The trade deadline is coming up in most fantasy leagues and has already passed in others, which leaves the waiver wire as the lone avenue to improve your team the rest of the way. But don't fret. The good news is that there are always interesting players who are widely available in most formats. And I'm more than happy to make some suggestions over the final weeks of the season. I'm in this for the long haul, man.
In this week's Buy, Sell, or Hold video, I talk about a couple of players you'll see in this week's column. You'll also get my take on how to proceed with injured Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom.
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $1,000,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Friday night's MLB games. It's $200 to join and first prize is $150,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on Friday. Here's the FanDuel link.
Have specific questions about your roster? Ask @djshort on Twitter.
Kolten Wong 2B, Cardinals (Yahoo: 44 percent owned)
Wong got off to a slow start this season, resulting in a brief demotion to Triple-A Memphis in late-April, but he's beginning to show why the Cardinals handed him the starting second base job out of spring training. Since returning from the disabled list in early July, the 23-year-old is hitting .283 with eight home runs, 16 RBI, eight stolen bases, and 21 runs scored over 31 games. His patience has been lacking this year and I don't expect the power to continue at this pace, but he's the Cards' regular No. 2 hitter these days and he offers plenty of speed. Sure, many fantasy leagues have fallen into a slumber at this point in the year, but there's no reason he shouldn't make it over that 50-percent threshold pretty soon. You can roll with him in a middle infielder (MI) spot or even as your second baseman in deeper leagues.
Michael Pineda SP, Yankees (Yahoo: 40 percent owned)
After missing three months with a teres muscle major strain, Pineda made his return to the Yankees' rotation on Wednesday night against the Orioles and allowed just one run over five innings of work. He showed no real signs of rust, allowing two hits and no walks to go along with four strikeouts while throwing 48 out of 67 pitches for strikes. The 25-year-old right-hander was off to a promising start this season prior to his pine tar suspension and the injury, so he has a chance to be an excellent value the rest of the way. Be sure to pick him up wherever he was dropped.
Dexter Fowler OF, Astros (Yahoo: 32 percent owned)
Fowler's recovery from an intercostal strain took a little longer than originally expected, but he finally made his return Wednesday night against the Twins, going 1-for-3 with a single and a walk. While there was some concern that moving away from Coors Field would destroy his fantasy value, he's quietly been very useful when healthy this year, batting .271/.379/.396 with six homers, 24 RBI, six stolen bases, and 43 runs scored in 77 games. He was batting cleanup prior to the injury and was back in the No. 4 spot for his return last night, so there should be RBI opportunities for him the rest of the way. Grab him now that he's back to full health.
Kyle Hendricks SP, Cubs (Yahoo: 16 percent owned)
Hendricks has been excellent in his first taste of the big leagues this season, posting a 1.73 ERA and 26/9 K/BB ratio in 41 2/3 innings over his first six starts. He had his best outing yet on Monday, tossing 7 1/3 scoreless innings against the Brewers. The 24-year-old doesn't throw hard -- he mostly sits in the high-80s with his fastball -- but he limits walks, gets whiffs on his changeup, and induces a bunch of ground balls. It's a pretty good mix. The upside might be limited, but he's certainly worth using as a matchup play. While we're on the subject, he'll get the light-hitting Mets this Sunday, which is pretty appealing.
Carl Crawford OF, Dodgers (Yahoo: 32 percent owned)
What's up, man? It's been a while. After being a fantasy non-factor for the past couple of months, Crawford has stormed back into relevancy in recent days by collecting 10 hits in his last 16 at-bats. The 33-year-old still owns a weak .261/.296/.357 batting line for the year, but he's playing left field on a daily basis once again and he remains capable of contributing in all five categories, even if he's not the Carl Crawford he used to be. Those in 10- or 12-team leagues might have better options at their disposal, but scan the waiver wire in deeper formats to see if he's still out there.
Travis d'Arnaud C, Mets (Yahoo: 11 percent owned)
D'Arnaud went deep again Wednesday night against the Nationals and is now batting .277/.318/.511 with seven home runs, 10 doubles, one triple, and 21 RBI over 38 games since returning from Triple-A Las Vegas in late-June. Among catcher-eligible players, only Mike Zunino, Yan Gomes, and Carlos Santana have more home runs during that span. Meanwhile, only seven have driven in more runs. The 25-year-old recently found himself in a bit of a funk, but he has rebounded in recent days by hitting .333 (9-for-27) over his last seven games. We've seen a pretty big sample size of success since his return from the minors, so it's a bit of a head-scratcher why he's not owned in more leagues. As of now, I see him as a top-12 catcher for 2015.
Jimmy Nelson SP, Brewers (Yahoo: 13 percent owned)
Nelson was hit hard in his first start after his call-up last month, but he's turned in four straight quality starts since then while compiling a 3.46 ERA and 19/5 K/BB ratio over 26 innings. He has walked three batters or fewer in all six of his starts with the Brewers this season, so the control has been as advertised. Meanwhile, he's getting a lot of grounders with his sinker and whiffs with his slider. He'll face the Dodgers for the second straight time this Friday, which might not be a good thing, but he's someone I'm targeting him in mixed leagues down the stretch.
