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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
Stephen Vogt drives in three Thursday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:30 pm ET) Athletics outfielder Stephen Vogt drove in three Thursday against the Astros.

Vogt stepped to the plate in the eighth inning with the bases loaded. On the five pitch of the at-bat, he dropped a double out to center. The hit cleared the bases. Vogt finished 2 for 5, with no runs scored and three RBI. 


GM: Chad Qualls likely to stay put in Houston
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(7:25 pm ET) Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow told reporters that the team will likely not trade closer Chad Qualls before the July 31 trade deadline, MLB.com reports. Qualls has converted 11 saves in 13 chances with a 1.78 ERA over 35 1/3 innings this season.

"I hesitate to use the word 'untouchable,' but he likes it here, he's comfortable here and he's pitching well," Luhnow said. "To have a guy who's capable of pitching late in the game, in close games, we're going to have opportunity going forward. This is a team that's improving, and as the team improves, you have more save opportunities, more opportunities to pitch at the end of close games. We need more Chad Qualls. We don't need less."

Royals announce DH plans for coming days
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(7:22 pm ET) Royals manager Ned Yost told reporters that Billy Butler will lose some time as a designated hitter moving forward, the Kansas City Star reports Thursday. Yost is expected to give Danny Valencia and Raul Ibanez some reps at DH in the near future.

Joakim Soria might be worth stashing
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(7:17 pm ET) Granted, he wasn't getting the most consistent save opportunities in Texas, but if you play in a league where every save matters (which is typically the case in Rotisserie formats), Joakim Soria's move to Detroit is a punch in the gut.

Mostly because the Tigers say they intend to stick with Joe Nathan as their closer. Sad face.

But let's get real here: Nathan has been terrible and has shown no clear signs of a turnaround. Since blowing his third save May 21, the longest he's gone without allowing an earned run is four appearances. That won't cut it in the ninth inning.

Soria, meanwhile, was brilliant for the Rangers even if his low save total didn't reflect it. He compiled a 2.70 ERA, 0.87 WHIP and 11.3 strikeouts per nine innings in 35 innings. His FIP, which estimates ERA with defense and luck removed from the equation, is 1.07.

The Rangers may intend to stick with Nathan as their closer, but if both he and Soria continue to do what they've been doing, the switch could come quickly. So if you play in a league where every save matters, maybe you just stash Soria for now.


Asdrubal Cabrera targeting weekend return vs. Royals
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(7:16 pm ET) Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera increased his activities on Thursday, as he continues to work his way back from a back injury. Manager Terry Francona remains hopeful of a return this weekend against the Royals, particularly on Saturday.

Cabrera is hitting .247/.308/.392 over 365 at-bats.

Trade doesn't change much for Kendrys Morales
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(7:03 pm ET) Though Kendrys Morales is certainly capable of making a real contribution in Fantasy, he didn't do it in 39 games with the Twins, batting .234 with one home run and a .584 OPS.

And now with his trade to the Mariners, he's going to Safeco Field, a park known to neutralize a hitter or two. Oh noes!

Relax. We already have an idea how Morales will perform in Seattle considering he was just there last year. Of course, you would have rather seen him go elsewhere -- like to a hitter's park for once -- but if he continues to struggle like he did with the Twins, who don't exactly play in a hitter's haven themselves, the venue won't be the reason why.

After waiting half the year to sign with a team, Morales is now paying the price. While every other player is in midseason form, he's still in spring training mode -- or just coming out of it, anyway, having hit safely in 12 of his last 13 games.

Provided the Mariners stick with him every day and don't fit him into some kind of rotation with Logan Morrison and Corey Hart, he's a good bet for some cheap power numbers down the stretch. Maybe the move to a contender will even spark something in him.


Brandon Moss blasts grand slam Thursday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:57 pm ET) Athletics first baseman Brandon Moss belted a grand slam Thursday against the Astros.

Moss stepped to the plate with the bases loaded in the sixth inning. On the first pitch of the at-bat, Moss hit a grand slam on a 96 mph fastball. It was Moss' 23rd home run of the season. Moss finished 1 for 3, with two runs scored and four RBI. 


Jeff Samardzija turns in an excellent start Thursday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:53 pm ET) Athletics pitcher Jeff Samardzija turned in an excellent start against the Astros Thursday.

Samardzija allowed one run on five hits over eight innings. He struck out six and did not allow any walks. The only blemish against Samardzija came in the fourth inning. With the bases empty, Samardzija allowed a solo home run to Chris Carter. Other than that, he was fantastic. 

With the win, Samardzija improved to 4-8 on the year. He’ll take on the Astros in his next start.


Scott Feldman struggles with his control against Oakland
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:52 pm ET) Astros pitcher Scott Feldman struggled with his control Thursday.

Feldman had a rough start in Oakland. He allowed six runs on nine hits over 5 1/3 innings. Feldman struck out four and walked five during the outing. Feldman first ran into trouble in the third inning. Josh Reddick doubled to start the inning, and Eric Sogard followed that up with a walk. Josh Donaldson singled in a run, giving the Athletics a one-run lead. After an intentional walk to Brandon Moss to load the bases, Derek Norris drove in two runs on a single. 

In the fourth, Coco Crisp added a sacrifice fly to make it 4-1. After putting two men on in the sixth, Feldman was pulled from the game. Both runs came around to score, giving Feldman six earned runs on the day.

With the loss, Feldman dropped to 4-8. He’ll take on the Athletics in his next start. 


Manny Machado sits out third straight game
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(6:51 pm ET) Orioles third baseman Manny Machado was held out of the starting lineup Thursday night against the Mariners, as he continues to work his way back from a back issue. Machado has now missed three straight games with the injury. He is hitting .267 with 10 homers and 23 RBI in 258 at-bats.

 
 
 
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