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Waiver Wire Wisdom (7/20)

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The latest waiver wire pickups article by Fred Zinkie:

Could your fantasy team use more power? What about saves? Steals? Runs, RBIs or wins?

Regardless of your holes, the fantasy waiver wire has a plug or long-term fix to pick up today. Check the following 10 men — all sitting in waivers in many leagues, and all ready to help you win.

Yasmani Grandal

Yasmani Grandal, catcher: Highlighted by a 5-for-5, three-homer, six-RBI effort on July 8, Grandal has ripped eight round-trippers across 62 at-bats since June 21. Given the recent power binge, the 27-year-old is now tied for third in homers and sixth in RBIs among players at his premium position. Mixed-league owners who are in need of power numbers should be willing to live with Grandal’s .208 batting average in order to gain his counting stats.

Consider in: 12-team mixed leagues

Ryon Healy, third baseman: Impressed by Healy’s .326/.382/.558 slash line in the Minors this season, A’s management decided to push Danny Valencia to a reserve role in order to give the prospect an extended look in the big leagues. Even though the 24-year-old does not possess a speed component in his game, his ability to hit for a high average and mix in the occasional round-tripper could make him a useful corner infielder for the remainder of the season.

Consider in: 12-team mixed leagues

Yulieski Gurriel, third baseman: After signing the 32-year-old to a five-year, $47.5 million contract, Astros management is likely willing to add him to their postseason push as soon as he becomes familiar with the organization. Fantasy owners need only to see Gurriel’s video-game-like .500/.589/.874 slash line in the Cuban National Series in 2015 to realize that he is a better stash option than any of the touted youngsters in the Minor Leagues.

Consider in: 10-team mixed leagues

Didi Gregorius

Didi Gregorius, shortstop: Although he is not regarded as one of the top batters at his premium position, Gregorius has hit .360 with seven homers and 20 RBIs across 111 at-bats since June 14. The hot stretch is surprising when considering that the shortstop had not previously hit over .265 or ripped more than nine round-trippers in a single season, but the left-handed-hitter has the benefit of a home park that is especially power-inducing for southpaw sluggers.

Consider in: 12-team mixed leagues

Randal Grichuk, outfielder: Grichuk was a popular ’16 draft-day asset after hitting .276 with 17 homers across 323 at-bats last season. A slow start to the current campaign caused the 24-year-old to take a brief demotion to Triple-A, but since returning to the Cards on July 5, he has hit .342 with four homers across 38 at-bats. Even though Grichuk’s substantial strikeout rate makes him unlikely to be a batting-average asset, he could rip enough round-trippers to help shallow-league owners in the second half.

Consider in: 10-team mixed leagues

Michael Conforto, outfielder: Like Grichuk, Conforto is back in the big leagues after a strong debut season, sophomore struggles and a brief demotion to the Minors. With 19 homers across 394 career at-bats, the outfielder has the necessary power to help mixed-league owners when he is also hitting for average. Even though an elevated strikeout rate contributed to Conforto’s first-half struggle to collect base knocks, he has also been hampered by a .264 BABIP.

Consider in: 10-team mixed leagues

Aaron Nola

Aaron Nola, starter: Following an ace-like start to the season (2.65 ERA, 0.99 WHIP across 12 starts), Nola regressed badly and produced a 13.50 ERA and a 2.56 WHIP across his final five starts prior to the All-Star break. After the Phillies wisely gave the talented 23-year-old an extended break from July 3-18, he responded by tossing six shutout frames against the Marlins in his initial second-half start. Smart owners will scan their waiver wire to find out if an impatient competitor dropped Nola during his month-long downturn.

Consider in: 10-team mixed leagues

Matt Shoemaker, starter: Across 11 starts since May 21, Shoemaker has posted a 2.36 ERA, a 1.03 WHIP and an eye-popping 88-to-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Having faced the Red Sox, Orioles (twice), Tigers, Indians and Astros (twice) during his hot stretch, the right-hander’s success cannot be attributed to a favorable schedule. With the potential to be a mixed-league ace during the second half, Shoemaker should be a lineup fixture in all formats.

