D.J. Short

Waiver Wired

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Waiver Wired: Can of Cron

Thursday, June 26, 2014

In last week's Buy, Sell, or Hold video, I predicted that Jason Grilli was likely next in line to lose his closer job. I didn't expect it to happen so quickly, but Grilli promptly blew a save last Thursday against the Reds before Pirates manager Clint Hurdle decided to make a change. Mark Melancon has three saves since taking over the gig, but it's been a bit of a rocky ride for him, as he has allowed three runs over his last two appearances. Still, I think he's good enough (and by extension, Grilli has looked bad enough) to keep the job for the rest of the season. By the way, Melancon is still available in 38 percent of Yahoo leagues right now for some reason. That shouldn't be the case.

In this week's video, you'll see me discuss someone who I mentioned in Waiver Wired earlier this month and a hot-hitting former Astro who you'll also find among this week's recommendations.

Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day, $25,000 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.

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


Joe Smith RP, Angels (Yahoo: 35 percent owned)

Angels manager Mike Scioscia has lost faith in Ernesto Frieri once again, so Smith will serve as the closer for the short-term. Yes, the sidearming Smith doesn't fit the profile of your typical closer, but he's currently getting more strikeouts than ever before and his walk rate sits at a career low. And of course, you know he's going to induce a ton of ground balls. I don't see him keeping the job for long, as Frieri could get the job back with a few clean outings or the Angels could pick up someone like Huston Street or Joaquin Benoit via trade, but Smith is a safe pickup for now.

C.J. Cron 1B, Angels (Yahoo: 15 percent owned)

Following the release of Raul Ibanez, Cron has been pushed into an everyday role for the Angels. And boy, is he enjoying it so far. The 24-year-old has seven hits in 17 at-bats over his last five games and recently homered in three straight. The plate discipline is questionable and I don't expect the batting average to hold around its current .294 as the season moves along, but Cron brings legitimate thump from the right side of the plate. With his playing time now secure, he's worth considering if you need a corner infielder in standard mixed leagues.

Carlos Martinez RP/SP, Cardinals (Yahoo: 31 percent owned)

While it's unfortunate to see Michael Wacha and Jaime Garcia both go on the disabled list with shoulder issues, the situation clears the way for Martinez to get an extended chance in the starting rotation. The 22-year-old right-hander has allowed three runs in nine innings with an 8/5 K/BB ratio over his first two starts, which isn't going to blow you away, but I'm more focused on the stuff and the upside right now. Besides, he's still in the process of getting stretched out. He makes for a logical flier in most leagues.

J.D. Martinez OF, Tigers (Yahoo: 44 percent owned)

Martinez has been one of the hottest adds in fantasy baseball this week and deservedly so. The 26-year-old has been in a ridiculous groove this month, hitting .369 (24-for-65) with seven home runs and 20 RBI over 17 games. He's at .400 clip with four home runs and 10 RBI over the past week. Now, the big question is whether he's for real. And for someone who was dumped by the Astros for nothing in the spring and came into this season with a .687 career OPS, some skepticism is warranted. However, there could be something tangible behind this, as Martinez made some mechanical changes over the winter after watching video of other successful hitters in MLB, including his new teammate Miguel Cabrera. I wouldn't drop anybody super important for him, as his playing time could dry up quickly as he fizzles out, but those who have been dealing with injuries and underperformance in their outfield should take the risk here. Maybe, just maybe, he has figured something out.

Brad Miller 2B/SS, Mariners (Yahoo: 34 percent owned)

Miller was a popular sleeper in fantasy drafts this spring (I'll admit that I had several shares in my leagues), but he arguably the game's worst hitter over the first two months of the season. However, the 24-year-old has finally shown some signs of life in June by hitting .311 (23-for-74) with four home runs and 10 RBI over 23 games. His recent hot streak has finally pulled his batting average above .200 for the season. Woo-hoo. It's worth noting that he's sporting a .365 BABIP (batting average on balls in play) this month, but he has earned it somewhat with his line drive rate on the rise. He's still striking out a bunch, but not nearly as often as he did during April. His walk rate also sits over 10 percent over the past two months, which is closer to what we were expecting coming into the year. A few hot weeks isn't going to cancel out the first two months, but it wouldn't stun me if Miller was a top-12 shortstop the rest of the way. Time to give him another chance in leagues where he was dropped.

Drew Smyly SP, Tigers (Yahoo: 27 percent owned)

Smyly was another sleeper who failed to live up to expectations over the first two months of the season, but like Miller, he finally appears to be finding his footing. The 25-year-old southpaw allowed just an unearned run over six innings against the Rangers on Tuesday night and now owns a 1.44 ERA and 17/5 K/BB ratio in 25 innings over four starts this month. His fly ball tendencies leave him vulnerable to the home run ball -- he's given up 10 in 73 1/3 innings this season -- but I love the control and he still gets plenty of whiffs despite an average fastball velocity of around 90 mph. His curveball and cutter are especially useful. He's a fine back-end option in most standard mixed leagues.

