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Waiver Wire: Time to start acting quickly

Michael Hurcomb
Fantasy Writer
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Prior to last Thursday's podcast (click here to subscribe), I was asked to provide a list of buy-low and sell-high candidates. When I first compiled the list, Pirates second baseman Neil Walker appeared to be easy pickings for a sell-high candidate. However, I started hemming and hawing after branding Walker with this distinction, and I'm still undecided about my rest-of-season expectations for him.

I started reconsidering my stance after stumbling upon a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review story that outlined why Walker is off to a fast start. Walker, who is a switch hitter, had struggled the last two seasons batting right-handed, leaving some to suggest he should consider strictly hitting left-handed. Walker gave no thought to the notion and went to work this offseason fixing the flaw in his right-handed swing.

Most added players on CBSSports.com
Player Own %
1. Kyle Gibson, SP, Twins 61 (+48)
2. Wily Peralta, SP, Brewers 73 (+39)
3. Kyle Farnsworth, RP, Mets 40 (+39)
4. Devin Mesoraco, C, Reds 84 (+32)
5. Marcell Ozuna, OF, Marlins 65 (+32)
6. Martin Perez, SP, Rangers 84 (+28)
7. Justin Morneau, 1B, Rockies 80 (+27)
8. Eric Young, OF, Mets 60 (+27)
9. Alfredo Simon, RP, Reds 57 (+27)
10. Edinson Volquez, SP, Pirates 50 (+25)

Walker raised his hands to more closely resemble the starting point of his left-handed swing, which helped shorten the bat path. He took countless reps this offseason to develop muscle memory, and the early results have been positive.

Walker is batting .429 (6 for 14) with a .714 slugging percentage, 1.181 OPS, one double, one home run and two RBI against left-handed pitchers in 2014. It's a huge improvement after batting .246 with a .288 slugging percentage in 2012 and a .225 average and .238 slugging percentage in 2013 against lefties.

Walker has six home runs and is slugging .525 through 19 games. His career slugging percentage is .427 and he's never had more than 16 home runs in a season, so it's easy to see why my initial instinct was to say sell high. But I started to change my perspective when I realized Walker is only 28 years old and still in his prime. Also, you can connect the dots between Walker's offseason work and his early season success -- indicating it could be more than just a hot start or dumb luck.

Fantasy owners are slowly buying into Walker's surge. His ownership has climbed from 64 percent in at the beginning of the season to 81 percent. It seems the bullish view on Walker is growing.

Kyle Gibson, SP, Twins


Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 61 percent (up 48 percent)
This is a big week for Gibson. He makes starts against the Rays and Tigers, which could provide a good glimpse into whether his hot start is the real deal or an aberration. While Gibson didn't pitch well in his first taste of the majors last season, don't forget it was still his first full season back after Tommy John surgery. Now that he's two full years past the surgery, Gibson is beginning to showcase the potential he flashed as a top prospect prior to getting hurt. Gibson is a contact pitcher, but when his fastball and sinker are working, he has the ability to be dominant. Gibson hasn't been a strong strikeout pitcher in his young MLB career, but he did post a 8.0 K/9 rate in the minors, so there's some untapped potential there. As long as Gibson is winning, while posting a low ERA and WHIP, he's still a serviceable Fantasy arm.
Leagues worth adding him: 12-team Head-to-Head and Rotisserie

Marcell Ozuna, OF, Marlins


Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 65 percent (up 32 percent)
It's good to see Fantasy owners are beginning to buy into Ozuna's surge because he certainly has the ability and is in a good position to keep producing. It's no surprise Ozuna is doing his best work batting in front of slugger Giancarlo Stanton. In seven games batting second, Ozuna is hitting .364 (12 for 33) with a .515 slugging percentage and .936 OPS. Ozuna has the pedigree to keep producing. He slugged .487 and had three seasons with 20-plus homers in the minors. Don't forget he also slugged .488 in his first 33 games last season before hitting a rookie wall. Ozuna had a pretty bad spring while working on his timing, but it seems he got all of his bad habits and at-bats out of the way during the exhibition schedule.
Leagues worth adding him: 12-team Head-to-Head and Rotisserie

