Fantasy Waiver Wire: Week 18, Vol. II

It’s trade deadline time, which means fire sales abound for teams looking to dump stock before the non-waiver window closes. For us dumpster divers, this is an exciting time in the season, as teams are given a stir and more opportunities open up for previously unheralded waiver talent.

Although more deadline deals are sure to be made today—and were likely made last night as I filed this column—the Astros’ decision to send Jose Veras to Detroit has already presented us with a new source of saves in Houston, while a potential impact arm arrives in the Mets’ rotation.

Jose Cisnero | Houston Astros | RP | 16 percent Yahoo ownership; 18 percent ESPN; 11 percent CBS
YTD: 41.1 IP / 3.48 ERA / 8.7 K/9 / 4.1 BB/9 with 0 saves
ZiPS updated: 78 IP / 4.25 ERA / 8.3 K/9 / 4.3 BB/9 with 7 saves

Staring down the barrel of another 100-loss season, the Astros had little reason to hold onto Veras, making him the fourth closer to be traded by GM Jeff Luhnow since he took over in late 2011. That’s a fine deal from a baseball perspective, but for fantasy purposes, the relative steadiness Veras brought to the table will likely be supplanted by the 24-year-old Cisnero.

It’s not that I have anything against a guy who delivers nearly a strikeout per inning and has a solid 3.50 FIP, but a 25 percent line drive rate and 1.48 WHIP don’t exactly inspire confidence. Saves are saves, of course, but I wouldn’t expect lights-out performances from Cisnero, especially for a team that, well, isn’t going to need a guy to protect a whole lot of ninth-inning leads for the rest of the year.

The good news for him is that there isn’t a parade of other options breathing down his neck, at least not in the immediate term. Triple-A closer Josh Zeid is on his way to Houston bringing an impressive strikeout rate, but, like Cisnero, has had a problem allowing baserunners (highlighted by an ugly 5.6 BB/9). Chia-jen Lo, also just promoted after closing games for the ‘Stros Double-A affiliate, has a history of elbow problems, while left-handers Wesley Wright and Travis Blackley aren’t leaving middle relief anytime soon.

So aside from strikeouts, Cisnero should have a somewhat sizable leash as August begins, which is at least a point in his favor. But I’m not betting he’ll turn in the surprisingly dependable performance that Veras did.

Recommendation: Strictly AL-only league material.

Jenrry Mejia | New York Mets | SP | 7 percent Yahoo ownership; 2 percent ESPN; 17 percent CBS
YTD: 7 IP / 0.00 ERA / 9 K/9 / 0.0 BB/9 with 1 win
ZiPS updated: 27 IP / 3.62 ERA / 6.2 K/9 / 3.1 BB/9 with 2 wins

I don’t know much—regular visitors to this column probably wouldn’t care to disagree—but I do know that one good start does not validate someone as a legitimate, mixed league fantasy pitcher. On the other hand, we waiver wire scavengers realize that even one sterling appearance can open eyes, and in the case of the Mets’ Mejia, he turned in a doozy against the Nationals last week.

What qualifies as a doozy? Well, seven strikeouts (no walks) over seven scoreless innings can certainly find a way onto my fantasy team every week, and like-minded owners have made Mejia one of the hottest pickups among CBS leagues recently. The Mets have even announced that they’ll go to a six-man rotation just to accommodate the 23-year-old righty. (Though if Jeremy Hefner continues to get pushed around like he has over his past three starts, it might be back to five men soon enough.)

Mejia made the Mets’ 2010 Opening Day roster as a big-time prospect, only to suffer through a series of injuries that have derailed his major league career. But he does have a fastball that can reach the mid-90s, to go along with a curve ball and change-up. He did a serviceable job limiting free passes in nearly 25 innings in the minors this year, and has the ability to make good on his strikeout-per-inning promise.

The Mets, of course, aren’t going anywhere in 2013, so there’s no reason for the team to push Mejia out of the rotation. But Mejia’s problems aren’t going to come from the organization or even the National League—it’s the injury issues that have plagued him for years. Mejia was limited to just six minor league starts in 2013 after being diagnosed with elbow inflammation in spring training, an ailment that followed a devastating tear in his mediate collateral ligament in his right elbow two years ago.

I’d need to see more from Mejia before I could say with any certainty whether he’s healthy—although my medical expertise is, ahem, questionable—but we do know that Mejia will require surgery after the season to remove bone spurs from his elbow, unless, of course, he’s unable to finish the season.

As a Mets fan, I really hope Mejia’s career gets back on track, as should fantasy owners, who always have room for a strikeout guy on their squad. But just one good start—against a .500 Nationals club, no less—isn’t enough for me to be adding this guy just yet.

Recommendation: Mejia is definitely an upside guy, but the injury issue should merit pause among owners in mixed leagues.

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  1. Jim G. said...

    C’mon, Karl. Don’t be so hard on yourself!… We’ll take care of that.

    Seriously, what do you think of Iglesias after his trade to Detroit?

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