NL Waiver Wire: Week 2

One of the bonuses of keeping a season-long log of fantasy dumpster diving is the ability to look back on past picks, the players who made good and the projections that were way off. So with an acknowledgment to hindsight’s cruel eye, we’ll check in each week with some of our past guests to see how they’re doing.

Patrick Corbin, perhaps not surprisingly, locked down the D-backs final rotation spot, though we’ll have a better look at his mixed-league upside on Saturday when he makes his first start of the season against Milwaukee. Hyun-Jin Ryu sure looks secure in the Dodgers’ rotation after a strong performance on Tuesday, Jordany Valdespin was relegated to bench duty despite my expectations for a platoon with Collin Cowgill, and Mitchell Boggs, having blown Wednesday’s save, has yet to establish himself as a must-add in Jason Motte’s absence.

Collin Cowgill | New York Mets | OF | 13 percent Yahoo ownership; 13.4 percent ESPN ownership; 25 percent CBS ownership
Oliver ROS: .247 / .305 / .366

It shouldn’t be too hard to resist the temptation of writing about the Mets’ shallow pool of intriguing sleepers, but as a fan, I did want to look at Cowgill, who became a hot pickup after he fought off Valdespin to become a full-time outfielder and parked a grand slam on opening day.

A former Diamondbacks farmhand, Cowgill finished with a .291 / .371 / .470 line in the minors and swiped 30 bases during a breakout Triple-A campaign two years ago in the Pacific Coast League. He finished with a .269 average in his 116 plate appearances for the A’s last year, softening a 23 percent whiff rate with a .336 on-base percentage. In March, Cowgill played well, hitting .300 while launching five home runs, a performance good enough to fend off a playing time challenge from Valdespin.

Chalk it up to my chronic pessimism as a Mets fan, but I’m not yet sold on Cowgill emerging as a mixed-league fantasy option in 2013, especially when factoring in a ballpark that won’t do him any favors and an NL East replete with strong starting pitching. But Cowgill, whose ownership jumped 20 points in CBS this week, is definitely an intriguing upside player to watch as he hits atop the Mets’ order. Oliver sees a .671 OPS with nine home runs and 15 steals, which seems reasonable as a low-end estimate.

Recommendation: Worth a pick up in most NL-only leagues.

Tyson Ross | SP | San Diego Padres | 1 percent Yahoo ownership; 0 percent ESPN ownership; 3 percent CBS ownership
Oliver ROS: 4.50 ERA / 1.491 WHIP / 6.25 K/9

As Andrew Cashner continues to recover from the offseason thumb surgery that limited his playing time during the spring, the Padres have tapped right-hander Ross to be the team’s fifth starter to open the season.

Obviously, fantasy owners want to see Cashner and his mid-90s heat in the rotation as soon as he’s ready, and there’s no reason to believe that San Diego’s front office doesn’t feel the same way. Trouble is, the team also wants to keep Cashner’s innings down this year, so it’s possible he might not be in the rotation until May or June, assuming, of course, he doesn’t get hurt again.

Enter Ross, who had a 2-11 record, 1.81 WHIP and 5.65 K/9 to show for his 73.1 innings last year. A college star in his University of California days, Ross, who turns 26 later this month, became a top prospect for the A’s due to his mid-90s fastball and penchant for getting grounders. Unfortunately, the strikeouts have yet to materialize on the big league level, and difficulties in stranding runners have contributed to a career 4.26 FIP.

His spring, which featured a 1.29 WHIP in 21 innings, was decent enough, I guess, though a 19-to-10 K:BB ratio is not going to cut it in the regular season. Still, Petco, moved-in fences and all, will still favor pitchers, and Ross might be worth a look for owners in deep leagues who need to add a warm body.

Recommendation: Pass in most leagues until he proves he can hack it.

Kyuji Fujikawa | RP | Chicago Cubs | 51 percent Yahoo ownership; 40 percent ESPN ownership; 45 percent CBS ownership
Oliver ROS: 3.33 ERA / 1.22 WHIP / 10.12 K/9

On Monday, Dale Sveum wasted no time in pulling the combustible Carlos Marmol in the ninth inning, eventually calling upon Kyuji Fujikawa, the Cubs’ offseason Japanese import, to record the game’s final out. Three days later, Fujikawa pitched a perfect eighth to set up Chicago’s closer, only to watch him allow two earned runs en route to a shaky save. Marmol, the subject of trade talks all winter, also suffered through a terrible start to last season before settling down in the final two-thirds of the year, and Sveum has, at least as of this writing on Thursday evening, publicly stuck by his closer. That said, how long will Fujikawa stick around on the wires if Marmol blows another save?

Recommendation: If you have the bench space and need saves, grab Fujikawa now.

Year 20: A Dangling Sweet Spot for the Baseball Reliquary
Their 2018 picks show the quirky anti-institution’s discomfort with present-day turmoil as it affects the project: Year 21 may be pivotal.

Chris Heisey | OF | Cincinnati Reds | 3 percent Yahoo ownership; 0.3 percent ESPN ownership; 6 percent CBS ownership
Oliver ROS: .251 / .314 / .410

I don’t have much to add to FanGraphs scribe Dan Wade’s take on why Billy Hamilton, who’s yet to play a game above Double-A, won’t replace Ryan Ludwick during his three-month absence:

Hamilton isn’t even on the 40-man roster, so unless Ludwick heads directly to the 60-day disabled list, the Reds would need to shuffle someone off the roster even as their bullpen pulled yeoman duty in Monday’s extra innings loss to the Angels. This would both start Hamilton’s service clock and burn an option, neither are the end of the world if the Reds were determined that Hamilton was definitely ready to come up, but with that in question, it becomes less palatable.

Instead, welcome Chris Heisey to everyday duty. Dusty Baker has made it clear that Heisey, 28, will get a shot to play everyday, so we’ll see a guy who can smack an occasional home run and steal a base here and there, which could make him attractive in leagues sporting deep outfields. He helped win Thursday’s ballgame with a home run and stole a base earlier this week, so he seems to be off to a good start.

Recommendation: Worth picking up in deeper mixed leagues.

Karl, a journalist living in Washington, D.C., learned about life's disappointments by following the Mets beginning at a young age. His work has appeared in numerous publications, and he has contributed to the 2014 and 2015 editions of The Hardball Times Annual. Follow/harass him on Twitter @Karl_de_Vries.
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Jack Weiland
Jack Weiland

Rooting for Carlos Marmol is almost impossible. Even when he’s Good Carlos, he’s going to walk that high wire act.

Only a matter of time before Fujikawa’s the man.

Brad Johnson
Brad Johnson

The Cubs aren’t competitive, so they have a vested interest to make Marmol look as good as possible. That means making sure he accrues saves at (almost) all costs.