Fantasy Baseball 2013 Waiver Wire: Top 10 Pickups for Week 5
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A new week, another batch of waiver wire adds, just the way you like 'em—hot and fresh out of the oven.
Some players mentioned last time, including Tony Cingrani, Edward Mujica, Patrick Corbin and Wandy Rodriguez, are already owned in most leagues but remain quality pickups if still available. In the interest of keeping the names new, though, let's avoid any repeats.
All ownership percentages come from ESPN fantasy baseball. Players owned in more than 51 percent of leagues were not considered.
As soon as Jose Valverde slips up (and you know he will), Bruce Rondon could get a shot to close for the Tigers.
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Bruce Rondon, RHP, Tigers (6.2 Percent Owned): The flame-heaving rookie was called up last week within 24 hours of Jose Valverde's return, and Big Bruce could be next in line for saves.
Drew Smyly, LHP, Tigers (2.1 Percent Owned): Rick Porcello could lose his dead fish-like grasp on Detroit's fifth-starter job any day, making lefty Smyly (1.72 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 10.9 K/9 as reliever) an intriguing preemptive add.
Felix Doubront, LHP, Red Sox (22.2 Percent Owned): Streaky southpaw won his third straight over the weekend and has struck out more than a batter per inning every time out.
Jorge De La Rosa, LHP, Rockies (15.6 Percent Owned): After a dud in his initial 2013 outing, this TJ reclamation project is worth stashing (2.86 ERA, 1.16 WHIP), especially if he can bring his current 5.7 K/9 closer to his career 7.9 mark.
Jeremy Guthrie, RHP, Kansas City Royals (32.0 Percent Owned): While he won't help with whiffs, Guthrie can keep your ERA and WHIP down, as since joining the Royals last July, he has a 3.31 and 1.16 in those categories, respectively.
David Phelps, RHP, Yankees (0.1 Percent Owned): After faring well (3.77 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 8.5 K/9) in 11 starts last year for Yanks, the righty will take injured Ivan Nova's spot as the five-man. Sneaky pickup in deeper leagues.
Justin Grimm, RHP, Rangers (7.6 Percent Owned): The 24-year-old Grimm is a solid prospect who has looked good his past two turns and has a rotation spot to himself after all the injuries in Texas.
A.J. Pollock, OF, Diamondbacks (4.7 Percent Owned): Pollock will probably lose some playing time with Jason Kubel back, but his three homers, nine doubles and three steals prove he can be useful when he's in there, especially in deep formats.
Matt Magill, RHP, Dodgers (0 Percent Owned): Magill, 23, kicked his minor league K/9 up to 10.4 since the start of 2012 and held down the Brewers in his MLB debut, which may have earned him a few more starts. Watch List him for now.
10. Kevin Gregg, RHP, Cubs (15.4 Percent Owned)
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Hey, someone has to save games for the Cubs, right?
With Kyuji Fujikawa (34.6 Percent Owned) on the disabled list, veteran Kevin Gregg, recently picked up off the scrap heap, has seen three of the past four save opps for Chicago—and converted them all.
But beware: The other chance went to former closer Carlos Marmol (26.3 Percent Owned), who could still be a factor here after pitching nine straight scoreless innings (albeit with eight walks) since ceding the job to Fujikawa early on.
The money's still on Fujikawa to lead this club in saves, but Gregg is the hot hand.
9. Dan Straily, RHP, Athletics (1.3 Percent Owned)
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Rookie Dan Straily will get the nod Monday against the Angels in place of the ailing—and struggling—Brett Anderson.
While this seems to be a temporary move, something may soon give in Oakland, where both Anderson (1-4, 7.23 ERA, 1.77 WHIP) and Jarrod Parker (0-4, 8.10, 2.14) are having serious issues. The 24-year-old Straily, who led the minors with 190 strikeouts in 2012 and whiffed 11 in his lone big league outing this year (see video), is capable of staking his claim to a more permanent role with the A's.
Better to get in on things too soon rather than too late.
8. Bartolo Colon, RHP, Athletics (28.6 Percent Owned)
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It's understandable why Bartolo Colon is not owned in more leagues.
He's old (nearly 40), he doesn't strike anyone out (5.6 K/9) and he gives up hits (32 in 32 innings), which can bite him like it did Sunday when the Orioles smacked him around for nine knocks and five runs in six innings.
But Colon didn't walk a single batter again—that's one free pass in 32 innings—so his 1.03 WHIP is legitimate, and his ERA (3.38) won't fluctuate too much because he limits the damage.
Wins? Well, he's got three already and the A's offense is off to a hot start, so Colon can help that category, too.
7. Travis Wood, LHP, Cubs (26.3 Percent Owned)
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Consistency counts in fantasy.
Not only has Travis Wood had a quality start in all five of his starts, he's yet to allow more than two runs in any one.