Jeurys Familia RP, Mets (Yahoo: 15 percent owned)
Jenrry Mejia is dealing with a sport hernia right now and while he plans to pitch through it and put off surgery until the offseason, the out-of-contention Mets could very well shut him down at any point. If that happens, Familia will be the guy in the ninth inning. The 24-year-old has already saved two games over the past week and owns a 2.09 ERA through 58 appearances this season. Mets manager Terry Collins has used him heavily this season, so I'm a bit concerned about him wearing down over the final six weeks of the season -- he has walked six batters in his last 5 2/3 innings of work -- but he's a must-own if you need saves right now.
Shopping at the five-and-dime:
(Players owned in under 10 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Kennys Vargas 1B, Twins (Yahoo: 3 percent owned)
Called up by the Twins at the end of July, Vargas is batting an even .300 (15-for-50) with two homers, one double, and 11 RBI over his first 12 games in the majors. His secret? Dude hates vegetables. Listed at 6-foot-5 and 275 pounds, the 24-year-old switch-hitter has developed a friendship with Red Sox slugger David Ortiz and there are some superficial similarities between the two, even though that sets the bar unfairly high as far as expectations go. Still, Vargas has some serious raw power. He's not much of a defender, but it looks like the Twins will give him an opportunity to be the regular DH down the stretch now that Josh Willingham has been traded to the Royals. Give him a try if you need pop in deeper formats.
Carlos Carrasco RP/SP, Indians (Yahoo: 2 percent owned)
Carrasco was pretty solid in his return to the Indians' rotation on Sunday, tossing five scoreless innings against the Yankees. He allowed just two hits and no walks while striking out four batters. The 27-year-old has always hard the arsenal to make it as a successful starter in the majors, complete with a mid-90s fastball and an assortment of secondary pitches, but we have been waiting for the light to go on for a couple of years now. That's no lock to happen, of course, but the Indians plan to keep rolling with him. I'd be careful about trusting him this weekend against the Orioles, but he's suddenly very intriguing in deeper formats.
Jordan Schafer OF, Twins (Yahoo: 1 percent owned)
If you need speed, Schafer is your guy. Since being claimed off waivers from the Braves earlier this month, the 27-year-old outfielder has stolen six bases in eight games. He's actually tied for 15th in the majors with 21 steals overall despite appearing just 71 games while logging 120 plate appearances. Schafer is a .223 career hitter, so this is strictly a one-category play. He's not going to play every day, but he'll provide value when he does.
Rymer Liriano OF, Padres (Yahoo: 8 percent owned)
Called up by the Padres this week, Liriano hit .291/.362/473 with 14 home runs, 66 RBI, and 20 stolen bases over 115 games this season between Double-A San Antonio and Triple-A El Paso. There's some power-speed potential here, but keep in mind that he had a 25-percent strikeout rate in Double-A this year and that PETCO Park is a tough park for right-handed power. Of course, if he keeps hitting bombs like this one, it won't matter where he plays. Still, I think a good deal of his value this year might be derived from his speed, but lineup placement could limit his opportunities. He's definitely someone you want in NL-only and deeper mixed leagues right now, but those in shallow formats can probably afford to wait and see on the rookie.
Robbie Ray SP, Tigers (Yahoo: 1 percent owned)
With the Tigers' rotation suddenly in shambles, Ray was called up to fill in against the Pirates this week and allowed four runs over five-plus innings of work. To be fair, it wasn't all that bad, as he walked two and struck out five and had a pair of defensive miscues behind him even if though they technically weren't errors. The 22-year-old wasn't pitching great in Triple-A this year and he's still developing a third pitch -- a slider -- so he's very much a work in progress, but he's worth a flier as long as he's around.
Trevor May SP, Twins (Yahoo: 1 percent owned)
Most enthusiasm with May likely went out the window when he walked seven batters in his major league debut Saturday against the Athletics. Things weren't much better during his relief appearance Tuesday against the Astros, as he allowed three runs (two earned) on three hits and two walks over 2 1/3 innings pitched, but one positive to take away is that he threw first-pitch strikes to eight out of the 11 batters he faced. He only had six in 15 batters in his debut. Things should get better from here. They have to. If not, he'll likely head back to Triple-A very soon. I'll take my chances for now.
Michael Taylor OF, Nationals (Yahoo: 0 percent owned)
Jayson Werth is expected to miss a few days after he received cortisone shot this week to reduce inflammation in the AC joint of his right shoulder, which makes Taylor relevant in the short-term. After hitting .315/.401/.547 with 22 homers and 35 stolen bases over 102 games this season between Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse, the 23-year-old homered in his major league debut on Tuesday night against the Mets. He had a strikeout rate approaching 30 percent in Double-A this year and whiffed in three out of his four at-bats on Wednesday, so it might not be a smooth ride for the rookie, but the power-speed combo warrants a pickup.
Matt den Dekker OF, Mets (Yahoo: 0 percent owned)
The Mets let Bobby Abreu and Chris Young walk over the past week, clearing the way for den Dekker to receive most of the at-bats in left field. The 27-year-old has scuffled in his previous opportunities in the majors, but he was batting .334/.407/.540 with 46 extra-base hits (including eight home runs), 46 RBI, and nine stolen bases thought 93 games this season in Triple-A. Those numbers were produced in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, so there's obviously room for skepticism here, but he has cut down on his strikeouts by lowering his hands in his stance in order to get his bat through the zone quicker. It's intriguing enough to give him a look in deeper leagues.