Eric Young, OF, Mets


Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 60 percent (up 27 percent)
Young has had quite the turnaround in a short amount of time. After opening the season with a .105 average in his first five games, Young has hit .260 with a .403 on-base percentage, 10 stolen bases and 16 runs in his last 13 games. Mets manager Terry Collins said Young's early struggles stemmed from focusing on making better contact and eliminating strikeouts. However, Collins said he's now "back to his regular swing" and the results are definitely benefitting Fantasy owners. Young totaled 29 Fantasy points in Week 2 and 27 Fantasy points in Week 3. He also entered Monday as the third-highest scoring Fantasy outfielder in Rotisserie formats the last two weeks. The eventual return of Juan Lagares will create a logjam in the Mets' outfield, but if Young keeps producing, then the Mets will find ways to keep his bat and speed in the lineup.
Leagues worth adding him: 10-team Head-to-Head and Rotisserie

Juan Uribe, 3B, Dodgers


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Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 48 percent (up 24 percent)
While most Fantasy owners turned their attention to Fantasy Football last fall, Uribe was one of the hottest hitters toward the end of the season. He hit .326 with a .539 slugging percentage and .897 OPS in his final 42 games, then kept the momentum going in the playoffs, which included belting two home runs in the NLDS against Atlanta. Uribe parlayed his strong finish into a new contract with the Dodgers. Like many, I assumed Uribe turned it on late last season with free agency looming, but his promising start in 2014 at least gives some debate as to whether Uribe is really this good of a hitter at this stage of his career. I'd be more convinced if Uribe was in his prime and not his mid-30s and the fact that he has just a .422 career slugging percentage. There's plenty of room for Uribe to regress, so don't be afraid to dump him back onto waivers when he starts to cool off.
Leagues worth adding him: 14-team Head-to-Head and Rotisserie

Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B, Rangers


Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 28 percent (up 25 percent)
Kouzmanoff is finally producing at a high level in the majors. It's just too bad it came many years after the baseball world thought it would happen. It might be a distant memory, but once upon a time Kouzmanoff was one of the more promising prospects in baseball. But after productive years in 2007-08 with the Padres, Kouzmanoff began to decline offensively and disappeared from the majors for a few years before finally resurfacing when Adrian Beltre went on the disabled list. Kouzmanoff has been stellar in Beltre's absence, even winning American League player of the week honors last week. However, despite his strong run, his playing time is going to dwindle once Beltre returns, which is likely later this week. Don't get too attached to Kouzmanoff. Good short-term option, but be ready to cut bait as soon as his production and playing time turns south.
Leagues worth adding him: Stopgap option

Wily Peralta, SP, Brewers


Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 73 percent (up 39 percent)
A third straight win Monday sent Peralta's Fantasy value skyrocketing. If you have listened to our podcast then you've heard me tell the story about how Peralta isn't letting his emotions get the best of him and is staying under control even when things don't go his way. Peralta always had the stuff to be a solid pitcher and now that he's coupled that with composure on the hill, the results have been outstanding. Peralta pitched pretty well over the final months last season, going 6-6 with a 3.15 ERA in his last 15 starts. The big thing for him this season has been cutting down on the walks and his slider being effective. Peralta is worth the investment for Fantasy owners, and hopefully we will see his ownership head north of 90 percent in the near future, which would mean he's continuing to get the job done.
Leagues worth adding him: 10-team Head-to-Head and Rotisserie formats

