The week 2 waiver wire is always an intriguing time because pitchers have had a couple of starts under their belts and hitters are getting close to the 40-50 AB mark, meaning we can start to see if the production (or lack of) they are giving us is a fluke or signs of something more. However, that being said, it is still a balance between being not being reactionary but also trying not to miss out on potential breakout guys.
The other thing you can’t do at this stage is panic about standings; really you shouldn’t even look at the standings until the end of the month because again you can over react. However, if you came out of the draft knowing you were light on power or steals, or that you sacrificed average, you can use the short body of work to try and chase upside. What you must remember is that guys who get hot out of the gates will regress some and you may have already missed some of their better days. And conversely, guys who started cold should bounce back somewhat. Therefore, a big part of waivers is not only not chasing the production that has gone but also looking out for the slow starters that others have lost patience with so you can benefit from the bounce back.
Hitters (Listed by Position Eligibility)
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Kendrys Morales, 1B/DH, Kansas City Royals: As with most of the Royals line-up Morales has been a pleasant surprise so far this year. Through eight games he is hitting 0.351 with two homers and three doubles, giving him nine runs scored and five driven in. Of course we’re just a week and a half in, but Morales is someone who could be a solid corner infield/utility option. If you have just lost David Wright to the DL then this is a guy you could plug into that corner infield spot who has 20 homer potential this season.
Mark Canha, 1B, Oakland Athletics: This one is a real surprise because Canha was a rule five pick that many saw as a bench guy in Oakland. But should we really have been that surprised? Oakland do not go and get anyone unless they plan to utilize them is some way or another. After missing the first couple of games he has been a fixture in the lineup for the last eight games, only failing to register a base hit once. Canha is really intriguing because if he is going to play every day then he has some value in roto leagues, but with the Athletics getting guys back slowly he could easily end up returning to a utility guy. There is value in 14 team mixed roto leagues but again he isn’t someone to extend yourself for because the return of Crisp to the outfield could doom to a 1B platoon with Davis.
Marcus Semien, 2B/3B/SS, Oakland Athletics: Semien attracted me in draft season because he was starting the year with eligibility at second and third with the expectation he could also gain shortstop eligibility as well. Well, now he’s got that eligibility it turns out that he could grow into a real bargain for fantasy owners. Hitting 0.289 for the season he has driven in eight with one dinger. The fact he is batting at the very bottom of the line-up limits his run scoring potential and explains why he only has four runs currently, but Oakland are superb at just getting on base throughout their line-up and therefore even batting eight or ninth he should still have plenty of opportunity to drive people in. At a position as weak as SS Semien is someone I am actively chasing in 12 team and deeper roto leagues
Mike Moustakas, 3B, Kansas City Royals: I won’t let him do it to me ag…. oh ,who am I kidding of course I will. I have bought into Moustakas the last couple of years even going as far as saying to a friend that I thought I would be keeping him over Wright at the end of 2014 when I drafted him last year. Boy, did he let me down but last year, but this year he has done something relatively new: started the season well! Previously, he always seemed to start cold and struggle to get going, but right now he is batting 0.382 with two homers and a steal. The fact he is batting second in the line-up means the Royals believe in him, too and should mean he will score plenty (currently: 10). But so far he has only driven himself in and no one else. If you lost David Wright then this is a guy to look at as a replacement who you can replace if he goes cold.
Alex Rodriguez, 3B, New York Yankees: As someone relatively new to baseball (five years) I don’t really remember A-Rod being A-Rod and all I think of is the cheat who looked like age had really caught up with him from 2013. At his age it’s safe to say the best is behind him and he will probably never be a threat to steal again. That doesn’t mean he can’t help you if you need cover at third base. He has already hit two homers this year and has four runs and seven RBI, whilst hitting 0.286. I would go after Moustakas first because I think he is a player on the rise while A-Ro d is clearly a declining player, but if I need a third baseman then he’s definitely someone I will consider.
Jed Lowrie, SS, Houston Astros: A shortstop with three home runs inside the first two weeks?! At a really poor position that is definitely something intriguing. But before we get too excited we must consider that Lowrie has only got eight hits all year, scored four runs and drove in five. And the home runs count for three of those hits, meaning that without them he has just five hits with one run, two RBI and one steal. What that shows is that when the power slows (which it has to or that means he’ll hit 60 homers this year) there could be a real lack of production. However, at such a poor position why not gamble on the upside if your SS is struggling and you can spare the space on the bench to see if this start is legit for Lowrie. Given Semien’s eligibility he would be my top SS eligibile player on waivers closely followed by Lowrie this week.
