The beauty of life as waiver wire fodder is that you don’t need to be great, or good, or heck, even a full-time player to gain entry into the club — you merely need to show up with a job opportunity to take center stage here. In the case of our two contestants this week, their long-term playing time is far from certain, but they’ve been given a chance in the immediate term to contribute in fantasy, and given their past success, that might be enough to make them worthwhile in deeper leagues.
Chris Heisey / OF / Cincinnati Reds
2 percent Yahoo / .2 percent ESPN / 7 percent CBS ownership
Jay Bruce’s torn meniscus will sideline him for about a month, opening up regular playing time for the 29-year-old Heisey in right field. Despite pounding 18 home runs in roughly three-quarters of a season back in 2011, Heisey has never earned enough playing time to capitalize on the 20-10 potential he might have were he to turn in a full season, though he produces enough to be considered a strong fourth outfielder and, for the purposes of dumpster divers, a worthy candidate for those needing outfield help.
Much of what powered the 18 bombs a few years ago was an abnormally high HR/FB rate, and although he’s posted fly ball rates north of 40 percent in each of his four seasons entering 2014, he’s been hitting more line drives so far this year. That’s largely to blame for him producing only one home run so far, but it’s raised his BABIP to a very healthy .311 mark and, combined with noticeable improvement in his plate discipline, leads one to wonder if a .260-.270 average is attainable.
That said, anything Heisey produces in the average department would be merely a bonus to what fantasy owners ask of him: home runs. The Reds lineup, of course, becomes weaker with the loss of Bruce, but Great American remains a terrific hitter’s park, and just a little boost on a soft 7.1 percent HR/FB rate would provide some homers to go along with the impressive four steals Heisey’s already produced in this still-young season. We’re not talking about a complete player here, but he could help fantasy owners looking for a little pop in the outfield.
Samuel Deduno / SP / Minnesota Twins
1 percent Yahoo / 0 percent ESPN / 5 percent CBS ownership
Mike Pelfrey and all the awfulness that goes along with him is on the shelf with a groin injury, which provides a temporary return to the starting rotation — with the potential for a longer stay — for Deduno. The 30-year-old journeyman was effective in 18 starts last year before being shut down with a shoulder injury, and has pitched well out of the Twins’ bullpen thus far in 2014, posting nearly a strikeout per inning. That pace is certain to decline once he’s forced to stretch out as a starter, but perhaps a decreased emphasis on punching out hitters will help him regain the 3.4 BB/9 form he maintained last year that kept his WHIP at a reasonable 1.35.
Although the Twins won’t bestow too many wins on Deduno, the team is playing .500 ball, and the 3.83 ERA Deduno posted over 108 innings last year was more or less backed up by his FIP, xFIP, SIERA and strand rate. He also generates an insane amount of ground balls — last year’s 59.7 percent rate was tops among all AL starters with at least 100 innings pitched. All Deduno needs is a rotation spot, and if he can perform well beginning with tonight’s start against the Indians, he might be able to push Pelfrey and his 7.99 ERA to the bullpen, which would absolutely give him value in AL-only leagues.
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