We're down to crunch time in fantasy leagues, with many of you making that final playoff push, so I have decided to list more players than usual this week. Don't worry, it's completely free of charge. If you watch this week's "Buy, Sell, or Hold" video, you'll find some additional players to consider, including two who were featured in Waiver Wired last week and have since become hot pickups in most leagues. Check it out below.
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Kevin Gausman SP/RP, Orioles (Yahoo: 15 percent owned)
I mentioned Gausman in Waiver Wired a couple of weeks ago, but I'm doing it again now that the Orioles have pushed $50 million man Ubaldo Jimenez to the bullpen. The 23-year-old right-hander hasn't racked up many strikeouts of late, but he has allowed three earned runs or fewer in six out of his last seven starts and has done a good job keeping the ball in the ballpark. Assuming he stays on turn, he lines up for starts against the Cubs, Rays, and Twins over the next two weeks. I'd have him active in most mixed leagues for those.
Jacob deGrom SP, Mets (Yahoo: 44 percent owned)
This time last week, I wasn't sure what the Mets would get out of deGrom the rest of the way, but he's been cleared to make his return this Saturday against the Dodgers. The 26-year-old put up an excellent 2.87 ERA and 94/33 K/BB ratio in 100 1/3 innings across 16 starts prior to hitting the disabled list earlier this month with rotator cuff inflammation. The Mets were going to limit his innings anyway, but the stint on the DL could give him a chance to be around for fantasy owners for most, if not all, of September. He should be owned in most leagues as long as he's healthy and pitching.
Nick Castellanos 3B/OF, Tigers (Yahoo: 32 percent owned)
Castellanos was hitting just .233 through the end of May, but the rookie third baseman has shown some encouraging signs of progress since, batting .277/.324/.455 with six home runs and 30 RBI over his last 65 games. This includes 11 extra-base hits and a .478 slugging percentage since the All-Star break. His strikeout rate is higher than you'd like to see and his walk rate is below the league average, but his 27-percent line drive rate is third-highest among qualified hitters. Still just 22 years old, there's reason to be optimistic about him moving forward. With his dual-eligibility between third base and the outfield, he's a handy plug-and-play option in deeper formats.
Pat Neshek RP, Cardinals (Yahoo: 26 percent owned)
After scuffling in his previous three appearances, Trevor Rosenthal danced around some trouble (most of it not his doing) on Wednesday to convert his 37th save of the season. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny has stood by Rosenthal through this recent rough patch and the way he used him on Wednesday was perhaps his biggest vote of confidence yet, but Neshek is worth grabbing on the chance that the struggles continue. The 33-year-old sidearmer has posted a remarkable 0.84 ERA, 0.58 WHIP, and 58/6 K/BB ratio over 53 1/3 innings this season. Even if Neshek doesn't end up with any saves, he should help in most formats.
Adam Eaton OF, White Sox (Yahoo: 42 percent owned)
After suffering a strained right oblique earlier this month, Eaton is scheduled to begin a minor league rehab assignment Thursday with Triple-A Charlotte. If all goes well, he should rejoin the White Sox early next week. The 25-year-old outfielder was swinging the bat well prior to the injury and owns a fine .304/.370/.401 batting line this season to go along with 27 extra-base hits (one home run), 32 RBI, 12 stolen bases, and 55 runs scored over 94 games. Oblique injuries are notoriously tricky, but Eaton should provide five-category value in mixed leagues over the final five weeks if he's close to 100 percent.
Wade Davis RP/SP, Royals (Yahoo: 36 percent owned)
Greg Holland has firmly established himself as one of the game's best closers, but he recently told Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star that he's dealing with fatigue. That hasn't stopped Royals manager Ned Yost from using him -- he has already pitched in 10 games this month -- and Holland intends to keep answering the bell, but it's pretty much a no-brainer to pick up Davis if he's still out there in your league. The primary set-up man for the Royals, Davis has an absurd 0.81 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, and 85/20 K/BB ratio over 55 1/3 innings this season. He hasn't allowed a run in his last 22 appearances and has given up just two extra-base hits (both doubles) all year. Just nasty. Just like I wrote with Neshek above, Davis will help you even if he doesn't get saves.
Bud Norris SP, Orioles (Yahoo: 14 percent owned)
The strikeouts are down for Norris on the whole this year, but he's having his best season yet, at least in a superficial sense. Wins can be a pretty fluky thing, but improved control has been a big key to his success. He owns a 2.87 ERA and 51/16 K/BB ratio in 59 2/3 innings over his last 10 starts and has seen his velocity increase as the season has moved along. He can help in the back-end of most mixed league rotations right now and like his teammate Kevin Gausman, he's a solid matchup play this weekend against the free-swinging Cubs.
Jonathan Broxton RP, Reds (Yahoo: 23 percent owned)
Aroldis Chapman walked four batters in a non-save situation on Sunday and was unavailable on Tuesday due to a cranky shoulder, but he felt fine Wednesday and the Reds don't expect it to be a long-term issue. Still, at this point in the season, it never hurts to speculate in case the discomfort resurfaces. Coming off forearm surgery, Broxton has been excellent this season, posting a 1.43 ERA and 35/14 K/BB ratio over 44 innings. He even saved a few games while Chapman was on the DL to begin the season. Stash if you have some roster flexibility.
