Waiver Wire: NL, Week 5

Jhoulys Chacin | Colorado | SP
YTD:10.13 K/9, 3.00 K/BB, 0.00 ERA
True Talent:6.00 K/9, 1.65 K/BB, 4.33 ERA

Jhoulys Chacin came into the 2010 season ranked in the Rockies’ top five prospects according to Baseball America. Chacin has a perfect inning of relief and a seven-inning gem against the Giants to his credit thus far this season in the majors as well 21.1 dazzling innings in Triple-A. Chacin is a groundball machine (54.6 percent GB in 121.1 innings pitched in 2009 according to minorleaguesplits.com) thanks largely to a sinking high 80s-low 90s fastball. He has been able to post solid walk rates throughout the minors with the exceptions being 14.1 innings in Triple-A last year and 11 innings pitched in the major leagues. The biggest question in regards to Chacin is how many hitters he’ll be able to strike out. The early returns are good, but how he continues to fare will depend on how effective his breaking balls are as he already has two solid pitches in his sinker and his change-up. Yahoo! currently has Chacin listed as only being owned in 6 percent of leagues, a number sure to go up if he posts another solid start. At Chacin’s worst, he’s a groundballer who pounds the strike zone. At his best, he’s a groundballer who pounds the strike zone and displays a knockout pitch. That’s the type of profile I like, so I’ll be hopping aboard the Jhoulys Chacin bandwagon.

Recommendation: Should be owned in some 12-team mixed leagues, all 14-team or larger mixed leagues, and all NL-only leagues.

Kris Medlen | Atlanta | SP/RP
YTD:8.15 K/9, 5.33 K/BB, 2.55 ERA
True Talent:8.5 K/9, 2.89 K/BB, 3.82 ERA

Kris Medlen is making his second appearance in a Waiver Wire article this season because, as expected, he is getting a turn in the Braves’ rotation replacing Jair Jurrjens, who is currently on the DL. Medlen has been successful this season in large part because he’s striking out a healthy number of batters while issuing few free passes, a definite recipe for success. In about 85 innings of work at the major league level, Medlen has posted approximately a 41 percent GB rate, which is acceptable but by no means spectacular. If Medlen is able to carry his near strikeout-per-inning K/9 from the bullpen to a starter role while keeping his walks in check and maintaining his current GB rate, success lies ahead. I expect, for the most part, Medlen’s bullpen success to carry over to the starting role, and thus am endorsing adding him in a wide variety of leagues.

Recommendation: Should be owned in some 12-team mixed leagues, all 14-team or larger mixed leagues, and all NL-only leagues.

Charlie Morton | Pittsburgh | SP
YTD:8.17 K/9, 2.88 K/BB, 10.30 ERA
True Talent:6.2 K/9, 1.70 K/BB, 4.35 ERA

Allow me to borrow from one of my favorite television shows, Entourage, and the fictional character of Bob Ryan specifically, for a second in saying, if I told you that you could add a starting pitcher off the scrap heap with a near three-to-one strikeout-to-walk rate who induces ground balls at a 43.5 percent rate and has posted a 3.80 xFIP to date, is that something you might be interested in? Charlie Morton is the previously described, and almost entirely unowned, starting pitcher who has been ravaged by miserable luck to open the 2010 season. Thus far in the young 2010 season, Charlie Morton has allowed an eye-popping 30.4 percent of his fly balls to leave the yard, posted a BABIP against of .398, all the while tossing in a strand rate of 42.3 percent for good measure. With such poor luck, is it any surprise he’s posted a 10.30 ERA on the season? Morton’s luck can’t get any worse going forward, and once things normalize a bit for him he should be a usable starter in some formats with upside. Morton had not previously displayed a K/9 in the majors that has even rivaled his current one, so how much of that is reality and how much is mirage is up for debate; what is not up for debate is his ability to induce ground balls. If Morton is able to continue to rack up strike threes to go along with his already awesome GB rate he could be a real hidden gem as we go forward.

