Let’s kick off this week’s waiver wire updates with two East division players, an AL pitcher and a NL outfielder…
Franklin Morales | SP, RP | Red Sox | Owned: 20% Yahoo! and 18.6% ESPN
When the Red Sox put Daniel Bard in the rotation, they were supposed to be able to fall back on using him as a reliever if it didn’t work out. Instead, he’s gone to Triple-A and continued to struggle. Morales, 26, has kinda done the opposite. Expectations were relatively low coming into the season, but he pitched very well in a relief role (3.04 ERA and 3.48 FIP in 23.2 IP) before moving into the rotation to take Bard’s spot (2.00 ERA and 0.88 FIP in 18 IP). Those 18 innings as a starter feature 24 strikeouts and just three walks.
It had been more than three full years since Morales last started a game — for the Rockies back in April 2009 — and we have to acknowledge that his three starts with the Red Sox have not come against the best competition: the Cubs, Braves, and Mariners. Tomorrow he gets the Athletics in Oakland before facing the Yankees in Fenway Park right before the All-Star break. Morales has shown the ability to miss bats throughout his career and right now he’s at a career-best 9.50 K/9 (25.4 K%). The walks (4.39 BB/9 and 11.2 BB%) and homers (0.85 HR/9) have always been the issue, but this year he’s managed to get them under control (2.38 BB/9 and 6.4 BB%, 0.43 HR/9).
Morales didn’t exactly come out of nowhere; Baseball America had him in the top-30 of their annual top-100 prospects lists on two occasions (2007 and 2008) so the talent is there. This could be a pitcher figuring it out as he enters his peak years — and escapes Coors Field/Rox nightmare pitching situation — or just a small sample size fluke against sub-par competition. All of the ingredients are there though, meaning the velocity, the four-pitch mix, ability to miss bats, and left-handedness, so now’s the time to pounce if you’re looking to add an arm.
Juan Pierre | OF | Phillies | Owned: 21% Yahoo! and 27.6% ESPN
Manager Charlie Manuel said Pierre will play if he hits when the season started, and both sides have held up their ends of the bargain. Pierre sports an empty .318 AVG at the moment, meaning he’s not drawing a ton of walks (4.6%) or hitting for power (.072 ISO). That’s his calling card, lots of singles and stolen bases. Pierre has swiped 19 bags in 22 tries this year after going 27-for-44 last year, what appeared to be an indication that he was losing an edge.
The 34-year-old Pierre isn’t getting a ton of BABIP help compared to the rest of his career — .332 in 2012 vs. .314 career — but he is compared to his time with the White Sox, when he put up a .294 BABIP in 1,445 plate appearances. You’re not going to get those gaudy 55+ steals for your fantasy team, but Pierre is still a 35+ stolen base threat and that’s valuable in the fantasy baseball world, especially when combined with a better than .300 average.