Tom Koehler, SP, Marlins


Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 28 percent (up 22 percent)
Koehler was never considered a top pitching prospect, and his numbers in his first two years in the majors were nothing to write home about, which leaves plenty of doubt surrounding his impressive start in 2014. However, I'm ready to buy into Koehler's turnaround. The Marlins keep talking about Koehler maturing as a pitcher and learning from his past mistakes. They also talk about how he is better working both sides of the plate, and he's developing a changeup, which complements his fastball and curveball. But perhaps Koehler's key to success thus far has been the improvement with his fastball. The Marlins said he got in trouble last season because he repeatedly left his fastball up in the strike zone, but it's become a more-effective pitch this season. In 2013, the strike rate on his four-seamer was 21.5 percent and whiff rate was 4.7 percent, per BrooksBaseball.net. Batters also hit .338 off Koehler's fastball. This year, they are hitting just .220, while his strike rate is at 26.7 percent and his whiff rate is at 8.3 percent.
Leagues worth adding him: 12-team Head-to-Head and Rotisserie

LaTroy Hawkins, RP, Rockies


Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 54 percent (up 17 percent)
I bet you can still remember your reaction when you heard the news this offseason the Rockies had signed Hawkins to be their closer. You wondered how Colorado could do this with the electric Rex Brothers in its bullpen. Even on Draft Day, Fantasy owners were still avoiding Hawkins like the plague because everyone felt he would be just be keeping the seat warm until Brothers was ready. Well, we're a few weeks into the season, and it's looking like Hawkins might have this job to keep, especially if Brothers can't harness his control problems. Just maybe Hawkins is turning into the next ageless wonder. He pitched pretty well down the stretch last season after taking over as the Mets' closer, going 13 of 14 in save situations and posting a 2.82 ERA in his last 23 appearances. Hawkins might not have a great strikeout rate, but he's getting the job done and that makes him useful in leagues that reward for saves.
Leagues worth adding him: 12-team Head-to-Head and Rotisserie

Dayan Viciedo, OF, White Sox


Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 25 percent (up 4 percent)
Perhaps losing Avisail Garcia won't be as painful as the White Sox had hoped. Not if Viciedo keeps producing like he has to begin the 2014 season. Viciedo is generally a slow starter, but he's reversed the trend in '14 and a lot has to do with how well he's hitting against right-handed pitchers. Viciedo, who has a .247 average and .394 slugging percentage in his career against righties, is batting .350 with a .525 slugging percentage in 14 games against righties this season. Viciedo credits his early season success to his maturation as a hitter. He said he's more patient at the plate and he's getting better with pitch recognition. It's still not an impressive number, but Viciedo's walk percentage (8.5) is up this season compared to his career rate (5.3 percent, per FanGraphs.com). Viciedo was once a top 100 prospect and slugged .486 at Triple-A, so don't overlook him as a sleeper addition off the wire. I'm pretty sure I'm ready to jump on the bandwagon.
Leagues worth adding him: 12-team Head-to-Head and Rotisserie

Derek Dietrich, 2B, Marlins


Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 14 percent (up 7 percent)
I know the Marlins brought Rafael Furcal in this offseason to play second base, but he's already proven he can't stay healthy and Dietrich has shown to be more than a serviceable replacement. I hope Marlins manager Mike Redmond strongly considers keeping Dietrich as the starter upon Furcal's return and move Furcal to the backup option in case Dietrich falters. Dietrich can hit. He batted .277 with a .476 slugging percentage and .824 OPS in the minors. He's got some pop in his bat and is only 24 years old. Furcal is an aging option past his prime, and the only thing he has over Dietrich is veteran savvy. However, the Marlins aren't built to win now despite a better-than-expected start, and as long as Furcal is in the clubhouse, it just seems more beneficial for Miami to see if Dietrich is the second baseman of the future. I wouldn't be so quick to give up on Dietrich once Furcal returns.
Leagues worth adding him: NL-only and 14-team formats

