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We've made it, everyone. Welcome to the final edition of Waiver Wired for the 2013 season. As always, it's been a blast putting this column together every week and I look forward to doing it for my fifth straight season in 2014. Until then, be sure to keep in touch via Twitter and email. As you know, there's no "offseason" here at Rotoworld.
Below you'll find a few last-minute recommendations to consider. On the second page, you'll find my annual Waiver Wired awards. Good luck if you are still in the running in your league.
Click here for the latest MLB Player News and follow @Rotoworld_BB if you are on Twitter. Direct your questions to @djshort if you need last-minute lineup advice.
Trevor Rosenthal RP, Cardinals (Yahoo: 26 percent owned)
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny initially indicated that he would play the matchups after the struggling Edward Mujica was pulled from the closer role over the weekend, but the hard-throwing Rosenthal has notched three straight saves this week against the Nationals. It wouldn't be surprising to see Matheny go in another direction once the NL Central and home-field are decided, as Rosenthal has pitched in six out of the last eight games and has already logged 74 1/3 innings this season, but he's a must-own in all formats right now.
Pedro Strop RP, Cubs (Yahoo: 11 percent owned)
We've been waiting on this one for a while, but the Cubs finally announced late last week that they were ready to give Strop some looks out of the closer role. Unfortunately, the 28-year-old right-hander has only received one save chance so far, as impending free agent Kevin Gregg continues to be a factor for some reason. Still, with a 2.62 ERA and 41/10 K/BB ratio over 34 1/3 innings since joining the Cubs, Strop looks like the closer of the future here. Even if he doesn't get any saves this weekend, he's one to keep an eye on for 2014.
Matt Dominguez 3B, Astros (Yahoo: 18 percent owned)
Coming up as a prospect, Dominguez was always hyped more for his glove than his bat, but he's doing enough offensively to warrant attention in most fantasy leagues. The 24-year-old is quietly batting .270 with 10 home runs, 31 RBI and a .783 OPS in 60 games since the All-Star break. Meanwhile, his 21 home runs for the year are 10th among all third-base eligible players. I'm still skeptical about his upside, but those Crawford Boxes in left field should help his cause. Fortunately, the Astros finish the season in Minute Maid Park this weekend against the Yankees.
Charlie Blackmon OF, Rockies (Yahoo: 13 percent owned)
Getting regular playing time with Dexter Fowler and Carlos Gonzalez both sidelined, Blackmon is batting .379 (39-for-103) with 12 extra-base hits (including two home runs) nine RBI, 16 runs scored, and two stolen bases over his last 24 games. His hot hitting has earned him a chance out of the leadoff spot in recent days. Blackmon's BABIP has been over .400 during this stretch, so he's unlikely to maintain this level of performance over the long haul, but fantasy owners only need it to last for a few more days. Give him a try if you need a fourth or fifth outfielder.
Jhonny Peralta SS, Tigers (Yahoo: 15 percent owned)
Fresh off finishing his 50-game suspension for his ties to Biogenesis, Peralta will be reinstated for Friday's game against the Mariners. And now that the Tigers have wrapped up their third straight AL Central title, it's fair to expect him to get plenty of at-bats this weekend, potentially as a left fielder. The 31-year-old was batting .305 with 11 home runs and 54 RBI in 104 games prior to the suspension, so he's worth a look if you need some last-minute help at shortstop or with a MI (middle infielder) spot.
Shopping at the five-and-dime:
(Players owned in under 10 percent of Yahoo! leagues)
Marcus Semien 2B/3B/SS, White Sox (Yahoo: 2 percent owned)
With the White Sox looking toward the future, Semien is somebody to keep an eye on. After batting .290/.420/.483 with 15 home runs and 20 stolen bases in Triple-A this year, the 23-year-old is hitting .278 (15-for-54) with four extra-base hits (one home run), six RBI, and two stolen bases over his first 17 games in the majors. He has only drawn one walk so far, but patience was a strength for him in the minors. With his pop, speed, and multi-position eligibility, Semien makes sense as a plug-and-play option this weekend. He'll be interesting if he has a starting job in 2014.
Vic Black RP, Mets (Yahoo: 0 percent owned)
Mets manager Terry Collins went with Black for a save chance Tuesday and it sounds like he'll get another chance to audition this weekend, as LaTroy Hawkins is expected to get a day or two off after throwing 19 pitches to finish off the Reds on Wednesday. It makes sense to audition Black anyway, as Hawkins is 41 years old and will be a free agent after the season while Collins has legitimate concerns about Bobby Parnell's readiness for 2014 following neck surgery. Black's control is an issue, but he has the swing-and-miss stuff you look for in a closer. Pick him up if you need saves.
