As we do each week, yesterday we brought you some deeper league pickup options from the National League going into the sixth week of the season. Every few weeks, we'll add a second article to this series to review some of our national league picks who should be owned in all NL-only and deep leagues, but for one reason or another, are still on most waiver wires.
If owners in your league are still sleeping on some of our picks, their loss could end up being your gain.
Marcell Ozuna, Miami Marlins, OF
71% owned CBS, 36% owned Yahoo!
Since Marcell Ozuna appeared here a few weeks ago, his ownership has gone up, and CBS fantasy players now own him in a very respectable 71 percent of all leagues. Yahoo ownership is about half that at 36 percent, and while Ozuna's Yahoo ownership rate has increased since he appeared here as well, it seems that the talented Marlins center fielder continues to be slept on in most Yahoo leagues.
Ozuna's ownership is probably a bit on the high side for him to be here, but I listed him anyway because I am asked almost daily if this guy should be dropped for guys like Oscar Taveras, Gregory Polanco, and in mixed leagues George Springer. The answer to that is an astounding "NO"!
Look, everyone wants to be the first guy to nab the hot prospect, but why take a guy who you'll have to wait on when there is a comparable talent already playing everyday? Not to mention that, while guys like Taveras and Polanco are touted prospects, there's still no guarantee that they'll perform at the Major League level. Ozuna has proven thus far that his offensive game translates to big league production as proven by his solid start to 2014 (.289 batting average, five homers, 19 RBI, 16 runs scored).
Ozuna also has no competition for playing time with the Marlins, meaning that, barring an injury, he's going to get the chance to play everyday. Guys like Taveras, who's team already can't find enough spots for all of their talented players, and Polanco, who's team needs experienced players as they try to make the playoffs again, have no reason to expect any amount of regular playing time.
In other words, grab Ozuna immediately if he's still available in your league.
Daisuke Matsuzaka, New York Mets, RP
11% owned CBS, 8% owned Yahoo!
Closers, no matter how unreliable, are gold in fantasy baseball, especially in a league specific format. That's why, no matter how bad the Mets' bullpen is, whoever is getting the ninth inning duties needs to be owned.
Technically, the current Mets closer is Kyle Farnsworth. When Farnsworth wasn't available, the Mets gave a save chance to Dice-K. In other words, he's obviously the next guy in line to close, and while he hasn't been named the closer yet, it could be just a matter of time before he is.
Matsuzaka has been terrific so far this year. He currently owns a 1.74 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and has struck out 13 batters in ten relief innings. Matsuzaka has easily been New York's most reliable arm out of the pen this year, and after Farnsworth blew a save on Saturday night against the Rockies, it wouldn't be a shock if the next save chance went Dice-K's way.
The Mets have been much better than many expected this year, which also means that Farsworth's leash may be shorter than originally expected. If the Mets continue to be relatively competitive, it's likely they'll want to ride Matsuzaka's reliability in the ninth inning. This is a strictly speculative add here, but after Farnsworth's blown save Saturday, I'm willing to say that Matsuzaka needs to be picked up in all NL-Only leagues and deep leagues.
Brandon McCarthy, Arizona Diamondbacks, SP
16% owned CBS, 5% owned Yahoo!
I spoke about Brandon McCarthy this week, and called him a must-add player in all NL-Only leagues, despite his 0-5, 5.54 ERA start. His uptick in velocity, increased K rate, and lack of competition for his spot in a decimated Arizona rotation were all enough reason to add the right hander.
His poor numbers, and propensity to give up the long ball probably kept many fantasy owners from grabbing McCarthy. That's understandable, but after Saturday night's start against the Padres, McCarthy not only earned his first win of the season, but has now strung together consecutive stellar starts. Over his last two appearances, McCarthy has allowed only 12 base runners (10 hits, two walks) and two earned runs in 14 innings pitched (seven in each start), while striking out 18 batters.
Maybe McCarthy will still have some bumps in the road, but after his last two starts, now is the time to grab him before someone else does. He should be owned in all NL-Only leagues and deep leagues.
Danny Espinosa, Washington Nationals, 2B
23% owned CBS, 7% owned Yahoo!
Danny Espinosa is another guy we spotlighted in week four, and while his ownership has climbed, especially in CBS leagues, his ownership rate is still way too low, and honestly, I don't get it.
We are talking about a middle infielder who has proven in the past that he's a 20 homer, 20 steal threat. Between 2011 and 2012, Espinosa's combined power/speed output was 38 home runs and 37 stolen bases, numbers only eight other middle infielders combined for over those two seasons, a list that contains names like Hanley Ramirez, Dustin Pedroia, and Ian Kinsler. That's pretty elite company.
Injuries and losing playing time to Anthony Rendon have lead to Espinosa becoming an afterthought in the fantasy game, but after the oft-injured Ryan Zimmerman hit the DL this year, Espinosa got a chance to play again, and is making the most of it.
Espinosa has hit three homers and stolen four bases in his last 11 games. His average is a respectable .273, although it's surely to drop for the free swinging Espinosa. Still, over the last two weeks, Espinosa has been the fourth highest ranked second base eligible player in NL-Only leagues, bested by only Dee Gordon, Daniel Murphy, and Anthony Rendon.
Zimmerman is out for a while, meaning that Espinosa is going to continue to play. The power/speed combo he can offer at second base will surely outweigh his struggles in the batting average department, and there is no way he should not be owned in all NL-Only leagues and deep leagues. Grab him now if he's still available.
Good luck this week, and make sure to check back here every week for more waiver wire gems from the National League.