Waiver Wire: Are callups worth picking up?

With rosters expanding on Monday, Fantasy owners suddenly received an influx of new major league talent to consider on the waiver wire. In general, owners haven't splurged on the rookies, like Maikel Franco, Joc Pederson, Andrew Heaney and Cory Spangenberg, who got called up, or players like Michael Wacha or Derek Holland who got their reprieve from the disabled list.

In cases where prospects have received September callups, restraint is probably the best course of action. Franco and Pederson, just to name two of the higher-profile callups, are immensely talented and could make a serious Fantasy impact with regular playing time, but an everyday role is far from guaranteed for either player. Even in deeper leagues, the likes of Luis Valbuena and Jordan Schafer -- as unexciting as they may seem -- are better bets to give you the production you need to keep your title hopes alive.

On the other hand, Wacha could produce like a No. 2 or 3 starter in standard mixed leagues, and Holland's sparkling season debut on Tuesday showed that he has value in those formats as well. Holland is widely available, and after Tuesday's performance against the Royals, he could soon be rising on the most-added players list for CBSSports.com leagues. Wacha is already owned in 82 percent of our leagues, but if he happens to be available in your league, he is a must-add.

The one September callup who could actually make a sizable impact from here on out, at least in Rotisserie leagues, is not even owned in 1 percent of our leagues. You may not have heard of him yet, but if you read on, you will very soon...

Note: All current season stats are for games played through Monday, Sept. 1.

Adam Eaton, OF, White Sox

Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 74 percent (up 7 percent)
Eaton has been on a tear since the All-Star break, and not even a strained oblique could slow him down. Well, technically it did, as Eaton missed two-and-a-half weeks on a disabled list stint, but in going 12 for 28 (.429) in his first seven games upon his return, he has picked up right where he left off. Over the first 27 games he has played in the second half, Eaton has batted .433 with 22 runs scored and six stolen bases. Given that he is already owned in nearly three out of every four of the leagues on CBSSports.com, the only owners who have a dilemma over whether or not to pick Eaton up are in shallow leagues, but he's worth the trouble, even in those formats. Though he's due for some correction, the fact that he is barely striking out (12 Ks in 104 post-break at-bats) and attempting steals makes him worth owning in virtually all formats.
Leagues worth owning him: 10-team mixed leagues

Trevor Plouffe, 3B, Twins

Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 70 percent (up 9 percent)
It's oh-so-tempting to start the hot hand at crunch time, and few hands have been hotter than Plouffe over the last two weeks. Over that time, he ranks as the 11th-best overall hitter in standard points leagues, as the Twins' third baseman has hit .340 with three home runs, seven doubles and 11 RBI in 50 at-bats. Once upon a time, it looked like Plouffe could be a legitimate 30-homer threat, but we have seen precious little of that power over the last two seasons. He's also been a better contact hitter lately, but his career stats suggest that won't last either. You can count on Plouffe to keep hitting doubles, but beyond that, his production looks far from a sure thing. He could easily wind up on the most-dropped list a week or two from now.
Leagues worth owning him: 14-team mixed Head-to-Head leagues, 15-team mixed Rotisserie leagues

Shane Greene, SP, Yankees

Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 57 percent (up 16 percent)
A scheduled two-start week didn't do anything to hurt Greene's popularity, but given how he's pitched lately, he likely would have been a popular waiver wire target anyway. In his first five starts, Greene did a very good job of getting grounders, but the rest of his skill ratios were merely OK. Over his four subsequent starts, Greene continued to avoid extra-base hits, but hitters had a harder time making contact (10.4 K/9, 12 percent whiff rate), and he threw 66 percent of his pitches for strikes. Greene wasn't a big strikeout pitcher in the minors, but he did get swings-and-misses, so just maybe he can sustain this. Owners shouldn't be deterred by Tuesday's rough outing against the Red Sox, as he is still worth streaming in standard mixed leagues. In anything deeper, Greene is worth keeping around for the one-start weeks, too.
Leagues worth owning him: 14-team mixed leagues

Hector Santiago, SP/RP, Angels

Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 44 percent (up 15 percent)
Like Greene, Santiago's ownership rate was likely boosted by the promise of a two-start week, but unfortunately for his new owners, he was pushed back in the Angels' rotation and reduced to one start for Week 23. Still, it's worth noting the improvements that Santiago has made since struggling in the early weeks of the season. In 72 1/3 innings since May 11, the lefty has shown surprisingly good control with just 23 walks. Even more surprising is the .294 slugging percentage Santiago has allowed over that stretch, given that his 46 percent flyball rate is among the highest in the majors. All this has helped Santiago compile a 2.36 ERA and 1.05 WHIP over his last 17 appearances (12 starts), though he has only four wins to show for it. Santiago doesn't pitch deep into games, so even if he can sustain his recent progress, he's best left for deeper Roto formats. He is a legitimate option in standard mixed Head-to-Head leagues, because he can be used in a relief slot.
Leagues worth owning him: 12-team mixed Head-to-Head leagues, 15-team mixed Rotisserie leagues

