The waiver wire — much like my laptop — isn’t doing me any favors these days.
With the prospect of having to purchase a third laptop since last September (Note: Happy 1-year-olds and wine do not mix with keyboards), picking through this week’s bargain basement only added to the grumpy Republic of Williams (yes, Canadian readers, I’m fully aware it’s a play on words regarding one of your nation’s popular shows that us Yanks just became familiar with). Magic 8-Balls and reader participation were the last lines of defense before walking around the corner to consult with the neighborhood astrologer and unveil the Fantasy Baseball Oujia board she and I conjured up two years ago.
Thank goodness for Chase Anderson.
Owned in 18 percent of polled mixed leagues, Anderson is too high-rent for the type of player I love to talk about, yet sometimes, you have to dance close to the fire and embrace reality, one that has been pretty favorable of late for the Diamondbacks’ hurler despite the fact he entered Wednesday with an 0-1 record in seven starts.
We’re well past the days of focusing too much on wins from pitchers, yet there appears to be just enough stragglers unaware of Anderson’s production. Yes, he plays on an Arizona team comfortably residing in fourth place in the NL West (Rockies fans, it’s going to be a long summer in Denver. Boring, no, yet long) and there are 22 other starters whose ERA tops his still-solid 2.81 mark, yet he’s become the anchor for a Diamondbacks’ staff that is 11th in the NL in that category (4.27).
Anderson’s calling cards are a stingy 1.10 WHIP that also ranks among the Top 25 pitchers (and the best among any of the ragtag band of hurlers available in polled leagues) and a stubborn penchant for keeping balls in the yard, as he has allowed just two homers in 41.2 innings of work, an impressive feat considering he pitches half his games at Chase Field, which has a “Let’s Hit the Ball Like It’s 2005” Park Factor of 111 thus far.
He’s not a whiff machine, but Anderson’s 6.59 K/9 rate also isn’t in the Dallas Keuchel neighborhood, either. While that total dropped from last year’s 8.24 K/9, the tradeoff has been in batting average allowed, which sits at .224, a marked improvement from his .264 BAA of 2014. Need more reason to be prodded in Anderson’s direction? Peek at the 3.22 Fielding Independent Pitching number, that currently stands 1.02 lower than a year ago.
It shouldn’t take long for Archie Bradley to continue his ascent toward becoming the Diamondbacks’ staff ace. While Aaron Blair, Yoan Lopez and Branden Shipley will each arrive within the next 12-14 months, the next good Arizona team will also have Anderson as part of what could be a very solid rotation. In other words, Anderson should remain as a steady presence that will be a help, not just in NL-only leagues, but to mixed league owners as well. He’s not a secret, so there’s no reason to treat him as such when you’re trying to figure out when to pull the cord on the likes of Danny Duffy and Nathan Eovaldi.
While I ponder The Decision to either stay a loyal Dell purchaser or break on through to the other side and buy The Laptop that Steve Jobs Built, here’s some other waiver wire options who’ll require fewer words than Anderson:
Wilmer Difo, 2B/SS, Nationals: Keeper/dynasty league owners of Difo didn’t see his call up on Tuesday coming, yet the Nats decided to bring him up after he produced a solid slash line of .315/.367.500 in the minors. Difo had the second-most hits in the minors in 2014, and while speed (49 steals last season) is the foundation of his game, he has shown the potential for power, having also hit 14 bombs during last year’s breakout campaign. While Washington is set with Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa and Yunel Escobar comprising the middle of the infield, Difo is an intriguing short-term option who will see some action. NL-only owners would be wise to ride his brief (we think) stint and hope for the best.
Lance McCullers, P, Astros: He hits right at my 20 percent marker when it comes to waiver wire players, yet McCullers pitched well enough during his MLB debut against the Athletics on Monday (4.2 IP, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5K) that the Astros may keep him beyond his next scheduled start (at the Tigers on Sunday). He’s already considered an alien in the Astros rotation in that he actually has a fastball (93.5 mph on Monday) that can break glass. Now is a good time to start investing in Astros’ futures; with OF Preston Tucker already up, McCullers’ arrival is just the precursor to the coming of uber-SS Carlos Correa, 1B/DH Jon Singleton and P Mark Appel.
Mike Foltynewicz, P, Braves: The one-time Astros prospect was shelled by the Rays on Tuesday (5 ER over 5 IP), yet Foltynewicz makes the cut because he can dial up a fastball with enough warmth to make Heat Miser proud. He’s averaged 95.8 mph in his first four starts while also making hitters swing and miss at a steady pace. Foltynewicz, owned in just six percent of polled leagues, is averaging 9.41 strikeouts per nine innings and although his 4.50 BB/9 ratio is unnerving, one good thing that came out of Tuesday’s start (other than the seven Ks he recorded) is that he allowed just one walk. He’s brewing as a possible low-risk, high-reward play in deeper leagues.
Ben Paulsen, 1B/OF, Rockies: Don’t make the assumption that Drew Stubbs will inherit the bulk of Corey Dickerson’s at-bats now that the latter is on the disabled list. Entering Wednesday, Stubbs was striking out at a 55.4 percent clip. Yes, 55.4 percent, which means Stubbs couldn’t make contact with other life forms if you threw his bat into deep space. Paulsen was hitting just .256 in Triple-A, yet 13 of his 32 hits were of the extra base variety. The lefty-hitting Paulsen should see considerable action versus righties, so if he establishes himself early, those who picked him in NL-only leagues will look all the better for it.
James McCann, C, Tigers: There are few catchers available whose offensive numbers won’t hurt you, which is why McCann (.293 average) would require a kick of the tires in deeper leagues. Alex Avila isn’t due back anytime soon, which means McCann will remain the Tigers’ primary backstop. Like most of his ilk, McCann’s offense took some time to catch up with his defensive skills, and while he won’t offer much power (one homer in 79 plate appearances), he’s a much better option than the likes of Tyler Flowers and Carlos Ruiz.
Gerardo Parra, OF, Brewers: He’s been swinging it this month to the tune of .450 in 16 games to go along with a .489 OBP and a 1.236 OPS. Owned in just five percent of polled leagues, Parra is revived after leaving the Diamondbacks and continues to force his way into the lineup. He’s regarded as one of the best defensive outfielders in the game, so as long as his bat remains torrid, Parra will become an intriguing option in deeper mixed leagues.