. The bad thing about Montero for fantasy purposes is that he hasn’t played catcher since 2013 and there doesn’t appear to be any intent to move him back to that position. So in fantasy leagues, Montero is either eligible at 1B or just for the utility slot, which suppresses his fantasy value a lot. This leaves Montero as a worthy waiver wire pickup for only really deep or AL-only leagues.

PITCHERS

Joe Ross SP, Nationals (Ownership: Yahoo 31%, ESPN 33%, CBS 50%)

It was announced by Nationals manager Matt Williams that Doug Fister would be sent to the bullpen to make room for Stephen Strasburg who is set to return from the DL this weekend. It’s a bit of a surprising move, but it is the correct and smart move to make because Fister has been a bit of a mess this season. With Fister being the one to be ousted from the starting rotation, that means that 22-year old rookie Joe Ross will remain in the rotation and he has the true skills to never relinquish his rotation spot again. Ross, younger brother of Padres pitcher Tyson Ross, came over from the Padres in a 3-team trade this past off-season, and he initially stepped into the Nationals rotation to make spot starts when Strasburg first landed on the DL. But when Strasburg landed on the DL a second time, that gave Ross the opportunity to further impress the organization. After another excellent start on Thursday against the Diamondbacks, Ross is now 3-3 with a 2.80 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, and 47 K/4 BB in 45 IP over 7 starts. Ross has excelled with a sinking fastball that has generated a lot of ground balls (52.5% groundball rate on the season) and a good slider that has been his strikeout pitch — he likely has received tips on his slider from his big brother who has one of the nastiest sliders in the game. He will also mix in a changeup to help keep hitters off balance. Ross’ combination of heavy groundball tendencies (which also translates to good home run prevention), strikeout per inning ability, and excellent control is a very lethal set of skills that makes him an extremely attractive fantasy pitcher. Fantasy baseball owners should be running to their waiver wires to put in a claim on Mr. Ross.

Alex Wilson RP, Tigers (Ownership: Yahoo 28%, ESPN 24%, CBS 31%)

The Tigers decided that they would be sellers at the deadline and one of the players that they shipped off was Joakim Soria to the Pirates. Soria had been doing a fine job closing for the Tigers all season long, so this obviously left a vacancy at the back end of their bullpen. The Tigers have a couple of hard throwing righties in Al Alburquerque and Bruce Rondon who profile better as the “prototypical closer,” but neither of them have been as good as Alex Wilson has this season — and it has been Wilson who has seen the first two save opportunities since Soria departed. Wilson is a finesse, pitch to contact type of pitcher and he has done very well to avoid hard contact (23.7% hard hit rate) and induce a lot of ground balls (51.1% groundball rate). This approach has led to a 1.75 ERA and 0.95 WHIP in 41 appearances for Wilson this season. Wilson won’t collect a lot of strikeouts (5.24 K/9), but that doesn’t mean he can’t or will not succeed in closing games for the Tigers, as others with the same type of skill set have done just fine in the role (see Jim Johnson). Perhaps he won’t be the long term solution for the Tigers in the 9th inning, but for now (and perhaps through the end of the season), Wilson is the guy and should be scooped up for fantasy where saves are needed.

Carson Smith RP, Mariners (Ownership: Yahoo 44%, ESPN 33%, CBS 37%)

Smith is another relief pitcher that is collecting saves (and has been for a while now) that is owned in less than half of all leagues, but he really should be owned at a greater rate. Smith took over the closer’s role for the Mariners in the first week of June after Fernando Rodney had been struggling for most of the season. Smith was excelling in the role by converting 9 straight saves with minimal damage, but he really hasn’t been sharp over his last 6 outings where has been scored upon in 4 of them while being charged with 3 losses and 1 blown save. In the most recent save opportunity for the Mariners on Wednesday, the Mariners turned back to Rodney to try and close the game out, but he too ended up faltering yet again. With a 2.89 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and 11.75 K/9, Smith is clearly the superior pitcher to Rodney and should still be the favorite for saves in the Mariners bullpen despite his recent hiccups. However, manager Lloyd McClendon may be wise to just give Smith some extra rest down the stretch to keep him fresh. If you need saves, Smith appears to be widely available.

Erasmo Ramirez SP, Rays (Ownership: Yahoo 28%, ESPN 24%, CBS 53%)

Ramirez was an intriguing prospect coming up through the Mariners organization and he showed promise when they called him up in 2012. However, in 2013 and 2014, Ramirez failed to impress in extended looks. The Mariners traded him over to the Rays for Mike Montgomery for the 2015 season, and Ramirez began the year in the bullpen before joining the Rays rotation after they had to deal with lengthy injuries to Alex Cobb and Drew Smyly. Since he joined the rotation on May 14, Ramirez has gone 8-4 with a 2.79 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, and 65 K/23 BB in 84 IP in 15 starts. He has transformed himself into more of a groundball pitcher this season (47.7% groundball rate this year compared to 37.7% last year), which has allowed him to prevent the home run ball a lot better. He has also been getting different types of movement on his breaking pitches this season according to PITCHf/x data, which arguably could be a legitimate reason for his new success and why his swinging strike rate has improved to 12.2% this season. If he were to qualify with enough innings pitched, his swinging strike rate would rank 11th in the Majors in front of pitchers like Madison BumgarnerJacob deGromMatt Harvey, and David Price. And with such a good swinging strike rate, he should have more upside than his current 7.05 K/9. Ramirez hasn’t been too sharp in his last few starts, but the data presented shows that he’s surely an improved and a bit of a different type of pitcher than years past.

Kevin Gausman SP, Orioles (Ownership: Yahoo 15%, ESPN 17%, CBS 45%)

Gausman was ranked as one of the Orioles top pitching prospects in 2013 and 2014, but he has been somewhat disappointing as he tries to adjust to the Major League level. Gausman has made 6 starts since being called up in June to compile 1-2 record, 3.79 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and 27 K/7 BB in 35.2 IP. Those aren’t great numbers, but they are certainly usable in fantasy circles and Gausman does have the upside to do better. Gausman’s average fastball velocity this season has been 95.5 MPH, which would rank him among the top 5 in the league if he had enough innings pitch to qualify. So Gausman certainly brings the gas, man. Most importantly, the Orioles seem to be committed to finally sticking with Gausman in the starting rotation going forward. And even though he could experience some inconsistency and bad outings, he might begin to settle in and figure things out. He is a decent fantasy gamble.

Daniel Norris SP, Tigers (Ownership: Yahoo 23%, ESPN 21%, CBS 52%)

The 22-year old left-handed top pitching prospect, Daniel Norris, began the season in the starting rotation for the Blue Jays, but he ran into trouble with his control and inefficient pitch counts. After 5 starts, the Blue Jays felt that he would be better off honing his game at AAA. But with the need for a proven starting pitcher for their bid for a spot in the post-season, Norris headlined a package of pitching prospects that the Jays sent to the Tigers in exchange for David Price. Norris stepped right into the rotation for the Tigers and he immediately showed his promise by tossing 7.1 strong innings of 1-run baseball against the Orioles earlier in the week. It was a bit of a surprising performance from the young lefty, but the Tigers gladly welcomed it and it should spotlight him for waiver wire attention. Norris’ control issues for a young, hard-throwing lefty are concerning, which should give some pause, but he does have some big strikeout upside and he has a talented arm. He would be a fantasy gamble for the remainder of the season and he compares well to the White Sox rookie lefty, Carlos Rodon, who has had his shares of ups and downs this season. If you’re feeling frisky and are a “gamble on the upside” type of fantasy owner, then Norris may be of interest.

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