When it comes to fantasy sports prognostication, there is perhaps no greater authority than the immortal Mr. T. So when pondering your waive wire this week to find an extra bat for your bench, remember the hallowed words of Clubber Lang in anticipation of a bout with one Rocky Balboa.
My Prediction? Peña!
Perhaps Clubber didn’t realize that you just lost Mitch Moreland, or that you have been struggling to find a little extra punch in your lineup (… you see what we did there?), but what our blinged-out friend was trying to tell us is, how about those Houston Astros! The team has won eight of their past 11 contests and the 4% owned Peña has certainly done his part.
A typical three outcome player (walk, strikeout, home run), Peña has been slow to get his power stroke going this season. If set aside his struggles during the opening month, however, we find a player who is batting .281/.383/.456 over his last 34 games with four home runs. The run production is not spectacular, but the ‘Stros have been an above average offense during their recent hot streak and Peña’s numbers should continue to build now that the walk rate and power production has picked up once again. While Carlos is typically a big fat zero versus left-handed pitching, he’s actually been handling southpaws pretty well during the 2013 season, batting .253 with a pair of home runs against them in 43 at-bats. Peña will provide some pop in your lineup and is also a sneaky solid play in OBP leagues. Don’t make Clubber pity you, fool, bring the Peña.
And now back to our regularly scheduled program…
With the lighter schedule of games Thursday, we’re going to take advantage every Friday and give a look at the top talent available on the waiver wire. At each position we’ll give you the top players available in >60% of Yahoo standard leagues and for those of you in deeper games, we’ll throw out a name available in more than 85% of those formats.
We are going to try and keep things fresh here and hit on some players that we didn’t get to in last week’s edition of Waiver Wire Friday but we’ll re-list some players from time to time when their ownership rate and performance still warrants a mention.
Working the Wire
Jason Castro (HOU): 30% owned: Castro graced our presence last week, but still remains criminally underowned. The 25-year-old backstop is leading the charge for a red hot Houston Astros team that has won eight of their last 11 games. Since April 17, Castro has put up an elite .297/.365/.536 slash line with seven long balls, 19 runs and 16 RBI over that span. He’s been moved right into the middle of a feisty Astros’ lineup and can certainly help your mixed league team.
Yan Gomes (CLE) 15% owned: Gomes has slowed down just a bit since we last mentioned him as a pick up, but the injury to Asdrubal Cabrera actually helps his stock quite a bit. While Cabrera is down, the Tribe figures to slide Mike Aviles to short while letting the human fan, Mark Reynolds, hack around at the hot corner. The movement should open up the DH spot more often than not for Gomes or Carlos Santana, leaving the 15%-owned back up, with a career .478 SLG, an opportunity to flash his solid power
Erik Kratz (PHI) 3% owned: As Carlos Ruiz (hamstring) recovers from injury, Kratzy has powered up for the Phillies. The Phils backup backstop has driven in exactly one run in 13 of his last 14 contests while popping four homers over that span. Kratz impact will be limited in a couple of weeks when Ruiz gets back, but until then, he is a must add in two catcher formats and a fine streaming option in standard leagues.
Adam Lind (TOR) 18% owned: The disappointment surrounding a Toronto team that dominated the off season headlines has overshadowed the resurgence of one Adam Lind. Deployed solely against right-handed pitching–just 24 total plate appearances against LHP–Lind has surged to a .329/.411/.521 start to the year. The counting stats currently look a bit light, but Lind has knocked all five of his home runs on the year since May 3 and has scored 18 runs and plated 11 RBI in that 25-game span. He has areal shot to top 20 homers on the season and if the Jays continue to limit his exposure to southpaws, the .284 career average that Lind has put up versus RHP figures to shine through.
Carlos Pena (HOU) 4% owned
Erick Aybar (LAA) 40% owned: It’s a bit odd to see Aybar’s ownership slip down to 40% in standard Yahoo! formats as he came into the season with high expectations. Injuries issued no doubt played a role in his early season struggles, but the question is, why does he still suck? Well, it probably has a lot to do with his pitiful 1.8 BB%, by far the worst mark in his career, which pretty horrific considering his career walk rate is just 4.7%. Aybar is just not hitting the ball with much authority with a .095 ISO over his first 167 plate appearances. He’s also not running much and has just one stolen base over 38 games. Still, there are signs of life. Aybar is batting .306 over his last 11 games with four runs scored and four RBI. He find himself hitting atop the Angles talented lineup more often than not and at some point, he’s going to start stealing some bases. Grab Aybar now if he’s been sent to the wire in your league.
Mike Aviles (CLE) 10% owned: When given a chance to play regularly, Aviles has consistently brought the fantasy juice, averaging 14 home runs and 20 stolen bases per 162 games played. He’s a batting average risk and doesn’t walk a ton, suppressing that on-base percentage, but Aviles is a perfect candidate to fill-in at your middle infield spot whether you were a Asdrubal Cabrera owner or not.
