Fantasy Waiver Wire: Week 27, Vol. II

At last, we’ve reached the end.

After 26 weeks of digging through fantasy scraps in the hopes of uncovering hidden gems, we’ve come to my last waiver wire column of 2013. To say it’s been rad would be a tremendous understatement—it’s been a privilege to go prospecting with y’all, and I’d like to thank fellow dumpster diver Jack Weiland, THT fantasy guru Nick Fleder and the editors and colleagues at The Hardball Times for making it happen.

But mushy talk aside, we have one last piece of unfinished business: to pick up from where we left off in Week 11 when I took stock of my picks thus far. Now, because cramming 15 weeks worth of thumbnail reviews would result in an insanely massive column, I’m going to hit the fast-forward button a bit to simply say hello to old friends and look at their performances since I talked them up (and, in most cases, endorsed them).

Again, big thanks to THT, and for that matter, the readers who indulged in a pale kid’s ramblings all season long. Here’s hoping that my two cents contributed positively to your fantasy season, and that you’ll join me again next year.

WEEK 12

Lonnie Chisenhall, Jordan Lyles, Edwin Jackson

Not my best week here, as none of these three did much after I wrote about them on June 19. Despite a fast start following his return from Triple-A, Chisenhall put together an ugly .234 / .283 / .427 slash line in his 206 plate appearances following my plug, though I guess eight homers and 25 RBIs over that span provides some hope next year for a guy once tagged among the best hot-corner prospects in the game.

Lyles, who had entered mid-June with a 3.48 ERA and 7.1 K/9, was positively blasted over the remainder of the season, an ugly 15-start (17 outings) stretch in which he suffered a 7.27 ERA and 5.1 K/9 while yielding 1.3 home runs per nine innings. Yuck.

Finally, my hopes for an E-Jax turnaround never came to fruition, evidenced by a sickly 4.69 ERA, 5.56 K/9 and not-cool 1.40 WHIP. Yeah, the hits allowed came back down to earth, as I suspected, once the BABIP and strand rates climbed back toward reality, but when Jackson stops striking people out, his fantasy value goes out the window. Add in 10 losses over this span, and we’re talking about a jury deliberation that’s over before lunchtime.

Record: 0-3

WEEK 13

Esmil Rogers, Leonys Martin, Jose Iglesias, Eric Young Jr., Nathan Eovaldi

I was cool on Rogers when I wrote about him, since I didn’t believe he’d sustain the 78.6-percent strand rate that was largely responsible for a 3.46 ERA and a nice handful of starts after rejoining the team’s rotation that led fantasy owners scrambling to pick him. Turns out I was right, although the strikeouts did pick up from the pitiful 5.3 to 6.7 K/9 over his last 17 outings (16 starts).

But that’s where the good news ends, because once those baserunners began scurrying home thanks to a .296 opponents’ batting average over that stretch, the ERA shot up to 5.66 and the win-loss record suffered at 2-7.

As for Martin, whom I believed could find a spot on a 12-team mixed-league roster, he continued his hot hitting and stolen-base ways through July but eventually faded down the stretch, ultimately leading to him being dropped in Texas’ lineup. I still like Martin, and wrote about him recently as a deep-league keeper for 2014, but if my skepticism was well-deserved for Rogers, my high hopes for Martin clearly were overstated.

Meanwhile, it didn’t take a genius to figure out that Iglesias’s .419 average entering June 28 was bound to take a tumble, though a .586 OPS through the rest of the season was still disappointing when you realize that the all-glove shortstop steals precious few bases.

I was careful in downplaying Iglesias’s value despite third base and shortstop eligibility but ultimately said he had more value than Zack Cozart (who posted a .673 OPS over the same span), so if I’m being fair, I probably didn’t hate on Iglesias nearly enough.

On the other hand, Young, another weak hitter, at least delivered in the steals department with 37 swipes over the season’s last three months, so I’ll chalk that up as a win, while Eovaldi did a very credible job for the awful Marlins, posting a 3.43 ERA, 1.38 WHIP and 6.5 K/9, more than justifying my belief that he was an immediate add for NL-only leaguers and some in deeper mixed leagues.

