Waiver Wire:  NL, Week 16

Juan Gutierrez | Arizona | RP | 3 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 7.13 ERA, 1.53 WHIP, 7.64 K/9, 2.31 K/BB, 30.9 GB
Oliver ROS: 5.18 ERA, 1.53 WHIP, 6.7 K/9, 1.83 K/BB

Don’t mistake Juan Gutierrez inclusion in this week’s article as a ringing endorsement for adding him. Consider it more of a public service announcement that he’s currently being given the opportunity to close games for the Diamondbacks.

Outside of throwing the baseball hard, there isn’t much in Gutierrez’ profile that screams closer. He posts a mediocre strikeout rate and walk rate, and allows a ton of flyballs, and with it a ton of home runs (22.0 HR/FB percentage). Those looking for a chance at picking up a few saves while potentially torching their ERA and WHIP may want to look at Gutierrez. I don’t believe Gutierrez will retain the job the remainder of the season, so consider this a short term saves investment.

Recommendation: Should be owned only by saves-desperate owners in 12-team or larger mixed leagues. Should be owned in all NL-only leagues.

Barry Enright | Arizona | SP | 2 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 2.66 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 7.99 K/9, 3.00 K/BB, 36.9 GB
Oliver ROS: 5.24 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 5.5 K/9, 2.44 K/BB

Barry Enright has made a solid splash in his major league debut, posting a shiny 2.66 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. Enright has been a bit lucky, however, as his xFIP currently stands at 3.90. He has a useful strikeout rate, but I don’t expect that to continue: His K/9 in Double-A this season was actually lower (7.75) than his K/9 at the major league level.

While Enright was a relatively high draft pick (second round) his pedigree isn’t tremendous. He ranked 11th in the Diamondbacks prospect rankings in 2009, according to Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook and dropped out of the top 30 this year. Given that and his low ceiling Enright has the makings of a player to ride while he’s playing well, and ditch when he hits the skids.

Recommendation: Should be owned in some 14-team mixed leagues or larger while he’s playing well. Should be owned in medium to large NL-only leagues.

Scott Olsen | Washington | SP | 2 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 3.77 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 6.70 K/9, 2.29 K/BB, 43.3 GB
Oliver ROS: 4.72 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 5.3 K/9, 1.67 K/BB

Currently on the mend from shoulder soreness, Scott Olsen threw five innings for High-A Potomac on July 22, allowing six hits, zero walks, four strikeouts and four runs (three earned) and a home run. Prior to his injury, Olsen was shaping up to be a useful starter in deeper leagues, and if he is able to stay healthy, has a chance to build on his early season success.

Olsen’s groundball rate is good enough to limit home run damage and help keep his ERA in check. The biggest key to Olsen’s success will be to keep his walk rate in check and his strikeout rate hovering around or above seven K/9. Taking into account Olsen’s still relatively young age, and some previous success both early this season and in prior seasons for the Marlins, there are reasons for optimism, making him a worthwhile DL stash option for owners desperate for some pitching help.

Recommendation: Should be owned in some 14-team or larger mixed leagues. Should be owned in medium and large NL-only leagues.

Ross Detwiler | Washington | SP | 0 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: In minors
Oliver ROS: 5.45 ERA, 1.61 WHIP, 5.3 K/9, 1.4 K/BB

Making his second consecutive appearance in this column, Ross Detwiler put up yet another solid start in Double-A Harrisburg throwing seven innings allowing five hits, one walk and zero runs while striking out seven. Detwiler has the markings of a post-hype sleeper and a solid addition in dynasty and deep keeper leagues where he is available, and even a useful addition for those playing in deeper re-draft leagues. With the Nationals out of playoff contention, I firmly believe Detwiler will be promoted shortly to get further major league experience. He is expected to be a part of their future.

Recommendation: Should be owned in some 14-team or larger mixed leagues, should be owned in all NL-only leagues.

Starlin Castro | Chicago (NL) | SS | 19 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: .296/.349/.425
Oliver ROS: .289/.324/.393

Starlin Castro‘s success at the major league level at such a young age is exciting for Cubs officials and fans alike. While I believe Castro’s real life value will always be considerably greater than his fantasy value, I am beginning to warm up to Castro the fantasy shortstop as well. The most promising part of Castro’s game, at least in my eyes, is his 20:36 walk-to-strikeout rate.

Castro’s power upside, this season, is low, as he’s not hitting many flyballs (28.8 FB rate) and his HR/FB rate is only 3.6 percent. Thankfully, Castro doesn’t have to hit many home runs to be useful if he’s able to hit for a useful average, which he has thanks in part to his .340 BABIP on the heels of a 21.5 percent line drive rate, score runs at a healthy clip, which he should thanks to his OBP and friendly lineup slot of hitting second, and steal a handful of bases (four stolen bases, but two caught stealing). Castro should be owned in all leagues using a MI, and even most larger leagues not using one.

Recommendation: Should be owned in all 10-team or larger mixed leagues using a MI, should be owned in most 12-team or larger mixed leagues not using a MI, should be owned in all NL-only leagues.

