Today, we are going to take a quick glance at the series this weekend where both teams still have a shot at the playoffs (defined as at least a 20% chance according to teamrankings.com). With that in mind, here is the 9-18-15 Waiver Wire Report.
St. Louis Cardinals (100% Chance) vs. Chicago Cubs (93.4% Chance)
What’s At Stake: The Cardinals are trying to win the NL Central crown and avoid the play-in game. The Cubs are in a position where they are likely to make the playoffs but unlikely to take the NL Central (0.4% Chance).
Thomas Pham, OF, St. Louis Cardinals
Pham just had a very good game on Wednesday against the Brewers, hitting two home runs and driving in four runs. This raises the question of whether he will help down the stretch. His strengths are that he has been productive in limited playing time this season (.257/.351/.468 141 wRC+) and his minor league numbers indicate the potential for him to steal some bases and hit for a strong batting average. However, the things holding back his value are is an inconsistent amount of playing time and his minor league numbers indicate that he’s unlikely to hit for much power, despite Wednesday’s strong showing.
Starlin Castro, SS, Chicago Cubs
Even though Castro is only 25, his numbers resemble that of a player that has seen better days. Currently, he is on pace to set a career low wRC+ of 66. While the months of May, June & July were an absolute disaster for Castro, he has turned things around as we move closer to the post-season as he hit .296 in August and has hit .343 over the first 12 games in September.
This season, he is still only hitting .253 but this appears to be below his actual ability as his BABIP is 31 points below his career total. While the days of 20+ SB are over, he at least has a solid chance to break into double figures in the HR category.
New York Yankees (98.4% Chance) vs. New York Mets (99% Chance)
What’s At Stake: The Yankees are trying to catch up to the Blue Jays in the AL East and the Mets are looking to extend their lead in the NL East.
C.C. Sabathia, SP, New York Yankees
I never thought I’d see the day where Sabathia would be owned in less than 10% of fantasy leagues but that’s what happens when you are on track to finish with an ERA above 4.5 for the third consecutive year.
The two things that have been going against him are bad luck (.320 opposing BABIP this year) and that he has been increasingly prone to giving up the long ball (16.6% HR/FB rate) this season. While he is not striking out batters as much as he used to, he at least has a respectable K/9 of 7.46 this season.
The good news is that Sabathia has been pitching better lately. He is coming off an excellent start against the Rays and has now given up two earned runs or less in five of his last six starts.
Michael Conforto, OF, New York Mets
Conforto’s career is off to a solid start as he is hitting .297 with seven HR in his first 42 games. The question to ask is whether Conforto can keep this pace up. At the very least, he has a solid chance of maintaining a solid batting average.
One encouraging thing from his early results is that he has been a patient hitter who has seen his BB% and K% stay steady compared to what he did in the minors. The one thing (in the short term) that I’m not quite sold on is his ability to maintain his early power numbers. This season, he hit 12 HR in 403 PA in the minors and he has a relatively high HR/FB rate. Despite likely regression in this area, Conforto is still a solid upgrade for the last couple weeks of the season.
Pittsburgh Pirates (97.8% Chance) vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (99% Chance)
What’s At Stake: The Pirates are looking to catch the Cardinals in the NL Central and the Dodgers are looking to extend their NL West lead.
A.J. Burnett, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates
Burnett has recently returned from an injury that cost him the month of August. Even though his first start back showed underwhelming results (three ER in five IP against the Brewers), his second start back was much better (two ER and seven SO against the Cubs).
The argument for picking up Burnett this is that he has had solid results this season (3.15 ERA/3.15 FIP/7.66 K/9). On the other hand, those numbers were propped up by strong early results and his numbers since the All-Star break (7.86 ERA in 26.1 IP) are not easy on the eyes. Considering that Burnett has pitched well all three seasons he has been with the Pirates, there is enough evidence that Burnett should finish this season strong.
Corey Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers
There has been a lot of hype surrounding Seager since he has been called up and he has not disappointed. In his first 13 games, he has hit .426 with one HR and two SB. While it is unreasonable to expect that .419 AVG to hold up, he did demonstrate the ability to hit for power in the minors and has made solid contact (43.9 Hard%) indicating that his bat will be valuable, even when his batting average goes below .400.
All numbers through 9-16-15