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Waiver Wire: Friday, April 23

Time for another edition of Waiver Wire here at RotoGraphs. I’ll leave the obvious (Justin Smoakon the water“) out and try to delve a little deeper.

Clay Buchholz | SP | Red Sox (43% owned)
It’s a little too early to put too much stock into the young Red Sox hurler’s high K-rate (9.72), which is the best of his young career. By the same token, the sample size is too small to depend on his nice ERA or above-average groundball rate. So let’s instead look at his pitching mix. His velocity is up across the board, and he’s using his slider a little more and his fastball a little less. Linear weights say that’s a good sign, given the values of his fastball (-19.1 runs career) and slider (+6.4 runs career) respectively. What is a little strange even in a young season is his curveball use, which is down to a career low (8%). Considering he almost threw it a quarter of the time in 2008, and it’s listed as his best pitch by many, that’s a little worrisome. No matter, the curve is still getting a good whiff rate (17.4% so far), as are his other two off-speed pitches (22+% for the slider and change). He’s locating the fastball well (64.7% strike percentage), it’s just not getting any whiffs (7.6%). Perhaps he should use it even less.

Tom Gorzelany | SP | Cubs (4% owned)
It looks like Gorzelany is in the rotation to stay – at least until the mercurial Lou Piniella changes his mind yet again and moves Carlos Zambrano back to the rotation. Gorz (seriously, this guy needs a nickname) seems to be doing it by relying on the slide-piece a little more than usual. Last year, he threw the pitch about 16% of the time, and this year that percentage is up over 30%. Again, the linear weights agree with the decision, as his slider has historically been his only positive pitch (+5.7 runs career). He also got 16% whiffs on it last year, up to 19% this year. It’s hard to tell what his true fastball/cutter relationship is (the systems are a little wonky on that going back over the years), but his mix has changed, and all systems are go. Other than home runs (zero allowed), the luck stats have been in his favor, and his mid-3s xFIP seems to be the best guidepost. It looks like the Cubs found something here.

Ryan Raburn | OF | Tigers (2% owned)
With the news that Carlos Guillen is yet again heading to the most comfortable of places for him – the DL – there are some ABs up for grabs in Detroit. Raburn was already taking at-bats at second base (he’s started there three times), and while callup Brennan Boesch has some promise, the bet here is that the veteran team leans on Raburn in the meantime. While it’s a little worrisome that his walk rate is down and his strikeout rate is up, Raburn is also suffering from a poor BABIP (.267), and it’s early going. The only significant stat right now, swing rate, is only up 2%, and he’s reaching less. Look for all around good play (especially against lefties) eventually and more ABs in the short term.