Waiver Worthy: Which Of The Players Making News Are Worth Grabbing (Ponce de Leon, Cashner & More)

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We are all quick to try and add the next big thing, but not all prospects are created equal. Should we be rushing to the waiver wire to grab the most recent rash of recalls? Let’s take a look:

Daniel Ponce de Leon – St. Louis Cardinals
Being returned to the St. Louis rotation and coming off a strong start out of the All-Star Break (1 ER on 3 H and 0 BB over 6.2 IP against the Diamondbacks), Ponce de Leon is gaining steam for fantasy owners.  Does he deserve it, though?  He’s shown strikeouts (10.80 K/9) and control (3.13 BB/9) over 31.2 IP in the Majors this season, though those are skewed up from his time as a reliever (though a 9.55 K/9 as a starter isn’t bad).  He’s thrown 180.2 IP at Triple-A over the past three seasons and the skills don’t appear that great:

  • Strikeouts – 9.07 K/9 (courtesy of 10.7% SwStr%)
  • Control – 4.63 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 33.8%

Assuming the control regresses with the risk of home run issues (43.3% groundball rate in the Majors) the risk seems to outweigh the reward (especially since he could lose his rotation spot in short order).

Verdict – Deny ‘Em

Andrew Cashner – Boston Red Sox
On the surface Cashner appears to be a strong producer this season, with a 3.83 ERA and 1.19 WHIP while pitching for the Orioles.  So why wouldn’t we be excited about his move to the Red Sox, where he obviously will have a better supporting cast around him?  Considering his lack of strikeouts (6.17 K/9 courtesy of an 8.7% SwStr%) and the luck behind his success (.256 BABIP despite a 37.2% Hard%), what exactly are we buying?  With matchups against the Yankees and Rays likely on the agenda there’s far more downside than upside.

Verdict – Deny ‘Em (he’s a sell candidate while there’s intrigue)

Bubba Starling – Kansas City Royals
The once top prospect is finally getting a shot in the Majors after he hit .310 with 7 HR and 9 SB over 285 PA at Triple-A prior to his recall.  Of course there was risk of increased strikeouts (11.6% SwStr%, though just a 20.7% strikeout rate) and he also was benefiting from a .374 BABIP.  That helps to make you think that his previous struggles will come back to haunt him.  It makes sense that the rebuilding Royals give him a chance at the highest level, since he’s producing and is already 26-years old, but how long he lasts remains to be seen.  He’s the type of player to ride while he’s going well, but not to become infatuated with because the production could completely disappear.

Verdict – Deny ‘Em

Other Names To Monitor:

  • Homer Bailey – Oakland A’s – Oakland has a habit of finding pitching from anywhere, but does anyone really believe Bailey can make an impact?  Maybe it’s not impossible in his starts at home, which may help to limit his home run rate, but he’s been hit exceptionally hard this season (44.9% Hard%) and that won’t play anywhere.
  • Phillip Ervin – Cincinnati Reds – It’s easy to get excited as he’s been producing in a small sample in the Majors, though he’s also benefited from a .541 BABIP and he’s struggling with strikeouts (13.5% SwStr% leading to a 32.3% strikeout rate).  There’s no guarantee of playing time, so use him while he’s producing but be ready to move on.
  • Alex Young – Arizona Diamondbacks – After throwing 6.0 hitless innings against the Rockies (1 BB, 3 K) it makes sense that Arizona will keep him in the rotation for now.  Of course he’s never shown significant strikeout stuff as a starter in the minors (7.5 K/9 overall) with only pedestrian control (3.2 BB/9) and potential home run issues (1.2 HR/9 at Triple-A).  Sound enticing?

Sources – Fangraphs, CBS Sports, Baseball Reference

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