Waiver Wire: National League (Week 12)

Mike Gonzalez | ATL | CL: The Braves are apparently fed up with Manny Acosta in the closer’s role. Mike Gonzalez, in his first game back in more than a year, was given a save opportunity this week. With Rafael Soriano a perpetual injury risk and out for a while longer, Gonzalez needs to be owned in all leagues. If Soriano ends up being out for a couple of weeks and Gonzalez pitches well, there’s a chance he’ll keep the job.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.

Sean Marshall | CHC | SP: With Carlos Zambrano on the DL, Marshall will be filling in for a couple of weeks. He gets a fair amount of ground balls, but he’s never been very good in the majors and only so-so in the minors (with the exception of 23.2 good innings in Triple-A this year — 8.0 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9). He’s 25 years old now, and it’s possible he’s made some changes, but 23.2 innings isn’t enough of a sample to rely upon.
Recommendation: Should be avoided in mixed leagues, for now. Should be owned in 10-team NL-only leagues.

Jamie Moyer | PHI | SP: Moyer is seeing some pickups this week like Kenny Rogers is in the AL, but his 4.09 ERA is a lot lower than his 4.49 LIPS ERA, which would rise into the high 4.00s if his 49 percent ground ball rate starts to regress to 39 percent, as it has been on average since 2002. PITCHf/x shows that he is throwing more of a sinker than a two-seamer this year, so it could be legitimate. Even so, a guy with a 4.49 LIPS ERA, 1.39 DIPS WHIP, and 4.81 K/9 doesn’t belong on most fantasy teams.
Recommendation: Should be avoided in mixed leagues. Should be owned in 12-team NL-only leagues.

Micah Owings | ARZ | SP: After a hot start to the year, Owings is getting dropped in a lot of leagues; his ESPN ownership has fallen to 56 percent. His ERA is an ugly-looking 5.18, but his LIPS ERA is solid at 4.02. His K/9 has dropped of late, and he’s had just one TQS “Above Average” start in his last five, but he’s still probably worth owning in a lot of leagues as long as this doesn’t continue. His K/9 is still at 7.71 (although it’s been 6.48 in his last five starts), so if he’s been dropped, he’s a decent speculative add.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team mixed leagues, for now. Should be owned in all NL-only leagues, for now.

Seth McClung | MIL | SP: I wasn’t a fan of McClung when it was first announced that he would enter the rotation, but he has apparently made some major changes since then. Check out this PITCHf/x article by THT’s own Josh Kalk. His 5.86 K/9 and 2.28 BB/9 in two starts thus far aren’t anything to gawk at, but they aren’t terrible either.
Recommendation: Should be avoided in mixed leagues, for now. Should be owned in 10-team NL-only leagues.

Daryl Thompson | CIN | SP: Homer Bailey didn’t pitch well in the majors, as expected. Thompson figures to be better, judging by his minor league numbers. He has good control, walking just 1.3 per nine in 27.2 Triple-A innings and 2.05 in 61.1 Double-A innings. His K/9 was 8.2 and 7.2, respectively. He’s a fly ball pitcher, and Great American isn’t conducive to that type of pitcher, but Thompson should have some value regardless.
Recommendation: Should be strongly considered in 12-team and owned in 14-team mixed leagues, for now. Should be owned in all NL-only leagues, for now.

Russell Branyan | MIL | 3B: Branyan has always had a ton of power; he’s just never been able to hit for average given his career 60 percent contact rate. His current .303 batting average is being inflated by an unsustainable 74 percent fly ball rate and 32 percent HR/FB. When they regress, Branyan should be expected to hit around .235 with 35 home runs (assuming 500 at-bats).

If you can afford a low (read: really low) batting average, Branyan’s power is immense despite the fact that he strikes out a full 40 percent of the time. He’s hitting sixth behind Corey Hart, Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun and should get plenty of RBIs as well, plus a bunch of runs with his 14 percent walk rate. Playing time is a concern with Rickie Weeks coming back soon, which would force Bill Hall and Branyan to share time at third. If Hall gets traded, though, Branyan could be set.
Recommendation: Should be strongly considered in 12-team and owned in 14-team mixed leagues, for now. Should be owned in all NL-only leagues, for now.

Rickie Weeks | MIL | 2B: Weeks is generally viewed as a guy with a lot of talent who just can’t put it all together. I don’t view him that way, though. Weeks is a guy with a lot of potential but who is fully capable of being a solid player right now—he’s just experienced some bad luck. His contact rate is up this year, but his BABIP is an unlucky at .237. He’s not hitting quite as many fly balls as he did last year, and his HR/FB is a little below his career rate, though his raw power is definitely intact. He should continue batting leadoff when he returns from the DL, possibly as early as Sunday.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.

Elijah Dukes | WAS | OF: I mentioned Dukes a couple of weeks ago, but he is quietly doing something I bet no one expected of him. He has eight steals, achieved through a 20 percent attempt rate and 88 percent success rate. Not sure if he can keep that up, but steals are tough to come by, and Dukes is worth picking up by those in need of steals until we find out for sure.

He also has good power, though he hasn’t shown it in Washington yet, and he’s capable of putting up a respectable batting average. Plus, he takes a ton of walks and is batting second, so he should have a lot of value with runs and should collect some RBIs as well. Just be aware that he isn’t assured playing time when Austin Kearns returns, which could be by the All-Star break.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team mixed leagues, for now. Should be owned in all NL-only leagues, for now.

Todd Helton | COL | 1B: Helton’s overall ownership is pretty high, but he has been dropped in a couple of leagues I’m in. A few of his numbers are down, but not terribly so, and some of it could definitely be bad luck. He doesn’t deserve to be dropped.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.

Angel Berroa | LAD | SS: With Rafael Furcal on the DL, Berroa will have a shot at the starting shortstop gig. He has put up 87 and 86 percent contact rates in the minors this year and last, respectively, and has been able to put up a league average BABIP in his major league career. He might be able to hit only .250 or .260, though, and he doesn’t have an abundance of power or speed. Worth a look in NL-only leagues, but that’s about it. He isn’t even useful for those looking for a boost in one particular category.
Recommendation: Should be avoided in mixed leagues. Should be considered in 10-team and owned in 12-team NL-only leagues.

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