D.J. Short

Waiver Wired

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Lackey No Longer Lacking

Thursday, June 27, 2013


How many leagues were you in where someone drafted Dylan Bundy this spring? Not keeper or dynasty leagues, but actual standard redraft leagues. I'm guessing quite a few. I certainly saw it happen in some of mine. Perhaps it's not surprising given how Bryce Harper and Mike Trout burst onto the scene last season and Matt Harvey has emerged as an ace in less than one year, but it seems we're all looking for that next young superstar to come along rather than take the boring-yet-consistent production right under our noses.

Perhaps you'll hit on the right player on draft day next season, but I think that Bundy's situation should function as a reminder that stashing a top prospect in hopes of a return down the road represents nothing more than a lottery ticket. This is especially the case with pitchers, who get hurt more often than position players. You can afford to take gambles in deeper formats, but sometimes bench space is better spent on someone who is in the majors and contributing from day one. Don't get too caught up in the hype.

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MIXED LEAGUES

Leonys Martin OF, Rangers (Yahoo: 17 percent owned)

Martin is beginning to show why he was considered a potential sleeper this spring. The 25-year-old currently owns an 11-game hitting streak, including a two-homer performance against the Yankees' Hiroki Kuroda on Tuesday night. He's now batting .288/.339/.452 with 15 extra-base hits (five homers), 13 stolen bases and 29 runs scored in 67 games, delivering on the potential he displayed in the minors last season. Martin still needs to prove that he can hit left-handed pitching, so I'd be careful about trusting him as an everyday option right away, but he has the ability to help in all five categories if utilized correctly. With Craig Gentry on the disabled list with a non-displaced hand fracture, he should be in the lineup on most days.

Ike Davis 1B, Mets (Yahoo: 29 percent owned)

Davis has been on fire since his demotion to Triple-A Las Vegas earlier this month, batting .305/.460/.714 with five doubles, five homers and a 12/14 K/BB ratio in 14 games. Sure, it's a hitter-friendly environment, but you can't help but be encouraged so far. The Mets resisted bringing him back up when Lucas Duda landed on the disabled list with an intercostal strain, in part because they want to make sure he's fixed, but also because they were set to face a string of left-handed starters. My guess is that Davis will be back in the majors within the next week or so. He was hitting just .161 with 66 strikeouts in 55 games prior to his demotion, so there is some risk attached, but he's capable of hitting 15-20 homers the rest of the way. Stash him in a bench spot if he's out there.

Koji Uehara RP, Red Sox (Yahoo: 48 percent owned)

I thought Junichi Tazawa was the best hedge for Andrew Bailey last week, but Red Sox manager John Farrell ended up picking Uehara to take over as closer. It's a perfectly reasonable choice on Farrell's part, as Uehara has been one of the game's best relievers for a long time and owns an excellent 2.03 ERA and 44/7 K/BB ratio in 31 innings over 33 appearances this season. He notched his first save Wednesday since taking over the role. The Red Sox figure to be careful with his workload and Bailey may eventually get another chance at the gig, but Uehara should be owned in all fantasy formats for the time being.

Dustin Ackley 1B/2B, Mariners (Yahoo: 16 percent owned)

Fresh off batting .365/.472/.500 through 25 games with Triple-A Tacoma, Ackley was called back up to the majors this week when Franklin Gutierrez was placed on the disabled list with a right hamstring strain. While the Mariners once saw Ackley as their second baseman of the future, they now plan to play him in the outfield. The 25-year-old has hit just .221/.288/.312 in 199 games with the Mariners since the start of 2012, so he still has a lot to prove, but it wouldn't take much for him to have some value as a middle infielder option. Remember, he reached double-digits in homers and steals last season and also scored 84 runs. He can help if the playing time is there. And he's still young enough to turn his career around.

Bud Norris SP, Astros (Yahoo: 14 percent owned)

Norris has pitched well enough this season to be on your radar in most mixed leagues in the first place, but a matchup against the Angels this weekend at home is particularly interesting. In addition to his 2.68 ERA in nine starts at Minute Maid Park this season, he has allowed just one run in 21 innings (three starts) against the Angels. While Norris' strikeout rate has dropped off a bit this season, he has displayed improved control and has induced more ground balls than ever before. Feel free to stream for now, but keep in mind that he could gain some value if he ends up getting traded to a team like the Giants or Padres.  

Gregor Blanco OF, Giants (Yahoo: 11 percent owned)

Now that Angel Pagan is set to miss 10-12 weeks following hamstring surgery, Blanco is expected to serve as both the regular center fielder and leadoff man. Thanks to a red-hot June, the 29-year-old is batting .296/.351/.394 through 68 games this season. I'm skeptical that the batting average will continue at this pace, as he's riding a .371 BABIP (batting average) on balls in play, but he has the potential to help in stolen bases and runs scored. He makes for a fine fourth or fifth outfielder in deeper formats.