Consider in: 10-team mixed leagues

Mike Leake, starter: After a bumpy five-start stretch to open his career with the Cardinals, Leake has posted a 3.16 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP across his past 13 outings. The steady right-hander has even added a strikeout component to his game by compiling 21 whiffs across his past two starts. Backed by a contending Cardinals squad with a strong lineup, pitcher-friendly home park and strong defensive catcher in Yadier Molina, Leake should post low ratios and a high win total in the second half.

Consider in: 10-team mixed leagues

Ryan Dull, reliever: In addition to the possibility that he may be traded this month, closer Ryan Madson (five blown saves, 3.57 ERA, 1.29 WHIP) may not have a firm grip on the ninth-inning gig in Oakland. If Madson is pitching for a different club or working lower-leverage innings by August 1, Dull (2.05 ERA, 0.74 WHIP) is a strong candidate to anchor the A’s bullpen. Wise owners will add Dull now, rather than eventually participating in a race to the waiver wire or FAAB bidding war for his services.

Consider in: 12-team mixed leagues

Fred Zinkie is the lead fantasy baseball writer for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FredZinkieMLB

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Pitch or Ditch for Wednesday, July 20

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Doug Fister

ZACH’S PICKS

Harrell @ DeSclafani – DeSclafani has established himself as a must-start.

Big Erv @ Verlander – Erv a true toss-up, though I’d lean towards passing in a 12-team mixed league.

Carrasco @ Kennedy

Colon @ Hendricks – Tough matchup for Colon though. If you’d rather play it safe, that’s fine too.

Archer @ J. De La Rosa – Archer has given up way too many homers this year to be a recommended start at Coors.

Fister @ Mengden – Fister has pitched to a 1.31 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in three starts versus A’s this season.

M. Gonzalez @ King Felix – Maybe he will be a bit rusty, but I have confidence in Felix.

Stroman @ Corbin – Dangerous matchup for both.

Gallardo @ Pineda

B. Norris @ G. Gonzalez

Chen @ Hellickson – Favorable enough matchup for Hellickson.

Ch. Anderson @ Locke

Cain @ Pomeranz

Rea @ C. Martinez (Gm 1)

Clemens @ Garcia (Gm 2) – Garcia has been inconsistent lately but I do like the matchup.

M. Perez @ Santiago – Santiago has been on quite a roll of late but this matchup scares me (7.07 ERA in three starts versus Rangers this year).

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Pitch or Ditch for Tuesday, July 19

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Jameson Taillon

ZACH’S PICKS

Worley @ Eovaldi

Kazmir @ Lopez – The risk outweighs the reward for Kazmir here. Closely monitor Lopez.

Urena @ Velasquez

Guerra @ Taillon – Taillon a little risky coming off the DL but I’ll go for it. Brewers rank in the bottom third of the NL in both runs scored and OPS.

Syndergaard @ Arrieta

Jenkins @ Reed

Milone @ An. Sanchez

Peavy @ Porcello

Salazar @ Flynn

Rea @ C. Martinez (PPD)

Snell @ Chatwood – Playing it safe with Snell at Coors. Chatwood worth consideration in deeper formats.

Ar. Sanchez @ Godley

Keuchel @ Overton – Five straight quality starts for Keuchel and the A’s rank last in the AL in OPS.

Lohse @ Lincecum – This one could get ugly.

Quintana @ Miley

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Pitch or Ditch for Monday, July 18

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Orioles Jays Baseball

ZACH’S PICKS

Gausman @ Nova – Gausman has pitched to a 0.64 ERA and 0.86 WHIP in two starts vs. Yankees this season.

Fernandez @ Nola – Taking a wait and see approach with Nola. I haven’t given up on him though.

Matz @ Lester

Wisler @ Finnegan – Finnegan worth considering in deeper formats thanks to favorable matchup.