Steve Pearce 1B/OF, Orioles (Yahoo: 15 percent owned)

Pearce had his seven-game hitting streak snapped on Wednesday night, but he remains one of the game's hottest hitters. Really. Since re-signing with the Orioles in late April, he's hitting .341 with seven home runs, nine doubles, and 20 RBI in 38 games. This includes three home runs and eight RBI in his last eight games. Seeing at-bats between left field and the DH spot, Pearce has been promoted to the No. 2 spot in the order in recent days. Given his penchant for the strikeout and his .391 BABIP (batting average on balls in play), I don't expect him to maintain this level of performance, but he has seen an uptick in line drives this season and don't forget that he showed some pop and patience in a small sample last year. With his handy multi-position eligibility, he's worth rolling with in deeper leagues as long as he sticks near the top of the Orioles' batting order.

Jeff Locke SP, Pirates (Yahoo: 10 percent owned)

Locke earned a spot on the National League All-Star team last year before he crashed and burned during the second half, but he should be on your radar once again. Since stepping in for Gerrit Cole in the Pirates' starting rotation, the 26-year-old left-hander has reeled off a 2.54 ERA and 18/4 K/BB ratio in 28 1/3 innings over four starts. It's a small sample, yes, but the control is improved and he's still inducing a ton of grounders. Cole is expected to make his return from the disabled list on Sunday, but Locke has made a strong case to stick around. Assuming he does, I like him for two starts next week against the Diamondbacks and Phillies.

Shopping at the five-and-dime:

(Players owned in under 10 percent of Yahoo leagues)

Jarrod Dyson OF, Royals (Yahoo: 2 percent owned)

This one should be pretty self-explanatory, as Dyson is seeing regular at-bats against right-handed pitching while Nori Aoki is sidelined with a left groin strain. The 29-year-old outfielder is hitting .303 in 52 games this season, but the main reason you want him is his speed. He has swiped 12 bases in 16 attempts this season and has 76 steals in 241 games dating back to the start of 2012. Only 11 players have more steals in the same timespan. Not bad for someone who has mostly been a part-time player. If you are trying to play catch up in the speed department, it's hard to find a better widely-available option.

Mookie Betts SS, Red Sox (Yahoo: 3 percent owned)

The countdown is on. Betts was already a highly-regarded prospect coming into the year, but his stock has gone through the roof this season. The 21-year-old has hit .350/.436/.527 with 33 extra-base hits (including eight home runs), 48 RBI, and 28 stolen bases over 75 games between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket. While he's a bit undersized at 5-foot-9 and 156 pounds, he has some pop in his bat. The most impressive thing about him might be his plate discipline, as he has more walks (160) than strikeouts (120) over 274 games in the minors. Betts began his pro career as a middle infielder, but he has mostly played center field since his promotion to Triple-A. That's noteworthy given the obvious need on the major league level. With the handy shortstop-eligibility in Yahoo leagues, he's well worth a stash in deeper leagues right now.

Dylan Bundy SP, Orioles (Yahoo: 6 percent owned)

It's all systems go for Bundy, who is back in action in the minors following Tommy John surgery last June. The 21-year-old right-hander has allowed just one run over 10 innings with Low-A Aberdeen to go along with a 15/1 K/BB ratio. His velocity isn't all the way back yet -- he has reportedly sat in the low 90s over his first two outings -- but the most important part is that he hasn't had any setbacks. Bundy is expected to make another start with Aberdeen on Friday before testing himself against more advanced competition, but he could make an impact with the Orioles during the second half. There's a chance they could bring him back as a reliever, but those who have some roster flexibility in deeper leagues would do well to stash him as an upside play right now.

Lucas Duda 1B/OF, Mets (Yahoo: 8 percent owned)

First base was a messy situation for the Mets at the start of the season, but Duda has settled in since the Ike Davis trade on April 18, batting .251/.351/.475 with eight home runs and 30 RBI over his last 56 games. He has been especially impressive this month, hitting .292 with four home runs and 13/11 K/BB ratio over 78 plate appearances. He's currently on pace for his first 20-homer season. It's worth noting that he's hitting just .167 with zero extra-base hits against left-handed pitching this season, so he's best utilized on the strong side of a platoon. Still, that leaves plenty of room for relevancy in deeper leagues.

Grant Green 2B/OF, Angels (Yahoo: 1 percent owned)

It's not often that you see someone who is hitting .359 get demoted to the minors, but that's exactly what the Angels did with Green earlier this month. However, the 26-year-old was brought back to the majors about a week ago and could have a chance to play a significant role moving forward. He made his first major league start at third base on Wednesday night, which is significant considering that David Freese is batting just .226 with two home runs and .587 OPS through 55 games this season. I'd only target him in deeper leagues for now, but Green is capable of providing some sneaky value the rest of the way.

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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.
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