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    Six Difference Makers On The Waiver Wire

    Brandon C. Williams August 16, 2014 9:04AM EDT
    With the hatches battened down to trades in most leagues, the only way to pick up players is the waiver wire. The pickings become slimmer in single-season leagues, where the buzzards have picked most of the available meat off the bones at this point.

    That doesn’t mean there isn’t any talent available out there. What I’d suggest is that if you are going to dip into the wire the rest of the way, make damn sure you know what you’re going after. Owners need to be category specific from here out, which means you can’t speculate if a player can perhaps aid you in homers or ERA. Hoping that B.J. Upton can hit .300 the rest of the way or that the latest slab of meat the Rangers call up to pitch can be a cheap source of September wins is more foolish speculation than precise decision making. You better have the confidence of a wolf in an unprotected chicken coop, because those FAAB bucks are probably low in mid-August.

    I don’t like dealing with the players who are available in 40-80 percent of leagues. If you don’t know by now, my penchant for dumpster diving is centered on those players who are owned in 15 percent of leagues or less. That’s where the fun is, and that’s where you can nab a steal or two at the expense of your fellow owners who dip their toes in the water instead of flying in with abandon.

    Dive time. Shall we?

    Michael Taylor has the speed/power combination that Fantasy owners search for. Photo Credit: Bryan Green

    Michael Taylor has the speed/power combination that Fantasy owners search for. Photo Credit: Bryan Green

    Michael A. Taylor, OF, Nationals: This year’s version of George Springer (currently on the DL), Taylor smacked 22 homers and swiped 35 bases with a very impressive .315/.401/.547 slash line between Double-A and Triple-A.. Owned in just two percent of polled leagues before Thursday’s games, Taylor has just 10 big league at-bats, yet one of those was his first trot around the bases in The Show. Washington’s OF situation consists of a host of banged up performers, yet if Taylor proves he can hold his own, the Nats will have a hard time sending him down, although it would be a brief demotion since he’d be up again once rosters expanded next month. I think there’s a low-risk when it comes to investing in Taylor, but one that could result in a jolt in both homers and steals. He’s well-known in most dynasty/keeper leagues, yet, if he’s on your waiver wire, you’d be wise to grab a player who could be on the Opening Day roster next spring.

    Rymer Liriano, OF, Padres: Another HR-SB threat, Liriano hit his first big league homer on Wednesday and will get a lot of at-bats between now and the end of the season. Liriano batted .291/.362/.473 between Double-A and Triple-A, adding 14 homers and 20 steals in the process. Currently owned in nine percent of polled leagues, that number will go higher immediately. Like Taylor, he will help in both homers and steals; I don’t expect a lot of over-the-fence production from him, especially playing in Petco Park, but Liriano’s speed makes him an extra-base hit weapon if he finds the spacious gaps. Pick him up now and remember his name come next March, when he should all but assured a starting role.

    Jake Marisnick, OF, Astros: Noticing a trend here? Acquired from the Marlins at the trade deadline, Marisnick has hit .434 (10 of 24) in his last six games, while also hitting his first homer as an Astro earlier this week. He’s owned in just one percent of polled leagues, and while he projects to display above average power down the road, Marisnick has already recorded five steals. The Astros are committed to giving him ABs for now, although it will be interesting to see what happens once Springer comes off the DL in the next week or two. The hunch here is that Springer will go to left, with Dexter Fowler in center and Marisnick (who has Gold Glove-caliber defense) remaining in right. Knowing that, he’s worth a flier for mixed league owners in need of steals without sacrificing their batting average or home run totals.

    Mike Fiers, P, Brewers: An eight-inning debut in which a pitcher allowed just one run on three hits and five strikeouts for a first-place team will get our attention, which is exactly what Fiers did against the Dodgers last Saturday. And that was before he delivered 14 strikeouts over 6.2 frames on Thursday. He dominated Triple-A hitters to the tune of a 2.55 ERA and 129 Ks in 102.1 innings. Owned in just 15 percent of polled leagues, Fiers is a great pickup for owners looking for strikeouts. As the Brewers continue their fatal four way with the Pirates, Cardinals and Reds in the NL Central, you have to think Fiers will add some wins if he keeps up his current pace. He’s a sneaky waiver wire grab, in that he began the season listed as a reliever in most leagues, so take advantage of that loophole if need be.

    Matt Lindstrom, RP, White Sox: Fresh off the DL following ankle surgery in May, Lindstrom is more of a play for those who use holds as a category in their league. The Opening Day closer won’t be getting his job back from blistering-hot Jake Petricka, yet the White Sox plan to use him as a late-inning bridge, which will present hold opportunities. He’s owned in 12 percent of polled leagues, and while he doesn’t produce strikeouts at a solid clip (13 in 20 innings), Lindstrom is a decent play, especially in AL-only formats.

    Jordy Mercer, SS, Pirates: His bat has come alive with at least one base knock in nine of his last 10 games, including four multi-hit outings. His .265-7-41-2 totals are far from earth-shattering, yet when you consider it is mid-August and look at the other options one can find in the middle infield department on the waiver wire, then Mercer becomes just a wee more attractive. There is some power there, and if he can up keep his recent stretch of hitting, Mercer, owned in 19 percent of polled leagues (exception to my U-15 rule, but it is middle infielders we’re talking about), is worth a peek.

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