We've already passed Mother's Day Weekend, and the baseball season is rapidly approaching the warm weather and summer days. If you've been keeping an eye on your waiver wire, you've probably noticed some interesting trends, and surprising starts to the season.
This week the majority of my waiver picks are guys who will see increased playing time due to injuries (aside from one two-start pitcher), and can be sleepers in deeper leagues such as NL-Only formats. If you own any injured guys, it's good to keep an eye on who the replacements will be, and who will be benefiting the most from increased playing time. It's a good way to ensure you will lose as little production as possible.
Waiver Wire Sleepers for NL Only Leagues
Here at RotoBaller.com we are here to help if you've had injuries or slow starts and need help from your waiver wire. Each week I will highlight some NL-Only gems who may still be available in your fantasy leagues.
Tyler Moore, Washington Nationals, 1B/OF
1% owned CBS, 1% owned Yahoo!
The first base position can get scarce pretty quickly in NL-Only leagues, especially if you play in a big league or with expanded rosters. I'm in an NL-Only league, and thought I was in pretty good shape at first base with Mike Cuddyer and Brandon Belt. Both players were off to good starts, and now both are on the DL. That left me with a huge hole at first base.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, you may be able to benefit from another injury to a first baseman. Washington first baseman Adam LaRoche hit the DL, and the Nationals have recalled youngster Tyler Moore to take the majority of playing time at first base. Look at his ownership rate. He's almost definitely still available in your league.
Moore has been up and down between the majors and minors all year. He's also off to a poor start, but did begin to show some signs of life before he was demoted to make room for Doug Fister's return. I'm not sure what he will offer your team, but he does have some decent pop, and with regular playing time, could get things going in the right direction.
Moore is worth an add in NL-Only leagues, especially if injuries have left you desperate at first base.
Chris Heisey, Cincinnati Reds, OF
6% owned CBS, 2% owned Yahoo!
With Jay Bruce out for at least a month due to knee surgery, and the speedy Billy Hamilton banged up as well, the Reds outfield has been pretty decimated. One man's injury, however, is another man's opportunity.
So far, the biggest beneficiary from the Reds' outfield woes has been Chris Heisey. He's been a regular in the starting lineup as of late, and while he's not a sexy name at all, there's a chance he ends up being very productive.
Remember, this is a guy who belted 18 home runs out of nowhere in only 279 at-bats back in 2011. Unfortunately, in 2012 he hit just seven in 347 at-bats, as more regular playing time exposed some holes in his game. He hasn't been a regular since, but still belted a solid nine dingers in only 87 games last year.
Heisey is not going to be the second coming of Ken Griffey Jr. He's going to put up some stinkers, and probably be lucky to hit .260. Still, the power potential mixed with regular playing time and a great hitter's home ballpark, is enough to make Heisey a must add NL-Only player until Jay Bruce comes back. If you need pop, outfield help, or a Jay Bruce replacement - grabbing Heisey now makes a lot of sense.
Ryan Vogelsong, San Francisco Giants, SP
23% owned CBS, 3% owned Yahoo!
In 2011 and 2012, Ryan Vogelsong proved to be a very solid pitching option in fantasy leagues. He pitched in a great pitchers ballpark, offered a good ERA, and solid WHIP and win totals. While he wasn't a great strikeout pitcher, he'd offer a total that you could live with from a back-end fantasy starter. His numbers were very comparable to a guy like Doug Fister.
Vogelsong looked like your classic late bloomer, until the wheels completely fell off in 2013. His 5.73 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, and opponents batting average of close to .300 was a disaster for fantasy owners. That season caused Vogelsong to go undrafted and unowned in most leagues.
Vogelsong's struggles continued this year, and seemed to hit rock bottom when he gave up five runs, on three homers no less, in an inning and a third on April 21st in Colorado.
Nothing about anything I have written says that Ryan Vogelsong should be on any fantasy roster, but I am going to call him an immediate must add in all NL-Only leagues, and deep mixed leagues regardless. Here's why.
First, since that terrible outing against the Rockies, Vogelsong has had three terrific starts. In that span, Vogelsong has pitched 20.1 innings, allowed only two earned runs, and struck out 14 batters. Those are the types of performances the Giants' righty showed in 2011 and 2012, and consequently he's dropped his ERA from a disastrous 7.71, to a livable 3.93.
Vogelsong has a two start week this week at home against two very favorable matchups in Atlanta and Miami. It's very possible that his three solid consecutive outings become five by weeks end, and if that happens, he'll be on most rosters. Now is the time to grab him, as there's a very good chance Vogelsong has figured it out and returned to form. Grab him ASAP, and at the very least, he'll make a nice streaming option with two favorable matchup in one week.
Gregor Blanco, OF / Tyler Colvin, OF, San Francisco Giants
1% owned CBS, 1% owned Yahoo!
Sticking with the Giants, the player who looks to benefit most from the Brandon Belt injury is outfielder Gregor Blanco. He'll most likely take over in left field while Micheal Morse moves to first.
Blanco is a better reality player than fantasy option, but he can offer you a handful of stolen bases, runs scored, and an ok batting average. He's a hustle guy, and has the best chance to get full time at-bats in Brandon Belt's absence. The playing time alone makes him a must add in most NL-only leagues, especially those that start five outfielders.
Of course, the wild card here is Tyler Colvin, who was called up to the big club when Belt was placed on the DL. He much more power than Blanco, but he's extremely streaky. If he gets a chance, and gets hot, he could end up stealing playing time until he cools off. I would call him a deep NL-Only option or speculative add at best right now. If Blanco is gone and you need an outfielder, he's worth a look.
As of now, Blanco is the guy to own, but it may ultimately be best to see how the playing time shakes out before making a mover here.
Wilmer Flores, New York Mets, 3B/SS
10% owned CBS, 3% owned Yahoo!
One of the worst known secrets this past offseason was the fact that the New York Mets felt they could not go into the 2014 season with Rueben Tejada at shortstop. The Mets were linked to most of the free agent shortstops this offseason, but with draft pick compensation linked to guys like Stephen Drew, the Mets ultimately left the shortstop position alone, and went into the season with Rueben Tejada manning the position.
Despite being a decent glove, Tejada simply cannot hit at all. The Mets are not a great hitting team to begin with, so they don't have the luxury of having an automatic out at the shortstop position. There was been speculation that former top prospect Wilmer Flores, a natural third baseman, would get a chance st shortstop in an effort to provide some offense that has been lacking from the position since Jose Reyes left town. And on Friday he got called up.
I am not willing to call Flores a must grab guy just yet, but he makes for a decent speculative add here. Flores hasn't shown much at the dish in his limited time at the big league level, but there's no doubt in anyone's mind that, even if he never meets expectations, he'll be a significant offensive upgrade over Tejada. Sounds like a lock, right? Well don't be so sure.
Defense means nothing in fantasy baseball, but it means a lot in reality, and Flores is most likely going to be a huge downgrade defensively over Tejada. He's already no Brooks Robinson at third base, so the fact that anyone thinks he'll be able to play even an average defensive shortstop, is rather laughable. Not to mention, Mets' manager Terry Collins is an old school, fundamental, no nonsense guy. Even if he gives Flores an extended shot at short, he will most likely not be able to live with giving teams extra outs due to poor defense.
It's not like Flores' increased offensive output is going to be that much of an improvement for the punchless Mets. I'm willing to bet that Tejada, even if he loses some playing time to Flores, ends up seeing the majority of playing time for the remainder of the season even if he continues to bat .181. Only time will tell, but keep an eye on Flores for now.
Good luck this week everyone, and Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!