Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Top 10 Pickups for Week 2
The new baseball season brings with it the inaugural batch of waiver-wire adds for 2014, served up just the way you like 'em: hot and fresh out the oven.
From now until the end of the fantasy season, you'll find a rundown of the top player pickups right here every Monday as you face another week of lineup decisions and roster additions.
Here are the top 10 for Week 2.
All ownership percentages come from ESPN Fantasy Baseball. Players owned in more than 51 percent of leagues were not considered.
Erasmo Ramirez, SP, Seattle Mariners (10.8 percent owned)
Nate Eovaldi, SP, Miami Marlins (8.2 percent owned)
Charlie Blackmon, OF, Colorado Rockies (17.1 percent owned) (video)
Corey Kluber, SP, Cleveland Indians (3.0 percent owned)
Dee Gordon, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers (35.0 percent owned)
Marcell Ozuna, OF, Miami Marlins (11.9 percent owned)
Because there's so much ninth-inning volatility this early in the season, the overlooked/new/replacement/interim/potential closers are ranked in one location as follows:
Jose Valverde, RP, New York Mets (26.0 percent owned)
LaTroy Hawkins, RP, Colorado Rockies (24.8 percent owned)
Sergio Santos, RP, Toronto Blue Jays (13.4 percent owned)
Jonathon Broxton, RP, Cincinnati Reds (1.0 percent owned)
Matt Lindstrom, RP, Chicago White Sox (25.3 percent owned)
Pedro Strop, RP, Chicago Cubs (8.6 Percent Owned)
Josh Fields, RP, Houston Astros (4.6 Percent Owned)
Chad Qualls, RP, Houston Astros (0.8 Percent Owned)
No. 10: Yan Gomes, C, Cleveland Indians (15.2 Percent Owned)
Did you just lose Wilson Ramos for a month to yet another injury? Are you tired of giving one too many chances to Miguel Montero? Has your concern over Evan Gattis' ability to repeat his 2013 success only mounted with his flu bug-induced slow start?
Never fear! Yan Gomes, now the Cleveland Indians' primary catcher with Carlos Santana manning first, third and designated hitter, can pose as a starting catcher in fantasy too. The 26-year-old hit .294 with 45 runs, 11 homers and 38 RBI in only 293 at-bats a year ago as the backup backstop. After hitting his second homer of 2014 Sunday night, Gomes could be on his way to a strong second full season.
No. 9: Grady Sizemore, OF, Boston Red Sox (49.8 Percent Owned)
Look, in his first time back on a big league diamond since 2011, chances are Grady Sizemore ain't making it to 140 games played—or maybe even 100. The injury-prone 31-year-old did win the starting center field job for the Boston Red Sox, though, and the former perennial 20-20 man has already tallied a homer and a steal.
Sizemore also has yet to play more than two games in a row as Boston tries to keep him fresh (read: not push its luck). The point in adding Sizemore to your roster would be to enjoy what you can get out of him sooner than later because, frankly, there may not be a later.
No. 8: Tyler Skaggs, SP, Los Angeles Angels (2.7 Percent Owned)
After kicking around top-prospect lists for years, it's now time for Tyler Skaggs to prove what all the fuss was about once upon a time. The left-hander posted dynamite numbers in the minors while climbing the ladder, but his digits haven't carried over to the majors.
Exhibit A: His 4.86 career ERA.
Exhibit B: His 1.33 WHIP.
Thing is, Skaggs is still only 22 years old and showed flashes while making sporadic spot starts with the Arizona Diamondbacks the past two years. He did the same thing in his first outing with the Los Angeles Angels when he allowed no earned runs and only four hits with five whiffs over eight innings against the Houston Astros Saturday.
With his next outing likely to be later in the week at home against the New York Mets, Skaggs is worth a pickup and start to see whether he's merely teasing us. Again.
No. 7: Nick Castellanos, 3B/OF, Detroit Tigers (25.3 Percent Owned)
Some fantasy owners have no patience. In order to snatch up the shiny new toy of the day, they'll cast off the shiny new toy of 15 minutes ago. In this metaphor, that would be Nick Castellanos, a preseason AL Rookie of the Year candidate who had a big spring and won the starting third base job for the Detroit Tigers.
While the 22-year-old hasn't racked up much in the way of counting stats just yet, it's not like he's failing miserably. In fact, Castellanos is 5-for-13 so far and has enough pop to approach 30 doubles and 15 home runs, which should help him drive in and score 60-70 runs over 500-plus plate appearances, especially in Detroit's deep lineup. That's plenty shiny.
