Each week, Baseball Press will be providing some "under the radar" fantasy players for NL-only leagues, AL-only leagues and mixed leagues. We'll review the diamonds in the rough on the waiver wire who might help you boost your fantasy team in 2012.
Under the Radar - Mixed Leagues
Friday August 10th, 2012
With all of the unpredictable injuries, job changes, and trades of the baseball season, many fantasy owners are looking to the waiver wire for help. Regardless of where help is needed, this edition of UTR can provide you with some players who are still available in most mixed leagues.
*Owned percentages via Yahoo!
Marco Scutaro - 3B/SS/2B, San Francisco Giants (34% owned)
Since joining the Giants via trade from the Colorado Rockies back on July 27th, infielder Marco Scutaro has made 13 starts (11 at third base) and has hit .346 (18 of 52) with a home run, 5 runs scored, and 14 RBI. Granted, Scutaro had a lot of those RBI in an August 8th game in which he hit a grand slam and logged a career-high 7 RBI, but he's still a solid big leaguer and a smart fantasy option right now. With eligibility at three positions and a spot at the top of the Giants batting order, Scutaro is a perfect fill-in for an injured fantasy regular or a player given a day off, and in deeper leagues his numbers could provide help in a few roto categories. He lacks any real home run power or stolen base potential, but the versatile 36 year-old is running hot and has a steady starting job for a contending team, at least until incumbent third baseman Pablo Sandoval returns to action. Owners looking for middle infield or corner help should take notice and plug him in as needed.
Carlos Gomez - OF, Milwaukee Brewers (32% owned)
Brewers outfielder Carlos Gomez's hot hitting and a pile of stolen bases earned him a spot in our July 25th Under the Radar AL/NL Only piece, and his continued production at the top of the Milwaukee lineup has put him on this mixed league list. While the 26 year-old has not yet fulfilled the huge upside that his talents suggested when he played his first big league season back in 2007, he's had one of his best campaigns in 2012 and has (mostly) ejected teammate Nyjer Morgan from a center field platoon at Miller Park. Gomez has already hit a career-best 10 home runs in just 86 games this season, and his 21 stolen bases (5 caught) add value in any fantasy format. His batting average sits at just .256 entering play on Friday, but that's several ticks above his career mark and the Dominican native has hit safely in 8 of his last 9 starts. With a .307 batting line, a .367 on-base percentage, and 10 stolen bases in 24 games (18 starts) since the All Star break, Gomez is setting a pace for a huge final two-month stretch and could prove to be a huge asset for fantasy owners in need of an outfielder with stolen base potential and a little home run power.
Bartolo Colon - SP, Oakland Athletics (25% owned)
Though he's heavy-set and nearly 40 years old, veteran Oakland righthanded pitcher Bartolo Colon is in the midst of a fine 2012 season, and lately he's been exceptional. The 2005 American League Cy Young Award winner hasn't allowed an earned run in his last three starts (including a 7 inning, 4 hit, zero walk, 5 strikeout victory over the Angels on August 7th) and brought his season line up to a 9-8 record and a 3.38 ERA and 1.21 WHIP. His strikeout numbers won't jump out at fantasy owners (86 in 138 2/3 innings, or 5.6 strikeouts per nine innings), but he's allowed 2 or fewer runs in 14 of his 22 starts this year and (along with many of his teammates) has thrived as a member of the Oakland pitching staff. He may not be worth more than an occasional pickup, depending on the depth of one's fantasy league, but with upcoming series against the Royals, Indians, and Twins, Colon could continue improving his season numbers for at least a couple of more starts.
Michael McKenry - C, Pittsburgh Pirates (13% owned)
Pirates catcher Michael McKenry has posted some excellent hitting numbers this season, and he's done it at a position that is often very shallow in fantasy baseball leagues. This should make him a no-brainer add for owners, but there is one problem: he doesn't start regularly enough. The 27 year-old is having a breakout campaign this year and enters play on Friday with a .283 average, a .927 on-base-plus-slugging (OPS) mark, and 11 home runs in just 49 games, yet still splits time behind the plate in Pittsburgh with veteran backstop Rod Barajas. Hitters with shaky playing time aren't usually worth a spot on most fantasy teams, but due to positional scarcity and his power numbers, McKenry is quite useful, assuming he's in the lineup. Consulting the Baseball Press lineups page before plugging him in for the day could provide a home run boost to owners in need.
Franklin Morales - SP/RP, Boston Red Sox (11% owned)
Lefthanded pitcher Franklin Morales has bounced between the Red Sox bullpen and starting rotation quite a bit this season, but while his role has changed, his performance has not. Morales recorded a one-out save for Boston on July 31st, then started and notched a win in a 6 inning, 3 hit, 1 run, 4 strikeout performance in his next game on August 5th. That latest performance lowered his season ERA to 3.14, with a 1.16 WHIP and 64 strikeouts in 63 innings pitched. The 26 year-old Venezuelan is set to start again on Saturday against the Cleveland Indians and, with the July 31st trade acquisition of Craig Breslow as team's top lefty reliever, Morales could be in the starting rotation for the duration of the season. He may not pile up a lot of long outings, but Morales' impressive 3.06 ERA in 6 starts this year could make him a very worthwhile pickup for fantasy owners.
Jim Henderson - RP, MIlwaukee Brewers (8% owned)
The chaos of the Milwaukee Brewers bullpen took another interesting turn this week when 29 year-old rookie righthander Jim Henderson tallied back-to-back saves in outings on August 7th and 8th to help the team complete a surprising sweep of the division-leading Cincinnati Reds. Henderson, like struggling Brewers teammate (and regular closer) John Axford, is a Canadian native and a late-blooming hurler. The Calgary native was a 26th round pick by the Montreal Expos back in 2003 and muddled through four years in the low minor leagues before converting to the bullpen and showing more promise. He joined the Chicago Cubs organization as a Rule 5 pick in 2006 before joining the Brewers via free agency in 2009. Though he has struggled by allowing walks at times in his bullpen career, Henderson's mid-90's fastball and above-average slider have helped him become a good late-inning reliever and, after a 1.69 ERA, 15 saves, and 56 strikeouts in 48 innings as the closer for Milwaukee's Triple-A affiliate in Nashville, he is finally getting a shot in the big leagues. The ninth inning situation in Milwaukee is, (to put it mildly) quite volatile, but fantasy owners looking for saves may want to add Henderson, at least for now.
Sergio Romo - RP, San Francisco Giants (40% owned)
Jeremy Affeldt - RP, San Francisco Giants (17% owned)
Javier Lopez - RP, San Francisco Giants (1% owned)
Giants righthander Alexi Casilla was doing an excellent job of filling in for injured closer Brian Wilson for most of the 2012 season, but a recent string of blown saves for the playoff-contending club prompted management to look at other options. Righthander Sergio Romo had an astounding 0.60 season ERA prior to a pair of rough outings on July 27th and 30th, but he could still be the top righthanded option for a Giants closer-by-committee arrangement. Romo's dominance made him a hot pickup in many fantasy leagues, but he could still be available in quite a few this week. In addition, lefthander Jeremy Affeldt (season ERA of 2.56 and WHIP of 1.14) nailed down saves in outings on July 31st and August 7th and could surpass Casilla and Romo as the team's regular closer. Last, lefty Javier Lopez is also having a very fine season and might, based on hitter matchups, snag some saves here and there. Overall though, Romo and Affeldt seem like smarter picks for fantasy owners in need of saves, so long as fantasy owners are aware that this situation is far from stable.
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