As expected, the trade deadline unearthed a bounty of waiver wire options that are now thrust into more prominent roles. Not surprisingly, the majority are pitchers, although there are a handful of position players who are available in at least 55 percent of CBSSports.com leagues. My feeling is that you will see more position players of value as we approach the September 1 roster expansion date, as teams – particularly in the American League – begin to fade out of playoff contention and start looking toward 2018.
*Taylor Rogers, P, Twins: With Brandon Kintzler off to the nation’s capital to bolster the Washington bullpen, Rogers is expected to get first dibs at shutting things down for the Twinkies in late inning situations. Whether that hold up is subject to debate, as Rogers has seen his ERA climb from 1.98 on July 17 to its current 3.79 mark. He’s owned in 12 percent of CBSSports.com leagues and has seen his ownership totals increase despite his recent run of misfortune. How long he holds the role is entirely on him, yet I think John Curtiss (currently at Triple-A Rochester) will end the regular season as the Twins’ closer due to the dominant edge he has on Rogers when it comes to striking out hitters. Curtiss has fanned 57 hitters in 40.2 innings in the minors, while Rogers has 32 Ks in 40.1 big league frames. Beggars can’t be choosers when it comes to finding saves this late in the season, which makes Rogers (for now) attractive.
*Blake Treinen, P, Athletics: Like Rogers, Treinen benefits from the departure of veteran arms now playing in meaningful games. Acquired by the A’s on July 17, Trienen, who opened the regular season as the Nationals’ closer, recorded his first save in an Oakland uniform on Monday night when he slammed the door on San Francisco. He’s sporting a 0.96 ERA since coming to the Bay Area and now has a 17 percent ownership mark in CBSSports.com leagues. While Santiago Castilla will still pick up a save or two, the smart money is on Treinen finishing up strong and building a case toward being Oakland’s closer heading into 2018. Like Rogers, Treinen doesn’t strike out enough batters (42 in 47 innings) to give me peace of mind, but if he’s handling business in the ninth inning, who the hell am I to complain?
*Reynaldo Lopez, P, White Sox: He’s coming. Trust me. Lopez is approaching 30 percent ownership in CBSSports.com leagues despite the fact there’s no firm word on when he’ll make his debut with the Pale Hose. He was lights out in the month of July, recording a 2.10 ERA at Triple-A Charlotte and limited hitters to a .220 batting average this season. Lopez is fanning better than a batter per inning and has the arsenal to become either a staff ace or a good number two in the rotation. He’s coming, so trust me when I tell you that it’s time to grab Lopez and stash him until he does arrive. The strikeouts will be there and I think Lopez will get a handful of wins on his way to being at or near the front of the line when it comes to the top rookies in Fantasy ball next season.
*Jordan Zimmerman, P, Tigers: The post All-Star Break version of Zimmerman looks a lot like the Zimmerman who won 45 games for the Nationals between 2012-14. Since coming back from vacay, he’s put up a 3.33 ERA in four starts while going 2-1 in that span. The big change in Zimmerman has been his ability to avoid offering free gifts to fans 350-400 feet away. After giving up 22 homers in the first half, he’s allowed just one in his first 24.1 innings of the second half and is a big reason why his ownership in CBSSports.com leagues is at 37 percent. He started August with a strong seven innings of shutout ball and picked up the W at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night. He comes into the weekend having tossed consecutive quality starts and narrowly missed a third against the Astros on July 28. As a whole, his numbers are bad, but Zimmerman is trending upward and is worth taking the shot while he’s still hot.
