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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
Taijuan Walker sent down following Wednesday's game
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:18 pm ET) Mariners pitcher Taijuan Walker has been optioned to the minors following Wednesday's start, according to MLB.com.

The club is off Monday, and will skip Walker's next start in order to keep their other pitchers on normal rest. Walker has a 3.60 ERA over three starts in the majors. 


Why would now be different for Shelby Miller?
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(7:14 pm ET) The reports of Shelby Miller moving back to the Cardinals rotation have Fantasy owners taking another look at the 23-year-old right-hander. Don't even try to deny it. We keep track of these things.

During his time out of the rotation, he made one relief appearance, and it was shaky. He allowed two hits and one walk in a scoreless inning of work.

Same old Miller? That's the impression I got.

If he's been working on anything in the 13 days since his last start, he hasn't shown it in a game yet. The only reason the Cardinals gave for his banishment to the bullpen was a need for extra rest, so I'm not expecting to see anything different from Miller. And considering he wasn't any good at the start of the season, when he was as rested as he could possibly be, I don't expect the results to change either.

Someone somewhere down the line is going to get through to Miller someday, but I'll opt for Jacob deGrom, Rubby De La Rosa, Danny Duffy or Wade Miley off the waiver wire instead. The signs of progress are much clearer for them.


Ruben Tejada checks out fine after taking pitch to head
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:13 pm ET) Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada checked out OK after being hit in the head by a pitch Wednesday, the New York Daily News reports.

Tejada is likely to miss at least one game, but the team probably won't have to make a roster move to bring up another shortstop. He went 0 for 1 before exiting Wednesday's game, giving him a .235/.358/.292 line with two home runs and 22 RBI in 260 at-bats.


Pirates recall Brent Morel from Triple-A
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:09 pm ET) The Pirates recalled outfielder Brent Morel from Triple-A indianapolis Wednesday.

Morel takes the roster spot of Starling Marte, who was placed on the seven-day disabled list Wednesday. Morel has hit .246/.318/.342 with three home runs and 37 RBI in 260 at-bats with Indianapolis.


Starling Marte placed on seven-day disabled list
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:06 pm ET) The Pirates placed outfielder Starling Marte on the seven-day concussion disabled list Wednesday.

Marte initially suffered a head injury over the weekend but returned to the lineup Monday. However, further tests deemed that he required a stint on the disabled list. Marte has hit .255/.328/.385 with five home runs, 34 RBI and 21 stolen bases in 314 at-bats.


Didi Gregorius homers, steals base Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:02 pm ET) Diamondbacks shortstop Didi Gregorius went 2 for 4 with a two-run homer and a stolen base in his team's 11-5 loss to the Tigers Wednesday.

Gregorius was 0 for 8 in his prebious three games before coming up big Wednesday, notching his first home run and steal in over a month. He has hit .232/.330/.404 with three home runs, 11 RBI and two stolen bases in 99 at-bats.


Jenrry Mejia records 13th save Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:56 pm ET) Mets closer Jenrry Mejia secured his 13th save Wednesday, giving up two hits and striking out two in a scoreless ninth inning to finish off his team's 3-2 win over the Mariners.

Mejia earned his second save in as many days despite putting multiple men on base for the first time in four appearances. He owns a 3.74 ERA and 68:32 K:BB ratio in 67 1/3 innings.


Danny Salazar's return a mixed bag
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(6:56 pm ET) Remember those reports coming out of Triple-A Columbus about Danny Salazar being back to form and as good as he was last year? After his first start back in the majors Thursday, the jury's still out.

He didn't pitch poorly, but any transformation he may have undergone in his 10 starts at Columbus wasn't immediately evident in the results or on the radar gun. He still struggled with his command, walking three in an inefficient five innings, and he still averaged 1-2 mph less on his fastball than he did for most of his stay last year.

And it's not like the results were radically different at Triple-A. His strikeout rate did improve during his stay there, but he still issued 14 walks in 17 2/3 innings over his final three starts. The red flags remained even amid the glowing reports.

So ... were they all a bunch of hooey? Hard to say. The talent is evident. Even with reduced velocity, Salazar is among the hardest throwers in the game and should at least deliver a high strikeout rate. But with his control issues, will he accumulate enough innings for it to matter in Fantasy?

I already ranked him a conservative 77th at starting pitcher before this start, so I didn't feel the need to move him in response. In most leagues, he's worth owning, but in a what-do-you-have-to-lose sort of way.


Anibal Sanchez roughed up against Arizona
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:54 pm ET) Tigers pitcher Anibal Sanchez had a tough start Wednesday against the Diamondbacks.

Sanchez allowed five runs on 11 hits over 6 1/3 innings. He struck out four and walked one during the appearance. Sanchez had no issues early, cruising through the first four innings. Things got tough late. After Gerardo Parra and Martin Prado led off the fifth inning with back-to-back doubles, plating a run for Arizona. Didi Gregorius followed that up with a two-run home run. 

Parra struck again in the sixth inning, singling in a run. Sanchez ran into similar issues in the seventh. After a run scored on three straight singles, Sanchez was pulled from the contest. He was replaced by Joba Chamberlain. Sanchez threw 104 pitches.

Opposing starter Trevor Cahill struggled quite a bit Wednesday, which led Sanchez to pick up a win. With the win, he improves to 7-4 on the year. His next start will come against the White Sox.


Taijuan Walker struggles with control Wednesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:53 pm ET) Mariners pitcher Taijuan Walker struggled with his control Wednesday against the Mets.

Walker allowed two runs on two hits over five innings. He struck out five and walked six. Walker tossed 94 pitches during the outing. The Mets struck early, as Daniel Murphy doubled in a run in the first inning, but were kept quiet after that. Walker was able to pitch around three walks the next four innings. Things fell apart in the sixth, though. After giving up a leadoff single to start things off, Walker loaded the bases by walking the next two hitters. He was removed from the game in favor of Dominic Leone. Leone allowed just one run to score, which was credited to Walker.

With the loss, Walker fell to 1-2 on the year. Should he remain in the team’s rotation, his next start would come against the Indians.


 
 
 
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