Originally posted on Fantasy Sports Locker Room  |  Last updated 6/21/14
In this week’s edition of the Weekly Waiver Wire, we have a Gold medalist, a player who went to the same High School as Steve Largent, a Cy Young Award winner, a former football player (High School level), and a 4x Gold Glove winner. MLB Waiver Wire players to add: Jake Arrieta (SP,ChC,31% owned): Name the first Cubs pitcher that comes to mind. Go. Let me guess, you’re thinking of Jeff Samardzija? Don’t tell me you’re thinking of Jake Arrieta. What’s so special about Arrieta? Well, his 4-seamer is clocking in at 95 MPH as is his sinker. Through 43 IP, Arrieta is striking out nearly 25% of opposing batters meaning for every 27 batters he faces, he strikes out roughly 6 or 7 of them. Which isn’t great, but it’s not bad either. He has only walked 8% of opposing batters, meaning for every 27 he walks 2 batters. Now, that my friends, is pretty darn good. Or you can just look at his GB%, which lies at a pretty impressive 52.1% rate. Opposing batters have a wOBA of .269 against Arrieta, which is a pretty good mark for somebody who’s only owned in just over a fourth of leagues. Andrew Heaney (SP,MIA,58% owned): Heaney made his first start Thursday night and did pretty well. On the other hand, he only struck out 3 batters and that is a cause for concern. According to sources Baseball Prospectus and Brooks Baseball, Heaney does not throw a 4-seam fastball. On the other hand, according to an article from beyondtheboxscore.com, Heaney does throw a four-seamer and the author credits the two sources that I just mentioned! Weird. Anyway, he does throw a sinker clocked in at an average speed of 91mph. That being said, speed is not the issue. The average speed of a fastball last season was 92mph, so we are okay in that department. He has only played one game thus far, but the fact that he stranded every single runner on base in his first game is a pretty darn good omen. Interestingly enough, his FIP was actually scored much higher than his ERA, so the numbers indicate that Heaney got lucky the other night. It was only his first game so there’s no reason to be worried. Also, I don’t understand how he was lucky, maybe it’s because he was able to force 3 double-plays and managed to strand all runners on base? The point is, Heaney looks like a safe pickup with low risk and high upside. Brock Holt (3B/OF,BOS,50% owned): When I endorsed Brock Holt last week, he had a .331 average. Never, at any point, did I believe that Holt would come into this week with a batting average of .329. Honestly, I had expected his batting average to be around .305-.310 this week, but Holt has proved me wrong and I’m glad he did. Holt has kept up the hot hitting and has proved himself, in my eyes, to be a worthy addition to your fantasy baseball team. Not only is he producing hits, he is producing consecutive multi-hit games for the Red Sox. Holt is doing it all for the defending champs. Just the other night he produced 2 hits, scored 2 runs, recorded a double, ad stole a base. Holt, graduated from Rice University, a college which from Norm “The Sheriff” Charlton hailed. Charlton was part of the Nasty Boys relief pitching staff for the Reds when they won the World Series in 1990 along with Randy Myers and I believe Rob Dibble. No, I was not alive back then, but I’ve seen the re-runs on ESPN Classic and boy, they were pretty fun to watch. Maybe Holt will pull a Norm Charlton and plow over an opposing catcher like Charlton did to Angels manager Mike Scioscia. Dellin Betances (RP,NYY,39% owned): Betances is another player whom I endorsed last week and rightly so. Betances has upped his strikeout rate, and believe it or not, (I didn’t), he has actually lowered his 1.69 ERA to a 1.51 ERA. I could care less how many points it went down, the point is, it went down. And, again, for someone who is owned in only 39% of leagues, these ratios are too good to pass up. While he did walk a batter in his last outing against Toronto, it was his first since June 3rd. Meanwhile, has has not allowed a hit in 3 straight outings. Oh, and did I mention he also lowered his WHIP from a 0.78 to a 0.72? Hey, it’s still an improvement any way you look at it. And when it comes to Fantasy Baseball, we are all about improvements. Hot Players: (*These are players who are performing very well as of late. You should keep an eye on them and if they continue their great play you should take a long look at adding one or two of them) Roenis Elias (SP,SEA,9% owned): Granted, it doesn’t really make sense to put Elias in the “hot” column after he got rocked by the Yankees. But, let’s face it, they’re the Yankees. The best team in baseball history. But, Elias rebounded brilliantly, only allowing 1 run on 3 hits, striking out 6 and walking none. He has won 3 of his last 4 games and his ERA and FIP are practically identical. He is walking far fewer batters than he did during the beginning of the season and he is striking out more batters. I was watching the game the other night, and I have to tell you, that curveball of his is nasty. The whiff/swing% on his curve is 11th best in the Majors but watching him first-hand, it’s a very good pitch. Also, the ground ball rate on his curve is at 64% to say the least. At most, right now he is a deep-league add until he shows some more consistency on the mound. MLB Waiver Wire players to drop: Aaron Harang (SP,ATL,43% owned): Harang began the season on a great note and I even recommended his addition to Fantasy rosters. But, I specifically remember saying it wouldn’t last and rightly so. His performance against the Phillies on Wednesday night was one of the most god-awful outings I have seen. 8 earned runs on 13 hits, 3 walks, and only 4 K’s. He lasted just 5 