Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw discusses four players worth picking up off the waiver wire this week.
Daniel Murphy, 2B, Mets
Murphy has nine hits in last 11 at-bats but has been resting against lefties. Though he is hitting .274 against southpaws, he has just a .295 OBP with a .359 SLG against them.
Travis Snider, LF, Blue Jays
Snider hit his first homerun of the season on Sunday and is now hitting .364 through three games in the majors. He had 13 home runs with 56 RBI in 56 games at Triple-A.
Josh Rutledge, SS, Rockies
The injury to Troy Tulowitzki allowed the Rockies to give their 2010 third-round pick Josh Rutledge a chance to play every day. He now boasts a six-game hitting streak with a .353 season average and three steals. The 23-year-old looked like a five-tool talent at Double-A this season.
Justin Maxwell, OF, Astros
After missing a few weeks due to injury, Maxwell has returned in a big way for the Astros, as he blasted his ninth home run of the season on Sunday. Maxwell has a ton of power, and though he does swing and miss a lot, he has also drawn some walks. With the Astros slowly improving, he could become a legitimate slugger in the big leagues.
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Bloomberg Sports Anchors Julie Alexandria and Rob Shaw break down four players worth picking up right now in your fantasy league.
Jordany Valdespin, 2B/LF, Mets
Valdespin is a middle infielder at heart, but the Mets have a need in left field with Jason Bay clearly a fragment of the slugger that he once was. While Bay is batting .179 with four home runs, Valdespin is now hitting .269 with five home runs and has a .354 average since June 10. Valdespin is far from perfect, as he does not draw many walks, but he does have an electric bat. In the minor leagues last season, he boasted 17 home runs with 38 steals.
Adam Lind, 1B, Blue Jays
Lind is hitting .339 with five home runs and 15 RBI in 18 games since his return from the minor leagues on June 25. He will suffer with Jose Bautista out of the lineup but he is swinging a hot bat and should be picked up by anyone in need of some power in their fantasy leagues.
Andruw Jones, LF, Yankees
Jones is now something of a one-trick pony, as he offers power but very little of anything else. He is batting .239 on the season but boasts 12 home runs in just 134 at-bats. Now that word has come out that the Yankees will likely be without Brett Gardner for the remainder of the season, Jones should get some decent playing time.
Michael Brantley, OF, Indians
On Tuesday, Michael Brantley was batting cleanup for the Indians. This was a major surprise for a batter with a .384 slugging percentage last season. However, Brantley is just 25 years old, and he is starting to hit with some power. In 28 fewer games played than last season, Brantley already has just one fewer extra base hit than a year ago, which places his slugging better than .430. He also has 10 stolen bases so far this season.
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Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw discusses four low-cost hitters worth adding to your fantasy roster this week.
Todd Frazier, 3B, Reds
At first Todd Frazier looked a lot like an all-or-nothing guy. He has some pop, but his average has been low and he does not draw many walks. However, over the last few weeks he has enjoyed the chance to play everyday and have confidence that he will not be pulled. Ever since, Frazier has found a comfort zone, hitting both right-handers and southpaws alike.
After blasting five home runs last month, Frazier is hitting .296 in June and the strikeouts are in decline while the walks are increasing in frequency. The power is legitimate and his minor league record suggests there could be many more stolen bases coming. Frazier is an excellent buy-low option who may have secured the starting third base gig for the long-term in Cincinnati.
Justin Maxwell, OF, Astros
Justin Maxwell is a name from the past for Nationals fans. He contributed in bits and parts of seasons, but never offered the consistency needed to stick. Last season he played with the New York Yankees Triple-A affiliate and in just 176 at-bats, he sent 16 bombs over the fence. Now he’s getting a shot with the Astros and he has shined with six home runs in 93 at-bats.
On the other hand, his .237 average has kept him on the bench a bit too often to contribute in fantasy circles. All of that could change, as Maxwell is showing some signs that he has something to offer. He has three home runs in nine games this month and is hitting .277 at Minute Maid. Odds are his low average will limit his playing time, but Maxwell does have the power potential that may make you roll the dice.