Desmond Jennings, OF, Tampa Bay Rays: This is all about speed for me because Jennings already has four stolen bases in the first week and half. If Jennings really is running, more then 30 steals could be on the table for him in 2015. The batting average is unlikely to be great, there is limited power and the offense around him is not good so don’t expect much more than steals from Jennings. But in a roto league they are a very valuable commodity indeed.
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Nori Aoki, OF, San Francisco Giants: Aoki has benefitted from the Hunter Pence injury greatly to start the season. With everyday playing time while batting atop the San Francisco batting line-up, he has been a rare piece of excitement for the world champs so far in 2015. Batting at 0.356 with five runs scored and three steals shows that Aoki has value in five outfield leagues, at least until Pence returns, but even then he may have proven he is worthy of everyday playing time. I would take Aoki over Jennings because he can offer steals, but he also appears to be getting hits. And the San Francisco offense should get better, meaning he should score plenty of runs.
Michael Taylor, OF, Washington Nationals: Taylor really excited me to start the season and he has had a mixed start. He came out of the gate relatively hot with a multi game hit streak before he appeared to lose his focus for a couple of games, but since he has moved away from the leadoff spot he appears to have found his mojo again. So far he is hitting 0.282 with two home runs and two steals but his time in the line-up appears to have a time limit with Span progressing nicely. Taylor provides a power steal potential while he is in the line-up, but that could only be for another week or so. Therefore, he should be utilized as a cheap fill-in if your outfield is struggling, but given he could be benched or sent down when Denard Span returns you shouldn’t go crazy on him.
Anthony Gose, OF, Detroit Tigers: Gose has had a very promising start to the 2015 season, even though he is currently in a platoon with Rajai Davis atop the batting order. The platoon obviously limits him for weekly line-up leagues but for daily he is looking a must own atop a very powerful Tigers order. Batting 0.391 with six runs, five RBI, one homer and one steal is a promising start and while I expect he should be more of a speed than power guy, it’s nice that he has shown a little pop. For weekly leagues he needs an injury in the outfield to be relevant because Cespedes and J.D. Martinez are not being benched any time soon.
Steven Souza, OF, Tampa Bay Rays: Souza started the year slow for his new team but since has burst into life with five hits, two homers, five RBI and two steals in the last three days. If he can get hot then we could see something real special from a guy the Rays were very happy to get in place of the departing Myers this offseason. Not a great surrounding cast is an issue, and he has had a couple of injury worries already this year which should temper your enthusiasm, but whilst healthy he has a job for the year and is a full time one at that. So if you are looking for upside with 20/20 potential then Souza could be worth a gamble this week on waivers in 12 team three outfielder leagues or deeper.
Starters (Listed in order of preference)
Shane Greene, Detroit Tigers: Greene has been superb in his first two starts going eight innings in both games without giving up a single run. Only eight strikeouts in those 16 innings is a concern but the fantasy world is raving about this guy right now, and if he has another good start then he is going to be the hottest property on waivers this week by some distance.
Archie Bradley, Arizona Diamondbacks: Ok consider me officially excited! After a storming start against the Dodgers where he struck out six over six scoreless innings, he then had another superb start against the Giants giving up just two runs in 6.2 innings whilst striking out four. He left both games in the lead against two of the top 10 pitchers in the league (Kershaw and Bumgarner) showing that he can jive with the best in that division. A BB:K ratio of 0.6:1 is a slight concern going forward but he is a young guy with a massive potential who is worth the gamble in any leagues which are 12 teams or deeper.
Trevor Bauer, Cleveland Indians: Mr Bauer is definitely intriguing this week on waivers because he has struck out 19 guys in 12 innings whilst giving up just two runs. However, the concern is that he has walked nine guys in those 12 innings, and 11 of those strikeouts came against the whiff-happy Astros. An eight strikeout, six inning game in a win against the White Sox Wednesday was definitely a good way to back it up, but Bauer needs to show more control or the walks are going to hurt him and his fantasy owners.
