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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
Pirates' Gregory Polanco smacks second home run of season Thursday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:55 am ET) Pirates outfielder Gregory Polanco connected off Padres starter Ian Kennedy for his second home run of the season during Thursday's 11-5 win over the Padres.

Polanco hit the solo home run in the second inning. He finished the game 2 for 5 with one RBI and one run scored. He is now hitting .247 on the season.

Prior to his performance Thursday, Polanco was hitting .333 with one RBI in his last five games.


Pirates C Francisco Cervelli collects three hits in Thursday's win
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:49 am ET) Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli had three more hits during Thursday's 11-5 win over the Padres to raise his batting average to .320 on the season.

During Thursday's contest, Cervelli went 3 for 5 with two runs scored. Over his last five games, Cervelli is 9 for 17 with four RBI and six runs scored.


Pirates OF Starling Marte hits 10th home run of season Thursday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:44 am ET) Pirates outfielder Starling Marte smacked his 10th home run of the season during Thursday's 11-5 win over the Padres.

Marte hit the two-run home run off Ian Kennedy in the third inning. Marte finished the game 1 for 3 with two RBI, two runs scored and one walk.

Prior to Thursday's contest, Marte was hitting .167 with one home run and four RBI in his last six games.


Angels' Erick Aybar (hamstring) not expected to need DL stint
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:40 am ET) Angels manager Mike Scioscia said after Thursday's win over the Tigers that shortstop Erick Aybar (hamstring) is not expected to need a trip to the disabled list, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Aybar left Thursday's game due to hamstring tightness. He suffered the injury while trying to beat a bunt to first base. The team could call up a capable replacement at shortstop even if the Angels believe Aybar will only miss a few games with the injury. He was replaced Thursday by Taylor Featherston, who had played a total of six innings across four games at the position this season.


Pirates' Andrew McCutchen collects three hits in Thursday's win
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:37 am ET) Pirates OF Andrew McCutchen went 3 for 5 at the plate to help lead the Pirates to an 11-5 victory over the Padres on Thursday.

McCutchen drove in two runs and scored two during the contest. Prior to his three-hit game Thursday, McCutchen was hitting .382 with three home runs and five RBI in his last nine games.


Padres 3B Will Middlebrooks collects three hits in Thursday's loss
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:32 am ET) Padres third baseman Will Middlebrooks went 3 for 4 at the plate during Thursday's contest, but it was not enough as the Padres fell 11-5 to the Pirates.

All three of the hits for Middlebrooks were singles. He drove in one run and scored a run during the game.

Middlebrooks is 9 for 22 with two home runs and five RBI in his last five games. During that time, he has raised his batting average from .211 to .240.


Pirates SS Jung Ho Kang slugs three-run home run in Thursday's win
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:24 am ET) Pirates shortstop Jung Ho Kang connected off pitcher Ian Kennedy in the first inning for his third home run of the season during Thursday's 11-5 win over the Padres.

Ho Kang finished the game 1 for 5 with three RBI. Ho Kang has hit safely in his last 10 games. During that time, he is 15 for 41 with eight RBI and he has raised his average from .270 to .308.


Angels' Chris Iannetta delivers grand slam in win Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:24 am ET) Angels catcher Chris Iannetta went 2 for 4 with a grand slam in his team's 12-2 win over the Tigers on Thursday.

Iannetta put the cherry on top of a blowout win for the Angels with his seventh-inning slam, which increased the Angels' lead to 11 runs before the Tigers were able to get one back in the ninth. It was the fourth grand slam of the catcher's career.

Iannetta has hit just .178/.263/.307 with 13 RBI in 101 at-bats, but all three of his home runs have come in his last eight games.


Pirates SP A.J. Burnett allows five runs in Thursday's start
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:22 am ET) Pirates pitcher A.J. Burnett gave up five runs (four earned) over 5 2/3 innings to earn his fifth victory of the season during the 11-5 win over the Padres on Thursday.

Burnett (5-1) struck out six and walked two batters during the outing. His ERA rose from 1.37 to 1.81.

The Pirates gave Burnett a 7-0 lead before Burnett allowed two runs to score in the fourth inning on hits by Justin Upton and Will Middlebrooks. Burnett permitted more runs in the fifth inning when two hits and two errors led to two runs.

By failing to toss seven innings Thursday, it broke Burnett's streak of four-consecutive starts throwing seven innings. He allowed four earned runs during those outings. His next expected is scheduled for Tuesday at San Francisco.


Angels' Matt Joyce homers in second straight game Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:21 am ET) Angels left fielder Matt Joyce went 2 for 3 with a home run and two RBI in his team's 12-2 win over the Tigers on Thursday.

After being bogged down offensively for much of the season, Joyce has now homered in consecutive games and looks to be getting on track at the plate. He has hit just .187/.262/.313 with three home runs and 15 RBI in 134 at-bats, but it's improvement on his .360 OPS at the end of April.


 
 
 
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