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Waiver Wire: A tale of two Jakes

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Jake Arrieta is one of the most-added players in Fantasy right now, with a 15 percent uptick in ownership (from 3 percent to 18 percent). The 27-year-old has been brilliant in two starts for the Cubs -- sporting a 0.69 ERA and 0.69 WHIP, with nine strikeouts in 13 innings.

Acquired in a July trade from the Orioles, Arrieta was a tantalizing prospect in the minors (he was in Baseball America's top 100 twice), with solid minor league ratios (3.22 ERA and 1.25 WHIP) and a nice K/9 rate (8.8). But when he hit the majors, he'd have spurts of greatness mingled with bouts of disappointment. It all resulted in a 5.29 ERA and 1.45 WHIP over 71 major league starts.

But consider these motivating factors: Arrieta will no longer have to face the DH (outside of interleague play away games), he pitched most of his games against a very tough AL East, and he may have some extra motivation with the Cubs, wanting to prove that his Orioles appearances weren't the real Jake Arrieta.

With two starts next week, Arrieta could either ride this momentum to a really nice finish to 2013 ... or continue his career-long string of disappointments. He has enough talent and motivation to make me bet on the former, and he's the perfect candidate for a Fantasy team in third place or below looking to make a late-season charge up the standings.

The Big Leaps

Will Venable, OF, Padres (54 percent ownership, up from 31)

Venable has always done a dangerous dance with regular playing time. But the left-handed 30-year-old has never eclipsed 425 at-bats over six seasons -- an irregular diet of at-bats that may have knocked him out of any rhythm and suppressed his batting average and power numbers.

This season, however, the Padres have essentially been forced to send Venable out as a regular, with injuries to Cameron Maybin, Carlos Quentin and Kyle Blanks opening up plenty of playing time. Instead of being in a platoon with someone like Chris Denorfia, Venable has bounced between center and right field as a starter, and his bat has come alive with the increase in playing time.

From April 1 to June 30, Venable started 56 of the team's 80 games (70 percent), with a .221 average, 10 home runs, six doubles and a .689 OPS. In July and August, while the injuries mounted, Venable started 34 of 38 games (89 percent), hitting .328 with seven home runs, five steals, 10 doubles, and a .949 OPS.

With Cameron Maybin hitting a snag in rehab, and Blanks and Quentin looking like they won't return anytime soon, Venable is probably going to continue at his current start-90-percent-of-games clip and should produce at a nice level (probably more like .280 with an .850 OPS and decent steal numbers) the rest of the way.

League size in which Venable should be added: 12-team Roto
His ownership on September 15 should be: 70 percent

Xander Bogaerts, SS, Red Sox (56 percent ownership, up from 44)

There are a few differences between 20-year-old wunderkinds Jurickson Profar and Bogaerts (power potential, speed potential), but the most stark, for Fantasy purposes, is their roles. While Profar is getting everyday at-bats, bouncing between shortstop, third base, second base and DH, Bogaerts is expected to serve as a backup to Stephen Drew and Will Middlebrooks, mainly appearing in relief of Drew at shortstop.

The Red Sox made it a point to say that having Bogaerts up with the team won't stunt his development, because he's already gotten 515 plate appearances in the minors. So that argument (for him playing) is out the window. Instead, Bogaerts owners will have to take the unenviable position of rooting for a Drew injury. Which is never fun.

For now, Bogaerts is a gamble outside of dynasty formats, in which he's a great keeper. And having a gamble sitting at the end of your bench this late in the season isn't necessarily a bad thing. But Bogaerts' ownership should be more around the 30 percent level, given his playing time prospects.

For what it's worth, I'd prefer to roster Josh Willingham (56 percent owned), B.J. Upton (53), Nate Schierholtz (51), Yonder Alonso (50), Adam Eaton (44), Rajai Davis (38) and Jose Iglesias (47) -- among others -- ahead of Bogaerts in single-season formats.

Over/under on at-bats (season): 40
Over/under on average (season): .265

Jedd Gyorko, 2B, Padres (75 percent ownership, up from 66 percent)

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With the playoffs under way in a lot of leagues and owners shifting their attention to football, it's easy to lose track of some late-season accomplishments. Case in point: Gyorko, who is owned in just 75 percent of leagues.