*J.C. Ramirez, P, Angels: He’s pitched like a staff ace since the ASB and is a reason why the Angels are still within striking range of a wild card spot. Ramirez is 2-0 with a 2.36 ERA in 26.2 innings post-break and has seen his ownership hit 42 percent in CBSSports.com leagues. He had perhaps his best start of the season on Wednesday when he tossed eight shutout innings while holding the Phillies to six hits. At 10-6 overall, Ramirez is a good source of wins and gets just enough strikeouts to further justify picking him up. While it feels like he pitched with Chuck Finley and Mark Langston in the Angels rotation of the early 90s, Ramirez is only 28, around the same time a good number of pitchers begin to feel confident with their stuff and begin to make their mark. I think this is exactly where Ramirez is, making him a good candidate to finish strong.
*Dominic Smith, 1B, Mets: The franchise’s number two prospect (behind recently Amed Rosario) is going to come up within the next 7-10 days. While not a power hitter (seven homers in 393 ABs in Triple-A Las Vegas), Smith is a natural hitter who will spray the ball all over the field and could eventually compete for an NL batting crown. Unlike most players on the current big league roster, Smith knows how to draw a walk (.395 OBP) and should make an immediate impact for both the Mets and Fantasy owners, which now stands at 34 percent at CBSSports.com and will rise once he officially arrives.
*Brad Ziegler, P, Marlins: The third new closer in this week’s report, Ziegler notched his first save in a Miami uniform on Tuesday when he took it home against the Nationals despite allowing two baserunners. The 37-year-old has a pair of seasons with 20-plus saves that includes a career-best 30 for the Diamondbacks in 2015, so he’s no novice at this ninth inning thing. Ziegler is now owned in 21 percent of CBSSports.com leagues and should see another spike in his ownership numbers as long as he can hold the role. He has never been a strikeout artist, which means you’re banking on strictly on saves and his WHIP, and like the aforementioned Rogers, Ziegler’s run as a closer could be short-lived. Miami envisioned hard-throwing Kyle Barraclough as their stopper in a post-A.J. Ramos world, but Barraclough went on the DL nearly two weeks ago and may not be back until mid to late August. Until then, Ziegler will be a reasonable option to help owners in need of saves.
*Arodys Vizcaino, P, Braves: Now here’s a closer who knows who to dial up the heat. Atlanta still has Jim Johnson, but as the team begins to start looking at the future, Vizcaino will be afforded more save opportunities and has seen his ownership shoot to 26 percent in CBSSports.com leagues. Vizcaino has 42 strikeouts in 38 innings and picked up his third save of the season on Wednesday at the expense of the Dodgers. His 2.56 ERA is also a strong point for Fantasy owners kicking the tires of Vizcaino, and when you add the fact the Braves are slowly bringing in their next wave of talent, the remainder of the season should put Vizcaino in position to finish strong and lead him to become a potential 2018 sleeper.
*Wilmer Difo, SS, Nationals: For now, he’s more of a NL-only option, yet Difo could become a friendly choice in mixed leagues now that he’s flashing unexpected power. Since the break, Difo has three homers while slashing at .305/.328/.492, a sharp contrast of his .245/.325/.318 mark before. He’s never been considered a prospect with considerable power, but the 5’11, 202-pounder has filled out, which has given him more thump. Currently owned in 14 percent of CBSSports.com leagues, Difo also has outfield eligibility and still has the speed that originally brought him to the table as a potential Fantasy player who can offer production.
*Ozzie Albies, SS, Braves: The second-ranked prospect in the Atlanta organization, Albies made his debut on Tuesday and hit his first homer on Wednesday. Albies doesn’t project as a slugger, but the 20-year-old is going to be a good source of steals the rest of the season. The Braves had made it clear Albies will be in the lineup daily and his 32 percent ownership in CBSSports.com leagues is going to take another hike or two once he starts swiping bags. He stole 21 bases in Triple-A Gwinnett, where he hit .285/.330/.440 before coming up, and had eight triples. As mentioned, Albies isn’t going to mash the ball consistently, yet he did hit nine homers and could be a more interesting player if that pop carries over into the future. Albies is a must-add in deeper leagues, but I’d suggest taking him in more standard leagues if you’re in need of a boost in steals.