Fantasy Baseball

Waiver review: Rivera keeps hitting big

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Michael Harmon

Mike is a fantasy contributor for FOXSports.com.MORE>>
 
   
 
It's the final stretch before the All-Star break, that glorious period of inactivity that leaves us flipping the remote control for something to watch. You may pop in for the Home Run Derby for a few minutes, but other than the All-Star Game itself, there's not a whole lot of sporting activity to follow. I plan to revisit my early position-by-position rankings for the upcoming NFL season and catch up on the backlogged DVR (Top Chef Masters or DDD, anyone?). Of course, I'll also spend ample time seeking out a possible trade partner. The trade that brought me Dan Haren and Derrek Lee has paid off handsomely thus far, but I'm not done. I could still use a little bit of help in the rotation. If the trading floor fails me, then I'll always have my beloved waiver wire. Scott Kazmir's on the chopping block, and David Price's efforts against Roy Halladay on Thursday might have saved him from a similar fate. While I ponder the meaning of life and how to improve my contending squad, I'll regale you with tales about 13 potential waiver wire pickups to aid your efforts. Before I launch into the hitters, can someone explain to me how power broker Luke Scott remains available in 46 percent of leagues? Let's break it down.

Casey McGehee, 2B/3B/OF, MIL (16.4% owned)


McGehee received sporadic at-bats during the first two months of the season and failed to make much of an impact. He's been on a roll since getting a chance at everyday at-bats in June. Since June 1, he's batted .376 (38-for-101) with 15 extra-base hits (six home runs) and 24 RBI. Look closely at his positional eligibility. That second base eligibility is huge, and McGehee could become a difference-maker in the second half.

Gordon Beckham, 3B, CWS (5.8% owned)


Beckham makes another appearance on the waiver hot list this week. The third base position is crowded, which makes his low ownership rate understandable. However, the 2008 first-round pick has hit safely in nine of his past 12 games. During this period, he's batted .372 (16-for-43) with two home runs, three doubles and 10 RBI. Summer's coming to Chicago, and the ball normally starts to jump in U.S. Cellular Field.

Miguel Olivo, C, KC (17.6% owned)


Olivo's obviously mired in a horrid funk to begin the month of July, but I feel I'd be remiss if I failed to note his presence on the wire. Let's face. Power-hitting catchers (when they make contact, that is) aren't exactly plentiful. Olivo had hit .295 with eight home runs and 17 RBI in June, but has yet to find the stroke in July. He's produced just four hits in 26 at-bats (.153) with one home run, two RBI and 10 strikeouts. He doesn't run like he once did, but fantasy owners might receive a sneaky power surge from the catcher slot in the second half.

Juan Pierre, OF, LAD (48.1% owned)


I understand the concerns about Pierre's ability to get regular at-bats in the crowded Los Angeles outfield now that Manny Ramirez has returned to the field. However, I just can't quite process how a player sporting a .328 batting average and ranking among the stolen base leaders (23) can be available in over half of FOXSports.com fantasy leagues. Obviously, he's not an everyday starter right now, but he at least warrants a bench slot. The specter of an injury is always on the horizon, and we're creeping closer and closer to the trade deadline. Pierre's name has been mentioned in several rumors that would bring a starting pitcher back to Los Angeles.

Hideki Matsui, OF, NYY (45.1% owned)


Matsui's been killing the ball of late, piecing together an eight-game hitting streak before sitting down in Thursday's early tilt against the Twins. During this streak, he's batting .440 (11-for-25) with three home runs and 11 RBI. I remain concerned about the logjam of players being slotted into the DH role by Joe Girardi, but perhaps Matsui starts to slide back into the outfield in the second half.

Juan Rivera, OF, LAA (37.6% owned)


Rivera's returned from two injury-shortened seasons with a vengeance. He's already hit 16 home runs with 15 doubles while helping All-Star Torii Hunter pick up the slack for an injured Vladimir Guerrero. Rivera's a great contact hitter and has been driving the ball with authority. In eight July games, he's ripped five extra-base hits (three home runs) with nine RBI while hitting at a robust .394 clip (13-for-33).

Jose Contreras, SP, CWS (16.4% owned)


Contreras turned in a gem on Wednesday night against the Indians in the rain. He struck out nine batters with just one walk, scattering six hits with one run over 6 1/3 innings. It was the second time this month he dominated the Indians (17 strikeouts against two walks with two wins). He's won four of his past six starts while piling up 38 strikeouts in 43 2/3 innings of work. More impressively, he's allowed only six walks during this period to contribute to his miniscule 0.82 WHIP.

Brad Bergesen, SP, BAL (6.8% owned)


Bergesen remains anonymous in the fantasy realm despite offering tremendous contributions to the ERA and WHIP categories. He's won three of his past six starts and has worked at least six innings in his past eight starts. Since June 1, he's generated a strong 2.50 ERA with 29 strikeouts against 11 walks. The Orioles have struggled to score for him consistently, but he's still earned four wins in his past eight turns.

Max Scherzer, SP, ARI (27% owned)


Scherzer turned in another strong effort in his last trip to the mound, a two-run, seven-inning outing against the Padres. He piled up another nine strikeouts in the no-decision, his ninth start with at least six strikeouts this year (97 in 96 1/3 IP overall). Since June 1, he's produced a fabulous 2.57 ERA with a decent 1.26 WHIP. His walk total is moderately troubling, but his strikeout punch cannot be ignored.

Nick Blackburn, SP, MIN (39.5% owned)


I understand that Blackburn's strikeout rate is atrocious (3.94 per nine IP), but it's hard to ignore the fact that he's produced a sub-3.00 this season. Since June 1, he's posted a ridiculous 2.11 ERA, although the Twins have only gotten him into the winner's circle twice in his past six starts.

J.A. Happ, SP, PHI (23.6% owned)


The Phillies remain in the market for help in the starting rotation, but they've found a gem internally in this 6-foot-6 lefty. After starting the season in the bullpen, the Phillies moved Happ to the rotation and he's delivered. He's turned in four consecutive quality starts, pitching to a stellar 2.17 ERA with 20 strikeouts against six walks. Granted, the Phillies haven't produced much run support for him (he's won only one of those four starts), but you're getting strong three-category support.

Ricky Romero, SP, TOR (29.8% owned)


Toronto's slide in the AL East has allowed Romero's recent brilliance to go virtually unnoticed. The leading candidate for the AL Rookie of the Year Award, he's strung together four consecutive wins. During this stretch, he's pitched to a strong 1.59 ERA with 25 strikeouts against 11 walks. In his 12 starts, the former first-round pick owns a 2.96 ERA with 2.4 strikeouts per walk.

Your bonus doughnut

Scott Downs, RP, TOR (30% owned): Downs' return to the mound was less than stellar, as he left Wednesday's game after two batters without recording an out (a hit and a walk). According to reports from The Toronto Sun, he'll be worked back into the closer role quickly. He'd pitched to a sub-2.00 ERA with eight saves before hitting the disabled list.

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