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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
Nick Tropeano strikes out four in loss vs. Indians
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11:34 pm ET) Astros pitcher Nick Tropeano took a loss Tuesday, surrendering two runs (one earned) on four hits and two walks in five innings while striking out four in his team's 4-2 defeat against the Indians.

Tropeano (1-1) pitched about as well as he did in his first start but faced a much tougher road to a win Tuesday with Corey Kluber racking up strikeouts against Houston hitters. The Astros pitcher gave up a run on a groundout in the first inning before the Indians plated an unearned run in the fourth. Tropeano owns a 2.70 ERA and 9:4 K:BB ratio in 10 innings. He's scheduled to face the Rangers Monday.


Corey Kluber strikes out 14 in dominant win vs. Astros
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11:33 pm ET) Indians pitcher Corey Kluber earned a win Tuesday, giving up just one earned run on seven hits and two walks in seven innings while striking out a season-high 14 batters in his team's 4-2 victory over the Astros.

Kluber (16-9) allowed an RBI single the first inning but went on to deliver his ninth double-digit-strikeout performance of the season. He's second in the majors in strikeouts during his breakout season. Kluber owns a 2.42 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 244:48 K:BB ratio in 219 2/3 innings. He's scheduled to face the Twins Sunday in what should be his penultimate start of the season.


Joe Nathan blows save in loss vs. Twins
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11:08 pm ET) Tigers closer Joe Nathan blew a save opportunity and took a loss Tuesday, allowing two earned runs on two hits and one walk in two-thirds of an inning in his team's 4-3 defeat against the Twins.

A well-pitched game turned into a wild one in the ninth inning Tuesday, as Nathan (4-4) followed up a blown save on a three-run home run against Glen Perkins with his own troubles in the bottom of the ninth. The Twins delivered the tying run on a one-out double and earned the win with a walkoff infield single. Nathan has given up runs in back-to-back appearances and now owns a 5.10 ERA and 52:28 K:BB ratio in 54 2/3 innings.


Glen Perkins blows save, picks up win Tuesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11:03 pm ET) Twins closer Glen Perkins blew a save opportunity Tuesday but still ended up with a win in his team's 4-3 victory over the Tigers.

Perkins (4-3) was handed a 2-0 lead after a brilliant performance by Ricky Nolasco, and he served up a three-run home run to put his team in a hole. However, the offense delivered a walkoff win in the bottom half of the ninth to take Perkins off the hook. The closer's recent struggles continue, as he's now allowed runs in four straight appearances and six of his last eight games, serving up five home runs during that stretch. Perkins owns a 3.65 ERA and 66:11 K:BB ratio in 61 2/3 innings.


Jake Odorizzi spins six one-run innings in win vs. Yankees
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11:00 pm ET) Rays pitcher Jake Odorizzi earned a win Tuesday, giving up one earned run on five hits and one walk in six innings while striking out three in his team's 6-1 victory over the Yankees.

Odorizzi (11-12) gave up an RBI single in the second inning and appeared he may be headed for a tough loss befor the offense came through with a run in the fifth and another in the sixth. Three of his last four outings have been excellent, but he also has two clunkers in his last five starts. Odorizzi owns a 3.98 ERA and 171:56 K:BB ratio in 165 innings. He's scheduled to face the Red Sox next Tuesday.


Michael Pineda strikes out five in loss vs. Rays Tuesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11:00 pm ET) Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda took a loss Tuesday, allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits and two walks in 5 1/3 innings while striking out five in his team's 6-1 defeat against the Rays.

Pineda (3-5) tossed four scoreless innings before the Rays broke through with a run on an error in the fifth. The second run against the starter came on a bunt single in the sixth with runners on the corners. Pineda owns a 2.15 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 41:6 K:BB ratio in 62 2/3 innings. He's scheduled to face the Orioles Monday.


Ricky Nolasco delivers eight scoreless innings Tuesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:58 pm ET) Twins pitcher Ricky Nolasco didn't factor into the decision Tuesday, allowing just five hits and one walk in eight scoreless innings while striking out five in his team's 4-3 win over the Tigers.

Nolasco came through with his best start of the season Tuesday, but closer Glen Perkins surrendered a three-run bomb in the ninth to deny him the win. Nolasco has actually held the opposition to two earned runs or fewer in four of his last five starts, but he still owns a 5.34 ERA and 104:35 K:BB ratio in 148 1/3 innings. He's slated to face the Diamondbacks Monday.


Rick Porcello allows two runs in no-decision vs. Twins
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:57 pm ET) Tigers pitcher Rick Porcello didn't factor into the decision Tuesday, giving up two earned runs on seven hits and two walks in eight innings while striking out five in his team's 4-3 loss to the Twins.

Porcello remains winless in four straight outings, though he's delivered quality starts three times during that stretch. The damage Tuesday came on an RBI single in the fourth inning and a solo home run in the sixth, and the starter needed just 103 pitches to get through eight frames. Porcello owns a 3.19 ERA and 122:36 K:BB ratio in 197 2/3 innings. He's scheduled to face the White Sox Monday.


Jake Arrieta spins 13-strikeout gem in near no-hitter vs. Reds
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:48 pm ET) Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta lost a no-hitter in the eighth inning Tuesday, giving up just one hit and one walk in a complete-game shutout and striking out 13 in his team's 7-0 win over the Reds.

Arrieta (9-5) tossed 7 1/3 no-hit innings before Brandon Phillips broke through for a double in the eighth, but the starter was able to buckle down and strike out three of the final five batters he faced to preserve his first career complete game and shutout. Arrieta owns a 2.65 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 157:40 K:BB ratio in 149 2/3 innings. He's scheduled to face the Cardinals next Tuesday in what will likely be his final start of the season.


Johnny Cueto blasted for six runs in loss vs. Cubs
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:44 pm ET) Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto took a loss Tuesday, allowing six earned runs on five hits and five walks in 5 2/3 innings while striking out eight in his team's 7-0 defeat against the Cubs.

Cueto (18-9) had an atypical night Tuesday, issuing a walk with the bases loaded twice in the sixth inning to help contribute to his worst start since giving up six earned runs in 5 1/3 innings on May 20. He still owns a 2.33 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 228:64 K:BB ratio in 227 2/3 innings. Cueto is scheduled to face the Brewers next Tuesday.


 
 
 
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