Overall, Gyorko's numbers aren't spectacular -- a .251 average with 21 doubles, 14 home runs and a .735 OPS. But this is over just 342 at-bats and has come during a rookie season in which Gyorko missed more than a month with a groin injury, then played several games after that trying to get back into a groove.

What we're seeing lately is Gyorko finding that groove. Over his last 10 games, Gyorko is hitting .316 with four home runs, four doubles and a 1.053 OPS. And I'm willing to guess this isn't a fluke, as Gyorko was hitting .309 with a .912 OPS in the 35 games before hitting the DL.

Gyorko had a .321 minor league average, with 55 total home runs between 2011 and 2012 and a career .916 OPS. He even stole 19 bases over 337 games. With position eligibility (second and third base), Gyorko could be a Fantasy boon over the stretch run.

Over/under on home runs (season): 20
Over/under on average (season): .275

AL-only fun

Munenori Kawasaki, SS, Blue Jays (1 percent ownership)

The Blue Jays are lacking some serious depth on offense right now, and with Emilio Bonifacio now on the Royals they have one less utility player to plug into the lineup. Enter Munenori Kawasaki, a fan favorite who has started two games at second base and one at shortstop since his mid-August return from a demotion.

Kawasaki's versatility will allow him to regularly spell Maicer Izturis and Jose Reyes (who has encountered some soreness in his knee lately) at second base and shortstop. I'm not expecting Kawasaki to set the world on fire with his offensive stats, but for a deep AL-only team, he could slot in at MI and do just enough to have some value. It's a gamble -- and far from a guarantee -- but at this point in the season he's on a team going nowhere and playing behind a high-priced shortstop who could be rested or shut down if his injury persists. It's a situation that makes Kawasaki a decent consideration in deep single-league formats.

Over/under on average (season): .225
Over/under on home runs (season): 2

NL-only fun

Roger Kieschnick, OF, Giants (1 percent ownership)

When the Giants DFA'd Jeff Francoeurearlier this week, it was done with little-known Roger Kieschnick having started five straight games in left field. The 26-year-old rookie has played in 17 games for the Giants since his late July call-up, hitting .283 with a .367 OBP and a triple.

Kieschnick showed off a good amount of power over five minor league seasons, with four double-digit homer campaigns, despite getting 300 or more at-bats just three times. While his average isn't overly impressive (.275 over 1,807 at-bats), Kieschnick has enough potential for the Giants to keep playing him for the rest of the season -- at the very least, to see what they may have for the future.

Over/under on home runs (season): 5.5
Over/under on batting average (season): .269

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Nando Di Fino at @NandoCBS . You can also send our stndifino aff an e-mail at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Jayson Werth 'a stretch' to be ready by Nationals' opener
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(10:04 am ET) Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth took batting practice on Saturday, for the first time since the shoulder surgery that has kept him out this spring. 

Manager Matt Williams said the hitting went well, but Werth won't hit in a minor league game on Sunday. The team still hopes Werth will be ready by Opening Day, but Williams said that was "a stretch", per James Wagner of the Washington Post.


Red Sox SP Clay Buchholz named Opening Day starter
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9:59 am ET) Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz has been named the starter for Opening Day, the Providence Journal reports.

Buchholz gets the call after going 8-11 with a 5.34 ERA and 132:54 K:BB ratio in 170 1/3 innings in 2014. He's the only member of the projected rotation to have spent a full season with the Red Sox, as the team's other four projected starters have made a total of 10 starts in a Red Sox uniform.


Astros' Samuel Deduno wins bullpen spot
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9:55 am ET) The Astros have informed pitcher Samuel Deduno that he was won a spot in the bullpen and will pitch in long relief for the team, MLB.com reports.

"[Manager] A.J. [Hinch] talked to him and he was excited because when he came in the office he was a little nervous," general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "He had a big smile on his face when he left the office this morning."

Deduno was claimed off waivers by the Astros in August. He posted a 4.47 ERA and 83:46 K:BB ratio in 100 2/3 innings overall last season but pitched better after the move, giving up just three earned runs in 8 2/3 innings.


