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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
Skip Schumaker will head to Triple-A after extended spring work
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9:53 pm ET) The Cardinals want infielder Skip Schumaker to take his rehabilitation to Triple-A once he gets through some extended spring training games, MLB.com reports Wednesday. Though there is not set timeline for his return to competitive action, Schumaker will get as many at-bats as he needs as he continues to recover from a dislocated shoulder in spring training.

"We're going to try and be as accommodating as we can to get him as many at-bats, seeing as many pitches as possible on the front end of this thing," manager Mike Matheny told MLB.com. "Once he goes to a full-season league, we can't control the environment."


Nick Franklin likely heading back to Triple-A
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9:52 pm ET) Mariners infielder Nick Franklin will likely be optioned to Triple-A Tacoma before Friday's game against the Rangers.

Franklin tweeted "Las Vegas here I come!" after Wednesday's win over the Astros, indicating that he's been informed that he'll join Tacoma in Las Vegas. He went 1 for 3 Wednesday and is 2 for 16 with two walks in 16 at-bats with the big-league club.


No slowing down for Charlie Blackmon
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9:48 pm ET) One day after getting a game off to rest against a tough lefty, Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon was back at the top of the lineup Wednesday against the Giants.

Blackmon extended his hitting streak to five games, while reaching base multiple times for the fourth time in that streak. He scored four times while going 2 for 5 with a walk, and he added his fourth home run in three games, while driving in three in the 12-10 loss.

Blackmon has been one of the best hitters in the league through the season's first few weeks, and is now hitting .410/.453/.692 through 22 games. He has five home runs, 16 RBI and 19 runs scored in 78 at-bats. 


Troy Tulowitzki goes deep yet again
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9:40 pm ET) Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki continued his strong play Wednesday, in a 12-10 loss to the Giants in 11 innings.

Tulowitzki went 3 for 5 in the game, his third three-hit game in the last six. He drove in three runs, including two on a first-inning home run. He added one walk and scored twice as the Rockies went on to los in extra innings.

Tulowitzki is off to a remarkable start to the season, with 16 RBI and 19 runs scored in 21 games. He is hitting .388/.494/.701 in 67 at-bats. 


Brandon Hicks makes an impact in start
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9:33 pm ET) Giants infielder Brandon Hicks continued his solid play as a part-time player Wednesday, hitting his second home run of the season in a 12-10 win over the Rockies.

Hicks played the entirety of the 11-inning battle, and had his best game of the season. He went 3 for 6 with a pair of extra-base hits, including a solo home run in the third inning that began a comeback. He finished with one run scored and one driven in.

Hicks is hitting .250/.412/.475 in 40 at-bats this season, with four RBI and seven runs scored. 


Dylan Bundy throws eight curveballs in bullpen session
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9:31 pm ET) Orioles pitcher Dylan Bundy threw his breaking ball eight times in Wednesday's bullpen session, marking the first time in his recovery he's thrown curveballs, MLB.com reports.

"He's progressing well. It's the last real piece," manager Buck Showalter said. "It's a baseball decision now and not a medical question. And that's kind of where we are with Manny [Machado]. It's a baseball [decision] now as opposed to the physical part of it, so that's what you're hoping to get to."

Bundy is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and could be ready to pitch for the Orioles in June.


Byron Buxton to see first action Monday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9:22 pm ET) Twins outfielder Byron Buxton is scheduled to play three innings in an extended spring-training game Monday, MLB.com reports.

It'll be Buxton's first action since spraining his wrist on March 16. The Twins initially hoped he'd be able to play Thursday, but they're being extra cautious with the top prospect.


Brendan Ryan continues work at spring training complex
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8:55 pm ET) Yankees infielder Brendan Ryan has continued to receive at-bats at the team's spring training complex in Florida while recovering from nerve damage in his spine, MLB.com reports.

Ryan has received about 20 at-bats thus far, and the team was looking to get him at least 50 at-bats before he returns. He could end up back with the Yankees in seven-to-ten days, according to the report.


Tyler Chatwood can't make early lead last
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(8:26 pm ET) Rockies starting pitcher Tyler Chatwood received plenty of help in his start against the Giants Wednesday, but could not make it stand up in a 12-10, extra-innings loss.

Chatwood was staked to an early 5-1 lead through two innings, which makes his ultimate failure to make that stand up all the more disappointing. His lead lasted just one inning, as the Giants took him deep twice in the third inning to tie the game.

Chatwood was ultimately charged with five runs on seven hits and four walks in six innings of work. Each run allowed came by way of the longball, as the Giants took him deep three times. Chatwood added five strikeouts, while throwing just 53 of 100 pitches for strikes.

Chatwood has one quality start through three trips to the mound this season, and remains 1-0 with a 4.26 ERA through 19 innings of work. He will look for his second win in his next start, Tuesday in Arizona. 


Matt Cain hit hard in no-decision
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(8:19 pm ET) Giants starting pitcher Matt Cain was bailed out by the offense Wednesday against the Rockies, but remains winless after the 12-10 extra-innings win.

Cain was in pretty much perpetual trouble early in the start, as the Rockies jumped on him for four runs in the first two innings of work. He settled down for a while after, but was ultimately tagged with seven runs on 10 hits and three walks in six innings of work. He struck out four while throwing 64 of 104 pitches for strikes, and was taken deep twice in the outing. 

Fortunately, Cain avoided his fourth loss as the offenses rallied to win in extras. He is off to a poor start, carrying 4.35 ERA and 0-3 record through his first five starts. Cain will try to get back on track in his next start, set for Tuesday against the Padres.


 
 
 
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