No. 6: Scott Kazmir, SP, Oakland Athletics (39.5 Percent Owned)
Folks, we went through this last year, didn't we? Scott Kazmir is back, so just go add him to your rotation and keep him there, will ya?
This is a guy who, after several seasons of injury and ineffectiveness, has regained much of his former mid-90s fastball, as he proved in 2013 with the Indians, for whom he struck out 162 in 158 frames. Now with the Oakland Athletics, the southpaw gets to enjoy Oakland's pitcher-friendly (but not exactly human-friendly) ballpark, which could help him better last year's 4.04 ERA and 1.32 WHIP.
Kazmir's next start is Monday in Minnesota against a Twins lineup that can be dominated. Add quickly and start liberally.
No. 5: Yordano Ventura, SP, Kansas City Royals (32.5 Percent Owned)
One of the great disappointments of the first week of the season was that we were denied the opportunity to watch Yordano Ventura throw baseballs when his initial start of the campaign was postponed due to inclement weather. Unfortunately, that's all it took for a large chunk of fantasy owners to toss him back into the free-agent pool.
If that happened in your league, then the advice is simple: Go fish Ventura out and plug him into one of your pitcher spots for Tuesday when he's scheduled to pitch at home against the Tampa Bay Rays. The 22-year-old with the 100 mph heater and killer curve is about to rack up a bunch of strikeouts and emerge as one of the sport's most exciting young arms.
No. 4: Chris Owings, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks (10.0 Percent Owned)
This spring, Chris Owings beat out incumbent Didi Gregorius to become Arizona's starting shortstop, which is a very good thing for fantasy owners everywhere, considering that, as a hitter, Gregorius is a slick-fielding gloveman who isn't exactly fantasy friendly.
The 22-year-old Owings, meanwhile, actually has the skill set to make an impact on offense. After winning the MVP of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League while hitting .330 with 12 homers and 20 steals, Owings has begun his 2014 season by going 11-for-30 (.367) with three steals so far. If he takes the job and runs with it all year, he could approach 15 home runs and 20 steals while hitting for a useful average. That fantasy-friendly enough for ya?
No. 3: Melky Cabrera, OF, Toronto Blue Jays (39.7 Percent Owned)
When he hit his third long ball in as many games Sunday, it was as if Melky Cabrera was shouting, "Hey, remember me?!"
In fact, we do. He's the guy who had been putting together two mighty great seasons in 2011 and 2012 when he was suspended for performance-enhancing drugs and then had a lost 2013 due to a bothersome left knee and surgery to remove a benign tumor on his spine.
That recent past caused many to doubt Cabrera's ability, but if he's going to keep knocking the ball around and hitting near the top of the Toronto Blue Jays order, the 29-year-old switch-hitter will once again be a startable fantasy outfielder who pitches in with all five categories.
No. 2: Michael Pineda, SP, New York Yankees (26.5 Percent Owned)
It took a while, but Michael Pineda's first start as for the New York Yankees was (almost) worth the (nearly endless) wait. What will make it worthwhile for owners is if the 25-year-old, who flashed a mid-90s fastball and quality slider in limiting the Blue Jays to a run on five hits with five strikeouts over six innings Saturday, can show more of the same going forward.
Judging by his strong spring, that seems like a good possibility, starting with Pineda's second start as a Yankee, which is lined up to come against the rival Boston Red Sox. If Pineda passes that test, the 2011 All-Star's value will skyrocket.
No. 1: James Paxton, SP, Seattle Mariners (34.2 Percent Owned)
It's not every day that a lefty starting pitcher hits the upper-90s with his fastball on a regular basis, but that's what James Paxton does best. The 25-year-old prospect flat-out pwned (that's not a typo) the Angels in his first outing of the season, hurling seven scoreless innings and allowing but two hits and two walks with—count 'em—nine strikeouts.
That wasn't Paxton's first brush with greatness, either, but you might not have realized as much unless you paid close attention all the way to the very end of 2013. Otherwise, you likely missed Paxton make his MLB debut last September, which included four successful starts over which he allowed just four earned runs on only 15 hits in 24 frames to go with a 24-to-7 whiff-to-walk ratio.
On Tuesday in Safeco, Paxton gets to go against the very same Angels, who probably aren't looking forward to a rematch so soon after the last knockout.
To talk baseball or fantasy baseball, check in with me on Twitter: @JayCat11