Posted: Thursday August 23, 2012 4:51PM ; Updated: Thursday August 23, 2012 4:51PM

MLB fantasy waiver wire: Harrell offers silver lining for Astros

Story Highlights

Lucas Harrell lowered ERA to 3.81 from 5.07 in recent, solid 10-start stretch

Brandon Belt is hiting .389 in August, may see more time with Melky Cabrera out

Lance Berkman scheduled to start rehab assignment Friday and may return soon

By Michael Beller, SI.com

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Lucas Harrell
Lucas Harrell has given the Astros hope for a brighter future in striking out 63 batters over 64.2 innings over a recent stretch.
AP

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.

Lucas Harrell, Astros -- Harrell has been a revelation for the lowly Astros this season. Prior to getting roughed up by the Cardinals on Tuesday, he had 10-start run in which he allowed two earned runs or fewer in all but one of those starts while going at least seven innings five times. He has lowered his ERA to 3.81 from 5.07 in that stretch while striking out 63 batters in 64.2 innings. Those numbers make him roster-worthy in all but the most shallow of leagues.

Mark Reynolds, Orioles -- We all know the deal with Reynolds by now. He is becoming less and less reliable as a regular fantasy player, but when he gets on a hot streak, he provides a very profitable bat. Well, he's on just one of those streaks, going 9-for-29 with three homers and seven RBI in his last nine games. You won't be able to count on him for too long, but if you're looking for a power bat available in your league, Reynolds is a solid bet for the time being.

Brandon Belt, Giants -- Belt has been on a tear in August, hitting .389/.459/.519 through 17 games. With Melky Cabrera effectively out for the rest of the regular season, manager Bruce Bochy would be wise to get as many hot bats as possible in the lineup. The power hasn't been there, but Belt remains one of the league's hottest hitters. He has also stolen two bases in the month. While you'd still like to see him hitting for power, he should be rostered in most, if not all leagues, at least as long as his bat remains hot.

Lance Berkman, Cardinals -- Berkman (knee) will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Memphis on Friday with an eye on returning to the Cardinals soon. You have to understand the risks with Berkman when considering adding him. While this is a different knee injury than the one that kept him out for two months earlier this season, the fact remains that it's the same knee. Berkman's advanced age only makes it more of a challenge to come back for injury, and the Cardinals have had one of the league's best offenses essentially without him all year. If you have the roster space to take a chance on him, he's worth it, but be wary.

Carlos Villanueva, Blue Jays -- Since moving to the rotation, Villanueva is 4-3 with a 3.02 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 54 strikeouts in 53.2 innings. Quite simply, he has been one of the more consistent starters in the majors over the last few months. The Blue Jays will undoubtedly keep him there the rest of the season, and he is screaming out for your attention. He should be owned in all leagues, regardless of size.

AL-only

John Jaso, Mariners -- Jaso has been hot of late, hitting .300/.442/.575 with three homers and 10 RBI in August. He's worth an add while swinging a hot bat.

Seth Smith, A's -- Smith is set to return from the DL and should reprise his role as a starting outfielder/DH against righties.

NL-only

Andrelton Simmons, Braves -- Simmons is still a few weeks away from returning, but when he comes back he should slot back in as Atlanta's starting shortstop, pushing Paul Janish to the bench.

Kelly Shoppach, Mets -- Shoppach is 3-for-12 with a homer in his brief time with the Mets, and should continue to get all the starts against left-handed pitching in a platoon with Josh Thole.

Chat with me on Twitter, @MBeller.

 
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