NL Waiver Wire: Week 2

Brian Bogusevic | Astros | OF | 1 percent Yahoo ownership | 0 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: .184/.311/.316
Oliver ROS: .249/.327/.376

What am I doing recommending a 28-year old Houston Astro who is off to a startlingly slow start? I am of the firm belief that he will get playing time because of his excellent defensive returns and the lack of depth in Houston, and Bogusevic put up fair counting stat numbers last year: he hit 13 homers in 600 pro-rated at-bats, and stole 13 bases as well.

He’s a career .280 minor league hitter but bested that number in his major league cup of tea, which consisted of nearly 200 appearances, and doesn’t have the kind of strikeout numbers that deflate a batting average too much. All adds up to a worthy outfielder in an injury-filled player pool—a rarity. Oliver has him pinned for nine more homers and 13 more steals – I’d take the under on both, but I’d pick him up regardless.

Recommendation: Worthy of an add in most NL-only leagues.

A.J. Burnett | Pirates | SP | 10 percent Yahoo ownership | 1 percent ESPN ownership
Oliver ROS: 5.04 ERA/1.48 WHIP/7.1 K/9

Don’t always listen to the projections system. I wrote about A.J.’s fantasy prospects in Pittsburgh before his eye injury, and my prediction still stands: He still possesses the talent to succeed, and a slew of factors could change his fortune. His Yankees days were mired with bad luck, and all it takes is a shifting in the universe (or, perhaps, a friendlier home park) to bring the ugly counting stats down. We all know the strikeouts will be there. Whether he’s available on your wire in a question of the league you play in, but perhaps NL-only owners in an ESPN format can snag Burnett before his triumphant return.

Recommendation: Worthy of an add in all NL-only leagues.

Tyler Skaggs | D-backs | SP | 1 percent Yahoo ownership | 0 percent ESPN ownership
Oliver ROS: 4.95 ERA/1.39 WHIP/7.2 K/9

Skaggs, one of the best players to be named later ever (already), has unimpressive major league equivalencies (he’ll be hanging out at the replacement level for the next handful of years, according to Oliver) and is in a three-man line with Wade Miley and Trevor Bauer for the D-backs’ “next-in-line” spot. Why am I recommending him? While Miley seems like the logical fill-in to Josh Collmenter if (when) necessary, he has little talent to speak of: a 3.69 ERA and 1.35 WHIP in his minor league career and a 7.0 K/9 rate that isn’t exactly matched with pinpoint control. His small sample size major league strikeout to walk ratio is 1.23, which just won’t cut it for long.

Though Skaggs might rightfully be owned in most NL-only redraft leagues, he should be owned in all for the legitimate hypothetical in which Miley and Collmenter continue to blow up and Bauer continues to struggle with his walks. Skaggs’ strikeout to walk ratio last year in Double-A? A whopping 4.87. This year, in his two starts back at Double-A: 7.50, including 12.27 K/9. He’s talented enough to rise to the opportunity.

Recommendation: Worthy of an add in deeper NL-only leagues.

Juan Francisco | Braves | 3B | 1 percent Yahoo ownership | 0.2 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: .292/.320/.667
Oliver ROS: .275/.312/.476

There’s a chance Francisco is available in weekly transaction single formats after his weak start and the return of Chipper Jones, but a strong week has reminded the fantasy world that Francisco is brimming with potential and is simply an injury away from all the playing time he can handle. The projection systems have always loved Francisco’s potential, regularly projecting 20+ homers and an above-average hitting prowess despite regular strikeouts: Oliver projected 18 homers, 65 runs batted in, and a .275 average in about 400 at-bats this year.

Chipper Jones, of course, mans the hot corner and will continue to do so as long as he’s healthy and happy, but this is his farewell campaign and he’s injury prone. Neither the Braves, nor the artist formerly known as Larry Wayne, want to risk the future Hall-of-Famer a career-ending, debilitating injury by riding him every day at a trying position.

Enter Francisco several days a week. He has nearly 40 Triple-A home runs to his name in just 173 games, a testament to his enormous raw power. No one will ever mistake him for a master of plate discipline, but he can avoid hanging out on the lower spectrum of batting averages because of his excellent line-drive rates. This is partly a speculative add—and perhaps one that’s already been made—but Francisco will get his playing time spelling Jones or filling in for him. And when he plays, he hits.

Recommendation: Worthy of an add in all NL-only leagues.

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Speculative saves of the week
Steve Cishek| Marlins | RP | 5 percent Yahoo ownership | 0.1 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: 0.00 ERA/0.50 WHIP/7.4 K/9
Oliver ROS: 4.00 ERA/1.33 WHIP/7.2 K/9

Cishek, the fireballing side-hurler who saved three games last year in three tries when Leo Nunez (er, Juan Oviedo) was out, is a longshot for saves. I concede that. Heath Bell got a (silly) three-year deal worth nearly $10 million annually, so his leash is as strong as ever. The reason I speculate on Cishek, besides my belief that he may provide good ratio stats regardless (another disagreement with Oliver, I see), is because there’s a legitimate shot, in my mind, that Heath Bell is hiding something from the world: namely, an injury.

Perhaps this is too much speculation and perhaps this is too little investigation, but I saw in 2011 a tumbling strikeout rate supported by the same exact pitch types and usage rates as the years prior, and this year, I see a velocity stumble. In 2011, there was no bad luck to be spoken of; in 2012, the control has gone. Perhaps the Marlins find themselves competitive but Bell stumbling, and they decide to cut their losses, admit that the contract was a huge, new-ballpark-opening-and-desperate-to-pack-the-place kind of mistake, and turn to what seems like an obvious choice for such a role, Steve Cishek. Worth a gamble, isn’t it? Ozzie shakes things up.

Recommendation: Worthy of an add in leagues with innings caps or holds, or all deeper NL-only formats.

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Jacob Rolling Rothberg
Jacob Rolling Rothberg

Skaggs is the kind of player that projection systems aren’t really geared for. He was pretty mediocre until he managed to combine his physical tools with on-field production rather than showing measured progression as rose through the ranks.