Waiver wire pickups can offer great reward (see Jose Bautista), yet they pose very little risk. In the grand scheme of things, what’s one week of a sub-.200 batting clip or a bloated ERA when the upside is a free player who could become a valuable asset to your team’s playoff run?
Nearly a week into the season, it’s important to scout the waiver wire in search of the 2011 version of Carl Pavano.
Unfortunately, it’s not easy to distinguish between the players that will eventually crash and burn, and the ones who possess staying power.
Luckily, the Insider is here to sort this out.
In this edition of waiver wire fliers, allow me to audaciously present these three pitchers, who are all widely available, yet have what it takes to become valuable pieces to your championship puzzle.
Brandon Beachy (SP—Atl)
Beachy went undrafted following his junior season at Indiana Wesleyan in 2008.
Both a third basemen and closer in college, he starred as a pitcher in the collegiate Valley League later that summer.
He later signed with the Braves as a free agent for $20,000.
After climbing three levels in 2009, Beachy exploded in 2010. Between Double-A and Triple-A, the the right-hander posted an impressive 1.73 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 11.2 K/9 and a 2.1 BB/9 in 119 1/3 innings.
By season’s end, Beachy earned his first taste of the majors, tallying a 3.00 ERA, 9.00 K/9 and a 4.20 BB/9 in three starts (15 innings) of work.
This spring, the 24-year-old was a slight underdog to win the last spot in the Braves’ rotation.
While most believed Mike Minor—the team’s No. 4 prospect according to Baseball America—would earn the job, Beachy wowed spectators with a 0.90 ERA, 20 strikeouts and just four walks in 20 innings.
In his first for-real start of 2011, Beachy battled against a potent Brewers lineup in Milwaukee. In six innings of work, he allowed just one run on four hits and a walk, while fanning seven. (Check out the highlights here.)
Beachy—the Braves’ eighth-ranked prospect according to Baseball America—throws a 90-94 mph fastball with plus life to both sides of the plate. His “sharp-breaking curveball has quality depth,” and he’s developed an effective changeup.
Although he has just 229 pro innings under his belt, Beachy appears primed to help fantasy squads in 2011.
While he doesn’t possess the upside as other Braves farmhands such as Julio Teheran, Randall Delgado or the aforementioned Minor, his ceiling is that of a No. 3 starter.
Anibal Sanchez (SP—Fla)
It’s been four-and-a-half years since Sanchez etched his name into baseball’s record books, tossing a no-hitter in his 13th career start.
One shoulder surgery and three extensive DL stints later, the 27-year-old finally appears ready to provide reliable production.
Last year saw Sanchez eclipse 115 innings (195) in a season for the first time since his 2006 rookie campaign.
Surprisingly, his body held up over 32 starts, as he posted a more-than-respectable 3.55 ERA to go along with a decent 7.25 K/9 and 3.23 BB/9. Sanchez’s FIP (3.32) and BABIP (.305) legitimized these totals. His 1.34 WHIP, however, wasn’t too appealing.
In his first start of 2011, Sanchez allowed two runs on seven hits and three walks in five 2/3 innings at home against the Nationals. He also struck out seven.
Mixing his four-pitch arsenal—which includes a slider that was 12.0 runs above average last season, 12th best in the majors—will be the key to his success in 2011.
He won’t blow you away with high strikeout totals, and you may have to bench his road starts against the Phillies, but the Venezuelan right-hander offers a serviceable arm at the very least, and is still available in over half of Yahoo! leagues.
Randy Wells (SP—ChC)
UPDATE: Randy Wells has been placed on the 15-day DL with a strained right forearm. In other words, he's no longer worth the add. Instead, shoot for a pitcher such as Kyle McClellan (31 percent owned) or Jeremy Guthrie (38 percent owned).
Wells burst onto the big league scene in 2009, cruising through his first 11 starts: 2.48 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 6.39 K/9, 1.83 BB/9 in 69 innings.
By season’s end, his ERA had settled in at 3.05 in 165 1/3 innings. His FIP (3.88) and xFIP (4.18), however, signaled a regression in 2010.
Wells lost his fastball in 2010, checking in at 14.4 runs below average, while his ERA ballooned to 4.26 in 194 1/3 innings. His bread-and-butter slider, however, remained intact:
- 2009: 19.7 runs above average (fifth in MLB)
- 2010: 17.1 runs above average (fourth in MLB)
If Wells can re-establish his high-80s to low-90s fastball as an average pitch, he should be in line for a bounce-back season. The 28-year-old offers a below-average strikeout rate, but his advanced control should help yield a 4.00 ERA. He’s currently owned in just seven percent of Yahoo! leagues.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE: FANTASY BASEBALL INSIDERS
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