The beginning of May is the perfect time for smart fantasy owners to start playing the waiver wire. After a month, other owners are probably sick of their slow starters, and have already dropped a player or two who has struggled due to small sample luck. In recent seasons, both Michael Morse and Paul Goldschmidt failed to hit in April, and went on to have fantasy breakouts by the time September rolled around. Owners get impatient and either give up on players, or are forced to cut bait too early when injuries strike. Matt Joyce and Brandon McCarthy are two players who may begin to turn things around in May.
OF Matt Joyce 20% owned in CBSSports.com leagues
There’s nothing really special about Joyce. He’s a very useful platoon outfielder whose main asset is his power against right-handed hitters. Joyce’s stat line has been pulled down by a terrible .229 BABIP, but he’s started to heat up over the past couple of games. He’s managed to club four home runs in his last five games. Joyce strikes out too much to post strong averages, so his value is going to be fairly limited. Thankfully, he’s on the better side of a platoon, seeing all of his time against right-handed pitchers.
If you play in a league with a deep roster, Joyce can be a useful part. As long as you’re able to sit him against lefties, and he doesn’t prevent you from picking up a higher upside guy, it might be worth it to give him a look. In shallow leagues, there might be better fourth outfielder candidates. But if Joyce continues his hot streak, he could vault his way into that area. The biggest question is how much his average will rise once his BABIP rebounds. He has significantly more value if he’s able to hit .270+, but he’s only done that once in his career.
SP Brandon McCarthy 28% owned in CBSSports.com leagues
After a poor April, it’s more than likely McCarthy has hit the waiver wire in a ton of leagues. While there are still some alarming signs about his performance, he’s also a really strong candidate to rebound. McCarthy has had success in the majors in the past due to his approach. He won’t post elite strikeout numbers, but he’s able to pound the strike zone and get ground ball outs. He’s been doing those things this season, but he’s been killed by a .387 BABIP. The BABIP struggles aren’t all due to luck, as McCarthy has given up line drives on 26% of his batted balls. Still, his 3.67 FIP is nearly four runs lower than his 7.48 ERA. The skills are still there, he’s just stuck in a bit of a funk at the moment. Plus, McCarthy is a reader of FanGraphs. How could you not at least want to give him a shot?
McCarthy is a decent buy-low option in mixed leagues depending on what’s currently on the waiver wire. He isn’t showing any major red flags, like reduced velocity, so it’s not like he should be considered an elevated injury risk because of his recent struggles. He’s not a must-add since he lacks elite fantasy upside, but he can be a solid contributor. If you can stash him for a few starts while he figures things out, he could become a useful part later in the year.
Chris is a blogger for CBSSports.com. He has also contributed to Sports on Earth, the 2013 Hard Ball Times Baseball Annual, ESPN, FanGraphs and RotoGraphs. He tries to be funny on twitter @Chris_Cwik.