MARKET PULSE: Under Arrest

Market Pulse looks at the movers each week in respective markets as we search for potential buying opportunities. The data is taken from CBS Sports, which features primarily daily transaction leagues, providing us with some insight as to player movement over the past week leading up to the Sunday waiver deadline in weekly leagues. Of course, depending on the parameters of your league, further investigation of every player is strongly encouraged. Click on the provided links for additional information and deeper analysis from our crack BaseballHQ.com staff. Also, please note that, as the season progresses, players who have been steadily rising or falling may have had additional commentary that still applies written up in recent columns, so you may benefit from perusing the Market Pulse archives.

Column designations include...

  • OWN: Ownership percentage prior to last weekend
  • CHG: Ownership percentage change since then, heading into the current weekend
  • RTG: The author's general rating for each player as follows:

+ = BUY: potentially profitable stock for your portfolio, further research strongly recommended for possible acquisition, depending on league parameters

o = WATCH: put on your radar for potential acquisition, depending on needs & league parameters

 = SELL: dead money, odds of helping cause extremely limited

 

MARKET OVERVIEW

In the meat of the dog days of August, MLB teams are grinding their way toward the pennant race. Post-season contenders may be quicker to make short-term tactical moves that maximize their chances of winning on a given day, while second-division teams are more likely to let things play out. That can mean a journeyman getting unexpected extended playing time, or it can mean a youngster getting the chance to play through growing pains. Identifying optimal targets in these situations can be very beneficial.

 

BULL MARKET

These are the "hot" stocks, the players who are being most added. If you have a chance to jump on board and grab these players in your league, you should probably consider it, though we will try to point out who you should let slide by, or at least approach with caution.

Over 25% Ownership (Possibly Still Available in Shallow Leagues)
  PLAYER OWN CHG RTG COMMENT
  Mike Tauchman (OF, NYY) 36% 36% + Continues to take advantage of Stanton's absence
  J.D. Davis (3B, NYM) 26% 34% + Has captured everyday LF role for surging Mets
  Gio Urshela (3B, NYY) 55% 31% + Breakout season is skills-supported
  Brian Anderson (OF, MIA) 49% 20% + Heating up of late in solid season
  Cal Quantrill (RHP, SD) 26% 19% + Throwing strikes and having success
  Emilio Pagan (RHP, TAM) 42% 17% + Strengthening grip on TAM closer role
  Seth Lugo (RHP, NYM) 29% 12% o Still key bullpen piece but SV opps probably limited
  Ryan Yarbrough (LHP, TB) 64% 11% + On a roll, 6-0, 1.61 ERA in 50 IP since mid-June
  Francisco Mejia (C, SD) 29% 11% + Quietly emerging from slow start

Brian Anderson (OF, MIA)—An unexciting one-dimensional contact hitter in his MLB full-season debut last year, Anderson has added power to his game this year. Of course, who hasn't? But, Anderson's power growth has been especially noticeable over the past month, as he has blasted seven home runs on the way to posting a .322/.400/.667 line over his last 23 games. Our Greg Pyron explained back in June that such growth was possible if Anderson could overcome his propensity to beat the ball into the ground. Sure enough, he has raised his FB% by six points since then to 35% and his recent hot streak has, not coincidentally, coincided with a 42% fly ball rate.

Cal Quantrill (RHP, SD)—As our Stephen Nickrand noted in late July, all Quantrill needed to do was throw more strikes. Sure enough, the young righthander has issued only five walks (1.6 BB/9) as he has rolled to a 4-1 record over his last five starts (1.59 ERA, 0.85 WHIP).

Seth Lugo (RHP, NYM)—After picking up a (2-inning) save and a win in back-to-back relief appearances, many thought Lugo stood to benefit from the struggles of closer Edwin Diaz. An August 14 implosion dashed any hopes of Lugo usurping Diaz, however, as he was brought in during the seventh inning. Even if the poor performance does not derail Lugo's momentum, his role appears to be capped at high-leverage setup usage.