Alberto Callaspo, INF, Athletics


Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 22 percent (up 12 percent)
There are plenty of things to like about Callaspo's game, particularly his plate discipline. He doesn't have a high strikeout rate and his walk total is pretty close to his strikeout total. So far early on in 2014, Callaspo is showing a high batting average and surprising pop. However, we shouldn't expect his slugging percentage to remain around .500. Not for a guy that has a career .383 slugging percentage. The numbers indicate the hits are falling for Callaspo (.340 BABIP compared to a .287 career rate), and he's making good contact when he chases pitches outside the strike zone. He has a 94.1 percent contact rate when he swings at pitches outside the strike zone, which is well above his 84.5 percent career rate (FanGraphs.com). Callaspo's multi-position eligibility is a bonus in Fantasy, but don't view Callaspo as a savior off waivers.
Leagues worth adding him: AL-only and 16-team formats

Josmil Pinto, C, Twins


Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 25 percent (up 7 percent)
It's going to be very interesting to see what the Twins do when outfielders Oswaldo Arcia and Josh Willingham return from the DL. Right now, their absence has created regular at-bats for Pinto, who is seeing plenty of time at DH. Pinto is cashing in on the extra at-bats with four home runs and a .535 slugging percentage in 14 games. Manager Ron Gardenhire could have trouble finding playing time for everyone since Jason Kubel and Chris Colabello have also gotten off to good starts. At some point, however, the Twins have to strongly consider bumping Pinto to the starting role at catcher if he proves too valuable to keep on the bench and they can no longer get him regular at-bats at DH. Right now, his biggest weakness is hitting lefties, which is keeping Pinto from being a must-add catcher. But if he irons that out, it could be a mad dash to waivers to add him.
Leagues worth adding him: AL-only and 14-team Rotisserie formats as a No. 2 catcher

Player you might reconsider dropping

Kyle Seager, 3B, Mariners


Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 86 percent (down 7 percent)
If you are an advantageous Fantasy owner and looking to stash a player on your bench, then head to waivers to see if an owner in your league has dropped Seager. Seager's start hasn't been inspiring, but the numbers show he's below the norm in many areas and is likely due for a course correction. Some of the more notable numbers that stand out are Seager's .222 BABIP, which is below his .287 career average; his 11.1 percent line-drive rate, which is below his career 21.7 percent rate; and Seager is seeing a career-high 67.6 percent first-pitch strikes, which is well above his career rate (58.5 percent) and the league rate (59.9 percent, per FanGraphs.com). It seems once Seager's luck starts to turn in his favor and he irons out his swing, he should start to make up for his slow start.
Leagues worth adding him: 10-team Head-to-Head and Rotisserie

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Player News
Cubs RF Jorge Soler (ankle) ready to return on Sunday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:01 am ET) The Cubs are set to activate right fielder Jorge Soler from the disabled list on Sunday. Soler has been out since June 3 with a sprained left ankle, but he has made four rehab outings.

Soler struggled though, going 2 for 13 in the four games. But manager Joe Maddon doesn't necessarily buy into those stats.

"I don't worry about that stuff," Maddon said, per MLB.com. "To me, it's a matter of, 'If he's healthy and he's seeing the ball, what does his timing look like?' Those are the kinds of things you're trying to get from the guys down there."

Soler is expected to be in the lineup for the series-finale against the Marlins on Sunday. He was batting .237 (9 for 38) with a homer and five RBI over his last 10 games prior to the injury.


Red Sox returning RF Shane Victorino gives encouraging effort
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:58 am ET) Red Sox veteran right fielder Shane Victorino didn't look like a guy Saturday that had not played for nearly seven weeks.

Victorino slammed two hits and scored twice batting eighth in a defeat of Houston after recovering from lower-body strains.

"He steps right back in with a couple of base hits," John Farrell exclaimed to the Boston Herald. "We all know the start and stop of his season. To have another guy in the bottom of the order right now with his base-stealing ability, the base-running ability, two base hits against a right-hander today, very encouraging."


