D.J. Short

Waiver Wired

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Waiver Wired: Take Jake

Thursday, June 19, 2014


It's Heaney time. Or close to it, anyway. After dominating his way through Double- and Triple-A this year, the 23-year-old left-hander will make his major league debut Thursday night against the Mets. I mentioned Heaney in Waiver Wired last week, which is why you won't find him among my recommendations below, but he's obviously a must-pickup in any leagues where's still unowned. Good control, National League East, pitcher-friendly ballpark. Like it, like it, like it.

While we're on the subject, I talked about Heaney in this week's "Buy, Sell, or Hold" video, which you can watch below. You'll also see my thoughts on a certain hot-hitting rookie for the Braves who just so happens to be a part of Waiver Wired for this week.



Have specific questions about your roster? Ask @djshort on Twitter.

Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day, $30,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Thursday night's MLB games. It's $25 to join and first prize is $5,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on Thursday. Here's the FanDuel link.

MIXED LEAGUES

Jake Arrieta SP, Cubs (Yahoo: 31 percent owned)

The Cubs took a flier on Arrieta in last year's Scott Feldman deal with the Orioles and it's starting to pay off big. The 28-year-old right-hander struck out a career-high 11 batters over seven innings of one-run ball Wednesday against the Marlins and now owns an impressive 1.98 ERA and 55/15 K/BB ratio in 50 innings over nine starts this season. Arrieta didn't make his season debut until May 3 due to a shoulder injury, but it's safe to say that he's feeling fine now. If you go back to last season, he has a 2.83 ERA in 18 starts since joining Chicago. The stuff has always been there -- Arrieta was a top 100 prospect with Baltimore -- but it's finally beginning to translate at the big league level. The development of his secondary pitches has played a key part in making it happen. With his improved control and a ground ball rate above 50 percent, I'm buying wherever I can.

Jaime Garcia SP, Cardinals (Yahoo: 27 percent owned)

Garcia has been on a roll of late, allowing just one run in 14 innings over his last two starts. The Cardinals weren't quite sure what they were going to get out of the southpaw after his shoulder gave him problems again in February, but he now has a 3.72 ERA and 32/5 K/BB ratio in 38 2/3 innings across six starts. While it's a small sample, he's missing more bats than ever before and he continues to post a ground ball rate well above 50 percent. When he's healthy, Garcia is a must-start at home. And he just so happens to have a date against the Phillies on Friday. Sign me up.

Eric Young, Jr. OF, Mets (Yahoo: 20 percent owned)

Young has notched a hit in all three games since he was activated from the disabled list on Monday. Curtis Granderson and Bobby Abreu are both playing well right now and Juan Lagares could return from the disabled list next week, but Young should be a regular in the Mets' lineup for at least the next few days. That's a good thing if you need some speed. Even though Young missed three weeks a hamstring injury, he's currently tied for eighth in the majors with 17 stolen bases. He shouldn't be left on the wire in most leagues.

Kevin Gausman SP, Orioles (Yahoo: 17 percent owned)

Gausman was shaky in his season debut for the Orioles back on May 14 against the Tigers, but he has been fantastic since returning earlier this month, allowing just two earned runs in 19 innings over three starts. He had his best outing yet on Wednesday, tossing six scoreless innings against the Rays while allowing five hits and one walk and striking out five batters. Granted, it was the Rays, but the 23-year-old right-hander continues to make a strong case to keep a rotation spot. The Orioles are going with a six-man rotation after the return of Miguel Gonzalez, so something will have to give eventually, but Gausman has tremendous upside and should be owned in most formats.

Scooter Gennett 2B, Brewers (Yahoo: 10 percent owned)

I had my doubts about Gennett remaining on the strong side of a platoon at second base over Rickie Weeks, but he just continues to produce. The 24-year-old is hitting a scorching hot .458 (11-for-24) with one home run, four doubles, and five RBI over the past week and now owns an impressive .306/.342/.458 batting line on the year. This includes an .882 OPS against right-handed pitchers. Only 27 players (min. 150 plate appearances) have been better in all of baseball this season. If you include last season, he's hitting .315 with 10 home runs and six stolen bases over his first 135 games in the majors. Perhaps it's time to take him seriously. Gennett will lose some at-bats to Weeks against left-handed starters, but he's very useful in mixed leagues now that Brewers manager Ron Roenicke is batting him leadoff.

Henderson Alvarez SP, Marlins (Yahoo: 32 percent owned)

Alvarez doesn't get much attention in fantasy leagues because he doesn't strike out many batters, but it's high time to give him some more respect. The 24-year-old right-hander has a 3.12 ERA in 31 starts over the past calendar year. Only 18 pitchers (min. 160 IP) have a lower ERA in the same timespan. Yes, the whiffs aren't there, but he limits walks, owns a ground ball rate above 50 percent, pitches in the National League East, and calls a pitchers' park home. All reasons to consider him, at least in certain matchups. With that in mind, he should be a must-start against the Mets at home on Friday.

