Even though the Cubs have been the most aggressive seller this year and are not a serious threat to make the playoffs, they've played better than most people expected them to back in March. At 48-55, they're a near lock to significantly improve upon last years 61-101 record. Their run differential is -17, which ranks 18th in the league. They've gotten by mainly on the back of a rotation that has been a surprising strength, led by All-Star Travis Wood and Jeff Samardzija. The Cubs are loaded with talented hitting prospects, but the current offensive product at the major league level leaves plenty to be desired. The one consistent bat on the team might not be in Chicago much longer, but no matter where he is come August 1, he deserves attention. It's time Nate Schierholtz felt the love from the fantasy community.
Schierholtz (available in 78 percent of Yahoo! leagues, 55 percent of CBS leagues and 73 percent of ESPN leagues) came to the Cubs this offseason on an affordable three-year deal, and was slated to be part of a lefty/righty platoon in right field with Scott Hairston (who was dealt to the Nationals earlier this month). Schierholtz's struggles against left-handed pitching haven't waned (he's hitting .188/.325/.219 against southpaws), but he has raked against righties, giving him a full-season slash of .281/.340/.536 with 14 homers through 307 plate appearances. He has always hit righties well, which makes him an ideal platoon player, but he has taken it up a notch this season, specifically in the power department. His 15.9 HR/FB ratio would be by far a career high. A number of teams reportedly have interest in him, most notably the Pirates. Wrigley Field has played as a hitter's paradise this season, but we shouldn't expect any significant drop-off in production if Schierholtz gets traded. He can be added in most mixed leagues.
And now, for the rest of this week's Waiver Wire goodness:
• Brandon Beachy, Braves (56, 21, 55): Beachy will make his season debut tonight against the Rockies. He hasn't pitched in a major league game since an elbow injury and subsequent Tommy John surgery ended his 2012 season, but he had been one of the hottest starters over the previous season-and-a-half. We've seen what he can do when healthy. This is a guy who struck out 169 batters in 141.2 innings in 2011, then posted an ERA of 2.00 in 13 starts last season. His velocity fell off a full mile per hour between 2011-12, but that likely had something to do with his elbow. He has sailed through his rehab starts without issue, always the most important factor for any player returning from injury. He should be universally owned.
• Junior Lake, Cubs (69, 52, 45): Lake gets overlooked in the Cubs farm system, and for good reason. The Cubs boast four top-50 prospects, and Lake doesn't crack the top 100. He did have a strong year at Triple-A Iowa, hitting .295/.341/.462 with four homers and 14 steals and earning a call to the majors. Since the promotion, he has done his best Yasiel Puig impression, hitting .385/.415/.615 with two homers. Over his entire minor league career, Lake never projected as an All-Star player, so it would be silly for us to expect that to change based on a two-week sample. He is, however, very athletic, and gives Dale Sveum a ton of roster flexibility. With Alfonso Soriano now in the Bronx, Lake will be in the lineup most days. He's worth a shot in deeper mixed leagues, especially since he's shortstop eligible on CBS and ESPN.
• Carlos Quentin, Padres (67, 39, 29): I started writing this weekly column last season, and I feel like as long as I write it and Quentin is in the league, he'll make an appearance at some point during the season. He's up to his usual tricks this year, hitting 278/.366/.500 with 13 homers in 314 plate appearances. After a slow start, he turned it on once summer descended on the country, slashing .366/.451/.577 in June and .294/.351/.541 thus far in July. He's drawing interest on the trade market, and unlike with Schierholtz leaving Wrigley, a trade almost anywhere away from Petco Park would be a good thing for Quentin.
• Tyler Chatwood, Rockies (80, 57, 77): Chatwood's season defies description in much the same way Jeff Locke's does, but Chatwood hasn't gotten near the level of fantasy attention the Pittsburgh righty has garnered. In 14 starts, Chatwood is 7-3 with a 2.48 ERA and 3.14 FIP. He only gets 6.37 strikeouts per nine innings, so he's not going to help much in that department. Despite the low number of strikeouts, though, he gets by primarily by keeping the ball in the ballpark; he has surrendered just three homers in 81 innings. His low strikeout total limits his upside for fantasy purposes, but he's still worth looking at in most mixed leagues.
• Josh Johnson, Blue Jays: Of all the culprits in Toronto's disappointing season, Johnson might top the list. His velocity is fine and he's still striking guys out, but the results are consistently terrible. After allowing seven runs to the Astros Saturday, he has a 6.08 ERA and 4.60 FIP. The strikeouts aren't worth this headache. You should feel OK letting him go.
• Miguel Montero, Diamondbacks: For one reason or another, Montero can't seem to hit fly balls with any consistency this year. That's an awfully bad sign for a power hitter, and it has manifested itself in a .230/.319/.348 slash line. In reality, his power hasn't fallen off at all. His HR/FB ratio is 11.8 percent this year, a slight uptick from last year's 11.6 percent. However, his fly-ball rate is just 30.8 percent. Last year, it was 36 percent. At this point, it's hard to believe that he'll turn it around in 2013.