Nolasco @ Boyd

Kluber @ Volquez

Friedrich @ Leake – Leake deserves the nod.

Smyly @ T. Anderson – Keep an eye on Anderson.

Fiers @ Graveman – Decent matchup for Fiers, but I still wouldn’t trust him in standard-sized mixed leagues.

Griffin @ Tropeano – Tropeano too risky here.

Sale @ LeBlanc

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Pitch or Ditch for Saturday-Sunday, July 16-17

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Rockies Yankees Baseball

ZACH’S PICKS

SATURDAY

Darvish @ Hammel – Tough matchup for Darvish in his return, but I’ll pitch him anyway.

E. Rodriguez @ Sabathia – Sabathia struggling of late.

Dickey @ S. Gray – Playing it safe with Sonny here.

McCullers @ Iwakuma – Both are a little risky though.

Tillman @ Moore – Moore a toss-up, but I don’t like this matchup.

Verrett @ Eickhoff

Cole @ Roark

Bauer @ Duffey

Bettis @ Foltynewicz

Duffy @ Pelfrey

Nelson @ Lamb

Koehler @ Wainwright

McCarthy @ Bradley – I need to see more consistency from Bradley.

Samardzija @ Perdomo

Shields @ Shoemaker – Shields still scares me, but he’s allowed 3 ER or fewer in each of his last four starts.

SUNDAY

Bundy @ Odorizzi – Challenging matchup for the inconsistent Odorizzi. I’ll sit this one out.

Ventura @ Fulmer

Davies @ Straily – Both are decent deep-league options though.

J. Gray @ Teheran – Gray, fresh off back-to-back quality starts, is worth a shot versus lowest-scoring offense in the Majors.

deGrom @ Eflin – Eflin deserves consideration in deeper formats.

Kuhl @ Scherzer

Tomlin @ Gibson – Tomlin is so unpredictable, but this matchup is favorable enough.

Conley @ Wacha – Conley not a no-brainer though.

Hamels @ Lackey

Turner @ Weaver

Happ @ Hill

McHugh @ Montgomery

Maeda @ Ray – Despite excellent K rate, Ray is too disaster-prone for my liking.

Cueto @ Jackson

Price @ Tanaka

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Zach’s Two-Start Pitcher Notes – Week of 7/18

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Hey everyone,

Hope you all enjoyed the four-day break from obsessing over box scores, because you won’t get another one until the evening of October 2. Anyway, the first post-break installment of the two-start pitcher series will be exclusive to the blog, so let’s get started.

Junior Guerra

Standard mixed leagues

Junior Guerra (@PIT, vs. CHC)

Sporting a 3.06 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 7.9 K/9 rate through 13 starts, Guerra should be owned in all leagues by now. But the Brewers righty is still available in some shallower formats, and mixed league owners may be hesitant to pitch him next week, as the Pirates and Cubs both rank in the top-5 in the NL in runs. That said, the 31-year-old has pitched well enough this season to deserve the nod in all two-start weeks. Plus, he registered a quality start versus the Cubs back on May 19, his lone outing against the highest-scoring club in the Senior Circuit.

Mike Leake (vs. SD, vs. LAD)

Coming off a mediocre performance against the Pirates, Leake bounced back in a big way in his last start, holding the Brewers to one run across seven innings while racking up a season-high 10 strikeouts. Although the Cardinals righty is unlikely to post consistently high strikeout totals going forward (6.2 K/9 rate this season), the 28-year-old has a knack for limiting free passes (career 2.2 BB/9 rate). This is a big reason why he continues to be a reliable fantasy asset in the ERA and WHIP departments. Being that the Dodgers and Padres rank 25th and 26th, respectively, in the Majors in OPS, owners in most league formats should feel comfortable starting Leake next week.

