After taking two weeks away from Waiver Wired while I was getting hitched, I'm refreshed and ready to take the wheel for the final two weeks of the season. Thanks again to Ryan Boyer (@RyanPBoyer) for filling in and doing an awesome job.
If you are still reading this column this late in the year, I'm guessing that means you still have a chance to win your league. Good for you. Hopefully Waiver Wired has played a small part in your success. With this week's column, I'm going heavy on the mixed league side of things. I'll wrap things up next week with a few last-minute recommendations and our usual end-of-season superlatives. Good luck out there.
Rick Porcello SP, Tigers (Yahoo: 22 percent owned)
Porcello is rolling at just the right time for fantasy owners. After allowing one run in a complete game victory over the White Sox on September 10, he struck out 10 batters over six innings of one-run ball against the Mariners on Monday. The 24-year-old has a respectable 3.93 ERA and 50/23 K/BB ratio over 68 2/3 innings since the All-Star break and has allowed three earned runs or fewer in 12 out of his last 14 starts dating back to late June. He's a solid option Saturday against the White Sox.
Josh Reddick OF, Athletics (Yahoo: 26 percent owned)
Looking for a late boost in the power department? Reddick might be able to help. The 26-year-old outfielder is 6-for-24 (.250) with two home runs and a double over seven games since returning from the disabled list earlier this month. His right wrist has been a season-long issue and he may need the offseason in order to properly heal, but he's capable of sending a few over the fence over the Athletics' final 10 games.
Alexi Ogando SP, Rangers (Yahoo: 33 percent owned)
Ogando was effective in his return to the starting rotation on Tuesday against the Rays, allowing one run over five innings while striking out four and walking one. While staying healthy has been a struggle this year, the 29-year-old owns a solid 3.15 ERA and 1.20 WHIP across 91 1/3 innings. The Rangers are struggling to score runs this month, but he's a recommended streaming option against the Royals.
Alex Avila C, Tigers (Yahoo: 19 percent owned)
Avila has been very productive since returning from a concussion in late August, hitting .295 with seven extra-base hits (two home runs) and nine RBI in 19 games. While his season still looks disappointing on the whole, he's actually hitting .288 with six home runs and 32 RBI over his last 45 games dating back to June 16. He's worth adding for those making due without the likes of Jason Castro and Wilin Rosario.
Zach McAllister SP, Indians (Yahoo: 13 percent owned)
McAllister has been uneven since returning from a right finger sprain in late July, but he has 50 strikeouts over 59 1/3 innings during that time and is coming off his strongest start in nearly a month. As far as streaming opportunities go, it doesn't get more appealing that a start against the 100-loss Astros on Friday night in Cleveland.
Dayan Viciedo OF, White Sox (Yahoo: 19 percent owned)
After getting off to a slow start this season, Viciedo is quietly batting .287 with nine home runs and 39 RBI over 73 games dating back to mid-June. While the 24-year-old outfielder has mostly batted sixth or seventh this season, his impressive stretch has earned him a promotion to the No. 3 spot in the order this week. It would be nice to see some more power, but he's at least in a favorable position to drive in some runs over the final week and a half.
Billy Hamilton SS, Reds (Yahoo: 16 percent owned)
Hamilton had his coming out party Wednesday night against the Astros, going 3-for-4 with four stolen bases in his first MLB start. Two of his swipes were on pitch outs. Just to put things in perspective, he's the first player in the live ball era (since 1920) to steal four bases in his first MLB start. Despite limited playing time, Hamilton already has nine stolen bases, which is more than 11 teams this month. Who knows how much he'll play over the final week and a half, but his speed makes him a must-start whenever he's in the lineup. He's going to have huge value next season if the Reds give him a shot as an everyday player, so get ready.
Tanner Roark SP, Nationals (Yahoo: 22 percent owned)
Roark's unlikely run of success continued this week against the Braves, as he allowed two hits and struck out six over seven scoreless innings. The 26-year-old is now 7-0 with a 1.08 ERA and 32/9 K/BB ratio over 41 2/3 innings (three starts and nine relief appearances) since his call-up in early August. Roark has never been a top prospect and he has benefitted from a low BABIP and a high strand rate during his first stint in the majors, so don't expect him to continue to dominate, but his excellent command should give him a chance to stick around. As of now, he lines up for starts against the Cardinals and Diamondbacks next week, but he could move up to Sunday against the Marlins if the Nationals shut down Stephen Strasburg. Either way, he's a solid addition in all formats.