Gordon Beckham (CHW) 5% owned: Gordon Beckham is terrible. He’s come no where near putting up anything like his breakout rookie season (.270/.347/.460 with 14 homers in 103 games) while perennially disappointing fantasy owners. Still, as we look at the pathetic depth in the middle infield, Beckham’s name is one to note. He’s collected six hits in his first 17 at-bats with a pair of steals since returning from a hand injury that had him out of the lineup since April. For all of Beckham’s failing, he actually put up a reasonably productive year last season with 16 homers and five steals along with a passable .254 average. He’s never going to be the superstar some hoped, but he’s also not a zero in you MI spot.
Chris Johnson (ATL) 31% owned: Johnson has been a favorite on this list for some time, and now he’s finally got everyday at-bats with Juan Francisco now in Milwaukee. The average is not going ot stay above .300 all season, but Johnson can provide some nice run production with a touch of pop at the hot corner. Once the Brothers Upton remember that the goal of this game is to hit the baseball, the Brave should put up plenty of runs and that will bode well for Johnson’s value.
Nolan Arenado (COL) 29% owned: Following a hot start hot start (10-for-31 in his first seven games), Arenado has seen his slash line dip to a miserable .240/.280/.399. Those who have remained patient, however, have enjoyed six hits in his previous two games including a pair of doubles and four runs scored. Any rookie is going to have some ups and downs, but Arenado should be able to return top-15 value at a weak position while playing half his games at Coors. If he recent hit your wire, go ahead and take a flier.
Jayson Nix (NYY) 3% owned: The veteran utility man has been filling in all over the diamond for the Yanks, with most of his at-bats coming from the shortstop position. He’s been surprisingly productive over the last couple of weeks posting a .325/.372/.400 slash line over his past 12 games with four steals. A poor 3:13 BB-to-K ratio doesn’t exactly speak volumes about his ability to keep this up, but Nix is giving you some solid speed with eligibility all around the infield.
Cameron Maybin (SD) 15% owned: It’s hard to believe that Maybin is still just 26-years-old. It feels like he’s been destroying my fantasy teams forever. The sizzling finish to the 2011 season had me investing in 2012 and though last year was a disappointment to say the least, I took a flier on Maybin in several leagues once again in 2013. His early season struggles were followed by a lengthy stint on the DL, but now that Cam’s wrist is feeling right, he’s back in the lineup for the Friars. Maybin went 2-for-5 ion his first fame back with a run, two RBI and a pair of steals. He’s got speed to burn and a little bit of pop in taht bat and is certainly worth an add in all formats. If he captures that upside he showed during the second half of 2011–.268/.349/.457 with seven homers and 28 steals–he’ll be well worth the FAAB investment.
Chris Coghlan (MIA) 3% owned: With all the national media attention that the Marlins draw on a nightly basis, it’s extremely perplexing to see one of their hottest bats at the dish fail to capture the fantasy community. The 2009 NL Rookie of the Year has battled injuries and inconsistency over the last couple of years, but over the past two weeks, he’s grabbed himself a starting job in the Miami outfield with so nice work at the dish. Coghlan has no power and no speed, so there’s not a ton of upside here, but he is batting .359 since getting an everyday job back on May 18 and even with the impending return of Giancarlo Stanton, the is word that Cogs could see some time at third base moving forward. The additional eligibility would obviously be a huge boost to his value, but as Coghlan continues to get starts and pile up hits in the Miami outfield, he’s usable as a short-term stop gap.
We’ve got a couple of solid options at the pitcher position, and to be honest, streaming is likely the best course of action at this point in the season in a 10- or 12-team mixed league so we’ll do a quick lighting round with some arms to keep an eye on.
Tony Cingrani (CIN): 31% owned: Phenomenal K-rate should be heading back to the majors shortly with Johnny Cueto once again on the DL.
Andrew Cashner (SD) 32% owned: A successful start at Coors field is an impressive feat from any pitcher. Cashner’s K-rate has been down, but he’s battling his way to the top-50 amongst fantasy starters. His next turns come against the Braves in Petco.
Jeremy Guthrie (KC) 31% owned: Two straight quality starts after a three-game rough patch, Guthrie is on the bump against the Tigers next so you may want to wait and see how he does in that one before running him out there.
Tyler Skaggs (ARI) 16% owned: All the talent needed to dominate. If he continues to limit the free passes, he’s worth starting.
Bud Norris (HOU): 12% owned: Quietly having his most production season and has racked up four straight quality starts. A start at the Mariners is up next and we have confidence that Bud will deliver.
Jeremy Hefner (NYM) 2% owned: With three straight quality outings and a strong 19:3 K-to-BB ratio to go along with it, Hef was looking like a must add with Turns against the Marlins and Cubbies looming. Yesterday’s rain-out may change that schedule, however, so you’ll have to keep an eye on reports. If the Marlins start turns into a game against the Cards, we are much less optimistic about his prospects.