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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
Marlins SP Mat Latos impressive over seven innings in loss
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(5:19 pm ET) The only thing Marlins starting pitcher Mat Latos didn't do on Sunday against the Cubs was get a win.

Latos was very impressive over seven innings as he allowed just one hit and one earned run. He gave up a run when he threw a wild pitch in the first inning. After that, he went on to throw six scoreless frames.

Despite the dominant showing, latos picked up his sixth loss of the season. He holds a 4.90 ERA with 67 strikeouts and 24 walks in 75 1/3 innings this year.


Pedro Alvarez homers in Pirates win
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5:18 pm ET) Pirates first baseman Pedro Alvarez hit a two-run home run as part of a five-run Pittsburgh rally in Sunday's win over Cleveland. 

Alvarez hit his twelfth home run of the year and second in four games. He went 1 for 3 and reached 37 RBI. 


Marlins option Marcell Ozuna to Triple-A
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5:18 pm ET) The Marlins optioned outfielder Marcell Ozuna to Triple-A after Sunday's loss to the Cubs, reports MLB.com.

Prior to Sunday's contest, Ozuna was hitting .130 with two doubles and two RBI in his last 19 games.


Cubs SP Kyle Hendricks tosses 7 1/3 scoreless innings in win
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(5:16 pm ET) Cubs starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks was dominant on Sunday against the Marlins.

Hendricks shut out Miami for 71/3 innings and allowed just five hits. He picked up his fourth win of the season, while striking out six batters and allowing just one walk.

Hendricks (4-4) has a 3.82 ERA with 75 strikeouts and 17 walks in 92 innings of work this season.


Mark Melancon saves 27th game for Pirates
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5:14 pm ET) Pirates closer Mark Melancon pitched a perfect ninth inning to save Sunday's win over Cleveland. 

Melancon converted his 25th save opportunity in a row and recorded his 27th save of the season. He hasn't allowed a run in his last 14 appearances. 


Indians' Danny Salazar knocked out before fifth inning again
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5:12 pm ET) Indians starter Danny Salazar lasted just 4 2/3 innings in a loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday. 

Salazar has failed to finish five innings for the third time in four games. He gave up five runs, the second time in three games he's given up as many. He allowed seven hits and struck out seven. 

Salazar also gave up a home run for the fifth time in six starts.  


Phillies C Carlos Ruiz comes up big in extra-inning win
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(5:07 pm ET) Catcher Carlos Ruiz had two hits and drove in a pair of runs as the Phillies pulled out a 10-inning victory over the Braves on Sunday. 

Ruiz's biggest hit came in the 10th, when Philadelphia had just grabbed a 1-0 lead on a Ryan Howard sacrifice fly. Ruiz followed with a double to deep left field, giving the Phillies the insurance runs they needed to pick up the win. 

Ruiz's offensive numbers are down from his prime, but he does have four RBIs and three hits in his last four games to raise his season total to .223. 


Tigers to recall Ian Krol; option Drew VerHagen
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5:04 pm ET) The Tigers will promote pitcher Ian Krol prior to Monday's game at Seattle, the team announced.

Krol was 1-1 with a 8.68 ERA in 9 1/3 innings earlier this season. With Krol being promoted, the Tigers optioned Drew VerHagen to Triple-A, report the Detroit Free Press. VerHagen had a 5.40 ERA in five innings of work this season.


Roberto Osuna earns third save of the season for Blue Jays
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(5:00 pm ET) Roberto Osuna picked up his third save of the year Sunday, going 1 1/3 innings to help finish off the Blue Jays' 10-5 victory over the Tigers. 

All three of Osuna's saves this season have gone at least 1 1/3 innings. He faced five batters Sunday and allowed a hit on 21 pitches, but was able to close the door for Toronto. 

According to the National Post, Osuna felt tightness in his lower back on the first pitch of the ninth inning. Osuna said he expects it to be sore tomorrow, but that he would be available. 


Pirates' Gerrit Cole wins MLB-leading twelfth
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4:57 pm ET) Pirates starter Gerrit Cole earned his MLB-leading twelfth win of the season on Sunday, over Cleveland. 

Cole snapped a two-start winless streak--his longest of the year. Cole had a loss and a no-decision since his last victory. 

Cole pitched eight innings, the deepest he's gone into a game since May 22. He allowed three runs on five hits and took a two-win lead over any other pitcher in MLB.  


 
 
 
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