Of all the nights that Zack Wheeler had to make his MLB debut, it was on the night that I was in attendance to see the Postal Service at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Maryland. Of course. I was able to watch portions of it on my phone thanks to MLB.tv and made sure to catch it in-full when I got home. OK, I may have watched it a couple of times since then. Hey, there are few things more exciting in this game than young starting pitching. And Wheeler has a fastball you can dream on.
By the way, Ben Gibbard, the frontman for the Postal Service and also Death Cab For Cutie, is a big Mariners fan. He wrote a really cool tribute song to Ichiro after he was traded to the Yankees last July, which you can listen to here. Alright, enough music talk from me this week. Let's scour that waiver wire.
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Jordan Lyles SP, Astros (Yahoo: 10 percent owned)
Lyles began the year in the minors after failing to win a rotation spot during spring training, but he's currently in the midst of a potential breakthrough season. The 22-year-old right-hander owns a 3.22 ERA across 10 starts to go along with 46/16 K/BB ratio in 58 2/3 innings. This includes a stingy 1.61 ERA over his last seven starts, during which he has allowed two earned runs or fewer in all of them. With his velocity on the rise and his ground ball rate above 50 percent, everything appears to be coming together for him. Remember, Lyles was pushed to the majors at just 20 years old, so it may have just taken a while for him to adjust to pitching at the highest level. There might not be much win potential with the Astros, but he's worth a flier in most formats, especially with a favorable matchup against the Cubs on tap for this weekend.
Ben Revere OF, Phillies (Yahoo: 43 percent owned)
Revere got off to a slow start with the Phillies, but he has turned things around quite nicely since the beginning of May, hitting .317 with 12 stolen bases over his last 44 games. This includes a current 10-game hitting streak during which Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has entrusted the 25-year-old center fielder as his leadoff man once again. Sure, the slap-hitting Revere isn't going to provide any power, but he stole 40 bases in 124 games last season and 34 in 117 games in 2011. That speed can be a major difference-maker in all formats.
Junichi Tazawa RP, Red Sox (Yahoo: 15 percent owned)
Andrew Bailey has looked pretty shaky of late, allowing five runs on seven hits (including three home runs) and four walks in four innings over his last four appearances. The Red Sox are saying that he's healthy, but he has shown diminished velocity in recent outings and missed some time earlier this season with biceps soreness. Given his long injury history, the smart play may be to think ahead. Tazawa is the likely alternative if a change is eventually needed at closer, as he got the nod over Koji Uehara when Bailey and Joel Hanrahan were both on the disabled list. The 27-year-old right-hander owns a ridiculous 1.89 ERA and 83/8 K/BB ratio in 76 1/3 innings dating back to the start of last season, so he could prove to be an elite option if he gets an extended opportunity.
Brandon Moss 1B/OF, Athletics (Yahoo: 32 percent owned)
The free-swinging Moss was never a good bet to duplicate his .291 batting average from last season, as he was helped by a .359 BABIP (batting average on balls in play), but fortunately his pop has remained intact. While the 29-year-old is striking out at a ridiculous rate of 30.9 percent, he has connected for 13 home runs through 67 games this season, including four in his last seven. Only eight first base-eligible players have more home runs. Don't look for that batting average to bounce back, as he's right about where he should be, but his thump comes in handy if you need to fill a CI (corner infielder) spot.
Dillon Gee SP, Mets (Yahoo: 14 percent owned)
Even though Gee gave up a walkoff two-run homer to Freddie Freeman in the bottom of the ninth inning on Monday night, it doesn't change the fact that he has turned his season around. After putting his rotation spot in jeopardy with a 6.34 ERA across his first 10 starts, the 27-year-old right-hander has a ridiculous 1.53 ERA and 32/4 K/BB ratio in 29 1/3 innings over his last four outings. While he has been battling elbow tendinitis for most of the season, his velocity has been on the rise since the early part of the season. This could be a sign that he has regained strength following surgery last July to fix an artery in his pitching shoulder. Gee was quietly pitching very well before that surgery, so perhaps he's picking up from where he left off.
Mitch Moreland 1B, Rangers (Yahoo: 38 percent owned)
Moreland landed on the disabled list earlier this month with a right hamstring strain, but he went 6-for-12 with a home run and three doubles during his rehab assignment with Double-A Frisco and will be activated for Friday's series opener against the Cardinals. He'll be a welcome sight for the Rangers, who have struggled to score runs for most of the month. The 27-year-old first baseman was enjoying his best season prior to the injury, batting .288 with 12 home runs, 29 RBI, and an .899 OPS through 58 games, so he should be picked up in leagues where he was dropped.