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

Scott Olsen | Washington | SP
YTD:8.36 K/9, 2.89 K/BB, 3.54 ERA
True Talent:5.5 K/9, 1.7 K/BB, 4.98 ERA

No folks, I have not used a DeLorean to travel back in time to the year 2006 (though that would be pretty sick), but I do believe Olsen may be recapturing some of what made him successful during his best fantasy season. Last year Scott Olsen underwent surgery to repair the labrum in his throwing shoulder, and early returns indicate that the surgery was a success. Olsen’s fastball and slider velocity are up from last year and with it, he’s been able to put up some nifty stats in 2010. Including a gem Olsen tossed as I was writing this, Olsen’s ERA stands at 3.54 for the season. Because he’s been able to post a K/9 of nearly a batter an inning and has limited the walks, I’m going to say his good start is more fact than fiction. My biggest concern is how his repaired labrum will hold up over the course of the lengthy MLB season, but in the meantime, enjoy his current production and dream of a day we can all own a DeLorean and travel back in time.

Recommendation: Should be owned in most 14-team or larger mixed leagues and watched in all, and owned in most shallow NL-only leagues and all medium-large NL-only leagues.

Andy LaRoche | Pittsburgh | 3B
True Talent:.249/.328/.376

Coming into the 2010 season Andy LaRoche was largely viewed as nothing more than a placeholder for Pedro Alvarez at third base. While Alvarez remains the larger fixture in the Pirates’ future plans, LaRoche may be playing his way back into the Pirates’ plans going forward. LaRoche has begun the season by displaying a keen eye at the dish, walking 8.6 percent of the time and keeping his strikeouts in check with a 16.4 percent strikeout rate. His ISO is up a bit from 2009 thanks to a career high HR/FB rate of 13.0 percent. A 13.0 HR/FB rate for the remainder of the season may be a bit high for LaRoche, but perhaps not given his minor league history and former blue chip prospect status. LaRoche’s current 32.8 percent LD rate is unsustainable, but the fact he’s squaring up the ball and hitting a few more fly balls (up 3 percent from last year) is promising for his season going forward. LaRoche smells like a classic post-hype sleeper who is putting it together to me, and given the lack of depth at third base, is an intriguing person of interest.

Recommendation: Should be owned in most 14-team or larger mixed leagues using a CI, and owned in all NL-only leagues.

Jonny Gomes | Cincinatti | OF
True Talent:.255/.325/.499

With a broken hammate bone shelving Chris Dickerson for a while, Gomes should see a slight uptick in playing time in the Reds’ outfield. By now Gomes is a known commodity, a low batting average slugger who can be of great assistance to owners in need of home runs. In 2009, Gomes was able to slug 20 HR in just 314 plate appearances. While I’m not going to suggest he can maintain that type of pace over a greater volume of plate appearances, he should be able to continue to mash round trippers at a high volume given that he’s still lofting the ball and plays half his games at The Great American Ballpark. If you’re an owner looking for some pop and can sacrifice points off your batting average and have an opening in the OF or at utility, Gomes is your guy.

Recommendation:Should be owned by most in 14-team or larger mixed leagues using five OF, and owned in most shallow and all medium-large NL-only leagues.

Kosuke Fukudome | Chicago (NL) | OF
True Talent:.268/.375/.430

Two years into his MLB career Kosuke Fukudome is likely viewed by most as a fast starter and slow finisher given his substantial differential between pre-All-Star Break and post-All-Star Break splits (pre: .273/.380/.434 and post: .246/.355/.381). Fukudome is off to a hot start and is hitting a career-high 40.6 percent fly balls and posting another career best in HR/FB at 17.9 percent. There are some quotes from Fukudome’s former hitting coach in Japan that suggest he may have adjusted his mechanics last season and the previous season to compensate for a troublesome elbow he’d had surgery on in 2007. While I like to take quotes like this with a large grain of salt, there may be something to it, so I’ll give it some more merit than the typical coach talk and mechanical adjustment drivel. I don’t expect Fukudome to continue posting a 17.9 percent HR/FB rate, but he won’t need to in order to hit 20-25 HR if he’s able to continue to hit 40 percent or greater fly balls and still post a HR/FB in the 11-13 percent range. If you have a need in your outfield, or believe the owner of Fukudome may be looking to “sell high” in fear of another second-half collapse, he is certainly a worthwhile trade target. If he is unowned in your league, I’d suggest adding him depending on the size of your league. For those playing in leagues that count OBP or OPS, Fukudome gets a huge bump up in value.

