Fantasy Waiver Wire: Week 3, Vol. III

It’s still early, of course, but the sunlight of a new fantasy season is starting to stream in. For dumpster-diving purposes, that means a bit of perspective, even if we remain wary of extremely small sample sizes. Still, it was encouraging to see Kelvin Herrera strike out the side on Wednesday to pick up another save in his quest to unseat Greg Holland as Kansas City’s closer.

Justin Ruggiano | Miami Marlins | OF | 25 percent Yahoo ownership; 21.4 percent ESPN ownership; 30 percent CBS ownership
YTD: 31 PA / .233 / .258 / .433 with 1 HR and 2 SB
Oliver: 468 PA / .255 / .325 / .427 with 15 HR and 14 SB

Despite consideration of platooning Ruggiano with Chris Coghlan, the 31-year-old has been the team’s starting center fielder since the year began. Hitting in the fifth slot of the Marlins’ order behind Greg Dobbs, owners in deeper leagues should keep an eye on whether Ruggiano can build on the 13-home run, 14-steal season he compiled in 2012 when he made only 320 plate appearances.

Speaking of last year, one would do best to look past the .313 batting average, which was buoyed by a crazy .401 BABIP, especially when he’s yet to alleviate a career 26 percent whiff rate. But in that same sense, his balls in play have dropped just 21.3 percent of the time so far in 2013, and an average in the .260s is not unforeseeable.

With a cast of no-names hitting behind him in the batting order, and a home park that’s not generally charitable to right-handed power-hitters, I think 20-20 expectations are pushing it. But despite not-easy matchups in Week 3 (three at home against the Nats, four in Cincinnati), Ruggiano offers under-the-radar value in deeper mixed leagues. Just don’t expect a huge breakout from a 31-year-old who’s compiled only 558 career plate appearances.

Recommendation: Decent outfield depth in mixed leagues.

Nicholas Tepesch | Texas Rangers | SP | 0 percent Yahoo ownership; 1.3 percent ESPN ownership; 19 percent CBS ownership
YTD: 7.1 IP / 2.98 FIP / 6.14 K/9 / 3.68 BB/9
Oliver: n/a

“Must-add” labels shouldn’t be given out frivolously, and mixed league owners might benefit from waiting an extra start or two from the 24-year-old Tepesch before kicking someone off the island. But there was certainly a lot to like coming from Tepesch on Tuesday, when he pitched 7.1 strong innings at home against the Rays to lead his team to a 6-1 victory, mixing five strikeouts against three walks.

It’s true that Tepesch has made only one start in his career in Triple-A, and he doesn’t really project as a high-strikeout ace. But he demonstrated good control in the minors (2.27 BB/9) and pitched his way to a rotation spot in March. For the moment, Matt Harrison’s rotation spot is being filled by Justin Grimm, though even a speedy return for the southpaw shouldn’t immediately affect Tepesch’s job security. Long-term, Colby Lewis has begun to throw again as he returns from elbow surgery, though the team says it will be conservative in its rush to bring back the right-hander.

I certainly think Tepesch is worth a look in AL-only leagues, and deserves at least attention beyond that. Provided he can pitch well at home, he’s backed by a strong supporting cast and seems like he could be a rotation man in the majors for some time to come.

Recommendation: Worth picking up in AL-only leagues, though mixed-leaguers could probably hold back for another start or two.

Travis Hafner | New York Yankees | DH | 14 percent Yahoo ownership; 10.2 percent ESPN ownership; 19 percent owned in CBS
YTD: 31 PA / .333 / .419 / .556 with 2 HR and 0 SB
Oliver: 415 PA / .247 / .345 / .413 with 13 HR and 1 SB

Did a minor mechanical tweak rescue Travis Hafner’s fantasy value? It’s too soon to tell for sure, but he certainly looks locked in right now, posting a nice triple slash line to go along with two home runs and a field day in Cleveland on Monday. Sure, Hafner, 35, is a few years removed from the days when he terrorized American League pitching, but a left-handed power hitter in the middle of the Yankees’ order, one who plays half his games at Yankee Stadium, should be worth something on the waiver wire.

The Yankees will split Week 3 with three at home against the Diamondbacks (where he’ll likely miss Ian Kennedy and Trevor Cahill) and three in homer-happy Toronto, where he’s slugged .595 for his career with seven home runs in 78 plate appearances. We’ll see how healthy Hafner stays going forward, and whether he’ll lose playing time as soon as some of their key players return, but for the moment, he seems like a solid source of power.

Recommendation: Deeper mixed league material until he cools down.

Travis Wood | Chicago Cubs | SP | 12 percent Yahoo ownership; 5.8 percent ESPN ownership; 41 percent CBS ownership
YTD: 12.1 IP / 2.17 FIP / 7.30 K/9 / 3.65 BB/9
Oliver: 186 IP / 3.91 FIP / 7.01 K/9 / 2.95 BB/9

In the infancy of his fourth season, Wood has become a hot pickup in CBS, with his ownership jumping 31 points over the past week. That owes, of course, not necessarily to a high ceiling but his fast start, which has seen the 26-year-old left-hander put together two strong outings. But at the risk of pouring cold water here, Wood, of whom I’ve never really been a huge fan, completed his work against the Brewers and Pirates, two teams whose offenses have gotten off to sluggish starts. And to my mind, he’s still a flyball pitcher calling Wrigley Field his home ballpark, which doesn’t boost my confidence, even though Oliver seems to have nothing but nice things to say about him.

He lines up for two starts in Week 3, facing the Rangers and Derek Holland, who’s looked good in his first two starts, and the raw but high-upside Wily Peralta in Milwaukee. If you need the starts, go get him, but if your bench spots are precious, I’d move on.

Recommendation: NL-only leagues for the time being.

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