That 2.25 ERA and 0.97 WHIP won't last, but Wood is worth picking up and streaming while he's throwing well. Heck, he might even be an arm to keep around for a little bit rather than just throwing back into the free agent pool.
Just watch for the occasional blowup factor, as he gave up 25 homers in 156 innings last year.
6. Carlos Ruiz, C, Phillies (13.0 Percent Owned)
Remember that face in the photo?
Many owners in your league may have forgotten about Carlos Ruiz, who was plugged in at the No. 5 spot in the Phillies lineup Sunday, fresh off his 25-game suspension for a banned amphetamine. But remember, Ruiz, now 34, had a career year, hitting .325 with 16 homers and 68 RBI last season.
If you're a Matt Wieters/Victor Martinez/Miguel Montero/Jesus Montero owner growing impatient with the lack of production at catcher, you might want to add Ruiz and play him until your starter gets hot.
5. Travis Hafner, DH, Yankees (25.5 Percent Owned)
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When it comes to picking up Travis Hafner, it's best not to hem and haw—it's better to just do it while he's still active.
The 35-year-old lefty slugger hasn't reached 400 at-bats in any of the past five years, so get in while the gettin's good. And it's certainly good right now: Pronk is hitting .305 with six homers, 14 RBI and 13 runs.
While he plays primarily against right-handers, that strategy is beneficial to him—and fantasy owners—for two reasons: First, it keeps his batting average from plummeting, as he's a career .257 hitter against southpaws compared to .288 versus righties; and second, it keeps him healthy, since he doesn't play every day.
Will this hot start last? No. But can owners pry a couple hundred productive at-bats out of Hafner? Only if you act now!
4. Andrew Cashner, RHP, Padres (2.5 Percent Owned)
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If you feel the need for speed, Andrew Cashner is an electric arm capable of being your...top gun.
[Anyone? Anyone? Is this thing on?]
In all seriousness, Cashner just regained a spot in the Padres' five-man, which has been decimated by injuries, but he's always possessed an upper-90s fastball that can be downright filthy (the video in that link is recommended viewing), and the 26-year-old has shown he can be a whiff-an-inning kinda guy so far in his career.
Oh, and he pitches home games at Petco, so there's also that.
The one downside? The right-hander, who has spent the majority of his career in the bullpen (eight starts in 100 games) is an injury waiting to happen and has never thrown more than 55 innings in a season, so he could be one to pick up, start a few times, then sell off while he's as hot as his heater.
3. Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies (0.8 Percent Owned)
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One of the better pure hitters among prospects, Nolan Arenado got the call over the weekend. Finally.
The 22-year-old, who was hitting .364 with 11 doubles, three homers and 21 RBI in his first 18 games at the Triple-A level, will take over the starting third base job in Colorado.
(Veteran Chris Nelson, who had been getting most of the starts at the hot corner, was designated for assignment).
Arenado makes contact frequently (just a 10 percent strikeout rate in the minors) and hard (109 doubles since 2010), which is exactly the kind of approach that should play up at hitter-friendly Coors Field.
With third basemen plagued by injuries to start 2013, Arenado could soon put himself in the mix as a borderline starting option at 3B in mixed leagues.
2. Nate McLouth, OF, Orioles (40.9 Percent Owned)
You'll forgive Nate McLouth if he thinks it's 2008. Of course, you should probably pick him up before it gets too-thousand-and-late. (Lame Black Eyed Peas joke? Check!)
Back in '08, McLouth went 20-20, to the surprise of many, and it appears he could have yet another didn't-see-that-coming campaign in store for unsuspecting owners. After an impressive 4-for-5 with four runs and a steal on Sunday—as the O's leadoff man, no less—the 31-year-old is batting .351.
Better yet? He has 21 runs and eight swipes, placing him tied for fourth and second in those two stats. Like, in all of baseball.
Oh, and in case you still don't buy in, McLouth is wielding an 8-to-14 strikeout-to-walk ratio. In other words, he's getting on base at a .455 clip.
1. Brian McCann, C, Braves (20.2 Percent Owned)
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Welcome back, Brian McCann. Well, almost.
The veteran backstop is nearly all the way back from offseason shoulder surgery, and he's expected to return to the Braves in about a week. In leagues where he's been dropped or overlooked, savvy owners will add him now.
McCann started his rehab assignment by homering twice Friday while playing catcher in a game for the first time since last season, so his work at the plate seems fine—whether he can hold up behind it, though, remains to be seen.
It's likely the Braves will ease McCann back into things by resting him in favor of rookie Evan Gattis or backup Gerald Laird a few times a week until McCann is up to speed and proves his arm is fully sound.
Once that happens, though, McCann will join one of baseball's most powerful lineups and get to work on reaching the 20-homer mark for the seventh time in eight seasons.
Who's your top pickup of the week? Let me know on Twitter: @JayCat11