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Waiver Wire: Speed, power and Ks for all

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Rangers pitcher Martin Perez is red-hot right now. In our standard Head-to-Head format, he has two straight weeks of 24-point performances. And he's sporting a 2.37 ERA and 1.26 WHIP so far this season. So it makes perfect sense that he's seen a big jump in ownership, from 15 percent to 36 percent.

Still, Perez remains a bit of an enigma. The 22-year-old has been a perennial top prospect, ranking in the top 100 (according to Baseball America) every year since 2009. But that lofty status seems at odds with his numbers -- three seasons of 4.25-plus ERA in his six minor league campaigns, which contributed to a 4.16 overall ERA and 1.46 WHIP. Additionally, Perez had a very hard-to-track strikeout rate throughout his minor league career -- while he had a 7.6 K/9 overall, his rate fluctuated between 4.9 and 9.3 over those six years.

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So this leaves us at a virtual fork in the road. On one hand, Perez is a young player who has been scouted and judged, and ultimately deemed to be a very good pitcher (ever since he was 18). We've seen some younger pitchers -- Mike Leake this year, for instance -- hit some rough patches before eventually corralling their talent and finding success. On the other hand, Perez's numbers don't exactly bear out all this high praise. Even with his very nice three-game run this season, Perez still has a somewhat-high WHIP and has struck out just eight batters in 19 innings.

So what to do? Trust the five years of top prospect status? Or the numbers that he's put up so far? I'd personally be inclined to not take the risk because of the low strikeout numbers. But if you're playing in an AL-only league or deep (14-16 teams) mixed format, Perez could be worth the gamble, on the promise that he keeps providing low ratios.

The Big Leaps

Jhoulys Chacin, SP, Rockies (64 percent ownership, up from 38 percent)

Of all the failures in Colorado's rotation the last several years, it's easy to forget that Jhoulys Chacin has a career 3.66 ERA. Yes, it's somewhat disheartening that he's dropped his strikeout rate every year since he made his debut -- it has tumbled all the way down to 5.1 K/9 this season, a career-worst -- but his ERA is currently the second-best of his career and Chacin has been pretty much brilliant lately, going 4-0 with a 1.26 ERA and 0.95 WHIP in his last four starts.

This may not be a total mirage. Chacin has met success before in his career, and the numbers support some degree of sustainability. Chacin's strand rate is actually below his career level, his ground ball rate is at a normal level, and his fastball velocity is right where it has always been. The only thing that may be a little worrisome is his HR/FB rate, which is currently at 2.4 percent. Even if he keeps his groundball rate up, he's probably due for a correction, but nothing wild – his career HR/FB rate is still just 9.3 percent.

All in all, Chacin is a bit of a gamble, because you cannot be sure the strikeouts will return and we know he's due to give up a few more home runs in the second half. But he should be able to provide enough in the way of low ratio to have some value in deeper (14-team) leagues.

Over/under on ERA (season): 3.80
Over/under on K/9 (season): 6.1
If Martin Perez is owned in 50 percent of leagues, Chacin should be owned in: 56 percent

Raul Ibanez, OF, Mariners (57 percent, up from 31)

Most Added Players (as of 7/4)
Player % added
1. Jhoulys Chacin, SP, Rockies 26
2. Raul Ibanez, OF, Mariners 26
3. Martin Perez, SP, Rangers 23
4. Tony Cingrani, SP, Reds 21
5. Rajai Davis, OF, Blue Jays 21
6. Jacob Turner, SP, Marlins 17
7. Leonys Martin, OF, Rangers 16
8. Miguel Gonzalez, SP, Orioles 16
9. Jose Iglesias, SS, Red Sox 14
10. Brad Miller, SS, Mariners 14

Ibanez is 41 years old and is playing in a park that still has to be considered pitcher-friendly. I have no idea how he's doing this. I remember when I was working on Fantasyland doing research on him and discovering Ibanez was really into karate, so I can actually understand if he's just taking really good care of his body and maybe diving into previously-unexplored areas to prolong his career through balance and stretching hobbies outside of the game.

Here's how I'm looking at Ibanez: he hit .274 with 23 home runs per year over the past nine seasons, when his power surge really started. And he's averaged 518 at-bats in that span, with the only real drag on his playing time being a platoon situation last year with the Yankees.

So Ibanez has power, he can probably raise his average another 20-30 points from where it is right now, and he doesn't get injured. Outside of just saying he's old, I really see no reason to leave him on waiver wires in 12-team leagues.

Over/under on average (season): .265
Over/under on home runs (season): 32
Would I drop Kyle Blanks for him?: No.

