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In my first Waiver Wired attempt last Thursday, I recommended that you take a stab at Yusmeiro Petit. The next day, Petit came within one out of a perfect game, which was obviously something I saw coming when I gazed into my crystal ball. Obviously.
I wouldn’t count on any near perfecto’s from the group listed below, but hopefully some of these guys will help you make that final push to a fantasy championship. Let’s get started, shall we?
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Ubaldo Jimenez SP, Indians (Yahoo: 38 percent owned)
Based on his ownership percentages, it appears that fantasy owners have been slow to come around on Jimenez. But, with what he’s done in the second half, there’s no reason the right-hander should be unowned in mixed leagues. In nine starts since the All-Star break, Jimenez boasts a 1.94 ERA with 63 strikeouts over 55 2/3 innings. He’s allowed more than two earned runs just once during that stretch, and on that occasional he gave up just three runs. He’s recorded 10 strikeouts in three of his last four outings. Scoop Jimenez up for the stretch run if he’s available.
Dillon Gee SP, Mets (Yahoo: 34 percent owned)
On Tuesday against the Nationals, Gee failed to record a quality start. Given that it was only the third time in his last 11 tries that he allowed more than two runs, we’ll give him a pass. The right-hander got off to a slow start this season, but he’s quietly been one of the best hurlers in the National League since the beginning of June, posting a 2.64 ERA and 1.15 WHIP across 18 starts. He gets a juicy matchup against the Marlins his next time out.
Denard Span OF, Nationals (Yahoo: 23 percent owned)
As is that case with many of the Nationals’ players, Span didn’t get off to the start he wanted to this season, hitting just .258/.310/.353 with two homers over his first 114 games. Suddenly, though, the light has kicked on for the veteran outfielder, as he’s sported a .391/.424/.543 batting line with two homers and two steals during his current 22-game hit streak. Span offers no power and only a moderate amount of speed, but when he’s getting on base at his current clip, he can help out in any league.
Joe Kelly SP, Cardinals (Yahoo: 38 percent owned)
Since entering the Cards’ rotation on a permanent basis in early July, there have been a select few able to keep the opposition off the scoreboard as well as Kelly. In 11 starts, the hard-thrower is 8-0 while boasting a 2.10 ERA. The 25-year-old has had his fair share of luck during that stretch, as he’s struck out only 38 while putting up a 1.38 WHIP. Kelly has managed to allow two runs or fewer in all but two of the 11 outings, though, and needs to be owned in mixed leagues down the stretch.
Carlos Ruiz C, Phillies (Yahoo: 27 percent owned)
Ruiz, of course, missed the first 25 games of the season while serving a PED suspension, and he was pretty dreadful at the plate for a few months after being reinstated, hitting a measly .248/.291/.293 through the end of July. However, the veteran backstop has picked it up big time since the beginning of August, sporting a .324/.371/.519 batting line with four dingers and 16 RBI over 32 games. He would make for a fine second catcher down the stretch.
Danny Salazar SP, Indians (Yahoo: 24 percent owned)
Salazar has wowed everyone that’s seen him with his high-90s fastball, blowing away the opposition with 45 strikeouts over 37 innings. The 23-year-old has given up more than two runs in just two of his seven starts, producing a 2.92 ERA while issuing only 11 free passes. Salazar has failed to pitch past the sixth inning on four occasions, as the Indians have been careful about the young fireballer’s usage. That limits his wins potential, but Salazar has been able to pile up the strikeouts despite not pitching deep into games.
Trevor Plouffe 3B/OF, Twins (Yahoo: 18 percent owned)
We’re certainly no stranger to hot streaks from this 27-year-old, as Plouffe blasted 18 home runs in a 39-game stretch last season. His current hot streak isn’t at nearly the same level, but the Twins’ third baseman is hitting a nifty .345/.361/.517 with a pair of longballs over his last 15 contests. With Plouffe, cold streaks usually follow hot streaks, but you might be able to squeeze a few more good weeks out of him before the end of the 2013 campaign.
Justin Ruggiano OF, Marlins (Yahoo: 11 percent owned)
Ruggiano was a waiver wire gem last season, batting .313 with 13 homers and 14 steals for the Marlins. Things haven’t gone so smoothly for him this year, however, as his batting line sunk to a season-worst .194/.273/.354 after an August 11 game in Atlanta. After a couple days off, Ruggiano has since caught fire, hitting .343/.403/.557 with four homers, 11 RBI and a stolen base over his last 20 contests. He could make for a sneaky outfield play over the final weeks.
