Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Adrian Beltre limps to the batter's box while Tim Anderson speeds around the bases
Scott White assesses Adrian Beltre's unexpected return from a "season-ending" hamstring injury as well as Matt Olson's home run binge and Tim Anderson's stolen base surge.
Heading into the second-to-last week of regular-season play -- and for many of you, the final week of Fantasy play -- your goals are entirely short-term. If a player can't help you today, this week, right now, why even pursue him?
Which makes Adrian Beltre an especially tricky case.
Yes, Beltre, you may not have noticed, is playing again. At last check in late August, he had suffered a season-ending Grade 2 hamstring strain. But clearly, his season hasn't ended. He has, in fact, started four straight games for the Rangers.
Rarely is a hitter of his caliber so available in Fantasy, but a quarter of CBS Sports users took the "season-ending" label seriously. Yes, he's owned in just 76 percent of leagues.
But there's a catch: He's not all himself, which is what happens when a player returns from a four-week injury in only two weeks. Not only is he confined to DH, but according to the Dallas Morning News, he can't really use the lower half of his body.
"You give a guy like that some width," manager Jeff Banister said. "He knows his body. And one thing he's not is selfish. If he felt he could not contribute, he would be the first to come out of the lineup. He believes he can help."
For most players, altering mechanics to compensate for an injury would be a deal-breaker, but as Banister also pointed out, Beltre has a history of this sort of thing, having played through a torn thumb ligament, a bowel obstruction and a strained calf in recent years, with most of us being none the wiser. You don't play at the level he has through age 38 without learning to manage aches and pains.
And while his 3-for-15 performance since returning is hardly inspiring, he did go 2 for 4 with a double (exit velocity: 104 mph) Sunday. He may be figuring it out.
Or he may get shut down for good when the Rangers are mathematically eliminated.
Normally you'd jump at a hitter of Beltre's caliber, but given these particular circumstances, when other hot-hitting third base-eligible players like Nicholas Castellanos and Jeimer Candelario are available, is it worth it?
Well, I unloaded the rest of my FAAB dollars to grab Beltre in a 10-team points league where his superior plate discipline makes him even more of a standout. I probably couldn't justify starting him in a format so shallow -- not with so much on the line -- but if nothing else, I'm keeping my opponent from starting him. It makes sense as a purely defensive move. You'd hate to have simply handed your competition a productive Adrian Beltre, if he indeed turns out to be productive.
Tim Anderson has 147 strikeouts to 13 walks on the season, which in my mind automatically makes him a pretty lousy Fantasy Baseball option (I have my biases), but stolen bases will make us do some wacky things in 2017. And seeing as Anderson has seven of his 13 in his last 11 games, he would seem to be an undervalued source of them.
"It's definitely part of my game, but I kind of let it get away from me," Anderson told the Chicago Sun-Times Friday. "Kind of got caught up in trying to impress when I got to the big leagues -- kind of lost focus with it and being not sure or kind of scared in certain spots, because I didn't want to get thrown out. Now it's just, 'So what if I get thrown out? Just go.'"
And yes, it helps that he happens to be pretty hot at the plate right now.
Speaking of hot hitters, Matt Olson has homered 13 times in his last 19 games, including this epic blast Friday:
It gives him a total of 44 homers in 132 games between the majors and the minors this year, so yes, we're talking big-time power. And while his overall strikeout rate in the majors is pretty lousy, he actually had a better rate than Cody Bellinger at Triple-A this year and seems to be making strides in that area, having struck out a modest 20.0 percent of the time during this 19-game stretch. Rhys Hoskins is the one grabbing all the headlines, but Olson is the one still available in nearly half of CBS Sports leagues.
Seeing as he's already owned in 70 percent of CBS Sports leagues, you may be too late to grab German Marquez for what may be the most perfect of two-start slates, particularly for a pitcher who calls Coors Field home. His first start is at San Francisco and his second at San Diego -- yes, two of the most pitcher-friendly venues against the two lowest-scoring teams in the majors. True, Marquez hasn't set the world on fire lately and may be running out of steam in his rookie season, but if you need an extra two-start option, you won't do any better off the waiver wire.
Eddie Rosario homered twice Sunday, giving him three in his last two games, and if you checked out my , you'll know the Twins have great matchups coming up. But I'm not sure it even matters in this particular case. Just look at Rosario's numbers since June 13, more than half a season ago. He's the eighth-best outfielder in points leagues and the sixth-best in categories during that time, so how he's not universally started, much less universally owned, is beyond me.
As two-start sleepers go, Tyler Skaggs isn't on the level of Marquez -- they rank 12 and 16, respectively, in my -- but he has pitched well of late, having regained the feel for his two-seam fastball. It's just that his matchups are against the Indians, who are coming off a record winning streak, and the Astros. Kind of scary. Like with Beltre, though, I'd add him just as a defensive measure. Even if you don't trust him to perform with those matchups, you wouldn't want to give your opponent the chance to benefit.
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