My long-time keeper league — which has seen three divorces, three engagements, two weddings, one childbirth, three step-kids and multiple spats about the validity of one trade or another — is having quite possibly one of the best seasons we have ever had (10 teams are still in the running for the playoffs). However, with nearly 2/3 of the league being diehard Cincinnati Red’s fans, I have been waiting for the mega-trade for Aroldis Chapman that could swing the balance of power for what it will take to get him.
Chapman has been nothing short of breathtaking this year. In 22.1 IP he has a 0.00 ERA, 0.63 WHIP and 39 Ks (15.72 K/9!). Chapman, who should have easily made the starting rotation this year, was sent to fill in the bullpen due to injuries. With Sean Marshall struggling, Dusty Baker (at gunpoint) moved Chapman into the starting role.
Now, with one save and one arrest under his belt (speeding and expired license), Chapman is poised to be a top-five closer for the rest of the season. Nothing is certain in what has been one of the wackiest closer roller-coaster rides in a long time. Your top three closers this year have been Jim Johnson, Chris Perez, and Fernando Rodney, thus far (yeah, I know Craig Kimbrel is right there with 13 saves). Now, Chapman has a chance to join that elite class of top closers going forward. He may not be worth the value he will go for in my long-time keeper league, but do not think you are buying high, Chapman will be worth the price.
Top waiver-wire pickups
Will Middlebrooks – I believe the only reason Middlebrooks is not 100% owned is because Kevin Youkillis is set to come back this Tuesday. However, everyone realizes that Middlebrooks is way too valuable to send back down. The only thing I am worried about is his K% (31.2%!) and his BABIP (.378). He is a guy with speed and power, though, who could have a batting average around .270. Once the playing time becomes more guaranteed, he will be gone in your leagues.
Yonder Alonso – Everything is there with Alonso except power. His ISO of .119 is way lower than what most expected. I think he is on the verge of hitting for power and once he starts hitting home runs, he will be gone from your league’s waiver wire. He has 10-15 home run potential and 10-15 home runs from this point forward with a .300 batting average would be a top-50 guy.
Matt Adams – With Lance Berkman out 6-8 weeks with a torn meniscus, Adams makes for an interesting pickup. This prospect was batting .340 with nine home runs in triple-A this season and has the tools to be a solid MLB player.
Bud Norris – This guy feels like he has been on the cusp of fantasy relevancy for the past three seasons, but it seems like Norris is putting it all together this season. His K/9 (9.10) is the highest since 2010 while his BB/9 (2.83) and WHIP (1.20) is the lowest of his career. His HR/9 (0.94) is still a bit high but he is showing all the signs of a big season.
Scott Diamond – He is not a big strikeout guy, but he has good command of his stuff and should provide solid numbers. Right now, Diamond has an ERA of 1.40 with an xFIP of 2.64 and a .276 BABIP so there will be some regression. However, he still should be able to eat up innings with a low ERA and WHIP.
Ryan Vogelsong – This journeyman came out of nowhere last season and finished 13-7, while sporting a 2.71 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 6.42 K/9. The whole season, we were waiting for the ride to end. His advanced stats (.280 BABIP and 3.85 xFIP) pointed to Vogelsong putting up unsustainable numbers. Now, this year, he seems to be continuing where he left off last season. His numbers look nearly identical from last season, so hop on board and enjoy the ride. It may prove to last all year.