Shopping at the five-and-dime:
(Players owned in under 10 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Kevin Quackenbush RP, Padres (Yahoo: 2 percent owned)
Our final closer handcuff for this week might turn out to be the most significant in fantasy leagues. Quackenbush notched his first career save Wednesday night against the Dodgers with Joaquin Benoit unavailable due to a "cranky" shoulder. The Padres initially downplayed the situation with Benoit, but it has lingered for a few days now and a stint on the disabled list hasn't been ruled out. Dale Thayer gives Bud Black an experienced alternative at closer, but Quackenbush is expected to get the nod in the short-term. With a 2.29 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and 37/13 K/BB ratio over 39 1/3 innings, the bearded rookie is worth adding in all formats. The Padres don't have anything to play for, so he could keep the job the rest of the way.
Josh Willingham OF, Royals (Yahoo: 9 percent owned)
Willingham has appeared energized since coming over from the Twins last week, hitting a cool .345 (10-for-29) with one home run, four doubles, and five RBI over nine games. Eric Hosmer is still likely a couple of weeks away from even swinging a bat as he makes his way back from a stress fracture in his hand, so Willingham should continue to function as the primary designated hitter for the Royals while Billy Butler fills in at first base. Health is always a concern with Willingham and I wouldn't expect much help in the batting average department, but he's capable of providing some thump in deeper fantasy leagues.
Robbie Grossman OF, Astros (Yahoo: 1 percent owned)
Grossman's low batting average is going to turn some folks away, but he has quietly proven pretty useful in deeper formats dating back to his return from the minors in early July, hitting .268/.393/.398 with four home runs and 19 RBI in 36 games. Showcasing his on-base ability, the 24-year-old has served as the Astros' leadoff hitter in each of the last 11 games and has scored 10 runs in the process. Grossman hasn't done much of anything against southpaws this year, so perhaps he's best utilized in formats which allow for daily lineup changes, but he deserves some more attention that he's getting right now.
Mookie Betts SS/OF, Red Sox (Yahoo: 8 percent owned)
The Red Sox demoted the struggling Jackie Bradley, Jr. to Triple-A Pawtucket earlier this week, clearing the way for Betts to have his latest stint with the big club. The 21-year-old hasn't wowed fantasy owners thus far, but his biggest problem has been getting consistent at-bats. Things might get a little complicated again after September 1 when Bradley will presumably return, but his playing time should be safe for now. Betts hit .346/.431/.529 with 46 extra-base hits (including 11 home runs) and 33 stolen bases over 99 games this season between Double- and Triple-A, so there are worse upside plays for the stretch run. With his handy multi-position eligibility, he can be plugged in at a MI (middle infielder) spot or in the outfield.
Chris Owings SS, Diamondbacks (Yahoo: 6 percent owned)
Sidelined since late June with a slight dislocation of his left shoulder, Owings has taken a little longer than originally expected to rejoin the Diamondbacks, but he's scheduled to begin a minor league rehab assignment on Sunday. There's no reason to rush him back, so I expect he'll get several games under his belt before being activated, but he could prove useful in mixed leagues in September. Remember, the 23-year-old was hitting .277 with six homers and seven stolen bases over 72 games prior to the injury. Shortstop is pretty thin right now, so Owings is worth a stash if you have an open DL spot.
Ender Inciarte OF, Diamondbacks (Yahoo: 2 percent owned)
Inciarte is best known for his defense and speed. His defense doesn't really matter all that much for fantasy owners on the surface, but it's good enough to help justify his place in the lineup. And with that, he gets a chance to show off his wheels. The 23-year-old owns a mediocre .265/.301/.338 over his first 83 games in the majors, but he has a knack for making contact and has swiped nine bases in 11 attempts. This is someone who stole 89 bases in the minors between 2012-2013, so there's upside for more. Playing time could get tricky once A.J. Pollock is ready to return from the DL, but Inciarte is a fine short-term pickup in deeper leagues if you need speed.
C.J. Cron 1B, Angels (Yahoo: 2 percent owned)
With the Angels slated to face a pair of left-handed starters this weekend against the Athletics, Cron is expected to be called back up from Triple-A Salt Lake. The 24-year-old struggled during his most recent stint with the big club and hasn't shown much in the way of plate discipline, but he brings some legitimate power to the table. It's time to pick him up in leagues where he was dropped.
Aaron Hicks OF, Twins (Yahoo: 0 percent owned)
Hicks owns a miserable .194/.285/.314 batting line over 129 games in the majors, but maybe we shouldn't write him off yet. After his struggles and a shoulder injury led him to being demoted in June, the 24-year-old has hit .297/.397/.456 with five home runs, 26 RBI, and three stolen bases over 56 games between Double-A New Britain and Triple-A Rochester. Perhaps most encouraging, he has the same number of walks (34) and strikeouts (34). Still just 24 years old, he deserves a chance to get a regular look in center field in September.
Vidal Nuno SP, Diamondbacks (Yahoo: 1 percent owned)
Nuno has quietly been pretty effective since coming over from the Yankees in the Brandon McCarthy deal, posting a 3.72 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 38/10 K/BB ratio in 46 innings across eight starts. The 27-year-old southpaw has allowed two earned runs or fewer in four out of his last five outings. The home run ball is still an issue for him, but the good news is that his walks are down since his move over to the National League. He's not someone I'd trust on a start-to-start basis, but keep him in mind as a matchup play against the Padres this weekend in Arizona.
Phil Gosselin 2B, Braves (Yahoo: 0 percent owned)
Tommy La Stella has been as advertised since making his major league debut in late May, but Gosselin has begun to take away some at-bats in recent days. The 25-year-old was hitting .344 with five homers, 31 RBI, and six stolen bases over 96 games this season with Triple-A Gwinnett, so he's capable of doing more to help fantasy owners than La Stella, at least on paper. It might be a good idea to stash him in case the Braves decide to give him a longer look at second base.
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