Scott Kazmir SP, Indians (Yahoo: 24 percent owned)
One of the year's best comeback stories, Kazmir is coming off 10 strikeouts over seven scoreless innings last time out against the Astros. The 29-year-old southpaw now owns a respectable 4.14 ERA and 151/45 K/BB ratio over 152 innings. While it looked like his career was over not too long ago, it's now possible that he could have several more years left in him. He's just the latest example of why you should never give up on a left-hander with talent. Kazmir has a solid chance to put an exclamation point on his season with a start against the Twins on Saturday.
Marco Estrada SP, Brewers (Yahoo: 43 percent owned)
I was a fan of Estrada coming into the season, but he proved to be a pretty big disappointment prior to his hamstring injury in June. However, the 30-year-old has turned things around dramatically since his return in August, compiling a 2.26 ERA and 48/11 K/BB ratio in 51 2/3 innings across eight starts. His fly ball tendencies don't play well at Miller Park, but he's a very different pitcher on the road. An outing against the Mets on Sunday at Citi Field is an ideal way to finish the year.
Andy Pettitte SP, Yankees (Yahoo: 48 percent owned)
This is it. Pettitte's final start of his major league career will come Friday night against the Astros in Houston. It couldn't be arranged more perfectly, as he'll be pitching right near his hometown. The same could be said for fantasy owners, as this is an ideal opponent to stream against. The 41-year-old southpaw has been at the top of his game recently, posting a 2.09 ERA and 36/13 K/BB ratio in 51 2/3 innings over his last eight starts, so I like his chances of going out a winner.
Tyson Ross SP, Padres (Yahoo: 23 percent owned)
Ross has been nothing short of awesome since joining the San Diego's starting rotation after the All-Star break, posting a 2.80 ERA and 78/22 K/BB ratio in 74 innings over 12 starts. Only 18 pitchers (min. 60 IP) have a lower ERA during that timespan while only five have been better than his 0.96 WHIP. While he has naturally enjoyed more success at home this season, I wouldn't hesitate using him against the Giants in the pitcher-friendly AT&T Park on Sunday. Still just 26 years old, he's a solid breakout candidate for 2014.
Yordano Ventura SP, Royals (Yahoo: 6 percent owned)
Ventura has lit up radar guns since his major league debut last week, but he has also pitched pretty well to go along with all of the hype. In starts against the Indians and Mariners, he allowed two runs on seven hits and five walks over 11 1/3 innings while striking out nine batters. The bullpen blew leads for him in both of those starts, but the 22-year-old fireballer should have a good chance to get into the win column on Saturday against the White Sox.
James Paxton SP, Mariners (Yahoo: 4 percent owned)
Paxton has been very impressive since being called up from the minors earlier this month, posting a 1.50 ERA over four starts. The 24-year-old had his best outing yet Tuesday night against the Royals, giving up just four hits over seven scoreless innings while striking out 10 batters. Coming off an up-and-down year in Triple-A, he's making a strong case to be a part of the starting rotation in 2014. The A's could rest some of their regulars for the regular season finale on Sunday, so Paxton is a worthwhile streaming option in most formats. UPDATE: Paxton has been scratched from Sunday's start, as the Mariners will go with Erasmo Ramirez instead. He's a fine streaming option if he's still out there.
Jimmy Nelson SP, Brewers (Yahoo: 0 percent owned)
Now that Wily Peralta has been shut down due to a groin injury, Nelson will start in his place Saturday against the Mets. The 24-year-old has made three relief appearances this month, but this will be his first major league start. One of the team's better pitching prospects, his stock is on the rise after he posted a solid 3.25 ERA and 163/65 K/BB ratio over 152 1/3 innings this season between Double-A Huntsville and Triple-A Nashville. He's worth a spin against a team who has struggled to score runs this month and has issues winning in their own building.
Jonathan Schoop SS, Orioles (Yahoo: 0 percent owned)
With the Orioles out of the race, Schoop finally made his major league debut at second base on Wednesday night against the Blue Jays. And it was a memorable one. The 21-year-old went 2-for-3 with a solo homer, a walk, and three runs scored. He dealt with a back issue this season, which is why he was limited to 70 games in Triple-A, but the Orioles believe in his pop. He might get another look or two this weekend and should be someone to monitor in 2014 if he can stay healthy.
The 2013 Waiver Wired Awards:
Keeping up a long-standing tradition (OK, well, a three-year tradition), each category is named after an obscure Met from my formative years. I'm going to continue to roll with that until someone forces me otherwise.
As you'll see below, we hit on some pretty big names in Waiver Wired this year. However, you aren't going to find the likes of Yasiel Puig or Matt Carpenter. Keep reading for full explanations. But all in all, I'm still happy with what we accomplished with this column this year.