Rajai Davis, OF, Blue Jays (36 percent, up from 17)

This one's simple: It's all speed here. Over the last four seasons, Davis has averaged 43 steals per season, despite getting only about 420 at-bats each year. Now that he's playing regularly for the Blue Jays, Davis is again a hot speed commodity. His average fluctuates and you can't depend on him for power (although he did hit eight home runs last year), but there's a near-guarantee of steals here.

Let's not waste the holiday weekend with unnecessary paragraphs. If you need steals, go get Davis!

Over/under on steals (season): 38
Over/under on home runs (season): 5
Is there a chance Davis could remain in the outfield after Melky Cabrera's return, and Jose Bautista could see some time at third base?: Yes

The Flavor of Next Week

Juan Francisco, Brewers (16 percent ownership)

Let's just forget about Francisco's batting average for a minute; it's never been especially good and if he manages to hit .260, we'll consider it a bonus. You don't want Francisco for his average. You want him for his power.

Since he was traded to Milwaukee a month ago, Francisco has hit five home runs, including four in his last seven games. With Corey Hart out for the season and Aramis Ramirez not in the best shape, Francisco -- who can play both first and third -- should see regular playing time the rest of the season. This recent seven-game run (which also includes two doubles and a 1.298 OPS) give a glimpse of his potential, which could be 30-homer power in a hitter-friendly park like Miller.

Francisco isn't going to rank in the top 12 when the season is through, but he will benefit enough from the regular playing time to be a useful third baseman in most formats.

Over/under on average (season): .255
Over/under on home runs (season): 29
Which other third baseman does Francisco remind us (a little bit) of?: Pedro Alvarez

American League-only fun

Ricky Romero, SP, Blue Jays (4 percent ownership)

If you look at Romero's overall numbers in the minors this season, you'll cringe: a 6.89 ERA with a 1.80 WHIP, with 31 strikeouts in 57 innings. But since he ditched his new mechanics a few weeks ago, Romero looks like he's turned a corner. Over the last five games, Romero has a 3.54 ERA and 1.43 WHIP, striking out 21 in 28 innings. It's not the most impressive of stat lines, but it does give a little bit of hope that Romero may be on the verge of figuring out his issues. And for a pitcher who had improved for three straight seasons (before hitting an injury-riddled wall in 2012), that could be a useful set of circumstances in AL-only formats.

This isn't a call to add him in all AL-only leagues, but consider it a heads up that he might be closer than we think, especially with Chien-Ming Wang being DFA'd. I look at Romero as a gamble that might be worth taking if there's a shortage of starters in your league.

Over/under on starts (season): 14
Over/under on ERA (season): 3.85
Could this end up being a very bad move?: Absolutely, but it's worth the risk

National League-only fun

Pedro Strop, RP, Cubs (owned in 2 percent of leagues)

Strop was traded from the Orioles to the Cubs on Tuesday, as part of the deal that sent Scott Feldman to Baltimore. With Kevin Gregg a likely trade candidate, the Cubs may end up turning to Strop to close out games.

Before falling apart this year (he has a 7.25 ERA), Strop put together two seasons of near-dominant pitching, with a 2.34 ERA in 2011 and 2012. He also served as the backup closer for Baltimore last year.

Strop may still have some issues to work out -- manager Dale Sveum suggested a balky back may have to do with Strop's struggles this season -- but if Gregg is traded, Strop suddenly seems like the next in line to serve as the team's closer.

Over/under on saves (season): 11
Over/under on ERA (season): 3.85
How much are you bidding on him in the CBSSports.com Experts NL-only league?: $8 (out of 100)

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Nando Di Fino at @NandoCBS .

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Player News
Cody Allen hit with a loss Friday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:40 am ET) Indians closer Cody Allen picked up a loss Friday against the Astros.

Allen entered with the game tied in the ninth inning. After giving up a walk with one out, Allen's defense started to let him down. The next batter reached on a throwing error, putting two men on base. Another throwing error was made against the next batter, allowing a run to score. Allen then issued another walk, and gave up a three-run blast to Jon Singleton. He managed to get out of the inning, but the damage was done.

Allen allowed four runs, though none were earned, on one hit and two walks in his only inning. He dropped to 4-3 with the loss. 


Henderson Alvarez wins his 10th game
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:22 am ET) Marlins starter Henderson Alvarez had a tough start Friday against the Rockies.

Alvarez allowed four runs on 10 hits over six innings. He struck out five and did not issue any walks during the outing. Alvarez was done in by the long ball. Justin Morneau managed to go deep in the third inning, driving in two runs. Corey Dickerson did the same in the fifth, also hitting a two-run shot. Alvarez would up throwing 96 pitches during the start. 

The Marlins jumped all over Franklin Morales, giving Alvarez the win. He improved to 10-5. His next start will come against the Angels. 


Franklin Morales goes four innings
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:21 am ET) Rockies pitcher Franklin Morales lasted just four innings Friday against the Marlins. 