Shopping at the five-and-dime:
(Players owned in under 10 percent of Yahoo! leagues)
Erasmo Ramirez SP, Mariners (Yahoo: 7 percent owned)
Ramirez was a popular fantasy sleeper in drafts this spring, but he was a non-factor for a long time. He dealt with a biceps injury for the first two months of the season and, once healthy, spent the next month and a half in the minors. The young righty struggled in his first six appearances since getting a promotion, but he’s delivered since then, putting up a 2.27 ERA and 1.23 WHIP over his last five starts. It’s required patience, but Ramirez is hot now and needs to be owned in fantasy leagues.
Josmil Pinto C, Twins (Yahoo: 4 percent owned)
Pinto was an unknown to most coming into the season (he wasn’t among the Twins’ top 30 prospects as ranked by Baseball America). But after hitting .295/.362/.482 with 14 homers between High- and Double-A last year, he improved to a .309/.400/.482 line with 15 bombs between Double- and Triple-A this season. That earned him a call-up to the big club, and all Pinto has done is bat a ridiculous .500/.552/.808 with a home run and five doubles over his first eight games. With Joe Mauer (concussion) looking unlikely to return this season and Ryan Doumit no longer being used behind the plate, Pinto will be in there regularly, and it’s clear that he has the chops to help fantasy owners now.
Kole Calhoun OF, Angels (Yahoo: 7 percent owned)
Calhoun batted .298/.369/.507 with 14 homers and 12 steals at Triple-A in 2012, but an early-season fractured hamate bone and the Angels’ crowded outfield made things unlikely that he’d have any fantasy relevance in 2013. However, the 25-year-old has been quite relevant since getting the call in late July, hitting .295/.362/.496 with six homers and a stolen base across 41 contests. He’s playing regularly against righties and even some against lefties of late, batting .400 with 11 RBI in 10 games this month.
Wily Peralta SP, Brewers (Yahoo: 7 percent owned)
Peralta’s strong audition for the Brewers last year had some fantasy owners jumping on his bandwagon during draft season. The young right-hander was understandably jettisoned to the waiver wire after a disappointing start, as he posted an ugly 6.08 ERA over his first 15 outings. Quietly, though, the righty has turned his season around, putting up a 3.12 mark in his last 15 starts while upping his K/9 rate from 5.1 to 7.2. Peralta carried a no-hitter through two outs in the sixth inning his last time out. He needs to be owned in deeper formats.
Chris Owings SS, Diamondbacks (Yahoo: 0 percent owned)
A former sandwich round pick, Owings had little trouble in his first taste of Triple-A this season, batting .330/.359/.482 with 12 homers and 20 stolen bases. Even after trading for Didi Gregorius over the offseason, the Diamondbacks have decided to give Owings a long look this month, and he’s responded by hitting .313/.421/.313 with a couple steals in the first seven games of his big league career. The 22-year-old should certainly be owned in NL-only leagues and even in deeper mixed formats.
Tommy Medica 1B, Padres (Yahoo: 0 percent owned)
This 25-year-old was tried out at catcher and in the outfield in the minors before eventually settling in at first base. While he might not offer much in the way of defense, Medica does bring some potential with the bat, having hit .295/.388/.538 over four minor league seasons, including a .296/.372/.582 line with 18 homers over 76 Double-A games this year. In his first major league start Wednesday, Medica took Cliff Lee deep in his second at-bat. With Yonder Alonso (hand) out indefinitely, Medica will see some playing time down the stretch.
Alex Presley OF, Twins (Yahoo: 1 percent owned)
Presley has provided some deep-league value at times over the last couple seasons, including last year when he hit 10 homers and stole nine bases for the Pirates. The outfielder landed in a good spot in Minnesota in the Justin Morneau trade and has impressed his new organization with a .349/.391/.488 batting line to go along with a home run and six RBI in his first 10 games. Presley has settled in as the Twins’ center fielder and leadoff man and offers a nice little mix of some pop and speed.
James Paxton SP, Mariners (Yahoo: 1 percent owned)
In addition to Taijuan Walker, the Mariners also recently called up Paxton, a nice pitching prospect in his own right, to make his major league debut. The big left-hander fared well, limiting the Rays to one run over six innings of work last weekend. Paxton had an uneven season at Triple-A Tacoma, striking out 131 over 145 2/3 frames but also posting a 4.45 ERA. The 24-year-old isn’t a finished product, but he has weapons and will make at least one more start for the M’s before they consider shutting him down.