One thing that’s wonderful about baseball (fantasy or otherwise) is when your team has a stud that is so studly nothing else matters.
Take me, for instance. I drafted Clayton Kershaw in my dynasty league after the 2008 season and have watched his work with glee ever since. I’ve also appreciated the notoriety that comes with rostering such a prestigious player. Women want me and men want to be me. When I walk down the street (in a crowded mob, always) children ask to be put on their father’s shoulders just to catch a better glimpse of me. Wizened old men and ladies ask for my thoughts about life. It’s a burden at times to be sure, but it’s also a privilege. I own Clayton Kershaw (figuratively, that would be illegal otherwise) and that makes me a totally bad dude.
(Be advised: it’s possible that this section of today’s column is slightly/significantly exaggerated)
Ahem. Today’s edition of Waiver Wire is not about those kinds of players. No one is going to be giddy watching the guys we’ll discuss today, but that doesn’t mean they can’t help hang a flag.
First, as always, a look at some of our past honorees:
Andrew Cashner did not have his best stuff Wednesday night, and got roughed up by the lowly Chicago Cubs offense. He remains a solid pickup with significant upside, however.
It didn’t take long for the Red Sox to ditch Joel Hanrahan in favor of Andrew Bailey full-time. Bailey is still (right now!) owned at much lesser rates than other stud closers, and that should not be the case. If he’s available in your league, go get him.
It was suggested on the internet once that J.A. Happ was a capable starting pitcher for owners in mixed leagues. This remains the case, and the person who suggested this is probably one of the top five fantasy baseball writers of all-time. Or his name is Jack Weiland, and he occasionally writes about himself in the third person. Either/or.
John Lackey. Still healthy. Add him.
Luis Valbuena continued his strong play, and although the Cubs keep sitting him in favor of Cody Ransom against lefties, he’s still a good buy. The Cubs batted him third against Cashner, which doesn’t mean much considering it was a one-off, lefty-centric lineup, but it is telling that the folks in Chicago feel good about Valbuena’s offense as well. The luck dragon is catching up with fellow Cub Welington Castillo, but he’s still a good source of power from a position that generally lacks it, and he’s still widely available. I still recommend grabbing him. Like, fantasy wise. Not in real life, since that’s probably assault.
On to this week’s features!
Kevin Slowey | Miami Marlins | SP | ESPN: 5 percent ownership; Yahoo!: 8 percent; CBS: 19 percent
YTD: 0-2, 2.15 ERA in 37.2 IP
ZiPS Updated Projection: 3-7. 3.77 ERA in 121.2 IP
Slowey is the poster boy for unsexiness. He was a good prospect with the Twins, but never a great one. He strikes out a good number of batters, but not enough to excite anybody. His walk rate is superb, but his groundball rate is terrible. He’s found a home in South Florida, though, and the results so far have been excellent.
While he’s unlikely to maintain his sub-3 ERA, he does have a minuscule walk rate (four percent), solid strikeout rate (19.5 percent) and Miami’s new ballpark should mitigate some of the risk from his flyball tendencies, as Marlins Park was MLB’s fifth stingiest when it came to home runs last year. But as a guy with a sub-90 fastball, and middling stuff, the upside is not here for a run at the National League ERA title.
Recommendation: Strong add in NL-only leagues, and a solid replacement in deeper mixed leagues for injuries/spot starts.
Roberto Hernandez | Tampa Bay Rays | SP | ESPN: 1.1 percent ownership; Yahoo!: 3 percent; CBS: 9 percent
YTD: 1-4, 5.28 ERA in 30.2 IP
ZiPS Updated Projection: 6-12, 4.79 ERA in 129.2 IP
Oh hey, remember Fausto Carmona? And how people call him Roberto Hernandez now? No, not that Roberto Hernandez. The new one!
Well, this one is utterly undervalued by fantasy leagues right now. He’s been covered in great detail by our pals over at Fangraphs here and here. To summarize:
Carmona Hernandez’s ERA is ugly right now, but he has been both very good and very unlucky this season. A brief review of the facts behind those statements:
1. He’s striking out batters at a career-high rate of 21.9 percent.
2. He has a superb groundball rate of 52.2 percent.
3. He has a supremely unlucky home run rate of 23.8 percent, and a similarly unfortunate strand rate of just 62.2 percent (especially considering the rate at which he’s striking batters out).
Carmona Hernandez is likely on the verge of a very hot stretch, and therefore is worth adding in mixed leagues as well as AL-only.
Eric Stults | San Diego Padres | SP | ESPN: 0.6 percent ownership; Yahoo!: 6 percent; CBS: 10 percent
YTD: 2-2, 5.67 ERA in 27 IP
ZiPS Updated Projection: 7-8, 4.64ERA in 128 IP
This soft-tossing San Diego lefty is another player with an ugly ERA, but solid underlying peripherals. Despite a fastball that averages just 86.4 miles per hour, Stults has been able to post a solid strikeout rate of 18 percent. Coupled with an excellent walk rate (3.4 percent) and decent groundball tendencies (42.7 percent), there’s a lot to like here.
He’s been victimized by a slightly elevated BABIP (.322) and low strand rate (63.7 percent). Assuming both of those come in line, and Stults is able to maintain his strikeout and walk rates, he can be of use on Fantasy Island.
Recommendation: Worth adding in NL-only leagues. Worth being streamed in the right situation (like, against the Cubs) in mixed leagues.
Scott Feldman | Chicago Cubs | SP | ESPN: 0.5 percent ownership; Yahoo!: 2 percent; CBS: 6 percent
YTD: 2-3, 3.34 ERA in 29.2 IP
ZiPS Updated Projection: 7-10, 4.33 ERA in 124.2 IP
Prior to his complete game against the Padres Wednesday, Feldman was striking out about as many batters as he was walking, which is generally not a recipe for success. Fanning 12 and walking just one did a lot to change that, though. His rates now look more healthy (18.3 percent strikeouts 9.9 percent walks) but he’d do well to drop his walk rate further in an effort to maintain such a sparkling ERA. Since he’s pumping across first pitch strikes at the highest rate of his career (61.8 percent) that seems very possible.
He’s not going to set the world on fire (because that would be rude) but he can be handy with decent strikeout rates, decent walk rates, and decent groundball rates. He’s decidedly decent.
Recommendation: Worth using in NL-only formats for now. His value is tempered by the fact that he may lose his job at some point this season, but you could do worse for a short term solution on the cheap.