It’s the last week before September call-ups, that frustrating nook of the fantasy season when playing time for DLWW candidates is subject to change. But in cases of our two veterans this week, one has just received what could be an extended opportunity to make an impact in NL-only leagues, while the other’s hot bat could make him an option in the junior circuit.
Yusmeiro Petit / SP / San Francisco Giants
2% Yahoo / .4% ESPN / 3% CBS ownership
It’s been a rough few years for the once-great Tim Lincecum, whose 2014 campaign has been so mediocre that he’s been exactly replacement level — 0.0 WAR — in 145.1 innings this year. Mercifully, the Giants have decided to move the right-hander to the bullpen, where he’ll have a chance to “clean up his delivery,” in manager Bruce Bochy’s words, giving the 29-year-old Petit a rotation spot, at least for the moment.
It couldn’t have come at a better time for Petit, who’s retired 38 straight batters over his last seven appearances out of the team’s bullpen, and is altogether having a terrific season, posting a 2.78 FIP and 2.72 SIERA over 80.1 innings, mostly in relief. He’s also become a strikeout machine; that 27.4% strikeout rate is good for third among all National League pitchers with at least 80 innings, and as Eno pointed out in May, he’s the owner of one of the nastiest curveballs in baseball.
Unfortunately, Petit’s success has yet to translate as a starter, as he was positively nuked to the tune of a 6.32 ERA in six starts earlier this year, a span during which he surrendered six home runs. The long balls are especially concerning for a guy with such extreme fly ball tendencies as Petit, even if he does pitch his home games at AT&T Park, but at least the strikeouts and tidy walk rate remained in check during that span. It’s also worth remembering that Petit pitched well in seven starts last year, and, of course, came within one strike of baseball immortality last September.
Petit’s fantasy value, obviously, is tied to his ability to stay in the rotation, which means he’ll not only have to pitch well, but hope that Lincecum doesn’t immediately figure out what’s wrong with him. But the Giants rode a relieving Lincecum to great effect in the 2012 postseason, and with the team very much in a pennant race, that could turn out to be the best place for him as he tries to put things back together. Meanwhile, Petit is certainly an intriguing upside guy in NL-only leagues, particularly as he takes the mound at home on Thursday to face the Rockies.
Alberto Callaspo / 2B / Oakland Athletics
4% Yahoo / 2.5% ESPN / 10% CBS ownership
You know pickings are getting slim in the waiver wire world when Callaspo is being highlighted, as his status as a versatile — and limited — deep league player is well known in these parts. But he’s been having a pretty good August, batting .297 entering Monday’s action, and with eligibility at 2B, 3B and 1B, that hot streak deserves some attention.
Callaspo has always made good contact, and the 31-year-old still flashes that ability, as he ranks sixth in the American League in contact rate among hitters with at least 350 plate appearances (and has the third-lowest SwStr%). But whereas he’s been hurt in recent years by a sub-par BABIP, Callaspo has been hammering line drives at a 25.5% clip in August, which in turn has powered a very healthy .333 average on balls in play. Playing time isn’t a concern, either: after missing a few weeks in July with a hamstring issue, Callaspo has played virtually every day, and with Nick Punto still on the shelf, and Josh Donaldson being banged up recently, there’s little reason to think the switch-hitting Callaspo won’t get his at-bats.
Then again, even if Callaspo was a sure-fire bet to keep his average in the .290-.300 range, there’s no shortage of reasons for why he’s strictly AL-only material. He doesn’t hit for power, he doesn’t steal bases, and he bats predominantly towards the bottom of the A’s order, hampering any help he might provide in the runs department. Also, his ability to hit left-handed pitching — against which he has a lifetime .737 OPS — has disappeared, evidenced by his paltry .208 average this season.
Still, a good batting average counts for something, especially when it can be spread around the infield. Callaspo might not promise much beyond one-category production, but owners in need of some help there could do worse.
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.