Scooter Gennett 2B, Brewers (Yahoo: 25 percent owned)
Gennett has thrived since Rickie Weeks' season-ending hamstring injury in early August, hitting .364 (44-for-121) with five home runs, seven doubles, 13 RBI, and 20 runs scored in 36 games. The power production has been a surprise and his struggles against southpaws (2-for-28 with 11 strikeouts) are something to monitor, but the 5-foot-10, 180-pounder is making a real case to take over at second base in 2014. It's worth noting that the Brewers will face all right-handed starters this weekend in St. Louis, so this is a good opportunity to give a shot in a middle infielder (MI) spot.
Shopping at the five-and-dime:
(Players owned in under 10 percent of Yahoo! leagues)
Corey Dickerson OF, Rockies (Yahoo: 1 percent owned)
Dickerson has held his own as a rookie this season, batting .283/.331/.464 with 20 extra-base hits (three home runs) 12 RBI, two stolen bases, and 28 runs scored in 61 games. The 24-year-old has received regular playing time of late with Carlos Gonzalez limited to being a defensive replacement due to a finger injury. The Rockies will be at home until next Friday, so this is a good time to pick him up if you need help in a five-outfielder league.
Cody Asche 3B, Padres (Yahoo: 4 percent owned)
Asche scuffled over his first couple of weeks in the big leagues, but he has responded by hitting .313 with eight extra-base hits (three home runs), 13 RBI and an .894 OPS over his last 23 games. Obvious caveat about the small sample size, but his plate discipline has been better than expected. The 23-year-old should get a chance to open the 2014 season as the starting third baseman, though top prospect Maikel Franco could hit his way to the big leagues before long. Asche isn't projected to hit for a ton of power, but he should do enough in all categories to be relevant in deeper formats as long as he keeps the job.
Lucas Duda 1B/OF, Mets (Yahoo: 3 percent owned)
Currently getting the majority of the playing time at first base following Ike Davis' season-ending oblique injury, Duda is hitting .227/.346/.394 with five extra-base hits (three home runs), eight RBI, and nine runs scored in 21 games since returning from the minors last month. While that's nothing special, the 27-year-old is multi-position eligible, gets on base, and provides occasional pop. We're still waiting on him to deliver on the promise he showed back in 2010, but he could be useful over the final 11 games.
Josh Fields RP, Astros (Yahoo: 5 percent owned)
I have tried to my hardest to avoid the Astros' closer situation at all costs over the past month or so, but we're at the point of the season where every save matters, so here we are. The Astros aren't holding many leads these days, but Fields is expected to remain in the closer role for the remainder of the season. While his control remains an issue, the Rule 5 pick has a 2.13 ERA over his last 12 appearances and has struck out 35 batters in 34 innings this season. I'm not expecting much, but he should be scooped up in most competitive leagues.
Danny Valencia 3B, Orioles (Yahoo: 3 percent owned)
Valencia has been on fire since returning from the minors last month, hitting .464 (26-for-56) with 11 extra-base hits (three home runs), 11 RBI and eight runs scored in 16 games. While he was initially being used in a platoon role, Orioles manager Buck Showalter has relied on him as his primary designated hitter in recent days. Keep in mind that Valencia has a .638 OPS against righties during his career compared to an .882 OPS against southpaws, so that tells you pretty much all you need to know about how to deploy him in fantasy leagues. He's best utilized in daily formats.
Elliot Johnson 2B/SS/OF, Braves (Yahoo: 1 percent owned)
Dan Uggla has struggled since returning from LASIK surgery, so Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has relied heavily on Johnson in recent days. The 29-year-old is a .216 hitter over 779 plate appearances in the majors, so don't expect him to be much better, but he has swiped seven bases in 23 games since joining the Braves and a career-high 21 over 102 games this year. The Braves are probably better served to give Uggla as many at-bats as possible over the final week and a half, but Johnson's speed should be useful if he continues to play.
Yordano Ventura SP, Royals (Yahoo: 0 percent owned)
Ventura was impressive in his major league debut Tuesday against the Indians, allowing one run over 5 2/3 innings while striking out three and walking two. Most of the attention was focused on his incredible velocity, as the 5-foot-11 right-hander threw six pitches over 100 mph and topped out at 102.49 mph, but he also broke off some nasty curveballs. The 22-year-old should find himself on some sleeper lists entering 2014, but he's worth picking up with a start against the Mariners up next.