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Waiver Wire: Belt starting to surge

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Danny Salazar caused the staff here at CBSSports.com a few headaches this week. After touting him as a strong Week 20 play, Salazar promptly went out and disappointed against the Twins, giving up three runs in four innings. He then lost his second start of the week when Scott Kazmir was brought back into the rotation.

But it might be wise to stick by Salazar. He put up ERAs of 2.36 and 2.71 the last two years in the minors, with a 1.07 WHIP and 10.2 K/9. He only threw 71 pitches in that game against the Twins, and could have recovered from the rough start to shut the team down over two or three more innings. But it seemed like the Indians wanted to keep his arm fresh and not waste the innings in a game against the Twins. And Salazar will get some extra rest with Kazmir returning and bumping him back.

It's understandable that owners would want to bail on Salazar now -- he's given up seven runs in his last two starts and is a largely unknown quantity with a history of arm trouble. And the Indians have been a little inconsistent in their treatment of him -- letting him go 100-plus pitches one game, then yanking him after 71 pitches the next. But I think talent wins out here and Salazar could come roaring back with a string of solid performances to close out the year.

The Big Leap

Brandon Belt, 1B, Giants (59 percent ownership, up from 46 percent)

As most baseball players often do, Belt revealed the reason for his recent success at the plate in the middle of a blog post centered around a review for the latest Ryan Reynolds movie.

In his Brandon and Brandon blog, (which he writes with Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford), Belt explained why he was suddenly smashing the ball: he moved back in the batter's box and began holding the bat in his fingers, as opposed to his palms. Belt says the coaches had been trying to get him to make these changes "for a long item," but it took some encouragement from Buster Posey, a few other teammates and even Domonic Brown ( if you have a few minutes, read this story about how Bam Bam Meulens has a role in Belt's resurgence) until he relented and tried the changes.

"I saw results immediately," Belt wrote in his blog. "I felt I was really tapping into my ability, like I did in spring training." Belt hit .410 with eight home runs and a 1.265 OPS in 24 spring games this year. Since that Phillies series, where he sat and worked on his adjustments, Belt is hitting .417 with three home runs and a 1.306 OPS in 11 games.

We've been waiting for Belt to really break out for a couple years. And now, with changes in his batting stance and box positioning, we may be seeing him take off. Belt is dialed in, and should be added in all Fantasy formats.

Post-Deadline Trade!

Emilio Bonifacio, 2B, Royals (Owned in 13 percent of leagues)

Bonifacio was sent to the Royals on Wednesday for a player to be named later. While it may not register more than a blip on most radars, this could turn out to be a fortuitous deal for speed speculators in Roto leagues.

The Royals have struggled to find a starting second baseman all season. Chris Getz has started 49 games with Elliot Johnson starting 36, Miguel Tejada 22 and Johnny Giavotella 10. Bonifacio, who has made 134 career appearances at second base in his career, could solidify the position for the rest of the season. He can also contribute in the outfield, where David Lough and Jarrod Dyson have gotten regular playing time, or at third base, where Mike Moustakas is currently absent as he nurses a calf injury

The question here is how effective Bonifacio will be. He averaged 35 steals in 2011 and 2012, despite only playing in 64 games last year. And he's managed 12 steals over 262 at-bats in sporadic playing time with the Blue Jays this season. And the Royals like to run -- they're second in the majors in steals with 93.

So Bonifacio has upside -- essentially everyday at-bats at second, third or the outfield with a skill that is highly valued by his team -- but you'll have to keep your batting average expectations low (.250-.260-ish) and don't expect much outside of the speed. He's worth an add in Roto leagues based on his steal potential, but I'd be wary of Bonifacio's Head-to-Head league value, with little to contribute in other categories.

Guy I Added Based on a Hunch

Jake Arrieta, SP, Cubs (Owned in 3 percent of leagues)

Most Added Players (as of 8/15)
Player % change
1. Bruce Chen, RP, Royals 25
2. Danny Salazar, SP, Indians 23
3. Brian Dozier, 2B, Twins 21
4. Yan Gomes, C, Indians 19
5. Will Venable, OF, Padres 19
6. Josh Reddick, OF, Athletics 17
7. Robbie Grossman, OF, Astros 17
8. Stephen Drew, SS, Red Sox 15
9. Tyson Ross, RP, Padres 15
10. Dan Haren, SP, Nationals 14

If you take a step back and look at Arrieta as just a set of numbers, here's what you see: a 27-year-old former top prospect who was stellar his first three years in the minors. He had a nice strikeout rate (about one per inning), with a solid ERA and WHIP. Brought up to the majors, he just couldn't put things together. Sent back to the minors for parts of the last two years, Arrieta struggled, with two seasons of 4.00-plus ERAs.