Astros option Dominguez, Buchanan, Stassi; reassign Correa
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9:51 am ET) The Astros optioned third baseman Matt Dominguez and pitchers Jake Buchanan and Max Stassi to the minors Sunday while reassigning shortstop Carlos Correa, infielder Gregorio Petit, catcher Tyler Heineman and pitchers Darin Downs and James Hoyt to minor-league camp.

Dominguez opened last season as the team's starting third baseman but found himself behind in the race for a bench role this spring.

"[Luis] Valbuena had an amazing spring so far and is basically going to be our third baseman and that leaves Matt in competition with some of the other guys for an extra spot on the roster, a spot off the bench, and right now we feel like there’s a couple of other guys ahead of him and he needs to play every day," general manager Jeff Lunhow said, per MLB.com "Right now he’ll go down to Fresno and play third and play some first and be ready when the need arises."

Correa is the team's top-rated prospect but has yet to play above high Class A.

"Carlos is going to be a star player in the big leagues. It’s just a matter of time," Luhnow said. "Having never had an at-bat in Double-A, he needs to go get some regular work in the high minors. He did a great job for us on the field as well as off the field and I think he’s got a lot of fans in the organization and he impressed the big league staff, which is what you want as a young player."


Philies option Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, Hector Neris
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9:43 am ET) The Phillies optioned pitchers Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez and Hector Neris to Triple-A Lehigh Valley and reassigned four players to minor-league camp.

Gonzalez was in the mix to win a rotation spot heading into the spring but posted a 7.53 ERA while giving up 25 hits in 14 1/3 innings. Neris surrendered 10 runs (eight earned) in nine spring innings.

The team reassigned pitcher Paul Clemens, catcher Koyie Hill and infielders Chris McGuiness and Chris Nelson to minor-league camp.


Jared Burton back with Yankees
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9:35 am ET) Pitcher Jared Burton is back in camp with the Yankees, MLB.com reports.

Burton indicated that he has yet to finalize his deal with the team, but he'll be rejoining the Yankees a few days after being released. He's due to play catch Sunday as he gets back in his routine.


Yankees' Girardi on Betances: Saturday was 'a step' forward
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9:32 am ET) Yankees pitcher Dellin Betances allowed an earned run Saturday for the fifth straight appearance, but manager Joe Girardi believes the reliever improved in the outing, the New York Post reports.

"I thought he was better, I thought the curveball was better," Girardi said. "It’s a step in the right direction."

"I have been working with Larry [Rothschild, pitching coach]," Betances said after the outing. "My leg kick was too high and I am trying to straighten up and get my direction toward home instead of flying open."

Betances has delivered a 7.11 ERA and 5:3 K:BB ratio in 6 1/3 innings.


Yankees' Didi Gregorius (wrist) feeling better Sunday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9:10 am ET) Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius said his injured wrist felt much better Sunday and that he expects to be ready for Opening Day, LoHud.com reports.

Gregorius tweaked his wrist on a check swing Saturday and is scheduled to rest Sunday and Monday. He has hit .308/.349/.513 over 39 at-bats this spring.


Braves release RP James Russell
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9:06 am ET) The Braves have released relief pitcher James Russell, MLB.com reports.

Russell came to the Braves from the Cubs in a deadline-day deal last season and posted a 2.22 ERA and 16:4 K:BB ratio in 24 1/3 innings with his new team. He struggled this spring, allowing nine earned runs and three homers in 7 2/3 innings while striking out three and walking three.


Report: Rockies' Troy Tulowitzki looks completely healthy
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9:04 am ET) Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki looks completely healthy heading into the final week of spring training, the Denver Post reports.

"I think if anything, this spring has given me confidence," Tulowitzki said. "When I was diagnosed with a torn labrum last summer, you think about a lot of things. You think about your career and whether or not you'll be the same player. You check out how you feel, day in and day out. I know it's just spring training, but for me, I've gained a lot of confidence. I know I can be the same player, if not better."

Tulowitzki was in the midst of his finest offensive season last year before undergoing hip surgery and being limited to 91 games. He finished with a .340/.432/.603 line with 21 home runs and 52 RBI in 315 at-bats.


 
 
 
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