Rangers RP Spencer Patton implodes for six runs on Saturday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(12:56 am ET) Rangers right-hander Spencer Patton got lit up in a relif outing on Saturday. Spencer entered the game in the sixth inning with the Angels up 5-0. Before he knew it, he had allowed six runs, including a three-run home run to C.J. Cron, while getting just two outs in the inning. 

With the horrid outing, Patton's ERA jumped up seven runs, from 4.05 to 11.05. Patton had given up a total of three runs in his first six appearances this season, prior to Saturday's meltdown.


Angels RF Kole Calhoun blasts solo home run in rout on Saturday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(12:52 am ET) Angels right fielder Kole Calhoun enjoyed another productive night at the plate on Saturday. Calhoun went 2 for 4 with two RBI and two runs scored in the 13-0 win over the Rangers.

Calhoun chipped in with a solo home run, his eighth of the year, in the sixth inning. He has homered twice in his last seven ballgames.


Angles' Erick Aybar stays hot at the plate, goes 3 for 4 on Saturday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(12:46 am ET) Angels shortstop Erick Aybar continued his recent hot streak at the plate on Saturday. Aybar went 3 for 4 with a pair of doubles. He drove in a run and scored three in the 13-0 win over the Rangers.

In the last two games, Aybar has eight hits in nine at-bats with three RBI and five runs scored. His batting average now sits at .280, the highest it's been since the second game of the season. 


Angels' C.J. Cron homers, drives in six runs in blowout win Saturday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(12:42 am ET) Angels slugger C.J. Cron enjoyed a career-night at the plate on Saturday. Cron, who was serving as the designated hitter, went 3 for 4 with a career-best six RBI and a run scored, leading the Angels to a 13-0 win over the Rangers.

Cron had an RBI single in the second inning and a sacrifice fly in the third. He continued his big night with a three-run home run, his third of the year in the sixth inning, followed by a run-scoring double in the eighth.

This was by far the best game of Cron's career, as his previous high was three RBI in a single game. 


Rangers SP Wandy Rodriguez suffers loss in rout on Saturday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(12:37 am ET) Rangers left-hander Wandy Rodriguez has a rough start against the Angels on Saturday. Rodriguez allowed five runs on nine hits over five innings. He walked three and struck two, as the Angels took the 13-0 win. 

Rodriguez (5-4) brought his ERA up to 4.23 with the poor outing. He gave up three runs in the second inning and another in the third before allowing a solo home run to Kole Calhoun in the fifth.

The veteran southpaw has now given up 14 earned runs over 14 innings in his last three starts. 


Angels SP Hector Santiago rides offensive explosion in win Saturday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(12:31 am ET) Backed by a 13-run offensive explosion on Saturday, Angels starter Hector Santiago earned his fifth win of the season. Santiago fired seven shutout innings against the Rangers, allowing just three hits and one walk while striking out three. 

Santiago (5-4) was pretty much in control of this one throughout, as he did not allow a runner to get passed second base. His 2.40 ERA ranks fourth in the American League. He has four consecutive quality starts, and hasn't allowed more than three runs in an outing since June 3.


Reds SS Ivan De Jesus blasts off in Saturday defeat
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:16 am ET) For a guy who emerged off the bench Saturday night, Reds shortstop Ivan De Jesus sure made the most of his opportunity.

De Jesus smacked two hits in the loss to Milwaukee, including his third home run, a solo blast in the fifth inning. He also walked in improving his slash line to a more-than-respectable .276/.333/.483.

He has six hits in his last 11 at-bats.


Reds 3B Todd Frazier rips four hits in loss to Brewers
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:09 am ET) The Reds lost Saturday to hot Milwaukee, but don't blame third baseman Todd Frazier. He slammed two doubles and two singles. The trouble is that all of them went for naught. He neither scored nor drove in a run.

His first multi-hit game since June 25 was also his first four-hit game of the season. Frazier has strengthened his slash line of .289/.348/.610. The slugging percentage ranks third in the bigs.


 
 
 
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