McCarthy, Garcia nearing returns at crucial time - Sports Illustrated

MLB fantasy waiver wire: Garcia, McCarthy near returns for stretch

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The Waiver Wire is here to offer up the choicest cuts of waiver wire goodness, paying attention to mixed, as well as AL- and NL-only leagues. Every league is different, and some players listed here may not be available if you play in a deep mixed league. However, we'll try to address everyone's needs, whether the depth of your league resembles a kiddie pool or the Atlantic Ocean.

Brandon McCarthy, A's -- After struggling in his first rehab start, McCarthy shined in his second, tossing six shutout inning with nine strikeouts. He got through a bullpen session without incident Wednesday and will start against the White Sox Friday.

Jaime Garcia, Cardinals -- Garcia, out since June 5 with a left shoulder impingement, has made two rehab starts, and will likely make a couple more before returning to the Cardinals. Held to a strict 65-pitch limit in his start Saturday for Double-A Springfield, Garcia allowed one run on two hits in 4.1 innings, striking out six batters. It's likely the shoulder was bothering him all season, contributing to his lackluster performance before hitting the DL. He could be a huge arm to add for the fantasy stretch run.

Greg Holland, Royals -- With Jonathan Broxton now in Cincinnati, Holland assumed the closer's role in Kansas City. Quite frankly, Holland had been pitching like a shutdown closer ever since returning from injury in mid-May. When he went on the DL, he had an unsightly 11.37 ERA. He has it all the way down to 3.22, racking up 49 strikeouts in 38.1 innings in that stretch. Had Holland pitched like this from the start of the season, it's likely he would have been the closer much earlier in the year. As such, he looks like one of the strongest ninth-inning options for the remainder of the season.

Grant Balfour, A's -- Speaking of closing situations in flux, with Ryan Cook blowing four of his last five save opportunities, manager Bob Melvin said the A's might shake things up at the back end of the bullpen. If they do decide to go with a different closer, Balfour would have to be the guy. He has been steady all season long, posting a 2.60 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 43 strikeouts in 52 innings. He has surrendered just three home runs, and picked up seven saves himself before Cook took a hold of the closer's job. Those speculating for saves should take a look at Balfour.

Travis Snider, Pirates -- The Pirates traded Brad Lincoln for Snider last week, and he should be the team's everyday right fielder. There are fears cropping up that Snider is a Quadruple-A hitter, but the power certainly seems legitimate. He slugged .663 at Triple-A Las Vegas one year and .598 another, numbers that are hard to put up without real pop. He'll get every chance to prove himself, even with the Pirates in contention, so if you're struggling for power and/or an outfielder, Snider could be the cure to your ills.

Tom Henderson, Brewers -- After picking up saves for Milwaukee on Tuesday and Wednesday, it looks like there's a new sheriff in town. Feel free to grab him as needed. I'd rank him second behind Holland in potentially available closers.

Cliff Pennington, A's -- Pennington began a rehab assignment over the weekend as he works his way back from left elbow tendinitis. He'll take over as the starter at shortstop once he's back, and is a nice option for the speed-needy.

Eric Thames, Mariners -- The Mariners made a move before the deadline for Thames to get some much-needed pop in their outfield. While he has disappointed this season, he's just a year removed from going .262/.313/.456 with 12 homers in 362 at-bats.

Brett Jackson, Cubs -- The Cubs promoted Jackson on Sunday, and manager Dale Sveum previously said he'd start every day once he got the call. He desperately needs to cut down on his strikeouts, but he was hitting .256/.338/.479 with 15 homers, 22 doubles, 12 triples and 27 steals at Triple-A Iowa this season.

Josh Vitters, Cubs -- Vitters also got the call Sunday, and while we've been hearing about him seemingly forever, he's still just 22 years old. In 452 at-bats with Triple-A Iowa this year, he hit .304/.356/.513 with 17 homers and 68 RBI.

Chat with me on Twitter, @MBeller.