Morales gave up six runs on eight hits over four innings of work. He struck out four and walked two during the outing. Morales got through a scoreless first, but ran into trouble in the second. He allowed three straight singles to load the bases. Two runs came around to score in the inning before Morales could get out of it. The Marlins would also plate two more runs in the third inning. Morales came out to start the fifth inning, but could not record an out. After putting the first three men on, Morales walked in a run. Another walk brought in the next run, which led to Morales being pulled from the game.

With the loss, Morales dropped to 5-7. He’ll take on the Giants in his next start.


Tommy Milone fails to go five innings
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:20 am ET) Twins pitcher Tommy Milone can’t go five innings Friday against the Tigers.

Milone allowed five runs, three earned, on 10 hits over 4 1/3 innings. He struck out three and did not issue any walks during the outing. Milone got himself in trouble early, giving up a solo home run in the first inning. He tossed three scoreless innings before running into trouble in the fifth. Milone recorded an out against the first batter he faced. The second batter, Torii Hunter, managed to reach on an error. At that point, Milone fell apart. He gave up three singles and a double to the next four batters before being pulled from the game. Another run would come around to score on a sac fly, and was charged to Milone. 

Milone didn’t last five innings, so he was not eligible for the win. He’ll take on the Royals in his next start. 


Robbie Ray pounded Friday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:19 am ET) Tigers pitcher Robbie Ray was pounded against the Twins Friday.

Ray allowed six earned runs on six hits over 1 1/3 innings. He struck out three and did not issue any walks throughout the start. Ray was able to get through a scoreless first inning, but fell apart in the second. Ray allowed three straight doubles to open the frame, bringing in two runs. A mound visit seemed to calm him briefly, as he managed to strike out Kurt Suzuki. That calmness was short-lived. Ray surrendered a home run to Eduardo Escobar, a single to Jordan Schafer and another home run to Danny Santana. Ray was pulled from the game at that point.

With the loss, Ray dropped to 1-4. He’ll take on the Yankees in his next start.


Josh Collmenter turns in fantastic start
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:17 am ET) Diamondbacks pitcher Josh Collmenter turned in a fantastic start Friday against the Padres.

Collmenter allowed one run on four hits over 8 1/3 innings. He struck out eight and did not issue any walks during the appearance. Collmenter opened  the game with two perfect innings before giving up his first hit in the third. Collmenter then tossed five perfect innings. He ran into some trouble in the ninth. Collmenter allowed two singles and struck out a batter. He was pulled from the game after throwing 106 pitches. One of those runs came around to score, and was charged to Collmenter.

With the win, he improved to 9-7. Collmenter will take on the Rockies in his next start. 


Odrisamer Despaigne has a rough start
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:13 am ET) Padres pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne had a rough start Friday against the Diamondbacks.

Despaigne allowed four runs, three earned, on five hits over five innings. He struck out four and walked one during the outing. The Diamondbacks managed to strike early. With two outs in the first inning, he gave up a triple, single and home run to three straight batters. Another run came around in the second inning on a fielding error. 

With the loss, Despaigne dropped to 3-5. He’ll take on the Brewers in his next start. 


Mike Minor flirts with no-hitter, but can't win
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(8/22/2014) Braves pitcher Mike Minor flirted with a no-hitter Friday against the Reds.

Minor allowed one run on one hit over 7 2/3 innings. He struck out five and walked four during the outing. Minor made it into the eighth inning before giving up his first hit of the game. Minor walked a batter earlier in the inning. That base-runner reached second on a groundout. With a man on second, Billy Hamilton knocked an RBI-single against Minor. It was the first hit Minor gave up all game. Minor was pulled after the hit. He threw 107 pitches.

Minor was matched by Mat Latos throughout the start. Because of that, he picked up a no-decision for his efforts. Minor will take on the Mets in his next start.


Mat Latos picks up no decision despite strong start
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(8/22/2014) Reds pitcher Mat Latos tossed a solid start Friday against the Braves.

Latos allowed one run on nine hits over six innings. He struck out three and walked two during the outing. Latos gave up his only run in the third inning. After giving up three straight singles to load the bases, one run managed to come home an a groundout. Latos was able to get out of the inning without giving up any additional runs. Though he proved to be fairly hittable over the start, Latos was able to work his way out of trouble in all but the third inning. 

Latos was matched by Mike Minor during the start, forcing him to settle for a no-decision. He’ll take on the Cubs in his next start. 


Joe Kelly removed with 'sensation' in shoulder
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(8/22/2014) Red Sox pitcher Joe Kelly was removed from Friday's game with "sensation" in his shoulder, according to the Boston Herald

Kelly was removed for precautionary reasons. He expects to make his next start. Kelly felt the issue in the fifth inning. 


 
 
 
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