Record: 3-5

WEEK 14

Jhoulys Chacin, Rajai Davis, Martin Perez

I’m not a big Chacin fan, though the 3.35 ERA, 1.32 WHIP and 6.4 K/9 he produced after I wrote about him on July 3 made him more than serviceable in many mixed leagues. He can thank a 6.2-percent HR/FB rate that stayed stubbornly low even after I predicted doomsday for the Coors Field denizen, thanks to a solid groundball rate and the best walk rate of his career.

Davis stuck around as a full-time player following Melky Cabrera’s knee injury and eventual suspension, and while he killed owners with a .223 average over the final three months of the year, he delivered with 24 steals, so I guess that validates my rip-and-run endorsement of the one-category player.

Finally, Perez was a revelation down the stretch for the Rangers, posting an 8-5 record, 3.84 ERA, 6.5 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and 1.35 WHIP, making him a solid mixed- league starter, at least in the deeper leagues where I urged owners to pick him up.

Record: 5-6

WEEK 15

Wilson Ramos, Edinson Volquez, Brian Roberts, Jose Quintana, Jeremy Hefner

I love Ramos, and he loves fantasy owners who picked him up following his return in early July, evidenced by the 13 home runs and 45 RBIs he produced since that time. He’ll never be a top-tier option, but he has significant pop, and I suggested recently that he’s a keeper candidate for owners in deeper leagues.

Volquez, to the contrary, is a train wreck, and while I could dig up some stats over the past two-and-a-half months to substantiate that synopsis, I’ll choose not to on the basis that this is a family website. Even calling him a NL-only league option is too generous for this scrub.

As for Roberts, I was careful not to gush about a return to his 2004-2009 salad days, saying he’s “a strictly churn-em-and-burn-em candidate,” though he mostly stayed healthy, posted a not-awful .716 OPS and added seven home runs since my write-up, numbers that surely helped owners in the deeper mixed leagues for which I suggested he could be considered.

I wrote about Quintana back in April but figured he needed another shout-out after he picked up the strikeout rate in early July. As it turned out, the strikeouts were there to stay, as a 7.7 K/9 from July 14 through the end of the year highlighted a tasty 3.33 ERA and 1.27 WHIP. No, the wins never materialized on a White Sox team that lost 99 games, but Quintana was money and more than backed up my mancrush on him.

As for Hefner, well, he was destroyed in the six starts after I called him “a decent fantasy depth hurler,” and Tommy John surgery nuked his season altogether in August.

Record: 8-8

WEEK 17

Matt Adams, Wily Peralta, Junior Lake, Christian Yelich

I realized back on July 22 that plugging Adams was not exactly a clairvoyant move, since he’s been on fantasy radars since at least last year. But that doesn’t change the fact that the 260-pound power hitter crushed his way to an .803 OPS with 10 home runs and 25 RBIs after that endorsement, more than making him a waiver wire success story.

The same can’t be said for Peralta, a live arm who, despite a small hot streak at the time, was smothered with a 4.50 ERA and 4-6 record after that writing, though the 7.5 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 during that stretch puts him in the disappointing-but-not-disastrous category.

Later in the week, I poured cold water on Lake (har, har) after his blistering start, though his performance since (.277 / .325 / .424 slash line with six homers) more than qualifies as solid, though he would have been an across-the-board option had he retained infield eligibility outside of the most liberal leagues.

Finally, Yelich has been as good as advertised since I suggested he should be used “in all but the shallowest of formats” posting a .289 / .373 / .399 line with four homers and 10 steals.

Record: 10-10

WEEK 18

Jose Cisnero, Jenrry Mejia

I hoped that Cisnero would pick up saves out of the Astros bullpen following the trade of Jose Veras, but that didn’t happen, as he had just two more major league appearances following the trade deadline before being demoted to Triple-A. Even a suggestion that he was “strictly AL-only league material” apparently was too generous.

Mejia, on the other hand, was pitching well around the time I wrote about him, but I cautioned owners to be wary of the right-hander’s arm problems, which manifested themselves less than a month later when he underwent season-ending elbow surgery.

