Fantasy Waiver Wire: Week 10, Vol. I

Good morning, Ryan Braun owners. Sorry about your Ryan Braun.

This is clearly a story with bigger implications than the fantasy ones, but news of potential suspensions to Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez could/will rock the fantasy baseball landscape. A-Rod is one thing, since he’s been injured this whole season and is mostly unowned, but Braun owners will likely (and rightly) be blindsided by this loss. Braun owners must feel like I did back when David Price went down, although this could have a much more lasting impact than that particular injury. (Hurry back, David! I miss you!)

This is exactly what brings us together here. Let us not share in our collective pity parties (only I am allowed to do that), but instead dig through the trash to find some fantasy baseball excellence. First, a look at some players who have recently appeared in this space.

Roy Oswalt‘s second Double-A rehab start went much better than his first. He’ll still need one more before joining the Rockies, but when he does, he might be a steal.

Corey Kluber had a superb 10-strikeout effort against the Red Sox, and he’s still available in 75 percent of CBS leagues. Go get him.

I opened my stupid mouth about Rafael Betancourt avoiding stint on the disabled list, and of course the next thing that happened was Rafael Betancourt ended up on the DL. Grab Rex Brothers if you’re in need of saves.

Tyler Chatwood left his last start with an injury as well, but is hoping to avoid the DL. He was cruising against the Reds at the time, so it’s unfortunate his momentum was jammed.

Yasmani Grandal has two hits in the five games since his return from suspension. It’s just five games, but I’m concerned.

Juan Francisco landed with the Brewers, and should see time at both first and third base. I’m still buying him, particularly if the rumors about a potential Ryan Braun suspension are true.

Today let’s look back at one scorching hot pickup, a player on the other side of the waiver equation, and a young pitcher returning to The Show.

Yasiel Puig | Los Angeles Dodgers | OF | ESPN: 69.1 percent ownership; Yahoo!: 58 percent; CBS: 82 percent
YTD: 1-4 in four plate appearances
Steamer projection: .241/.294/.381 in 296 plate appearances

Hey, did you guys hear Yasiel Puig got called up by the Dodgers? Apparently you did, because the L.A. outfielder’s ownership rates skyrocketed this week. I guess that is bound to happen when one’s manager elicits comparisons to Ken Griffey Jr., Fernando Valenzuela and Mike Trout with regards to said call-up.

But, the thing is, hold on. Not so fast. There’s a lot to like about Puig, and he has immense long-term potential, but will he dominate right out of the box? Is he even here for good? Hardball Times resident Prospect Soothsayer (official title) Jeff Moore covered the call-up at his personal site here:

Puig will undoubtedly flash us with displays of brilliance during this stretch in the majors, which could last just 11 days until Matt Kemp is slated to return from the disabled list but could also become a permanent address for the young Cuban. Between Andre Ethier‘s tenuous relationship with manager Don Mattingly and his utter lack of production, it’s not hard to envision Puig performing well enough over the next two weeks to remain in the lineup even upon Kemp’s return, especially after Mattingly’s name-dropping of Trout as a possibility for the type of impact Puig might have on the moribund Dodgers.

But sandwiched between those flashes of brilliance are just as sure to be some struggles. Puig is just 22 years old, and despite an adequate walk rate of nine percent this year, his plate discipline has dropped each time he’s moved up a level. If that trend continues into the majors and drops into the 5-6 percent range, he’ll have to hit every bit of .300 to avoid making a ton of outs.

Fantasy owners needing outfield help were right to jump at the chance to speculate on Puig’s call-up, but those expectations need to be tempered. Making the jump to the major leagues is incredibly hard, and there are reasons to be concerned about Puig’s readiness.

Recommendation: If you picked him up, enjoy the ride. If you didn’t, do go crazy trying to trade for him.

Brandon McCarthy | Arizona Diamondbacks | SP | ESPN: 21.7 percent ownership; Yahoo!: 29 percent; CBS: 37 percent
YTD: 2-4, 5.00 ERA in 66.2 innings pitched
ZiPS projection: 7-9, 4.44 ERA in 154 innings pitched

At the Waiver Wire desk, we’re always monitoring roster trends across the fantasy baseball universe. That means both players being added in bulk, but also players being dropped like hot potatoes. In doing so, it was somewhat surprising this week to find Brandon McCarthy was the most dropped player on CBS this week, going from 63 percent to just 37.

Good news, bad news, which do you want first? The bad news? Great, that’s where I was going anyway.

After being a preseason favorite of many (me), McCarthy has been a giant, steaming pile of garbage for the Diamondbacks. He’s simply not helping fantasy teams right now—and that was before he landed on the DL with right shoulder inflammation, an injury he’s had in each of the past four seasons.

That’s all bad news (like you couldn’t tell).

The good news is McCarthy has not been nearly as bad as his ERA suggests. His strikeouts are down modestly from his career average (13.5 percent this year versus his career K rate of 15.9 percent), but his walks are down as well (3.5 percent this year, 6.6 percent career). His velocity was actually up prior to this latest injury, averaging 91.5 miles per hour, his highest average at any point of his major league career. His O-Swing percentage is just under his best career mark at 33.8 percent, and his F-Strike percentage is actually at a career high level in 2013 (68.3 percent). He’s mostly been victimized by a high BABIP (.335 vs. career rate of .287) and a strand rate below his normal range (66.1 percent vs. 71 percent career). His FIP and xFIP are significantly lower than his ERA (3.76 FIP, 3.95 xFIP).

That’s all good news.

More good news: McCarthy is so familiar with this injury that there’s reason to believe he won’t be sidelined too long. Arizona Republic reporter Nick Piecoro spoke with McCarthy about the injury this week:

“One thing I have learned with this is that it’s better to take care of this when it needs to be taken care of than trying to come back a few days too early and then it’ll just happen again in a few weeks,” McCarthy said. “As long as I get rid of it and I’m good to go and it’ll just kind of stay that way.

Recommendation: Zig where others zag. If McCarthy was dropped in your league, add him now and enjoy a solid starting pitcher down the stretch. If you can’t have a broken body taking up a roster spot, at the very least monitor his recovery closely and be ready to strike when he’s close to returning.

Jacob Turner | Miami Marlins | SP | ESPN: 0.6 percent ownership; Yahoo!: 3 percent; CBS: 12 percent
YTD: 1-0, 7 IP, 0 ER, 3K, 1 BB
ZiPS projection: 4-5, 4.57 ERA in 79 innings pitched

Jacob Turner made his 2013 major league debut this week, blanking the Mets. It seems easy to forget that Turner is just 22 years old, especially considering this will be the third major league season he’s played in.

It’s just one good start, and these are still the Mets, but there’s a lot to like here. Turner’s four-seam fastball and sinker Friday were thrown with more velocity than in his previous major league stints, and with more movement.

His statistics during his 10 minor league starts this year provide less optimism, with middling strikeout and walk rates of 14.5 and 5.8 percent respectively, making this one a bit of a toss-up.

Recommendation: It’s impossible to say where his season will go from here, but as a waiver wire dumpster diver, I’m always open to the possibility of a post-hype player becoming a gem among throwaways. If you have room, Turner is undervalued right now and certainly worth a look.

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  1. Jim G. said...

    The appeals and legal challenges to these suspensions will likely take months to resolve before anyone misses any games.
    I suspect this episode will have more negative effect on MLB than all of the strikes combined.

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