Norichika Aoki, OF, Brewers
In Japan, Aoki once hit 20 home runs and in another year surpassed 30 bases. However, the Brewers were not expecting a five-tool talent when they signed the 30-year-old to a two-year deal with $2.5 million guaranteed. However, in a disappointing season for the Brewers, Aoki has been excellent. He is batting a clean .300 with three home runs and five steals. He is currently riding a five-game hit streak with nine hits, two home runs, and three steals over that stretch.
Brett Wallace, 1B, Astros
The 13th pick of the 2008 draft, Brett Wallace has seen it all. He’s been drafted twice, traded three times, and after being a pleasant surprise with a .388 average in the first month of the season, his numbers took a serious downturn, resulting in a demotion to the minor leagues.
After opening the season at Triple-A with the main goal of developing some power, he was called up to the Astros. Through seven games he is hitting .400 with two home runs. The odds are against Wallace sustaining these numbers. He did not offer much of an average in the minors and still must prove that the power is legitimate. Regardless, he will have every chance to succeed with the Astros and should be in their lineup on a daily basis.
Shaw also responds to a question about what fantasy managers should do about Cliff Lee in the Bloomberg Sports Twitter Stumper of the Day.
Question: I’m considering trading Cliff Lee right now. He has 10 starts and zero wins. Is anyone in the same boat? Do you think I’m crazy?
Answer: Yes, you are crazy! Wins are just one category, and Lee has been astounding at the other three: he has a 3.18 ERA, more than a strikeout per inning, and a dominant 1.05 WHIP. Plus, he’s expecting to eventually get Ryan Howard and Chase Utley back. He will get his wins and you’ll be happy you kept him.
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Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw discusses four pitchers who could help you in fantasy baseball this week.
Tim Collins, RP, Royals
There have been several relief pitchers this season who have so dominated in their role that they deserved being scooped up off the waiver wire, even before they were picking up saves. Three that come to mind are Aroldis Chapman, Ernesto Frieri, and Tyler Clippard. Next in line is Tim Collins, a 22-year-old southpaw who has dominated in the Royals bullpen this season.
While Jonathan Broxton has been a dominant reliever, Collins is a perfect 2-0 with a 2.17 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. He is striking out about 1.5 batters per inning, which ranks amongst the leaders in baseball. Perhaps if Broxton is traded at the deadline or ends up injured, Collins would end up getting some save opportunities. This is an arm fantasy baseball managers should target.
Garrett Richards, SP, Angels
The Angels seem to always have a nice group of spot starters and this year is no different, as Garrett Richards provided a stellar seven innings last week against the Mariners. This time around, Richards, who is filling in for the injured Jered Weaver, takes on the Dodgers.
The former first-round pick did not dominate in the minors, but most big league clubs struggle against rookies in their first few starts because of a lack of a scouting report. Richards did show an ability to strikeout the opposition in the minor leagues and it carried out similarly in his first start this season in the majors. Expect big things in his second start as Matt Kemp remains on the DL for the Dodgers and the game comes at LA’s National League park.
Henderson Alvarez, SP, Blue Jays
As long as you are not looking for many strikeouts, Henderson Alvarez is a fine start, first against the Nationals this week and then against the Brewers next week. The 23-year-old boasts a solid 3.76 ERA and 1.28 WHIP despite pitching in a hitter-friendly ballpark in the brutal AL East.
Alavrez had a mini slump in the last few weeks, but it came against impressive offenses such as the Rangers, White Sox, and Red Sox. The Nationals should not be such an issue, even with a designated hitter at their use. The Brewers will be the next foe and that comes at Milwaukee, which means Alvarez gets the benefit of throwing to the opposing pitcher. A pitcher with great command, Alvarez is a safe bet this week.