Nick Franklin 2B/SS, Mariners (Yahoo: 29 percent owned)
It hasn't taken long for Franklin to get comfortable at the major league level. The 22-year-old switch-hitter is batting .280/.365/.480 with three home runs, six RBI, three stolen bases, and a 10/12 K/BB ratio in 22 games since his promotion from Triple-A Tacoma late last month. He's even held his own against southpaws in a small sample, which has been a trouble spot for him in the past. His recent seven-game hitting streak saw him pushed to the No. 2 spot in the order, which gives him a nice boost in value. Franklin contributes in all categories, so he's a worthwhile addition in most formats. Pick him up if you're looking for a replacement for Everth Cabrera.
Ricky Nolasco SP, Marlins (Yahoo: 21 percent owned)
Nolasco has long been one of those pitchers whose results didn't match up with what advanced metrics like xFIP and SIERA were saying, but he's finally enjoying some success this season. Through 15 starts, the 30-year-old right-hander has a 3.61 ERA and 76/23 K/BB ratio over 94 2/3 innings. He currently has his lowest ERA since 2008 and his highest swinging strike rate since 2010. That's a pretty good way to boost your trade value. Nolasco is worth using in all formats this weekend against the banged-up Giants, who could be one of his potential suitors in the weeks to come.
Nate Schierholtz OF, Cubs (Yahoo: 15 percent owned)
After joining the Cubs on a modest one-year, $2.25 million contract over the winter, Schierholtz has thrived in a platoon role in right field, batting .293/.343/.553 with nine home runs, 26 RBI, four stolen bases, and 26 runs scored in 60 games. The 29-year-old quietly owns an .847 OPS against right-handed pitching since the start of 2011, which is higher than the likes of Jay Bruce and Evan Longoria. Yep, I was surprised by that myself. Schierholtz has only logged 22 plate appearances against left-handers this season, so the Cubs have been very strict about his role. He's best utilized in leagues where you can make daily lineup changes, but he's doing enough to warrant attention in deeper mixed formats.
Joaquin Benoit RP, Tigers (Yahoo: 30 percent owned)
We don't need a meat thermometer to tell us that Valverde is almost cooked. With his velocity sitting a career-low, "Papa Grande" has allowed 11 runs on 15 hits (including six home runs) in 7 1/3 innings over his last eight appearances. The veteran right-hander served up just three home runs in 71 appearances last season and five in 75 appearances in 2011. While Tigers manager Jim Leyland has resisted making an official change at closer, Benoit converted a save chance on Sunday against the Twins and looks like the best in-house hedge. I wouldn't be surprised if the Tigers are in the market for a closer (Jonathan Papelbon?) around the trade deadline.
Shopping at the five-and-dime:
(Players owned in under 10 percent of Yahoo! leagues)
Eric Young, Jr. OF, Mets (Yahoo: 2 percent owned)
After being designated for assignment by the Rockies last week, Young was acquired by the Mets on Tuesday in exchange for right-hander Collin McHugh. It's a pretty good spot for the 28-year-old speedster, as there's not much standing in the way of regular playing time. He batted leadoff and started in center field in his Mets' debut on Wednesday night, two real areas of need for the club. Young is a .261/.329/.342 career hitter, so don't expect much help in the batting average or power categories, but he has swiped 70 bases in 314 games in the majors. Grab him in deeper leagues if you need speed.
Yoervis Medina RP, Mariners (Yahoo: 1 percent owned)
Oliver Perez RP, Mariners (Yahoo: 8 percent owned)
Carter Capps RP, Mariners (Yahoo: 3 percent owned)
Charlie Furbush RP, Mariners (Yahoo: 1 percent owned)
Tom Wilhelmsen has been a complete mess recently, so the Mariners are currently giving him a break from the closer role. Perez and Medina have each secured saves since the change was made, so they are at the top of my list for the moment. Capps would have been my choice if this happened a couple of weeks ago, but he's struggling himself right now. Medina, who I mentioned on the AL-only side last week, gets a slight edge since he throws from the right side. Then again, the rejuvenated Perez has enjoyed success against righties and lefties alike dating back to the start of last season. With the situation still in flux, I think a case could be made to own any of these guys in deeper leagues. Pick one and hope for the best.