Alex Rodriguez 3B, Yankees (Yahoo: 17 percent owned)

Yes, I'm going there. Depending on what you read, it appears that Rodriguez is getting closer to beginning a minor league rehab assignment. While the Yankees would probably prefer that his hip condition prevents him from ever playing again, potentially allowing them to collect insurance money on his contract while saving them all the usual distractions, the fact is that it wouldn't take much for the soon-to-be 38-year-old to be an improvement over what they have been getting out of third base. There are many variables at play here, including the fallout from the Biogenesis investigation, but we're at the point where it's advisable to stash him away in an available DL spot.

John Lackey SP, Red Sox (Yahoo: 37 percent owned)

I never thought I would include Lackey in a Waiver Wired again, but his success has become too difficult to ignore. Coming off a brilliant performance against the Rockies yesterday in which he tied a career-high with 12 strikeouts, the 34-year-old right-hander now owns an excellent 2.99 ERA over his first 13 starts this season. His secondary numbers back him up, as he currently has the lowest walk rate of his career and his best strikeout rate since 2005 as a member of the Angels. Lackey is even inducing ground balls at a career-high rate of 50 percent. And while his fastball velocity has mostly sat in the 91 mph range this season, he was averaging 93 mph with his heater yesterday and topped out at nearly 96 mph. Color me intrigued.

Matt Dominguez 3B, Astros (Yahoo: 13 percent owned)

When Dominguez is at home, he should be on your radar in mixed leagues. Why? Just take a look at his splits. The 23-year-old third baseman is hitting .288 with seven homers and an .837 OPS at Minute Maid Park compared to .176 with two homers and a .467 OPS on the road. While this sounds like a strange quirk, his pull-hitting style is tailor-made for the Crawford Boxes in left field. Take a look here. The Astros will play their next seven games at home, so this is a good time to give him a chance out of a corner infield spot.

Shopping at the five-and-dime:

(Players owned in under 10 percent of Yahoo! leagues)

Chris Capuano SP, Dodgers (Yahoo: 6 percent owned)

Capuano has pitched really well since returning from a left lat strain, compiling a 9/0 K/BB ratio in 11 innings over his last two starts. Even more impressive, he made his most recent start on just three days' rest. The 34-year-old southpaw had a solid 3.72 ERA in 33 starts with the Dodgers last season and has averaged 7.6 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 since the start of 2011, so it's not like he's pitching over his head. If healthy, he's relevant. Give him a try for a home start against the Phillies this weekend.

Kyle Gibson SP, Twins (Yahoo: 9 percent owned)

The wait is over. Mike Pelfrey's back strain has cleared the way for Gibson to make his long-anticipated major league debut Saturday against the Royals at Target Field. Now nearly 22 months removed from Tommy John surgery, the 25-year-old earned a call-up after posting a 3.01 ERA and 79/28 K/BB ratio in 92 2/3 innings over 15 starts with Triple-A Rochester. The 2009 first-round pick also had a ground ball rate north of 50 percent. He probably should have been here a couple of weeks ago on merit, but the Twins likely pushed back his delay to ensure that he won't qualify for arbitration as a Super Two player down the road. Hey, it's business. The Twins figure to be careful with Gibson's workload and he'll almost certainly run into an innings limit at some point, but he's worth a flier in deeper mixed formats.

Jarrod Dyson OF, Royals (Yahoo: 1 percent owned)

Dyson was getting regular at-bats against right-handed pitching prior to suffering an ankle sprain in mid-May, but he should be on your radar again now that he's back to full health. The 28-year-old speedster has swiped bases in each of his first three games since coming off the disabled list and even hit his third career home run on Sunday. Don't count on seeing much more power moving forward, but this is someone who stole 30 bases in 102 games last season. The emergence of David Lough complicates things for Dyson somewhat, but Lorenzo Cain's struggles could open the door for more playing time for each of them.  

Oswaldo Arcia OF, Twins (Yahoo: 3 percent owned)

Arcia has been red-hot since returning from the minors earlier this month, hitting .347 (17-for-49) with two home runs, five doubles, and eight RBI in 14 games. He now has six home runs and an .842 OPS in 162 plate appearances overall this season. Not bad for someone who just turned 22 in May. Arcia strikes out a lot and his BABIP (batting average) on balls in play is likely unsustainable, but he has some nice power potential from the left side of the plate. Give him a shot in deeper leagues.


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D.J. Short is a Rotoworld baseball editor and contributes to NBCSports.com's Hardball Talk blog. You can also find him on Twitter.
Email :D.J. Short



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