Pedro Alvarez | Pittsburgh | 3B | 17 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: .250/.315/.491
Oliver ROS: .252/.330/.459

After a poor start to his major league career, Pedro Alvarez has begun mashing in the month of July, which seems to be a fact lost on 83 percent of Yahoo! gamers. Alvarez’s July slash stands at .318/.384/.697 and he’s hit all seven of his home runs this month. Not all is rosy for Alvarez: His walk rate of just 8.9 percent is low for a guy who projects to be a heart of the order bat, and his strikeout rate is alarming at 37.5 percent. The high strikeout rate for Alvarez is largely a product of a terrible contact rate of just 62.5 percent.

Taking into account Alvarez’s-blue chip prospect status and his minor league record, the power is real, even if it is a tad bit inflated by a 22.6 percent HR/FB rate. Even when his HR/FB rate drops some, I still expect it to be well above league average, and given his all or nothing approach, when he does make contact the ball should travel a long way. If you can stomach a poor batting average, Alvarez is a great source of home runs, and a must-own in leagues of all sizes.

Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.

Neil Walker | Pittsburgh | 2B/3B | 8 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: .320/.355/.471
Oliver ROS: .244/.289/.408

In spite of another poor season, the Bucs feature yet another useful fantasy player in Neil Walker. Walker has been manning second base and thanks to his lineup slot, second and third, more often third lately, presents a great opportunity to pick up counting stats from a middle infielder, yet he continues to be under-owned, in 92 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Walker has been scorching lately, seeing his batting average climb from .269 on July 16 to its current .320.

He does have some shortcomings as his home run pop has been limited, just three in 172 at bats, and his strikeout rate is high for a non-slugger at 20.3 percent. That said, Walker’s making solid contact, ripping 23.9 percent line drives, and slugging a healthy number of extra base hits—19 total including his three home runs. Thanks to owning both second base and third base eligibility Walker provides solid roster flexibility for those in deeper daily roster change leagues, further boosting his value.

Recommendation: Should be owned in all 12-team or larger mixed leagues using a MI. Should be owned in all NL-only leagues.

Domonic Brown | Philadelphia | OF | 2 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: In minors
Oliver ROS: No projection

Domonic Brown is a popular prospect to mention in fantasy articles lately as rumors swirl about the Phillies potentially moving Jayson Werth, thus opening up a spot in the outfield for uber prospect Brown. Even if Werth isn’t dealt, I think it’s highly likely you see the Phillies promote Brown to cut into Raul Ibanez’s playing time, and give him some major league seasoning before he moves into an everyday gig replacing Werth next year.

Brown is the epitome of a five-tool prospect, and is dynasty league and deep keeper league gold. He opened the season in Double-A and has 88 at bats in Triple-A (324 at bats in total), posting a combined line of .321/.383/.574 with 19 home runs and 15 stolen bases with a 33:67 walk-to-strikeout rate. A little more time in Triple-A won’t hurt, but he’s essentially ready to get his feet wet in the majors, and has a chance to be a difference maker even in re-draft leagues this season.

Recommendation: Should be owned in most 12-team or larger mixed leagues using five outfielders. Should be owned in all NL-only leagues.

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  1. Josh Shepardson said...

    @ bennythedog
    I wouldn’t dump Kendrick for Walker, but I’d give thought to Lopez.  Lopez is probably a little safer bet to post the numbers he’s currently putting up, but I believe Walker has a bit of untapped potential.  With the untapped potential comes a bit more risk owning Walker though, given the fact he strikes out more than Lopez, and walks less.

  2. Frank Kim said...

    Do you think Qualls will end up getting the job back?  I just think he’s better than Gutierrez though Demel is probably the best of the three.

  3. Josh Shepardson said...

    @ Frank Kim

    I think Qualls ends up getting dealt before the trade deadline, though I agree that he is better than Gutierrez.  I also agree that Demel is probably the best of the bunch, but I’m not sure if/when Gibson will give Demel a shot to close games.  The situation in that bullpen is a mess, and should be avoided unless absolutely necessary not to.

  4. Frank Kim said...

    I think you’re probably right.  Maybe it’s worth holding onto Qualls until at least 7/31.  Thanks for responding. smile

  5. bennythedog said...

    Been trying to figure out if I should dump Kendrick or F. Lopez for someone like Walker… your thoughts?

  6. Josh Shepardson said...

    @ Taj
    I wouldn’t stream him for it, but if you are in a deeper league and he’s available he’s worth keeping an eye on, no harm in watching.

  7. Jeffrey Gross said...

    I’m a big Brown fan and agree that he could be a big play down the stretch. Minor League Splits is bearish on Brown’s AAA numbers (.268/.318/.449 MLE per http://www.minorleaguesplits.com/cgi-bin/pl.cgi?pl=502126), but I think he’s got legit .280 AVG, 25-30 HR, 20-25 SB upside for a full season. If he keeps the K’s in check, I think he will be just as good a player as Heyward, but more fantasy-balanced.

  8. Jeffrey Gross said...

    Also, I think Oliver is a bit too bearish on Alvarez as well. I agree that he’ll post a low AVG, but i think a 230+ ISO is not unreasonable for a guy who has a career MiLB ISO of .270+ (MLE is about .200, however).

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