Jimmy Nelson, Milwaukee Brewers: As I write this, Nelson has made only one start but boy what a start! He struck out nine over seven innings with two hits and two walks when facing the Pirates, and if he can repeat that when he faces them this Friday then we could be looking at something very special indeed. If he has another good start Friday he goes above Bauer for me in this week’s order of preference given Bauer’s control worries.
Miguel Gonzalez, Baltimore Orioles: Gonzalez finished 2014 in great form and appears to have started 2015 on a similar keel. He struggled for control in his first start against Tampa, walking five in a loss before he struck out 10 in a one-walk performance against the Yankees. Gonzalez is someone I am very excited about but his next start against Boston could tell us everything we need to know. If he has another good outing then he will command a high price in next week’s waivers, so if Greene, Bradley, Bauer and Nelson escape your grasp then Gonzalez is someone you should add with a view to benching him Monday against that strong Boston line-up.
Drew Pomeranz, Oakland Athletics: A mixed start to 2015 from Pomeranz with a seven innings shutout against Seattle before he was tagged for four runs by the Astros in a loss. He is striking out approximately a batter per innings with a 0.75 WHIP across the two games, so there is a lot of upside, especially in that cavernous Oakland ballpark. He’s the sixth starter I rank on waivers this week but that has more to do with the talent available right now than a snub on Pomeranz, who I expect to be a decent pitcher in 2015.
Odrisamer Despaigne, San Diego Padres: Despaigne was a sleeper for me in deeper leagues this season and I was gutted he missed out on the rotation to start the year. An injury to Ian Kennedy gave him a shot and thus far he’s definitely made the most of it by going seven innings with only one run, two hits and two walks given up in a victory over the Diamondbacks. Unfortunately, he only struck out three guys in that game meaning right now he is a deep league only guy unless the strikeouts improve. The other issue is Kennedy should be back soon and Despaigne could find himself back in the bullpen so don’t invest heavily.
Relievers (Listed in order of preference)
Adam Ottavino, Colorado Rockies: After some uncertainty the Rockies have announced that Ottavino is the guy who will replace the creaking Hawkins as the closer. Ottavino has been on fire so far in 2015 striking out tow batters per innings whilst giving up just one hit and one walk in six innings. The issue here is that the Rockies aren’t projected to win many games this year and therefore Ottavino’s save chances could be limited. But right now he has the job and he has the stuff to be an elite guy, so he is definitely someone I am going after this week.
Joakim Soria, Detroit Tigers: Four saves in 4.2 innings with one run given up (in a non-save situation) has seen Soria take control of a situation in Detroit – which is up for grabs. If he keeps performing this way then Joe Nathan should not get a look in when he returns. Soria should be owned in all leagues.
Jeurys Familia, New York Mets: Familia has the closer job for the Mets for at least the next couple of weeks until Bobby Parnell returns, and even then there is no guarantee he loses it given that Parnell is coming off Tommy John surgery. In a pretty poor division the Mets are going to have plenty of chances to win some close games this year and Familia is a really good pitcher. He’s definitely someone to chase for short term saves, but beware a high investment in case Parnell does wrestle the job away.
Brad Boxberger, Tampa Bay Rays: Boxberger has been superb so far this year striking out seven with three saves and one loss. He has had a couple of innings so far but he should have the closer job locked down at least until McGee returns and potentially for longer. Another guy who should be owned in all roto leagues as he is getting save opportunities until early May at least
Miguel Castro, Toronto Blue Jays: I was all set to have Castro higher in this list but then Wednesday he came in in the seventh innings against the Blue Jays. That concerns me in a tie game because there could easily have been a save situation in the game and he would have been unavailable. If Toronto sees Castro as their guy for tough situations then that affects his closer value and throws the Blue Jays mess right back up in the air again. For now, proceed as if he is the guy but this sudden doubt is a real shot in the gut when he looked to have top 10 closer potential.
Wade Davis, Kansas City Royals: Davis is a very good relief pitcher, but unfortunately he is second in the pecking line to a very good closer in KC. He got one save this year but that was a virtue of how busy Holland has been on this very hot Royals team, and is not something that can be counted on. It stuns me he is more owned that Castro and Familia – who are both next in line for saves for their team.