Francisco Mejia (C, SD)—Mejia struggled to gain consistent playing time in the first half as he failed to make much of an impact with his bat. Since settling in as the regular catcher in the second half, however, Mejia's bat has started to heat up. He posted a .528/.553/.806 line over his first 11 games of August and any buy-low window is closing quickly.

Under 25% Ownership (Possibly Still Available in Deeper Leagues)
  PLAYER OWN CHG RTG COMMENT
  Aristides Aquino (OF, CIN) 15% 73% + 1.000 SLG is bound to come down... probably
  Mark Melancon (RHP, ATL) 4% 39% o 1 perfect SV & 2 blow-ups since being anointed closer
  Dillon Peters (LHP, LAA) 4% 25% o Throwing strikes, becoming solid LAA rotation piece
  Joe Ross (RHP, WAS) 9% 24% A buy only if believe using smoke & mirrors is a skill
  Ian Happ (OF, CHC) 14% 19% o Cooling off as Ks pick up, may settle into 4th OF role
  Ivan Nova (RHP, CHW) 21% 17% o 4-0, 0.49 ERA over last 5 GS, but only 4.1 K/9
  Josh Rojas (OF, ARI) 1% 11% + Versatile speedster w/chance to contribute in 2nd half
  Starlin Castro (2B, MIA) 14% 9% o Heating up in Aug as H% normalizes
  Mike Montgomery (P, KC) 2% 9% Domination of DET Tankers not reliable indicator
  Derek Law (RHP, TOR) 1% 9% o Getting SV, but Smokey the Bear would not approve

Aristides Aquino (OF, CIN)—At 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, it is understandable that Aquino packs a punch, but wow! Ranking outside the top-10 in virtually all pre-season Reds prospect lists, Aquino was even non-tendered by Cincinnati last November only to be re-signed to a minor league contract, yet here he is in the big leagues mashing like nobody's business. While his big swing may well be exposed by big league pitching in time, the Reds are certainly going to keep playing him. As long as MLB continues to make pitchers throw rabbit balls, fantasy owners should play him, as well.

 

BEAR MARKET

These are the players who are being dropped the most, many of which have meaningful reasons for being let go. Sometimes, however, the market may be overreacting and some nice profits can be made by the forward-looking owner who buys when everyone else is selling.

Over 50% Ownership (Possibly Becoming Available in Shallow Leagues)
  PLAYER OWN CHG RTG COMMENT
  Adam Duvall (OF, ATL) 55% -23% 3-for-33, 12 K stretch precedes return trip to minors
  Yandy Diaz (3B, TB) 56% -19% Likely out for season with hairline fracture in foot
  Andrew Cashner (P, BOS) 58% -16% Bumped from rotation, possibly for rest of season
  Shane Greene (RHP, ATL) 89% -15% o A loss and 2 blown SV since ballyhooed 8/31 arrival
  Travis d'Arnaud (C, TB) 86% -13% + Finally cooling off but still one of better hitting Cs
  Jake Arrieta (RHP, PHI) 79% -11% Facing season-ending surgery
  Lourdes Gurriel (SS, TOR) 95% -10% o Slumping in Aug, now sidelined w/minor quad strain
  Austin Riley (3B, ATL) 62% -10% o Hopes to return from knee injury in early Sept
  Ross Stripling (RHP, LAD) 59% -10% o Lingering biceps tendinitis delaying return

Shane Greene (RHP, ATL)—As bad as he's been--and he's been awful--since his celebrated trade deadline acquisition, Greene's replacement, Mark Melancon, has had almost as many problems of his own since getting a chance. Greene's track record combined with Atlanta's intentions upon acquiring him render it a mistake to dismiss the possibility that he gets another shot to save games before the season is over. Fantasy competitors in need of saves with room to stash him might be wise to consider doing so.