Luis Valbuena, 2B/3B, Cubs

Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 32 percent (up 13 percent)
Valbuena is in the midst of a 14-game power binge, having clubbed six home runs over that span, but the uptick really began right around the All-Star break. He hit five home runs over the 92 at-bats the preceded his current streak, projecting out to a 25-to-30 homer clip over a full season. Maybe Valbuena has been gunning for it, as he has been hitting flyballs and striking out at a slightly higher rate in the second half, but he's also been flat-out hitting the ball farther. Prior to the break, Valbuena's flyballs were averaging 272 feet in distance, but since, that figure has risen to 292 feet. We can't rule out a small sample fluke, but Valbuena has shown signs of power before, both at the major and minor league levels. Because he hasn't done it over extended periods of time and it can come at the expense of batting average, Valbuena hasn't suddenly become an option in standard mixed leagues, but he could stand to be owned in more mixed leagues of the deeper variety.
Leagues worth owning him: 14-team mixed leagues

Odrisamer Despaigne, SP, Padres

Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 31 percent (up 7 percent)
Though Despaigne has been gaining some owners recently, he's nowhere near the peak of his popularity just over a month ago. Back then, he still sported a sub-2.00 ERA, but he had been allowing a lot of contact and wasn't pitching in the strike zone very often. Over his last seven starts, Despaigne has improved his control, and he has coaxed whiffs on 10 percent of his pitches. Despite the improvement in his peripheral stats, Despaigne has only pitched six innings or more three times among those seven starts, and he has allowed 20 earned runs over 41 1/3 innings. Of course, he's had better results in his most recent starts, which is why (along with a two- start week) he is getting added to leagues once again. The apparent difference-maker is his curveball, which is getting both more swings and whiffs, as (according to PitchFX data on BrooksBaseball.net) he is getting more movement on that pitch. Standard mixed league owners should continue to go with more proven options, but given his recent progress, Despaigne is worth a try now in deeper mixed leagues.
Leagues worth owning him: 14-team mixed leagues

Rusney Castillo, OF, Red Sox

Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 27 percent (up 6 percent)
After more than a year away from the game, Castillo is getting re-acclimated to organized baseball by getting some playing time in the postseason for some of the Red Sox's affiliates. Having played for the organization's Gulf Coast League team on Monday, Castillo heads to Double-A Portland on Wednesday. Castillo should get his callup to Boston before the end of the season, but we won't be able to get much of a sense of how his game might translate to the majors. What we do know is that Castillo hit for less power than Yoenis Cespedes did in Cuba, but he was also a more prolific base stealer. Maybe Castillo proves to be an all-around producer over the final weeks of the season, but at the very least, he's a good speculative pickup for owners looking for steals.
Leagues worth owning him: 12-team mixed Rotisserie leagues, 15-team mixed Head-to-Head leagues

Jordan Schafer, OF, Twins

Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 24 percent (up 16 percent)
When the Twins claimed Schafer off waivers from the Braves a month ago, it seemed like an afterthought. Then when the Twins dealt Josh Willingham days later, Schafer suddenly had an everyday job in left field. He has made the most of the opportunity, batting .341 with 11 stolen bases in 26 games. Verging on stealing a base every other game is something that is bound to get the attention of owners, and there is no denying that Schafer has speed. This is his fourth 20-plus steal season, even though his career has been marked by limited playing time and low on-base percentages. Schafer hasn't been striking out much since arriving in Minnesota, and that's helped his batting average, OBP and frequency of stolen base opportunities. Despite his recent achievements, it's probably not a good idea to count on Schafer for anything other than steals, but if you're desperate in that category, he could be worth a pickup in a 12-team mixed league. Generally speaking, Schafer should be reserved for your deeper mixed Roto leagues.
Leagues worth owning him: 14-team mixed Rotisserie leagues, AL-only Head-to-Head leagues

Eric O'Flaherty, RP, Athletics

Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 25 percent (up 9 percent)
When Sean Doolittle went down with an intercostal strain, the first reaction of many Fantasy owners was to snap up Luke Gregerson. A former lefty relief specialist recently returned from Tommy John surgery, O'Flaherty was a surprise choice for the closer's role, but there's no reason why he can't succeed in it. He probably won't provide many strikeouts, but if saves are what you need, O'Flaherty should be able to nail down a few if given some chances. He's also good enough at getting ground balls that he should be able to keep his ERA around 2.00 or lower. The biggest threat to his value is if Doolittle returns in Week 24, so O'Flaherty is only worth picking up in leagues where there are few, if any, other closer options on waivers.
Leagues worth owning him: 14-team mixed Rotisserie leagues, AL-only Head-to-Head leagues