Nathan Eovaldi, SP, Dodgers
This 22-year-old has been a pleasant surprise for the Dodgers since he was drafted in the 11th round in 2008. Eovaldi has picked up plenty of K’s in both the minors and big leagues and calls home one of the more pitcher-friendly ballparks in baseball. Though his record shows at 0-2, Eovaldi has pitched quite well with a .209 opposing average and 1.93 ERA. Amongst his three starts are one at Colorado and most recently, six shutout innings against the Mariners. Eovaldi is turning into a hot prospect and this may be your last chance to pick him up off the waiver wire.
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Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw discusses three pitchers who you can look to for some production in fantasy baseball this week.
Jeremy Hefner, SP, Mets
The New York Mets are one of the hottest teams in baseball right now and the excellent pitching has been contagious, so much so that even little known rookie Jeremy Hefner has gotten into the action as a replacement for the injured Miguel Batista.
If you’re wondering whether Hefner will be able to take care of business this week, what you should pay attention to are two statistics. First the BB/9, because so far in Major League Baseball of all pitchers with at least 15 innings of work, Hefner has the best command walking just one batter in 17 innings of work. Next, a key difference between his struggles in the rain delay loss to the lowly Padres compared to the win over the rival Phillies was his ability to finish off batters with two strikes. The Padres went 6-12 against Hefner with two strikes while the Phillies were just 1-10. Hefner will be pitching for a spot in the Big Leagues, as Batista is returning from the DL and Chris Young is slotted to return to the Mets as well.
Chris Young, SP, Mets
One thing to note about Chris Young, the 6’9 hurler, is that when healthy he is effective. After a successful tenure with the Rangers and the Padres, Young got off to a fine start with the Mets last season, offering a 1-0 record with four starts with a 1.88 ERA. Young may have to be a little better this season, as the fly ball pitcher will have to respond to the fences being drawn in at Citi Field. However, there is cause for optimism as he’s enjoyed success even in Texas, and his first start comes at Washington, one of the more pitcher-friendly ballparks in baseball. On the other hand, his second start may come at Yankee Stadium, so buyer beware.
Drew Smyly, SP, Tigers
Drew Smyly looks like a good bet this week as he gets two starts, the first coming at home against the Cleveland Indians. Smyly has come back to reality a bit in recent weeks, but the control is real, he just has to learn to keep the ball within the park. Also, after making four of his last five starts on the road, Smyly returns to the pitcher-friendly Comerica Park. The Indians are also coming back to earth, losing seven of their last nine games. Smyly’s second start this week comes at the pitcher-friendly Great American Ballpark, but at least there won’t be designated hitters involved.
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Koji Uehara to the Rangers
Statistically he is one of the best pitchers in baseball with a stellar 1.69 ERA and even better 0.69 WHIP. In other words it’s rare that someone reaches base and even rarer that someone scores against Uehara. The bad news for his fantasy managers is that he will remain in the setup role while playing in a much more hitter-friendly stadium. Not a major impact, but not one for the better either.
Mike Adams to the Rangers
A lot of fantasy managers picked Adams up in a speculative move with hopes that he would close should Heath Bell get traded. As it turns out, it’s Adams who got traded while Bell stays in San Diego. Adams has been dominant this season with a 1.12 ERA, but again this is a pitcher moving from one of the most pitcher-friendly ballparks to a dangerous ballpark. I would drop him since he will remain in middle relief.
Ubaldo Jimenez to the Indians
This is a monster move by the Rockies and they scooped up a lot of young talents. What it comes down to is two things. First of all, Is Ubaldo more like the pitcher from last year when he almost won the Cy Young, or this season when his record is 6-9. The second part is whether Ubaldo will thrive now that he is out of Coors. At 27 years old, the Indians believe the gamble was worth taking since they are in need of an ace. I like the chances of this one working out for them as Jimenez boasts a 3.38 ERA and 1.08 WHIP on the road this season.
Erik Bedard to the Red Sox
The Red Sox were not able to come to terms for Rich Harden, so they settled for the next best injury-prone Canadian. Bedard, like Harden, has all of the talent in the world. However, the big question is whether he will be healthy enough for a playoff run. Just 31 years old, Bedard has pitched better on the road this season to the tune of a 2.16 ERA. On the other hand, for his career Bedard boasts a 6.99 ERA at Fenway.