NL Waiver Wire: Week 3

Jon Rauch | Mets | RP | 9 percent Yahoo ownership | 1.8 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: 0.00 ERA / 0.50 WHIP / 3.6 K/9
Oliver Rest of season projection: 3.27 ERA / 1.25 WHIP / 6.5 K/9

First things first: Someone want to take a stab at why Rauch is owned in only 1.8 percent of ESPN leagues? Are more single-format leagues hosted on Yahoo? Did more serious owners flock to the Yahoo platform this season? Confuses the hell out of me.

That said; if Jon Rauch is on your waiver wire and saves come at a premium in your league, pick him up immediately. I am one of Frank Francisco’s biggest fans—he went for next to nothing in drafts this year, pitches in an extremely pitcher-friendly home park, and consistently puts up gaudy strikeout numbers. The concern has always been rooted in his injury history, and the concern is no less this year.

Rauch is far less talented (his career xFIP, for example, is more than half a run higher than Francisco’s) but has more career saves and is the obvious next in line if (when) Francisco gets injured. That, or Terry Collins will act irrationally, look past Francisco’s 2.36 FIP (and at his 7.36 ERA), and will replace him outright as the closer. Rauch will end the season with more than 10 saves—book it.

Recommendation: Worthy of adding in all leagues.

Juan Nicasio | Rockies | SP | 7 percent Yahoo ownership | 1.4 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: 4.76 ERA / 1.46 WHIP / 6.7 K/9
Oliver ROS: 4.79 ERA / 1.41 WHIP / 6.5 K/9

I pimped Nicasio after an impressive spring, and so far he’s done nothing to make me look like the prophet I feel I am. But fear not: brighter days are on the horizon for the young fireballer. Not only is his home run rate too high (even for Coors Field), but he’s been unlucky in terms of opponents making contact (read: they’ve made far too much contact).

His high batting average on balls in play is related to the 90.1 percent contact rate against, where the league average last year was 80.7 percent. Additionally, opposing hitters are making contact in the zone (Z-Contact percentage) a whopping 93.2 percent of the time, where the league average is 87.9 percent. Finally, few are swinging and missing when facing Nicasio, as his swinging strike percentage is a mere 4.4 percent (the league average is a tick below double that). His profile will regress to the mean and he’ll get more people out—few (if any) on waivers have as much raw talent as this youngster.

Recommendation: Worthy of adding in all leagues.

Chris Schwinden | Mets | SP | 0 percent Yahoo ownership | 0.0 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: (in Triple-A) 2.05 ERA / 1.05 WHIP / 5.3 K/9
Oliver ROS: 5.00 ERA / 1.47 WHIP / 6.0 K/9

Schwinden will assume Mike Pelfrey’s spot in the rotation with news of Pelfrey’s elbow injury. In four starts with the Mets last year, he exhibited fair control (with a 2.83 strikeout to walk ratio) but an inability to strand runners. He complements a sub-90 mph fastball with a cutter, curveball and change-up, with the last pitch clocking in with the best pitch value. A flyball pitcher, he should benefit greatly from the confines of Citi, which, despite being moved in, have still suppressed any offense; (http://espn.go.com/mlb/stats/parkfactor” title=”it is the third most pitcher-friendly stadium in 2012″>it is the third most pitcher-friendly stadium in 2012, behind AT&T Park and PETCO).

The projection systems (save Oliver) like Schwinden, who was pegged for a 3.93 ERA by Marcel, a 4.29 mark by Bill James, and a 4.23 mark by Steamer, with varyingly respectable WHIPs (between 1.30 and 1.43). Don’t buy him for ratio stats, but rather as a match-up and splits play. There’s value in that, though.

Recommendation: Worthy of adding in deep NL-only rosters.

Tony Campana | Cubs | OF | 3 percent Yahoo ownership | 1.2 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: .385/.429/.385
Oliver ROS: .267/.305/.324

The Marlon Byrd trade left the Chicago center field job for Reed Johnson to share with Campana, a short speedster who made waves last year with excellent fielding metrics and cheetah-like speed. He stole 24 bases in a mere 155 at-bats, and while Brett Jackson is among the youngsters waiting at Triple-A (Anthony Rizzo’s imminent promotion and Bryan LaHair’s movement to the outfield is another scenario worth watching), Campana already has four steals in 16 at-bats with a high batting average.

He’ll be worth several weeks of Dee Gordon-like production at the very least, which amounts to game-changing potential considering the category at hand here. Buy now, worry later.

