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 that might help you boost your fantasy team in 2011.
Under the Radar - Mixed Leagues
Friday July 29th, 2011
With all of the unpredictable injuries, slumps, and job changes, many fantasy owners are looking to the waiver wire for help in keeping their season hopes alive. Here are some mixed league options for owners looking to make additions at this point in the season.
*Owned percentages via Yahoo!
Dexter Fowler - OF, Colorado Rockies (21% owned)
Rockies outfielder Dexter Fowler was featured in one of our Under the Radar pieces way back on April 15th, but he failed to seize his opportunity then and, as a result of Colorado's logjam of outfielders, eventually found himself in the minor leagues. But now, with a recent injury to starting centerfielder Carlos Gonzalez, Fowler is again seeing regular playing time and has been excellent since his return on July 15th. In 13 games this month, Fowler is hitting .375 with three doubles, three triples, 12 runs scored, eight RBI, seven walks, and four stolen bases. He may split some time with young speedster Eric Young Jr. before Gonzalez's return, but Fowler's hot hitting is keeping him in the lineup and at the top of the Rockies batting order, and he can certainly help a lot of fantasy teams while he's running hot.
Javy Guerra - RP, Los Angeles Dodgers (35% owned)
The Los Angeles Dodgers closer carousel has been spinning for most of the year, but over the last few weeks the role has finally been seized by rookie righthander Javy Guerra. Guerra is a perfect eight-for-eight in save chances this year and in 23 1/3 innings of work he has a 1.93 ERA and 18 strikeouts. He might not be a prototypical dominant ninth inning guy, but his results have locked him in as L.A.'s top endgame option, and he's likely to remain there through the end of the year. His ownership is still quite low in many fantasy formats, but he belongs on any roster.
Rich Harden - SP, Oakland Athletics (10% owned)
Despite some excellent performances throughout his career, Oakland pitcher Rich Harden's baseball legacy will still likely be linked to his long injury history, and 2011 is a prime example of that. Harden did not make his first appearance this year until July 1st, but his last few starts have been good enough to make him worthy of some fantasy baseball consideration. In three starts since a rough five-inning, five-run outing against the Rangers on July 7th, Harden has allowed just five runs in 18 1/3 innings and has tallied 22 strikeouts. Throughout his nine-year big league career, Harden has averaged over a strikeout per inning, and those swings-and-misses could be very useful to a fantasy roster. Oakland opens August with series against Seattle and Tampa Bay, so now is a very good time to add Harden to a fantasy team.
Hideki Matsui - OF/DH, Oakland Athletics (14% owned)
The early 2011 season appeared to be the first nail in the coffin of Oakland hitter Hideki Matsui's career, but the 37 year-old Japanese import has been on fire since the all-star break and has turned his season around. Since a dreadful .209 batting average and just six home runs in MLB's first half, Matsui has gone 20 for 45 (a .444 average) with five doubles, three homers, and seventeen RBI in 11 games. He isn't likely to match the 21 home runs and .274 batting average he posted for the Angels last season, but his hot hitting as one of Oakland's few run producers should lead to solid second half home run and RBI numbers. He's due to level off soon but might be a great short-term option for fantasy owners.
Ezequiel Carrera - OF, Cleveland Indians (1% owned)
With Cleveland outfielder Grady Sizemore on the disabled list yet again, 24 year-old speedster Ezequiel Carrera has been seeing a lot of playing time for the Indians. Even with the recent acquisition of Kosuke Fukudome, Carrera should still be a regular in center field and at the top of the Cleveland order. Throughout his career in the Mets, Mariners, and Indians farm system, Carrera was an on-base machine, posting a .291 average and a .372 on-base percentage over his 562-game minor league career, but what has really been his most notable skill is his basestealing ability. The Venezuela native has swiped 161 bases in his minor league time, including 35 steals (4 caught) in 81 games for Triple-A Columbus this season. He's essentially a two-category player, contributing steals and hits, but for teams in need of a speedster who could score some runs, he might be a great pickup right now.
Marlon Byrd - OF, Chicago Cubs (18% owned)
Many fantasy owners may have forgotten about Cubs outfielder Marlon Byrd, but the 33 year-old was an all-star in 2010 and, after missing a month-and-a-half this year due to injury, he's back and hitting well. Byrd has hit .344 since July 7th and raised his season average to .308, and he has a hit in 15 of his 22 games played this month. Home runs are not a big part of his game, but Byrd has five long balls this year and notched 12 last season, so he can chip one in once in a while. Overall, though, Byrd is fairly one-dimensional as a fantasy player, but for owners in need of a boost in batting average and a little help in runs, he comes in quite handy.
Edward Mujica - RP, Florida Marlins (7% owned)
As trade winds continue to swirl, the time is right to be on the lookout for players who will get increased roles if their teammates are dealt, and Marlins reliever Edward Mujica certainly fits that criteria. The 27 year-old former Indians and Padres righthander has done an excellent job this year as a setup man to Marlins closer Leo Nunez, notching 8 wins and posting a 3.02 ERA with a 0.87 WHIP. Nunez is expected to be traded, and Mujica looks like the natural choice to take over ninth inning duties when he is. In a recent Under the Radar piece, we recommended picking up Padres reliever Mike Adams for the same reason. Mujica may not have the track record that Adams has, but he is still a player who can help lower a fantasy club's ERA and WHIP numbers and could soon be collecting saves.
James McDonald - SP, Pittsburgh Pirates (11% owned)
Former Dodgers phenom James McDonald appears to finally be fulfilling some of his massive potential, and the 26 year-old righthander has become yet another pleasant surprise for the overachieving 2011 Pittsburgh Pirates. His season numbers may not appear very impressive, but McDonald has not allowed a run in his last two outings and has a 2.62 ERA with 59 strikeouts in 68 2/3 innings since May 19th. His next start will come this weekend against the hard-hitting Phillies, but then the Pirates will have series against the Cubs, Padres, and Giants, giving McDonald an excellent chance to put up some good numbers. He's certainly one to keep an eye on during the second half, and he could be a nice addition for the end of a fantasy rotation.
by Anonymous on Friday July 29th @ 4:43PM
Eduardo any relation to Leo Nunez?
by Dan Port on Friday July 29th @ 5:37PM
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