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 September 21st, 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 Estrada - SP/RP, Milwaukee Brewers (30% owned)
Starting pitching has been a key part of the Milwaukee Brewers' recent hot streak, and the best performance has come from righthander Marco Estrada. Since August 20th, the Brewers have won 23 of 27 games and, in 6 starts since then, Estrada has posted a 4-1 record with a 1.23 ERA, a 0.90 WHIP, and 42 strikeouts in 36 2/3 innings. Some high-strikeout games earlier in the year earned him a spot in our June 27th AL/NL Under the Radar piece, but his recent dominance has pushed him into the mixed league spotlight and fantasy owners are taking notice. Marco began the year in relief and, due to high pitch counts, doesn't typically work very deep into games, but his strikeout numbers alone make him worth a pickup right now. If the Brewers and their 29 year-old righty can continue their recent roll, Estrada could be a vital fantasy starter for the final few weeks of the year.
Chris Nelson - 2B/3B, Colorado Rockies (26% owned)
A string of hits and RBI earned Rockies infielder Chris Nelson a spot in our AL/NL Under the Radar article back on September 5th, and his recent collection of multi-hit games have helped him secure a spot in our mixed league list this week. In 42 games (33 starts) since returning from the disabled list on August 6th, Nelson has hit .338 (45 for 133) with 4 home runs, 24 RBI, and 21 runs scored for the last place Rockies. Two months of piling up hits hasn't gone unnoticed in the fantasy community, but without significant home run power or stolen base speed, Nelson's roto value isn't as high as it should be for a player who has hit so well over the last six weeks. However, Nelson has been racking up hits even more furiously over the last eleven days, and in 12 games since September 9th he has hit .447 (21 for 47) with 2 home runs, 8 RBI, and 9 runs scored. Furthermore, Chris has hit safely in 10 of those 12 games and recorded multiple hits in 8 of them, raising his season batting average from .264 to .292. Eligibility at both second and third base provide some added fantasy value, though Nelson is a 10 to 12 home run per season guy and won't give owners anything in the stolen base category. Still, fantasy teams in need of batting average help should look to Nelson right now.
Andy Pettitte - SP, New York Yankees (25% owned)
Yankees lefthanded pitcher Andy Pettitte's return to Major League Baseball ended prematurely back in late June after a line drive broke his fibula, but he returned to action this week and once again has fantasy baseball relevance. Pettitte tossed just 75 pitches against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday, but he worked 5 shutout innings and picked up his fourth victory of the season. In 10 starts this year, Pettitte is 4-3 with a 2.97 ERA, a 1.10 WHIP, and a surprising 62 strikeouts in 63 2/3 innings. While the strikeout numbers are not likely to hold (his career 6.7 strikeouts per nine innings is well below his 2012 mark of 8.8), the 40 year-old former ace should continue to turn in some quality outings for the Yanks over the next couple of weeks. Pettitte is a steady veteran hurler with solid run support behind him and is at least worth streaming in most mixed leagues.
Everth Cabrera - SS/2B, San Diego Padres (10% owned)
It appears that Padres infielder Everth Cabrera will very quietly finish as one of MLB's top ten basestealers this season, yet the 25 year-old Nicaraguan has received surprisingly little fantasy baseball attention. Granted, Cabrera's .239 batting average and .314 on-base percentage are not ideal fantasy numbers and his home run power is nil, but owners looking to jump up in the stolen base category late in the year could certainly enlist his services. In addition, the Padres are well out of contention and Everth seems entrenched as the club's everyday shortstop, so playing time appears to be a near-sure thing right now. Cabrera has 8 stolen bases (1 caught) in September and 14 steals in 27 games since August 16th, which bodes well for his chances to collect some swipes in the league's final two weeks. He may be a "one-trick pony", but with eligibility at both shortstop and second base, Cabrera is undoubtedly roster-worthy for the right fantasy team.
Wily Peralta - SP, Milwaukee Brewers (6% owned)
Like Marco Estrada, another Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher riding the recent wave of wins is righthanded rookie Wily Peralta. Peralta entered 2012 as the top prospect in the Brewers organization (per Baseball America), though that honor was somewhat stained by the massive depletion of the club's farm system via high profile trades over the last few years. Nonetheless, Peralta's expectations at the start of 2012 were fairly high after an 11-7 record, a 3.17 ERA, a 1.24 WHIP, and 157 strikeouts in 150 2/3 innings in the minors in 2011. However, Peralta's 2012 results for Triple-A Nashville were less impressive: 28 starts, a 7-11 record, a 4.66 ERA, and 154 hits and 78 walks in 146 2/3 innings (a 1.58 WHIP). His 95 mile-per-hour fastball helped him keep his strikeout numbers up at Triple-A, but overall the season seemed like a step back. Regardless, Peralta was called up for September to fill in as a starter for the Brewers, and he's been excellent since then. His control has held mostly steady (just 6 walks in 21 innings) over his 3 starts this month and while he's struck out just 13 hitters, his fantasy value continues to grow. With 8 shutout innings in his last start (against the Mets on September 16th), Peralta has started showing up on more mixed league fantasy rosters, so now is the right time to gamble that the 23 year-old can keep things rolling for another couple of starts.
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