Record: 11-11

WEEK 19

Bud Norris, Tyler Thornburg, Craig Gentry

I was bearish on Norris back on Aug. 5, even following his trade to the Orioles, since I was wary of his then 4.41 xFIP that wasn’t being reflected in his 3.89 ERA. And although the home runs didn’t roar back in Baltimore—he surrendered just four of them in 44.2 innings—opposing batters smacked him around to the tune of a .310 average and an ERA that soared to 5.04.

True, that wasn’t all his fault, as a .405 BABIP would make anyone look bad. And the strikeouts, which had been down from his career norm, reappeared at a clip of 9.9 K/9. But fantasy is a results business, and aside from a few good starts, Norris didn’t deliver.

Thornburg, I’m happy to say, overcame a dreadful Triple-A stat line to post a 1.91 ERA, 6.6 K/9 and 1.81 WHIP in his 11 outings (six starts) after my write-up, giving credence to my suggestion two months ago that “Thornburg, despite his rawness, is someone to watch as a potential depth starter as the fantasy season draws to a close.”

Finally, Gentry did pick up playing time after Nelson Cruz’s suspension, but despite my skepticism—I called him a one-category player and advised owners to keep an eye on 23-year-old Engel Beltre—Gentry smashed a .330 / .425 / 431 line with 14 steals over 129 plate appearances, even if the starts didn’t come every day. If my prognosis on Norris and Thornburg was accurate, looks like I was wrong about Gentry.

Record: 13-12

WEEK 21

Brayan Pena, Brett Oberholtzer, Jake Arrieta, Jon Niese

For God knows whatever reason, I suggested Pena could be worth a flier in Alex Avila’s absence, but Avila came back from a concussion scare soon enough, nixing the minute fantasy value Pena had.

As for Oberholtzer, he continued to pitch well after my Aug. 19 writing, compiling a 2.63 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in his final six starts, though a 1-4 record and 5.5 K/9 probably didn’t do much to help fantasy owners. I referred to him as a fringe option in mixed leagues, though I expected his WHIP and ERA to stay “at reasonable levels” despite the lack of punchouts, so I’ll be generous and say I got this prediction right.

The same can’t be said for Arrieta, who surrendered walks at a 4.4 BB/9 clip, didn’t produce strikeouts beyond a mediocre fantasy level and ultimately finished with a 4.66 ERA and 3-2 record in the seven starts he had after my Aug. 21 post, so my suggestion that NL-only owners take a flier on him didn’t work out so well.

Niese also went 3-2 after my writing, though he was far better, compiling a 2.83 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and 7 K/9, more than validating my advice that owners in 14-team mixed leagues and above should grab him.

Record: 15-14

WEEK 22

Carlos Torres, Trevor Cahill

I’m not going to get a medal for saying Torres was strictly “a match-up guy” after snagging Matt Harvey’s rotation spot, though a 9.8 K/9 over his final seven appearances (six starts) is enough to make is clear that my prediction was off, even if a 4.06 ERA isn’t all that great.

Cahill, meanwhile, was solid in his final six starts, going 3-0 with a 2.65 ERA while allowing just one home run, more than justifying my belief that he was worth a flier in 14-team mixed leagues.

Record: 16-15

WEEK 23

Danny Duffy, Dustin Ackley

I was unrestrained in my endorsement of Duffy back on Sept. 2, saying he was “good to go in standard mixed leagues.” Eh, that wasn’t the case, since he received no-decisions in just two starts before being shut down for the season with elbow soreness.

Ackley also cooled down significantly, hitting just .239 with one home run in the season’s final month.

Record: 16-17

WEEK 24

Josh Rutledge, Michael Wacha

As predicted, Rutledge’s lack of playing time precluded him from any real fantasy value, and when he was in the lineup for the season’s final two weeks, he did basically nothing.

Wacha, of course, was sharp in his final three starts, zapping hitters at a 11.3 K/9 with just six walks in 18.1 innings. Of course, one of those outings was the near no-hitter against the Nationals on Sept. 24, which inflates those stats somewhat, but still, Wacha delivered and could be a terrific keeper heading into next year.

Record: 18-17

Whew! An entire summer of synopses crammed into one column. Looking back, my .500 record wasn’t that bad, especially since I feared much worse given the volatile nature of waiver wire pickups. But maybe it’s typical of the win-some, lose-some nature of what we do.

Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks again for making this season special. Catch you on the flip side in 2014!

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