innings. His walk rate is up, as is his BABIP, and his FIP indicates that luck has nothing to do with it. There are so many pitchers I would rather have that are available in over 50% of leagues. Jaime Garcia, Jake Arrieta, Wade Miley, etc. Cold Players: (*These are players who have good track records, but have not had the best start to the season. Let these guys chill on your bench until they heat up) Justin Verlander (SP,DET,98% owned): What in the world happened to Justin Verlander? This is the question that’s on everybody’s mind. What really is happening with Verlander? Let’s look back for a second. In 2011, Verlander was untouchable. He threw a no-hitter, led the AL in strikeouts and ERA, led the Majors in Wins, won the MVP, the AL Cy Young, AND the Triple Crown. In October of 2011, Verlander threw a four-seamer clocked at 103mph. This season, Verlander’s fastest pitch was clocked at 99mph. Now, while 99mph is still fast, he’s not throwing a 99mph fastball every time. Far from it, the average speed on his 4-seamer is now 94mph. In 2011, the average speed on his 4-seamer was 95mph, so he really hasn’t lost that much speed. What he has lost is that big strikeout pitch, and losing 4mph on a max-speed pitch is a really big deal. The key thing to look at here is the ERA and FIP. If a player’s ERA is significantly higher than his FIP, he has been unlucky. If a player’s FIP is much higher than his ERA, he’s getting lucky. When it comes to Justin Verlander, he has not been lucky nor has he been unlucky. In other words, this is real folks. A great read on FIP can be found at http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/blog/big_league_stew/post/Everything-you-always-wanted-to-know-about-FIP?urn=mlb,206286. Verlander’s change up has lost 3mph since 2011 so that is another reason why he is struggling.  His strikeout rate is significantly below his career average, but I’ll add that it has been declining for the past 2 years. His increased walk rate, significantly above his career average, is no fluke. His BB/9 has increased in each of the last 3 seasons. His BABIP has also increased in each of the past 3 seasons and his LOB% has decreased over the past 3 seasons. I can’t believe I am saying this, but if Verlander doesn’t turn it around soon, it might be time to think about cutting ties. Shelby Miller (SP,STL,100% owned): Shelby Miller is striking out far fewer batters than he did last year (2013:8.78 K/9, 2014:6.33 K/9). That’s almost 3 fewer strikeouts per game, which adds up over the course of a season. Miller is walking far more batters than he did last season (2.96 BB/9 vs 4.05 BB/9) and according to his FIP, he has actually been lucky to pitch as well as he has. Truth is, he has pitched poorly to say the least, so to say he’s been lucky with his current stats, is not a good thing to hear. He is only 23 years old, so I don’t understand why his cutter has lost almost 3mph since last season. Strange. He’s having some trouble getting opposing batters to chase balls out of the zone, something he was better at last year. Plus, when batters do chase balls outside the zone, they are more often making contact than they did last season. Furthermore, Miller’s SwStr% is also down from last year. The lesson to be learned here is that you can’t throw your Fastball 75% of the time and expect to put up good numbers. Miller needs to start mixing in some different pitches or he will continue to get rocked. Player To Trade: Brandon Phillips (2B,CIN,100% owned): I will trade you Brandon Phillips for Brian Dozier. Do you accept? Of course you do, I mean, why not? Phillips was an All-Star last year and his batting average is much higher than Dozier’s so sure. Wrong. That is a terrible trade. But I can almost guarantee you, if you have Phillips and you propose a trade that would give you Dozier, the other guy will accept the trade and you will look like a genius for it. Look beyond the batting average and you will see that Dozier is better in every other category. The reason I am using Dozier as the guy you are trading for, is simply due to name value. I mean prior to this season, almost nobody outside of Minnesota knew who this guy was. But Brandon Phillips? A 3x All Star, 4x Gold Glove winner, and a Silver Slugger? Yeah, I think he’ll take the bait. Take it from me, I just made this trade the other day, and I am in a pretty competitive league. Alfredo Simon (SP,CIN,88% owned): I have another trade for you. I will give you Alfredo Simon, a pitcher who already has 10 wins under his belt, and all I want back is Phil Hughes. Yeah, Phil Hughes. You know, the guy who had a 5.19 ERA last year. I want him. Sounds like a great deal right? No. Another terrible deal that would make you look great and the other guy look like a fool. Simon’s FIP is much higher than his ERA, which suggests he has been VERY lucky this season. Also, his astonishingly low BABIP also suggests he has been very lucky this year. On the other side of the coin, Hughes has a 2.27 ERA with 61 K’s and 3 walks over his last ELEVEN starts. The window of opportunity to trade for Hughes before the other guys catch on is closing very fast so I would act quickly and propose the trade right NOW if you have Simon. (If you can’t get Hughes, try trading for Gio Gonzalez. His FIP is much lower than his ERA indicating he has been the burden of bad luck this year, so I fully expect him to turn it around. But I bet the other guy will be eager to get rid of him and his 4.85 ERA.) Have specific questions about your team? Questions/Comments about the article? Ask @RyanDorf on Twitter. The post Week 13 MLB Waiver Wire: The Troubling Case of Justin Verlander appeared first on Fantasy Sports Locker Room.
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