Kevin Gausman (@NYY, vs. CLE)

Consistency continues to be a challenge for Gausman, but the Orioles righty has proven to be a valuable fantasy asset this season thanks in large part to his high-end strikeout ability (8.5 K/9 rate). The 25-year-old makes for a fine starting option next week. In two starts this season versus a Yankees team that ranks 14th in the AL in OPS, Gausman has allowed just one run across 14 innings. While the Indians rank 6th in the AL in OPS, Cleveland places only 13th in the Junior Circuit in OPS on the road, and Gausman boasts a 2.79 ERA at home.

Brandon Finnegan

Deeper mixed leagues

Brandon Finnegan (vs. ATL, vs. ARI)

Finnegan’s first full season in the big leagues has been one of mixed results, and the 23-year-old has struggled over his last two starts, allowing a combined 13 runs across 7 1/3 innings. But both of next week’s outings will be at home, where the Reds lefty has notched three straight quality starts, and the Braves rank last in the Majors in runs scored, batting average and OPS. As for the Diamondbacks, despite ranking a solid 9th in the Majors in OPS this season, the Arizona offense has cooled off lately, ranking 21st in OPS this month. Finnegan might be a little too risky for 12-team mixed league purposes, but in deeper formats, he’s an intriguing two-start choice.

Tyler Anderson (vs. TB, vs. ATL)

Since making his big league debut last month, Anderson has allowed three runs or fewer in each of his first six starts while posting a 32-to-6 K/BB ratio over 35 2/3 innings. For now, the Rockies southpaw should only be considered in deeper leagues due to his limited track record. But Anderson could reward his fantasy owners with a pair of quality outings next week, as the Rays and Braves both rank among the bottom five teams in the Majors in runs scored.

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Pitch or Ditch for Friday, July 15

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Reds Braves Baseball

ZACH’S PICKS

M. Perez @ Hendricks

S. Wright @ Pineda – Too tough of a matchup for Pineda.

Colon @ Hellickson – Four straight quality starts for Hellickson. I’ll take a chance on him here.

Liriano @ Strasburg

Gallardo @ Archer – Pitch Archer at your own risk.

Kennedy @ Verlander – Kennedy a little risky though.

Garza @ DeSclafani – DeSclafani has been solid for awhile now and the Brewers rank in the bottom third of the Majors in runs scored, batting average and OPS.

J. De La Rosa @ Harrell – De La Rosa is on a roll and this is an enticing matchup, but he’s still more of a deep-league option.

Carrasco @ Big Erv – Dangerous matchup for Erv. I’ll play it safe and sit this one out.

Chen @ Garcia – Both have been inconsistent this year but I’ll go for it.

B. Norris @ Corbin – I don’t fully trust Norris and I don’t like this matchup.

M. Gonzalez @ Santiago – Santiago worth a try in deeper formats.

Stroman @ Mengden – Favorable matchup for the improving Stroman.

Fister @ Paxton

Bumgarner @ Cashner

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Midseason All-Surprise + All-Disappointment Teams

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Happy All-Star break everyone!

In keeping with 411 tradition, here are my picks for the Midseason All-Surprise and All-Disappointment teams. There were certainly plenty of tough calls, which is why I included in parenthesis at least one honorable mention at each position. Note that I’m using preseason expectations/rankings as the basis for my choices, and for the All-Disappointment team, I have left off guys who missed a considerable number of games due to injury.

Feel free to comment and share your own picks. Are there any other players that need to be included on these rosters? Let me know.

-Zach

Daniel Murphy

ALL-SURPRISE TEAM

C   Wilson Ramos (Derek Norris)

1B  Mike Napoli (Wil Myers)

2B  Daniel Murphy (Jonathan Schoop)

SS  Jonathan Villar (Eduardo Nunez, Danny Espinosa)

3B  Jake Lamb (Nick Castellanos)

OF  Adam Duvall

OF  Melvin Upton Jr.