Recommendation: Worthy of adding on all NL-only rosters that need speed.

Speculative saves of the week

Clay Hensley | Giants | RP | 3 percent Yahoo ownership | 0.5 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: 0.00 ERA / 1.11 WHIP / 11.4 K/9
Oliver ROS: 3.91 ERA / 1.31 WHIP / 6.5 K/9

A converted starter, Hensley is among those on the saves carousel in San Francisco, it seems. As a reliever, he’s found success as recently as 2010, where his 1.5 wins above replacement had him among the top 20 relievers in baseball. Key to his success is his excellent groundball rate, which hovers above the 50 percent mark for his career. So long as he can limit his walks to a respectable level (his 2010 strike to walk ratio was 2.66), he’ll vulture a couple of saves where Santiago Casilla (the clear-cut closer in my estimation) and Javier Lopez (the lefty specialist) cannot.

Recommendation: Worthy of adding in leagues with innings caps or holds, or all deeper NL-only formats.

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Comments

  1. HollywoodCharles said...

    Dude… you guys do amazing work, very hard to find actual useful player info online, everything seems geared toward 10 team mixed owners, which is weird because do people think 10 team mixed owners are scouring the interconnected tubes for random players that can scratch out a stolen base? Anyway, thanks, and I really think Hensley has a chance to be the closer… it would be soooo Bochy. “He’s been there, he’s done it, I trust him, I could see myself fishing with him, I bet he would use the proper bait, he’s my closer.”

  2. Mark Geoffriau said...

    “First things first: Someone want to take a stab at why Rauch is owned in only 1.8 percent of ESPN leagues? Are more single-format leagues hosted on Yahoo? Did more serious owners flock to the Yahoo platform this season? Confuses the hell out of me.”

    I’d say a contributing factor is that ESPN standard leagues are 10-team, Yahoo standard leagues are 12-team. The difference in depth won’t change ownership rates very much for upper-tier players, but as you get down to the end-of-roster players like Rauch, it would make a more noticeable difference.

  3. Mark Himmelstein said...

    I’m not so convinced it would be Rauch if/when Francisco goes down. He’s clearly the best bet, but Collins has shown a surprising willingness to be unconventional so far this year. First he pulled Francisco from a save situation after giving up a run with a three run lead earlier in the week. He went to Byrdak for one batter than Rauch to try and finish, and it would have worked if Niewuenhuis had charged harder on a popup.

    Then Saturday he pulled Rauch in the 8th after he retired a batter and gave up two weak hits in lieu of Bobby Parnell. He was cryptic in the postgame about why he did it, but seemed to indicate it was something they saw in Rauch’s deliver or “stuff,” though nothing appeared wrong velocity wise.

    It’d put it like, 65% Rach, 35% Parnell, and that could start trending more towards Parnell the longer Francisco holds the job down. FWIW, Ramon Ramirez seems out, it’d probably be Acosta as the distant fourth banana at this point.

    It’s worth nothing how good Parnell’s been so far too. He’s traded a bit of velocity for command (intentionally according to both coaches and Parnell himself) and the early results are huge. 14 Ks, 2 BBs, 0 HR in 8.1 innings. If it wasn’t for the ugly .476 BABIP, he’d probably be generating some buzz as a non-save reliever that has value in standard formats, and the Mets brass have clearly been impressed.

  4. Morgan Conrad said...

    I’ve been tracking Nicasio too.  But usually a pitcher gets recommended because his HR rate is low and his swing and miss rate is high.  Yet you are pimping Nicasio because his HR rate is high and nobody swings and misses, and somehow he will regress by getting better?

    Sorry, I’ll beg off here…  grin

  5. Nick Fleder said...

    Morgan: regression to the mean. There’s reason to believe he’ll post a league average SwStr% and HR rate, so therefore, his numbers will improve. I know the logic seems backwards in a way, but his numbers are unsustainably bad on the “bad” side of the spectrum. I wouldn’t be pimping him if his numbers were unsustainably good, either.

  6. Morgan Conrad said...

    Nick: Understood, if you assume that he will start to post league average numbers, which I admit is a reasonable assumption given his talent.  Yes, I was poking minor fun at your “backwards” logic.

    IMO, wait a start or two until his numbers show some improvement.  There’s too many pitchers who “struggle” and turn out to really have serious injuries.  (e.g. Michael Pineda, Brian Wilson, etc…)

    Thanks for a good column.

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