Kevin Quackenbush, RP, Padres

Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 12 percent (up 6 percent)
As long as things aren't so ducky for Joaquin Benoit and his shoulder, it will be Quackenbush pitching in save situations for the Padres. His situation is similar to O'Flaherty's in that he has the goods to be a successful closer, but he may not get much of an opportunity to prove it. Quackenbush also lacks O'Flaherty's track record, as he has pitched just 44 1/3 major league innings. Both with the Padres and at Triple-A El Paso this season, the 25-year-old hasn't been exceptional at getting swinging strikes, but he's been getting strikeouts at a reasonable rate (9.3 K/9 with the Padres) and pitching with good control. He might stay in the closer's role longer than O'Flaherty, but neither reliever is an ideal rest-of-season option for saves.
Leagues worth owning him: 14-team mixed Rotisserie leagues, NL-only Head-to-Head leagues

American League options

Terrance Gore, OF, Royals

Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 0 percent
Recall a year ago when the Reds called up Billy Hamilton and he stole five bases in the first two weeks of September, even though he made only two plate appearances? Hamilton made an impact in Rotisserie, even though he was used initially as a pinch-running specialist, and Gore could have the same sort of impact this September. Gore doesn't have power or great on-base skills, but he is very, very fast. He has 47 steals in 106 minor league games this season, 89 of which he played at Advanced Class A Wilmington. Gore, who was called up by the Royals on Tuesday, doesn't yet have a complete major league skill set, but that shouldn't stop him from contributing in the steals category. Though he is virtually unowned, he should at the very least be a must-own in AL-only leagues, because there's bound to be somebody who could stand to move up a few places in the stolen base standings.
Leagues worth owning him: AL-only

National League options

Dilson Herrera, 2B/SS, Mets

Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 6 percent (up 4 percent)
Herrera had an excellent season, split between Double-A Binghamton and Advanced Class A St. Lucie, hitting .323 with 13 home runs and 23 stolen bases. His promotion to the Mets, accelerated by Daniel Murphy's calf injury, came sooner than expected, and it's reasonable to have some doubts about his current Fantasy value. Most of Herrera's power came at Binghamton, which is a good power hitter's park, and he played only 61 games at the Double-A level. However, Herrera actually hit for more power away from Binghamton, and we have already seen signs of it in the majors, as he has hit a home run and a triple in his first 18 at-bats. Herrera is still too unproven to trust in the vast majority of mixed leagues, but he has shown enough upside to be a must-own in NL-only formats.
Leagues worth owning him: NL-only

Player you might reconsider dropping

Stephen Vogt, C/1B/OF, Athletics

Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 58 percent (down 11 percent)
Vogt has been due for some batting average regression for some time now, and with Fantasy owners now embroiled in the final weeks of their championship runs, he's picked an unfortunate time to finally experience a correction. After batting .324 through his first 63 games with the A's this season, Vogt has gone 4 for 29 (.138) over his last 10 contests. Striking out 10 times during his slump has had much to do with his lack of production, and that's highly unusual for Vogt, who is normally a good contact hitter. While it's unlikely that Vogt will hit .300 the rest of the way, he is a better hitter than this. He is also a nice power source in two-catcher leagues. The biggest drag on Vogt's near-term value is an upcoming Week 24 series against the White Sox, during which he could sit against their three lefty starters, but there's still too much offensive potential over the rest of the month to let him go.
Leagues worth owning him: 12-team mixed Rotisserie leagues, 18-team mixed Head-to-Head leagues


Wanting to pick up Wacha for help in playoffs. Who should I drop? Young guys Hendricks or Fiers? Or struggling Kazmir or Gray? -- @jbbechard
I would drop Hendricks, and it's really no contest. Fiers has a combination of strikeout potential and great control that you can't afford to lose. Kazmir has been so solid all season long that he deserves some slack after back-to-back rough starts against a potent Angels lineup. Gray's struggles have been more persistent, but as long as he is getting ground balls and is backed up by the A's infield defense, I'm sticking with him. Hendricks has great control, but if not for a high 83 percent strand rate, he'd have a pretty ordinary stat line. He appears to be the least poised to be a difference-maker over the season's final weeks.
Data Analyst

Al Melchior has been playing Fantasy Baseball since 1994, getting his start in the Southern Maryland Anthropomorphic Baseball League (SMABL). He has been writing about Fantasy Baseball since 2000, getting... Full Bio

Show Comments Hide Comments
Our Latest Stories
    Jonah Keri Podcast