OF  Jackie Bradley Jr. (Michael Saunders, Rajai Davis, Carlos Beltran)

SP  J.A. Happ

SP  Steven Wright (Drew Pomeranz, Tanner Roark, Chris Tillman, Rick Porcello)

CL  Jeanmar Gomez (Jeremy Jeffress)

Athletics Astros Baseball

ALL-DISAPPOINTMENT TEAM

C   Yan Gomes (Stephen Vogt)

1B  Prince Fielder (Adrian Gonzalez)

2B  Kolten Wong (Brandon Phillips)

SS  Ketel Marte (Alcides Escobar)

3B  Trevor Plouffe (Matt Duffy)

OF  Carlos Gomez

OF  Justin Upton

OF  Yasiel Puig (Ben Revere, Jason Heyward, Andrew McCutchen)

SP  Matt Harvey

SP  Dallas Keuchel (Chris Archer, Sonny Gray, Marcus Stroman, Francisco Liriano)

CL  Trevor Rosenthal (Shawn Tolleson)

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Pitch or Ditch for Saturday-Sunday, July 9-10

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Orioles Astros Baseball

ZACH’S PICKS

SATURDAY

Boyd @ Ar. Sanchez

Teheran @ Quintana

C. Martinez @ Ch. Anderson

Ray @ Peavy – Peavy worth a try here. Six quality starts in his last eight outings. Pitch Ray only if you really need the K’s.

Tropeano @ Gallardo

Moore @ Porcello – Moore has been solid lately but this is a very dangerous matchup. Porcello is no sure thing but I’ll take a chance on him.

Lamb @ Conley – Conley has been inconsistent of late but the matchup is favorable enough.

Sabathia @ Salazar

Graveman @ McCullers – McCullers has allowed 3 ER or fewer in seven of his last eight starts with well over a strikeout per inning and the A’s rank last in the AL in OPS.

Miley @ Volquez

Lester @ Kuhl

Perdomo @ McCarthy – Gotta pitch McCarthy.

Scherzer @ Verrett

Eickhoff @ T. Anderson – I’m a big Eickhoff fan but I’ll sit this one out.

Nolasco @ Lohse

SUNDAY

An. Sanchez @ Dickey – Dickey pitching well right now but I don’t like this matchup.

Reed @ Koehler – Koehler a decent deep-league option though.

Tanaka @ Carrasco

G. Gonzalez @ Matz

Lackey @ Niese

Lincecum @ Tillman – Not overly optimistic about Tillman going forward. I just don’t trust him.

Odorizzi @ Price – Benching the erratic Odorizzi at Fenway.

Foltynewicz @ Shields – Ultra-favorable matchup for Shields, who seems to be finally righting the ship.

Manaea @ Keuchel – Four straight quality starts for Keuchel.

Leake @ Guerra – Leake a close call but I’ll pitch. How can you bench Guerra right now?

Montgomery @ Gee

Milone @ Griffin

Eflin @ Chatwood – Chatwood not quite 12-team mixed league worthy.

Friedrich @ Maeda

Bradley @ Bumgarner – Tough matchup for Bradley.

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Pitch or Ditch for Friday, July 8

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Hisashi Iwakuma

ZACH’S PICKS

Arrieta @ Liriano

Shoemaker @ Jimenez – I’ll pass on Shoemaker here.

Pelfrey @ Happ – Happ has earned it.

Straily @ Fernandez – Straily a decent option in deeper formats though.

Green @ Kluber – Not sold on Green just yet.

Archer @ O’Sullivan – Risk outweighs reward with Archer at Fenway.

Strasburg @ Syndergaard – Matchup of the night!

Gibson @ Hamels

Wisler @ Sale – Keep an eye on Wisler going forward though.

Mengden @ McHugh – Nice matchup for McHugh.

Velasquez @ J. Gray – Playing it safe with Velasquez at Coors. Gray is tempting but the Phillies offense has actually picked it up of late.

Wacha @ Nelson – Nelson a toss-up but I’ll sit this one out.

Iwakuma @ Ventura – Iwakuma has been inconsistent lately but the Royals rank last in the AL in runs scored this season.

Cashner @ Kazmir – Cashner strictly a deep-league option for the time being.

Corbin @ Samardzija – Outside of particularly favorable matchups, I’m not comfortable pitching Corbin right now.

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