In need of another catcher? Rummaging through the discount bin in the hopes of finding an undervalued arm? That’s funny — we’re looking at the same things this week in another edition of the deep league waiver wire.
Tony Cruz / C / St. Louis Cardinals
1 percent Yahoo / .2 percent ESPN / 3 percent CBS ownership
It’s always awful when a player goes down with a serious injury — much less the all-star likes of Yadier Molina — but you need nine men to field a team, and for the Cardinals, that means promoting Cruz to starting duty. Cruz, 27, doesn’t have all that much to offer owners — he owns a career .268 wOBA with two home runs over the four seasons he’s served as Yadi’s caddy — but he’s shown a dramatically improved walk rate so far in 2014, which has propelled his OBP to a decent .329. Most notably, perhaps, he’s seen a spike in his line drives, which has pushed his BABIP above .300, though he’s also popped up balls at a 27 percent clip, which helps explain the .246 average.
It’s hard to read too much into Cruz’s career stats given that he’s amassed just 406 career plate appearances, but it’s worth noting that he’s hit much better away from Busch Stadium in his career, a trend that’s carried into this season. He also has an .817 OPS as a starter this year. And the Cardinals’ new backup catcher, Audry Perez, wasn’t exactly battering baseballs down in the minors, either.
That’s important, because unless/until the Cardinals make a trade, Cruz gets the first crack as the team’s primary backstop with Molina out at least until mid-September, if not the rest of the season. In deep NL-only leagues, however, that might be enough of an excuse to use him, at least until he’s relegated back to reserve duty.
Kevin Correia / SP / Minnesota Twins
1 percent Yahoo / .2 percent ESPN / 6 percent CBS ownership
Yes, I realize there isn’t a massive demand for Correia’s services in fantasy, but then again, we’re in the deep league waiver wire business, and besides, his ownership is sorta moving the needle in CBS leagues, as what was a 4 percent rate last week is now — are you sitting down? — 6 percent. On the surface of things, the bump isn’t without merit: he’s posted a 2.30 ERA over his last seven starts, compiling a 1.21 WHIP despite a 3-4 record in that span. In fact, over that period, he’s made four starts in which he’s surrendered one earned run or less, and the Twins have played almost .500 ball in June and July. Considering that he’s changed his pitch selection slightly, cutting back on his cutter and relying more on his curveball and changeup after he began the season with a 6.11 ERA and 1.55 WHIP, one might ask if Correia is worth a look in deeper leagues.
And we have an answer: buyer beware. Correia has been benefiting from an extremely charitable 84.9 percent strand rate, and his SIERA and xFIP, which were mediocre to begin with, jumped into the mid 5s over those last seven starts. His strikeout rate, which has never done fantasy owners any favors, shrunk to an awful 7.1 percent, and batters have been smacking line drives against him at a higher clip.
Where does that leave us? Somewhere in between the two stretches, perhaps. That would be all well and good if “between” for Correia meant anything particularly useful in fantasy, but with a mediocre career ERA and WHIP, a win-pressed Twins team and a strikeout rate that ranks last among all qualified starters, one would do best if they were to close their eyes and look away when reality manifests itself in the form of a catastrophic start or two. Nothing wrong with riding a hot hand, of course, but leave Correia alone unless you’re strictly talking stream scenarios.
Karl, a journalist living in Washington, D.C., learned about life's disappointments by following the Mets beginning at a young age. His work has appeared in numerous publications, and he has contributed to the 2014 and 2015 editions of The Hardball Times Annual. Follow/harass him on Twitter @Karl_de_Vries.