However, after a trade from the Orioles to the Cubs before the deadline, Arrieta seems to have found a groove. In seven starts with Iowa, Arrieta has a 3.56 ERA and career-high 11.6 K/9. His WHIP is high (1.58), but, well, we'll take it.

This is a gut call mixed with some research. Arrieta showed signs of promise not that long ago. He was on the fast track to the majors. Maybe the AL East was too much. Maybe he lost some confidence getting sent back down to the minors. But Arrieta is still just 27, he has some nice strikeout potential and he's getting a late-season, no-pressure chance with a new team in a league with no DH.

I added Arrieta in an NL-only league and a 17-team mixed Roto league. He's not quite ready for my 15-team mixed Roto Tout Wars squad, but I'm keeping an eye on him. If he can get a strikeout per inning -- even if he gives up four runs -- I may consider adding him to help my strikeout totals in Roto leagues. And if he finds his way in ERA and WHIP, I'll consider that a nice bonus.

AL-only fun

Dane De La Rosa, RP, Angels (Owned in 9 percent of leagues)

It's as simple as this: Ernesto Frieri has been very bad recently and De La Rosa got the first crack at the save opportunity when Mike Scioscia decided a change was needed. As the would-be closer, De La Rosa now has value in AL-only leagues.

While he's not as impressive as Frieri (the 2012 version), De La Rosa can get about a strikeout per inning while keeping his ERA and WHIP around 3.00 and 1.20-ish, respectively. But all he really has to do is hold leads late in games for the next month and a half to have across-the-board appeal, as there really isn't another obvious choice in that bullpen to fill the closer role. For now, though, he's a must-add in AL-only formats on the speculative hope that De La Rosa keeps that job.

NL-only fun

Corey Dickerson, OF, Rockies (3 percent ownership)

Dickerson's been pretty much overlooked by the masses, especially in light of Carlos Gonzalez's injury. Dickerson currently has a .297 average, with two home runs and six doubles over 74 at-bats. But those numbers include a stint in June and July that had him playing somewhat sporadically. In the 17 games since his recall, Dickerson is hitting .366 with a .996 OPS. And in 32 August at-bats, he's hitting .344 with a .934 OPS

The problem is playing time. Charlie Blackmon is currently eating into Dickerson's at-bats and both will probably get the squeeze when Gonzalez returns from his DL trip. However, Dickerson -- who had a .321 average, .980 OPS and averaged 11 steals per season over four years in the minors -- has a ton of talent. So there's a chance Gonzalez sees the steep climb to the second wild card spot (12 games, currently) for the Rockies and decides to sit out the rest of the season and fix his finger. This would make Dickerson a shallower league play.

For now, however, Dickerson has value in NL-only formats as an upside play with a chance to capture more at-bats.

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
Clayton Kershaw plays catch from 100 feet Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11:41 pm ET) Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw played catch from 100 feet Wednesday after coming out of his bullpen session Tuesday feeling good, MLB.com reports.

Kershaw is set to throw another bullpen session Thursday as he continues to recover from a strained terses muscle in his upper back. He still has no timetable for a return.


Giants part ways with Dontrelle Willis
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11:19 pm ET) The Giants released pitcher Dontrelle Willis .

Willis suffered an arm injury in his most recent start with Triple-A Fresno, and it could be the one that ends the career of the 2003 National League Rookie of the Year. He allowed no runs while recording two outs in his two appearances with Fresno.


Zach Walters hits second homer in as many nights
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(11:10 pm ET) Nationals infielder Zach Walters hit his first major-league home run Tuesday against the Marlins, and he didn't wait long to hit his second. Walters put the Nationals up for good in a 6-3 win, with a pinch-hit home run to left off Mike Dunn to open the eighth inning.

