NL Waiver Wire: Week 15

Last week, Carlos Gomez and Nate Schierholtz were plus-plus recommendations, with the former sharing NL Player of the Week honors and the latter landing an everyday job in a hotter park to hit in (Citizens Bank). Paul Maholm might enjoy his new home, too, and his first match-up in a Braves uniform will pin him against the lowly Astros. Edward Mujica, once a low risk speculative saves guy, is that no longer as a St. Louis Cardinal, but all in all, it was a successful week of recommendations. What about week 15?

Nate Schierholtz | Giants | OF | 2 percent Yahoo ownership | 0.6 percent ESPN ownership
Labeled a “speculative add” last week, Schierholtz finds himself promoted to a “must add” in NL-only leagues. Ruben Amaro’s outfielder fire-sale shipped out once-glorious Shane Victorino and struggling Hunter Pence, with Schierholtz returning in the latter deal. Domonic Brown will get burn in center field, but the Phillies should be expected to do good on Schierholtz’s wish, and will play him mostly every day. What do such days hold in store? He’s hit as many as 15 homers in a season (429 at-bats in 2008) and should benefit from moving out of San Francisco, where fly balls go to die on AT&T Park’s warning track.

A telling stat about Schierholtz’s power: From 2009 until 2011, he hit 17 homers. His rate at home was 77.4 at-bats per home run; on the road, the number fell to 38.3 at-bats per home run. He’ll play 31 games at Citizens Bank Park, four in Milwaukee, three in Cincinnati, and three in Atlanta. In other words, he’ll hit a few dingers.
Recommendation: Worth an add in all NL-only leagues.

Brett Wallace | Astros | 1B | 2 percent Yahoo ownership | 0.3 percent ESPN ownership
With zero alternatives and nothing holding him back, Brett the Beast has been unleashed for the final two months of the season. Can we expect the small sample (four homers in 14 games, and a .333 batting average) from 2012 to hold up, or will Wallace flop to last year’s struggle (five homers in 115 games, and a .259 batting average)? The answer, unsurprisingly, should be somewhere in-between.

Wallace is an enigmatic one. Once, he was a highly regarded top prospect, it seemed; the catch was that he occupied a spot in four farm systems despite his pedigree and high draft position.

His first go-round at Triple-A was disappointing—he was barely above league average with the Cardinals in 2009—and he didn’t light the world on fire with the A’s. The A’s turned into the Blue Jays and the Jays turned into the Astros, and suddenly, Wallace looked (and played) more like a cast-off than a cornerstone to any franchise. And his big shot in 2011 with the major-league Astros was a disappointment in every sense: His defense and base running were below average, and his near .700 OPS was unacceptable considering his corner-infield position. He’s hitting the ball with some authority in Triple-A, and in the majors, “some authority” has turned magically into “some authority and so much more.” It won’t last at this level or anything near it, but Wallace, at the very least, will be an able-bodied filler.
Recommendation: Worth an add in all NL-only leagues.

Josh Vitters | Cubs | 3B | 0 percent Yahoo ownership | 0.1 percent ESPN ownership
Vitters isn’t entirely unlike Wallace: high pick, good makeup, but struggled to hit the ball with much authority and stalled in the minors. His shot may finally come, though, on the lowly Cubs, who are fishing for pieces to build around. They have no reason not to give Vitters a chance to play himself into a job, what after his .365 Weighted On-Base Average and nice power showing (16 homers in 402 at-bats) in Triple-A. Third base options are hard to come by at this point in the season, and Vitters projects to hit a handful of homers in the friendly confines of Wrigley.
Recommendation: Worth an add in deeper NL-only leagues.

Wade LeBlanc | Marlins | SP | 1 percent Yahoo ownership | 0.5 percent ESPN ownership
It’s too early to tell, I concede upfront. That said, it certainly looks like Marlins Park plays pretty well as a pitcher’s park. It’s as helpful in keeping balls in the park, perhaps, as PETCO, where LeBlanc functioned in the last two years as a good NL-only stream option. Over his Padres career, LeBlanc pitched to the tune of a 2.91 ERA at home, and matched in with a playable 1.25 WHIP.

And while I’m not here to argue LeBlanc’s merit as a major league starter—he hardly profiles as one with an 87 mph fastball that hardly works with his fly-ball tendencies—but he can be a worthy fantasy stream half the time. Nothing wrong with using him and Jason Marquis each at home, and divorcing them every time they hit the road. You’d be smarter than most.
Recommendation: Worth streaming in all leagues.

Patrick Corbin | D’backs | SP | 1 percent Yahoo ownership | 0.1 percent ESPN ownership
A sneaky streaming option, too, is Pat Corbin, who will likely learn to hate Chase Field. Corbin, though, put up a 3.01 FIP at Triple-A Reno, and if his control follows him to the majors, he’ll survive well on his ground-ball heavy profile. About Chase: Diamondback starters collectively have a 4.40 ERA and .269 batting average against on their home turf, while those numbers drop to 3.36 and .235. Corbin and LeBlanc sounds like a good tandem.
Recommendation: Worth streaming in all leagues.

Oliver has experienced some troubles this week, so rest of season projections are not available at the moment. Many apologies.

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