The Phil Lombardi Award (best waiver wire catcher)
Evan Gattis was a waiver wire sensation early on and Wilson Ramos has come on strong during the second half, but I'm giving this award to Jason Castro. After batting .235 with eight home runs and 37 RBI over his first 512 plate appearances in the majors, the 26-year-old backstop batted .276/.350/.485 with 18 home runs and 56 RBI over 120 games this year. His season ended early due to a knee issue, but he should enter 2014 as a top-12 catcher.
The Roberto Petagine Award (best waiver wire first baseman)
Kendrys Morales, Adam Lind, Brandon Belt, and Chris Carter have all produced for fantasy owners, but Brandon Moss will walk away with top honors. Propelled by a strong second half, the 30-year-old is eighth among first base-eligible players in home runs, 12th in OPS, and tied for 15th in RBI. He has been especially useful in daily leagues, producing 24 homers and an .896 OPS against right-handed pitching. He may never hit for a high batting average, but he has established himself as a legitimate power threat over the past two seasons. Imagine if he played in a more favorable home park?
The Jason Hardtke Award (best waiver wire second baseman)
This award would have gone to Matt Carpenter or Daniel Murphy, but both players were just over my 50 percent threshold for the first Waiver Wired of the season. With that in mind, we'll cheat a bit and give this one to Jed Lowrie. The 29-year-old has mostly stayed healthy for once, hitting .288/.344/.445 with 15 home runs and 75 RBI. He has also finished strong, amassing seven home runs and 32 RBI since the start of August.
The Al Pedrique Award (best waiver wire shortstop)
This is a pretty easy call. While Segura has slowed down considerably since the All-Star break, the 23-year-old is batting .296/.331/.426 with 12 home runs, 49 RBI, 44 stolen bases and 74 RBI over 145 games. That's enough to make him a top-50 player in Yahoo! leagues. His second half fade puts his 2014 outlook in question, but I expect him to be drafted among the top five shortstops.
The Junior Noboa Award (best waiver wire third baseman)
Yes, the Athletics are taking over the Waiver Wired Awards. After going undrafted in most standard leagues, Donaldson has compiled a .305/.386/.506 batting line to go along with 24 home runs, 92 RBI, and 88 runs scored this season. And the 27-year-old has been hot at just the right time for fantasy owners, hitting .379 with six home runs and 20 RBI while reaching base in 28 straight games from August 25-September 23. Winning the Junior Noboa Award is a big deal (to me, anyway), but he also deserves plenty of support for the American League MVP Award.
The Wayne Housie Award (best waiver wire outfielder)
Once again, you aren't going to find Yasiel Puig here, but that's mostly a matter of timing. If you recall, Puig was called up on a Sunday and quickly took the league by storm, so by the time I did my next Waiver Wired column on Thursday, he was well over my 50 percent ownership threshold. Oh well. The good news is that there were still plenty of other excellent contributors.
Top honors here go to Jayson Werth, who has batted .316/.395/.526 with 24 home runs, 70 RBI, 82 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases in a resurgent campaign. His .921 OPS is tied for his career-best from 2010. My optimism that his power would return one year removed from wrist surgery has been validated.
Some other notables in the outfield include Coco Crisp (his first 20-20 season, 92 runs scored), Domonic Brown (post-hype breakout with 27 homers and 82 RBI), Starling Marte (.283 batting average, 48 extra-base hits, 40 stolen bases, and 82 runs scored), Marlon Byrd (23 home runs and 84 RBI) and Will Venable (22 homers and 22 stolen bases).
The Brett Hinchcliffe Award (best waiver wire starting pitcher)
It took a pretty special season for Hisashi Iwakuma to not win this award, but that's exactly what we got from Jose Fernandez in his rookie season. The 21-year-old right-hander finished with a 2.19 ERA and 187/58 K/BB ratio over 172 2/3 innings. It would be nice to see him get a little more run support, but he should drafted as a top-10 starting pitcher in 2014 with the expected innings jump.
The rest of my waiver wire starting rotation includes the aforementioned Iwakuma (2.66 ERA in 33 starts), Francisco Liriano (3.02 ERA, 163 strikeouts over 161 innings), Bartolo Colon (17 wins, AL-leading 2.64 ERA), and Shelby Miller (15 wins, 3.06 ERA, 169 strikeouts in 173 1/3 innings). I'd be remiss to overlook Clay Buchholz, who is 11-1 with a 1.60 ERA in an injury-shortened season.
The Edwin Almonte Award (best waiver wire relief pitcher)
Koji Uehara didn't take over the closer role with the Red Sox until late June, but he has gone 20-for-22 in save chances since while posting a ridiculous 0.43 ERA and 57/2 K/BB ratio over 42 1/3 innings. He didn't allow a run in 31 consecutive appearances from July 2 to September 13. Long regarded as one of the game's best relief pitchers, he's finally getting the attention he deserves.