Walters has appeared in three games as a sub since joining the team, and has two hits in four at-bats, both home runs.


Jayson Werth sinks the Marlins again
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(11:10 pm ET) Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth had another big game against the Marlins Wednesday, as he hit his third home run of the season against them in a 6-3 win.

Werth's lone hit in four trips to the plate brought in three runs, as he took Marlins' starter Jose Fernandez deep to right. He has yet to hit a home run against a non-Miami team this season.

The bulk of Werth's production has come against the Marlins this season, with 10 of his 11 RBI and all three of his home runs coming against Miami. He is hitting .308/.410/.538 overall.  


Carlos Santana playing through sore groin
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11:06 pm ET) Indians infielder Carlos Santana went 0 for 4 as the team's designated hitter in the Indians' 3-2 win over the Tigers Wednesday. He said after the game that a sore groin has been affecting his hitting, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

Santana has just one hit in 23 at-bats over his last six games to drop his line to .170/.361/.213. However, he has been able to draw 14 walks despite only eight of his batted balls falling for hits.


Leonys Martin delivers walkoff hit in win Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11:03 pm ET) Rangers center fielder Leonys Martin played a key role in his team's 3-2 win over the Mariners Wednesday, going 2 for 4 with a triple, one run and one RBI.

Martin's triple came against Felix Hernandez in the eighth inning and was enough to chase the Seattle ace from the game after his nearly flawless performance. The center fielder would score on a sacrifice fly by the next batter. He then came up with the bases loaded and his team down one with two outs in the ninth inning before a wild pitch scored the tying run, and Martin's single to left field ended the game. He has hit .277/.346/.319 with two stolen bases in 47 at-bats this season.


Error costs Fernando Rodney save Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11:00 pm ET) Mariners closer Fernando Rodney was charged with a blown save and a loss after giving up two unearned runs on two hits and one walk in his team's 3-2 loss to the Rangers Wednesday.

Rodney (0-1) didn't make things easy for himself, but he was able to induce a ground ball to the shortstop with men on first and second for what should have been the third out. However, a high throw from Brad Miller pulled the second baseman off the bag and all runners were safe. Rodney then let the tying run score on a wild pitch before the winning run came home on a single to left field.

The Mariners closer hasn't given up an earned run in 4 1/3 innings this season while striking out eight and walking three.


Felix Hernandez tosses seven one-run innings vs. Rangers
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:56 pm ET) Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez gave up one earned run on four hits and one walk in seven innings while striking out nine in his team's 3-2 loss to the Rangers Wednesday.

Hernandez was nearly flawless through seven innings before giving up a leadoff triple to open the eighth. He was removed after the triple, and the next batter would plate the runner with a sacrifice fly, charging Hernandez with his only run of the night. The bullpen would then deny him of his fourth straight win to open the season. He owns a 1.91 ERA and ridiculous 39:3 K:BB ratio in 28 1/3 innings over four starts. Hernandez will square off against the Astros at home Monday.


Yu Darvish posts quality start in no-decision Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:55 pm ET) Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish was finally scored upon by the opposition Wednesday, giving up two earned runs on seven hits and two walks in seven innings while striking out eight in his team's 3-2 win over the Mariners.

Darvish entered play Wednesday having thrown 15 scoreless innings in his two starts, and he extended the streak to 16 before giving up two runs in the second inning. He locked down after that, but the Rangers offense could get nothing going against Felix Hernandez. However, he avoided taking the loss when the Rangers won the game in the bottom of the ninth. Darvish owns a 0.82 ERA and 23:4 K:BB ratio in 22 innings. He's on track to take on the A's Monday.


Derek Dietrich hits third homer
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(10:52 pm ET) Marlins infielder Derek Dietrich continued his hot start to the season Wednesday, clubbing his third home run of the season in a 6-3 loss to the Nationals.

Dietrich accounted for all of the team's offense in the losing effort with one swing of the bat, as he clubbed a three-run homer in the fourth inning to establish an early lead.  He finished the game 1 for 4, with a pair of strikeouts.

Dietrich has impressed early in the season, though he hasn't quite been a full-time player yet. He is hitting .286/.429/.643 in 28 at-bats, with eight RBI and eight runs scored in nine games. 


 
 
 
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