Recommendation: Should be owned in all 12-team or larger mixed leagues using five OF, and owned in all NL-only leagues.

Eric Young Jr. | Colorado | 2B/OF
True Talent:.263/.327/.360

After opening the season in Triple-A and posting a miserable slash line of .228/.302/.298, Eric Young Jr. somewhat surprisingly received a promotion to the Rockies when Brad Hawpe hit the DL. Since his promotion, Young Jr. has done what he does best: swipe bags. In just 29 plate appearances Young Jr. has managed to steal four bases in five chances. No one questions Young Jr.’s speed, but questions remain about playing time and about how often he’ll be able to get on base to show off his slick wheels. In the high minors, Young Jr. has posted a walk rate in the 10-13 percent range, which bodes well for stolen base opportunities even if his batting average suffers a bit while he adjusts to playing in the majors. As far as playing time is concerned, that is a bit dicier situation. When Hawpe returns from the DL, there will not likely be many opportunities to play the outfield, though some may still be presented to Young Jr. if he’s able to force the Rockies’ hand by raking and playing a passable outfield. The bulk of Young Jr.’s playing time is likely to come at second base backing up, and possibly moving into the starting second base role in place of Clint Barmes if he is unable to right the ship batting. For now, owners in need of stolen bases should be rostering Young Jr. and worrying about the questions when they become a problem. With any luck, those rostering Young Jr. will see no problems and see Young Jr. supplant Barmes at second base when Hawpe returns from the DL to further muddy the outfield playing time situation.

Recommendation: Should be owned in some 12-team mixed leagues, owned in all 14-team or larger mixed leagues, and all NL-only leagues.

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  1. Jon E said...

    “Dribble” in the Fukudome section?? Seriously? Try “Drivel”….as in “mechanical adjustment drivel…”

  2. The A Team said...

    The early rumors on Eric Young Jr seem to indicate he’ll be the one demoted when Hawpe is reactivated on Monday thanks in part to Barmes putting together a good week. This would have been more helpful when he was first recalled. I got some good service out of him spotting for my 2b/MI tandem of Kinsler and Weeks (Iwamura was in that mix while Kinsler was on the DL).

  3. Tony Starks said...

    still a glimmer of hope that tulo plays his quad injury cautiously and takes a few days off and allows EY jr one more chance to prove himself. the 2B/OF dual eligibility is nice and could be valuable if he was getting ABs

  4. Jeffrey said...


    I made the Charlie Morton mistake twice now and my fantasy league mates will never let me live it down. Do you believe that there are some guys (dave bush?) who are guy too hittable?

  5. Josh Shepardson said...

    To Jeffrey-

    While Morton hasn’t been terribly useful lately, it does appear he is seeing some normalization of his underlying stats, so I still wouldn’t completely write him off.

    To your other point, it’s not so much that I believe some pitchers are too hittable, it’s that some pitchers do a poor job of bunching their hits allowed.  Javier Vazquez is a guy that comes to mind for me. I’m not sure if it an issue for some pitchers because they just aren’t comfortable with men on base, or with throwing out of the stretch, or what the issue is, but that is the problem I believe some pitchers have had.  I wouldn’t lump Morton in that class yet, as he simply doesn’t have enough work in at the major league level yet, but he could very well prove to be that type of pitcher.

  6. Jeffrey said...


    I do agree that its too early to say what about Morton. 7 starts is a minute sample. Just saying I rode that Bandwagon to like 6 innings of 18 run baseball and he burned me bad. I officially have an irrational hatred of Charlie Morton, I guess. Considering that I am still riding the Justin Masterson boat ride right now, I guess I can’t write off Morton just yet

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