Stay tuned each week to Athlon Sports for a 2012 Fantasy Baseball Weekend Waiver Wire every Monday and the Weekend Rundown every Thursday.
It’s been a tough week for outfielders around MLB, with Arizona’s Chris Young, Boston’s Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner of the Yankees going on the disabled list. Young was off to a superb start, hitting .410 with five home runs and 13 RBIs in his first 11 games, but he injured his shoulder making a catch against the Pirates. Unfortunately for the Diamondbacks and fantasy owners, his teammate Justin Upton is battling a thumb injury and could miss time as well.
There are several other highly-drafted outfielders who have not hit up to expectations yet. Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton is still waiting for his first home run, Matt Holliday of the Cardinals has struggled to a .182 average, .538 OPS start, and Kansas City’s Alex Gordon is hitting a meager .149 after recording a .303 average for the 2011 season. Additionally, Boston’s Carl Crawford, Washington’s Michael Morse and Tampa Bay’s B.J. Upton have yet to see the field this season, so there’s a good chance you are looking for some short-term help.
Nolan Remold of the Orioles, Jon Jay of the Cardinals, Jordan Schafer of the Astros, Shelly Duncan of the Indians and Alejandro De Aza of the White Sox are owned in less than half of Yahoo! leagues, and they are worth a look if you have any of the aforementioned injured or struggling batters. Reimold has been especially hot lately, hitting a home run in four straight games earlier this week. He’s batting .341 in 10 games this season.
Jay is hitting .350 in a loaded St. Louis attack, including going 8-for-20 in his last eight games. Schafer has six stolen bases and 10 runs scored while batting .279 this season, and Duncan could provide some temporary pop with his 6 RBIs and a .980 OPS in 31 at-bats. De Aza has three bombs and an .864 OPS in 11 games, and he did hit over .300 in limited duty over the last two seasons.
Anyone got Ricky Vaughn’s number?
Injuries and ineffectiveness have been the story for closers so far this year. Cincinnati’s Ryan Madson, Kansas City’s Joakim Soria and San Francisco’s Brian Wilson are out for the season, while Tampa Bay’s Kyle Farnsworth, Washington’s Drew Storen and Boston’s Andrew Bailey are on the DL. Other stoppers like Heath Bell of the Marlins and Sergio Santos of the Blue Jays have already blown multiple saves. Keep an eye on the closing situations of the White Sox, Diamondbacks, Rangers, Indians and Nationals. High ERAs by the incumbents could lead to more opportunities for other relievers like Arizona’s Bryan Shaw, Addison Reed or Matt Thornton of the White Sox and Cleveland’s Vinnie Pestano. The Athlon closer grid is a valuable tool to help you keep up with bullpen changes around baseball.
He may not be a closer (yet), but Cincinnati’s Aroldis Chapman (0.00 ERA with 15 Ks in 8.0 innings pitched) already has two wins and a hold. The dominating fireballer can help your ratios greatly and could move into a closer role if Sean Marshall struggles in the 9th inning. Pick him up if available. Also, Henry Rodriguez of the Nationals has yet to allow a run while picking up three saves in a time share with Brad Lidge. It would not be surprising to see the hard-throwing Venezuelan take over the 9th-inning gig on a more regular basis.
Weekend Series To Watch
St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates have the worst offense (just 26 runs in 12 games) in baseball, and they will face Lance Lynn on Friday, Jake Westbrook on Saturday and Kyle Lohse on Sunday. That St. Louis trio is off to a scorching start, with each having two wins and an ERA of 1.50 or lower. Some fantasy owners have been hesitant to pick up the veteran duo of Lohse and Westbrook, who have traditionally been .500 pitchers with low strikeout rates. However the Cards' hurlers will help you in every category except Ks, and look for their current success to continue in the Steel City.
New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox
It always interesting when these two rivals get together, as long as you have five or six hours to watch the game. Boston is currently mired in last place in the AL East, and there isn’t much to believe in fantasy-wise other than David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez. The BoSox are already off to a terrible start with an MLB-worst ERA of 6.20, and Bobby Valentine will send the trio of Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront and Daniel Bard to the mound this weekend. Even if any of the starters fare well, the Boston bullpen (24 ER in 34.2 IP with a 1.47 WHIP) has been awful. Expect the Bronx Bombers to light up some fireworks in Fenway. Time to bring beer back to the clubhouse?
Texas Rangers at Detroit Tigers
This ALCS rematch should make for a very entertaining series in Motown. The Tigers offense has been very solid with Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder leading the way, but the Rangers have the best staff ERA in the American League by a wide margin. Texas also has a formidable offense, but Comerica Park can be a tough place to hit. Texas’ Matt Harrison will face Rick Porcello on Friday night, Neftali Feliz will take on AL Cy Young winner and MVP Justin Verlander in a Saturday matinee, while Colby Lewis will battle Tigers rookie southpaw Drew Smyly (0.90 ERA in two starts) on Sunday afternoon. Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz belted six home runs against Detroit in the ALCS last October, while Cabrera hit .400 with three dingers in the six-game series.
--Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman on Twitter)