Under 50% Ownership (Possibly Becoming Available in Deeper Leagues)
  PLAYER OWN CHG RTG COMMENT
  Greg Holland (RHP, WAS) 35% -9% Likelihood of closing again in 2019 extremely slim
  Shawn Kelley (RHP, TEX) 32% -9% Setup man struggling since return from biceps injury
  A. Wojciechowski (P, BAL) 28% -9% Offers some strikeouts (10.5 Dom) but little else
  Daniel Norris (LHP, DET) 21% -9% Nearing arbitrary "innings limit," limited to 3-4 IP/GS
  Drew Smyly (LHP, PHI) 27% -8% Coughing up back-breaking 2.8 HR/9 on 23% HR/F
  Jaime Barria (RHP, LAA) 18% -8% Optioned out after back-to-back 9-run outings
  Josh VanMeter (OF, CIN) 32% -7% + Getting regular PT in super-utility role
  Kevin Gausman (RHP, CIN) 31% -7% o Relegated to bullpen w/CIN but still worth tracking
  Vince Velasquez (RHP, PHI) 49% -5% o Maddeningly inconsistent, but providing some value
  Zach Eflin (RHP, PHI) 43% -5% o Rejoining rotation

Josh VanMeter (OF-2B-3B-1B, CIN)—While the emergence of Aristides Aquino has prevented VanMeter from becoming a regular at one specific outfield position, as many assumed he might following the trade of Yasiel Puig, manager David Bell has been creative on getting the versatile youngster in the lineup on a somewhat regular basis. Though his extreme splits (only 17 PA vs LHP) leave him as primarily a strong-side platoon player, VanMeter is getting enough work to be an asset in many fantasy formats. Along with his helpful versatility, VanMeter has posted a .316/.381/.566 line in the second half.

 

PRE-MARKET

Just as the early bird gets the worm, the best way to gain an edge on the competition is by grabbing an emerging asset before the buying stampede begins. Here we consider lightly owned players who are just beginning to move in the market. These players may be especially useful considerations in deeper leagues.

Players Who May Just Be Appearing on Radar, Depending on League Size/Format
  PLAYER OWN CHG RTG COMMENT
  Cameron Maybin (OF,NYY) 7% 8% + Much better vs RHP this yr, preventing strict platoon
  Luis Arraez (2B, MIN) 17% 7% + Elite plate discipline leads to empty but useful BA
  Kolby Allard (LHP, TEX) 8% 7% o Former top prospect finally getting chance w/new org
  Jon Berti (SS, MIA) 2% 7% + Hitting and running since return from strained oblique
  Tucker Barnhart (C, CIN) 13% 6% + Hitting much better since return from strained oblique
  Adrian Houser (RHP, MIL) 3% 6% + Second chance in rotation going better than first
  Erick Fedde (RHP, WAS) 3% 5% o Could be bumped from rotation with Scherzer return
  Johnny Cueto (RHP, SF) 9% 4% o Successful rehab continues, albeit in low minors
  R. Arozarena (OF, STL) 1% 4% o Solid all-around prospect but will have to fight for PT
  Jose Osuna (1B, PIT) 6% 3% + Strong 2nd half interrupted by fight suspension
  J. Waguespack (P, TOR) 7% 2% 4-1 after another W but remains high-risk proposition
  Elieser Hernandez (P, MIA) 6% 2% High-risk source of Ks pitching for tanking team

Jon Berti (SS, MIA)—Though he played mainly 3B & OF earlier in the season, Berti has settled into the everyday shortstop role in August, regularly batting atop the lineup. Since his return from a strained oblique, the 29-year old rookie has posted a .321/.397/.464 line with four stolen bases in four attempts. While not a prime dynasty investment, Berti stands an excellent shot at playing everyday the rest of this season for the tanking Marlins.

Tucker Barnhart (C, CIN)—Since going 2-for-3 in his July 26 return from the DL, Barnhart has posted a fine .333/.438/.593 line in 18 games as the Reds primary catcher, making him a very useful addition down the stretch in most formats.

Adrian Houser (RHP, MIL)—After getting cuffed around to the tune of a 7.83 ERA over six starts earlier in the year, Houser was relegated to the bullpen, where he performed significantly better. With Milwaukee's rotation decimated by injuries in the second half, Houser was reinserted in the rotation on July 30 and the results have been much better. In 23 innings covering four starts, Houser has limited the opposition to one run on three occasions, while posting a 2.74 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and 9.8 K/9.


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.