Neil Ramirez RP, Cubs (Yahoo: 24 percent owned)

Hector Rondon struck out three batters in an inning of work Monday against the Marlins after missing 10 days with elbow soreness, but Ramirez is worth watching if it continues to linger. Acquired from the Rangers last year in the Matt Garza deal, Ramirez notched two saves during Rondon's absence and has compiled a dominant 1.06 ERA and 26/5 K/BB ratio in 17 innings since his call-up from Triple-A Iowa in late April. The 25-year-old right-hander throws in the mid-90s with his fastball and gets a ton of whiffs on his slider. He could be an option to take the closer role even if Rondon remains healthy, but he's a must-pickup while there's still some uncertainty.

Bartolo Colon SP, Mets (Yahoo: 35 percent owned)

If you need a boost in your lineup, Colon is your guy. Just kidding about that one. Though his double was pretty impressive Tuesday. While the long-awaited hit from Colon is getting most of the headlines right now, the 40-year-old has been getting it done on the mound recently by posting a 1.66 ERA and 31/8 K/BB ratio in 43 1/3 innings over his last six starts. He hasn't allowed more than two earned runs in any of them. Three ugly starts inflated his ERA in the early part of the season, but he has brought it down from 5.84 to 3.88 with his recent stretch of excellence. Looking at his season on the whole, he has increased his strikeouts with the league change and his walk rate (1.26 BB/9) is the best in the National League. The Mets aren't scoring many runs right now, but Colon deserves to be owned in most leagues.

Josh Reddick OF, Athletics (Yahoo: 25 percent owned)

Out since May 31 with a hyperextended right knee, Reddick began a minor league rehab assignment Wednesday night with Triple-A Sacramento. He's expected to spend four days in the minors before being re-evaluated, but the hope is that he'll be ready for Tuesday's series opener against the Yankees. Reddick strikes out too much to be an asset in batting average, but he's capable of double-digit homers the rest of the way and should even steal a few bags. He's worth a shot in deeper formats.

Taijuan Walker SP, Mariners (Yahoo: 39 percent owned)

The most owned player in this week's column, Walker finally appears close to joining the Mariners' rotation. While his first two starts with Triple-A Tacoma were a little shaky, the 21-year-old right-hander has allowed just three earned runs in 11 2/3 innings over his last two starts. He was especially dominant in his most recent outing, allowing just one hit while striking out seven. Erasmo Ramirez has managed to hold his own in recent starts for the Mariners despite living dangerously, but Walker is a clear upgrade for the rotation now that his shoulder issue is in the rear view mirror. Look for a change to happen soon. Walker is worth a flier on upside alone.

Josh Harrison 2B/3B/OF, Pirates (Yahoo: 15 percent owned)

After posting an underwhelming .250/.282/.367 batting line over his first 229 games in the majors, Harrison has been excellent in a super utility role with the Pirates this season, hitting .317 with four home runs, 18 RBI, and four stolen bases over 55 games. Yes, his .345 BABIP (batting average on balls in play) has played a part in his success, but he's making a lot of solid contact. Neil Walker won't be eligible to return from the disabled list for a few more days, so Harrison makes for a fine short-term play in deeper mixed leagues and he figures to play a significant role for the Pirates even beyond that. His speed and multi-position eligibility should come in handy.

Shopping at the five-and-dime:

(Players owned in under 10 percent of Yahoo leagues)

Luis Valbuena 2B/3B, Cubs (Yahoo: 5 percent owned)

While Kris Bryant doesn't look long for the minors, Valbuena has quietly been one of the most productive players in the Cubs' lineup this season. Splitting time between third base and second base, the 28-year-old is batting .284/.382/.458 with four home runs and 19 RBI over 220 plate appearances. His .840 OPS is 34th among players with at least 175 plate appearances. He's currently sitting above the likes of Adrian Beltre, Chase Utley, Alex Gordon, Robinson Cano, and Ryan Braun. How is this happening? Well, Valbuena is benefitting from a .360 BABIP (batting average on balls in play), which likely isn't sustainable. However, his line drive rate ranks among the best in the majors right now, so we can't say he hasn't earned it to a degree. At the very least, he's a decent fill-in option if you need a middle infielder in mixed leagues. It wouldn't be surprising if a contender picks him up as a bench/utility player before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.   

Travis d'Arnaud C, Mets (Yahoo: 2 percent owned)

Much was expected out of d'Arnaud this season, but after struggling in his first taste of the majors late last year, he batted just .180/.271/.273 through 49 games this year prior to being demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas earlier this month. He's currently making sure it will only be a short stay. Through 10 games with the 51s, the 25-year-old is hitting .410 (16-for- 39) with five home runs, four doubles, and more walks (three) than strikeouts (two). Sure, playing in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League helps, but hopefully this will get his confidence going at the plate. Most prospect experts expected him to hit for average and provide some power, so he's far from a lost cause. The Mets are expected to recall d'Arnaud for a series against the Athletics next week, so he's worth picking up again in two-catcher leagues.

Tommy La Stella 2B, Braves (Yahoo: 8 percent owned)

When La Stella was called up from the minors three weeks ago, I said in this space that I wasn't all that excited about him in mixed leagues. Well, he has my attention now. While I still think the upside is rather limited because of a general lack of power or speed, the 25-year-old is batting .343 (24-for-70) with more walks (eight) than strikeouts (seven) over his first 19 games in the majors. He's proven enough with his plate discipline and contact ability for Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez to move him up to the leadoff spot in the Braves' lineup, at least for a little while. This makes him a lot more interesting from a fantasy perspective. Give him a try if you need some help from your MI (middle infielder) spot.


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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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