I don’t know if I ever remember a season where the waiver wire has been more important. Between major injuries and the ridiculous state of relief pitching in the big leagues, you can’t rest on your laurels and figure things are just going to be ok. In 2012, if you aren’t paying attention every day, your chances of coming out on top aren’t very good. This week we give you a couple of relief pitchers, one incredibly obvious, the other to stash away. If you have any need in the outfield we have a few for you to choose from, a player behind the dish, and if you are in need of a starting pitcher there’s a choice or two for you as well out of the National League West. So instead of perusing the waiver wire looking at name after name, read on and then go and target the right guy to help your team going forward.
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Seth Smith, OF, Oakland Athletics (4% Yahoo, .9% ESPN, 9% CBS). Long a favorite of the Fantasy Alarm crew, Smith has all of a sudden picked it up after starting the season miserably. Smith had a long career in Colorado where he was rarely given a chance to have regular playing time. He is now the starting left fielder in Oakland, and although that isn’t exactly the best park for hitters, Smith has been parked in the middle of the Athletics’ order. He has three multi-hit games in the last week and has driven in four RBI in the last five games. Smith easily has 20-25 home run power, and if he can get in a groove, he can definitely help your fantasy team.
Yonder Alonso, OF, San Diego Padres (23% Yahoo, 16.3% ESPN, 53% CBS). Once the big first base prospect for the Cincinnati Reds, Alonso needed a change of scenery once Joey Votto became an All-World player and cock blocker to Yonder’s path to the Bigs. Unfortunately for fantasy players, Alonso was finally moved to the most notorious pitcher’s park in the National League in PetCo Park. However, the good news is that Alonso has the starting first base job for the Pads locked up. He isn’t hitting for the power that we hoped for (just one on the season so far), but he is hitting near .300 and his 11 RBI isn’t terrible for a young guy in that park. More good news is that seven of those 11 ribbies have come in the last ten days and he has three multiple hit games over that stretch as well. It certainly seems that Alonso is starting to get comfortable at the plate in the Majors. His potential says that he has 20-25 homer power as well, so he won’t be a stud, but his average should cause him to drive in enough runs that he is worth a look in most leagues.
Rafael Soriano, RP, New York Yankees (51% Yahoo, 27.2% ESPN, 61% CBS). I know that this one probably seems easy, and chances are the percentages that you see above are probably going to be low by the time you read this. I am recommending Soriano because of the shape of the closer position in fantasy baseball right now, but in no way am I thinking that he is going to be a shut down guy at the position. Don’t pick up Soriano and think “I’ve got this” because you don’t got this. Dave Robertson is on the DL with an oblique strain and we all know that those can be tricky and can linger for a long time. Soriano will get you some saves, I’m sure of that. But he isn’t going to be lights out and you should pick him up if you have been a victim of the closer carousel, but continue to play the waiver wire at the position.
Jose Tabata, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates (28% Yahoo, 11.5% ESPN, 47% CBS). This one is a personal favorite of mine. He got off to an atrocious start to the season, and finished April hitting jus t.232. Tabata has picked it up in the month of May, and has raised his batting average by nearly 15 points. He doesn’t have huge home run power by any stretch, despite being a compact 211 pounds at just 5’11”. However, Tabata is a good source of steals, as he has 35 over the last two seasons despite missing 60-75 games in each of those two seasons. Jose has eight hits in the last seven games and is starting to find his groove. If you are in need of a little bit of speed, Tabata might be your guy.
Jesus Flores , C, Washington Nationals (1% Yahoo, 0% ESPN, 11% CBS). With Wilson Ramos season now kidnapped to an injury, Flores has been put back as the starting catcher in Washington. He has collected a few hits and driven in a few runs this week and let’s remember that at one point this kid had a world of potential. If you need some help at catcher, look to Flores who had a 21 homer season one year in the Minors. You might say that it was a single-A season, but Flores also drove in 59 runs in just 90 games in the big leagues in 2008 for the Nats. I like this guy so much that last season when I was on the Fantasy Alarm Show on Sirius/XM Fantasy Sports Radio I once suggested someone to add Flores to their team, even though he was injured and out for the year (oops, I forgot he was hurt haha).
Juan Nicasio, SP, Colorado Rockies (4% Yahoo, 1% ESPN, 25% CBS). Remember that dude that took the line drive in the head last season when pitching for the Rockies? Yeah, that was Nicasio. He has been blown up a few times, but overall Nicasio has been very good this season. He has given up two or fewer runs in four of his seven starts, and has struck out five or more batters in the same number of starts. There are going to be some games where he is a complete mess, but overall I think Nicasio is going to be good more often than he is bad. He is just 25 years old, has great strikeout potential, and plays for a team that gives him a good amount of run support. Don’t let Coors Field scare you, it isn’t the launching pad it once was.
Aaron Harang, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers (9% Yahoo, 3.2% ESPN, 23% CBS). Yeah, he is old and he isn’t the 200 strikeout guy that he was in 2006-2007. However, Harang is still a very effective pitcher and the Dodgers are playing good ball. Harang collected 14 wins for the lowly Pads last season, and he has started to get it together in 2012. Harang threw eight innings of one run ball his last time out, and has allowed three runs or less in five of his last seven starts. He might not be a guy that you keep on your roster all season long, but right now it isn’t a bad idea to check out to see if Harang is out there on your waiver wire.
Bobby Parnell, RP, New York Mets (3% Yahoo, .6% ESPN, 5% CBS). You know how they say in football you can’t teach speed and in basketball they say you can’t teach height? Well, when you are a pitcher in the big leagues, you can’t teach a guy to throw 100 miles per hour and that’s exactly what Parnell is capable of. This is more of a name to stash away rather than pick up right now. Frank Francisco is starting to implode, and chances are that Jon Rauch would get the next chance. But at some point this season I believe the Mets will turn to Parnell. He wasn’t very successful last season when given the chance to close either, but this kid has closer stuff, and if he gets the chance I would be sure to add him again to my roster, especially given the landscape of closers this year.
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