This is a great time of year. The weather is warming up (and drying out) along with some bats, minor league players are getting the call and trades season is in full effect (since most owners know what their needs are now). It’s a Zen like state in fantasy land…except for all the damn injuries. Just when you think you’re safe, someone else goes down (Curse you A.J. Pollock). It seems like a never-ending cycle of players continue to rotate in and out of your DL slots with no end in sight. I have one team with 5 players on the DL which is down from 6 (welcome back Ryan Zimmerman) so I feel your pain when it comes to injuries. Nothing you can do but suck it up and find the best plug and play option available.
Corey Dickerson (Rockies): I pumped up Dickerson during the first week of the season but Charlie Blackmon stepped in and stole his thunder. He’s been fighting for playing time, but Carlos Gonzalez was nice enough to hit the DL and give him some time to shine. For the season, Dickerson is batting .348 with 7 home runs and 16 RBIs in only 92 at bats. On Wednesday he was batting second sandwiched between Blackmon and Tulowitzki, something about that gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling. Ownership is sure to spike over the next few days but if Dickerson is available in your league (even a 10 team league), go get him.
Available in 66% of CBS and 84% of Yahoo leagues
Brock Holt (Red Sox): Everyone assumed diminished playing time once Drew was promoted, but the Sox are keeping the hot Holt in the lineup at first. Holt is similar to Casey McGehee in the fact that he’s not your prototypical third baseman. There isn’t much power or speed here, but Holt can hit and has implanted himself in the top half of the Boston lineup. For the year, Holt is batting .323 and should score a good number of runs batting in front of Xander Bogaerts and Dustin Pedroia. Third base hasn’t been kind to fantasy owners this season which is where Holt plays best in fantasy, but he also makes an excellent CI player. Some say this won’t last, but I’m willing to ride this one until the wheels fall off.
Available in 79% of CBS and 94% of Yahoo leagues
Geraldo Parra (Diamondbacks): The Diamondbacks had high expectations for their outfield coming into the season. 2 months in and Parra is the last man standing with A.J. Pollock joining Mark Trumbo on the DL. Parra isn’t the flashy name brand people think of when looking for an outfielder, but he fills up the stat sheets. He currently ranks in the top 25 for runs scored with 34 (tied with Mike Trout). The .279 batting average isn’t anything special, but he’s batting .311 against right-handed pitchers. If you’re in a daily league and can sit him against left-handed pitchers (something Arizona can’t do with all their injuries) you’ve got a pretty good fourth outfielder capable of delivering double-digit numbers in the power and speed department.
Available in 49% of CBS and 80% of Yahoo leagues
Denard Span (Nationals): The Nationals leadoff man has very similar numbers to Parra, except he has less power, more speed and does better (but not great) against lefties. Span is also in the top 25 for runs scored, tied with Parra at 34. He could see a bump in that category with Ryan Zimmerman back in the active lineup. Span is also on a little hot streak batting .333 over the past two weeks with 2 steals. You won’t see any power here and RBI production is minimal, but he will help you out in the other 3 categories. Span makes a decent injury fill in or spare bat off your bench.
Available in 47% of CBS and 84% of Yahoo leagues
Michael Saunders (Mariners): Another member of the HoHum outfield club. Saunders has always had a nice power speed combo, but his batting average has always held him back. This year he’s batting .284 (.342 the past 14 days) and while he could use some work at home, his lefty/righty splits are both playable. Saunders has been hitting near the top of the order recently so a spike in runs and RBIs could be in order. He is 27 years old so a breakout could be in order, but I think we’d all be happy with a solid season after years of disappointment. Saunders has more risk than Span and Parra, but he also has more upside.
Available in 78% of CBS and 88% of Yahoo leagues
C.J. Cron (Angels): Josh Hamilton is off the DL, and for now it looks like Cron will continue to see at bats over Grant Green. Raul Ibanez is still stealing at bats; with a batting average of .140, you would think even Mike Scioscia has a limit. Cron has hit .300 since his arrival and his power potential is well documented at this point. He’s still not walking much but he’s not striking out either (13 in 82 at bats). Don’t wait for him to start receiving full-time at bats, make the move and grab him in advance. You’re dealing with Scioscia here so anything is possible. but I like Cron’s chances of regular playing time. Thanks for all you’ve done for baseball Mr. Ibanez, now step aside and let the kid have his chance to shine.
Available in 73% of CBS and 95% of Yahoo leagues
Jacob deGrom (Mets): Some of you were waiting to see who would emerge between deGrom and Rafael Montero. Well Montero was sent down and the 5th starting pitchers job is all deGrom’s. He wasn’t one of the top pitching prospects coming into the year, but after 4 starts he’s looking like an ace (well, an ace for the Mets at least). He does need to work on his control (4.15 BB/9 compared to 2.28 in the minors) and keeping the ball in the park, but a friendly home park should help keep his ERA in check. With the exception of a game @STL in another week, deGrom has a somewhat favorable schedule coming up. Wins may be tough to come by, but deGrom will make up for that in strikeouts (11 in his last start vs. Philly). Some see him as a streaming option, I see him as a little more than that.
Available in 62% of CBS and 82% of Yahoo leagues
Lonnie Chisenhall (Indians): After batting .361 through the first 2 months, I think Chisenhall has entered the circle of trust. He does take a seat vs. left handed pitchers but he is 10-20 against them this season. His ownership in CBS jumped 19% since last week and 8% in the past day on yahoo so your window of opportunity is closing fast. If you haven’t taken advantage of his services yet, do so now before the average corrects itself.
Available in 32% of CBS and 58% of Yahoo leagues
B.J. Upton (Braves): Just a quick update here, over the past 2 weeks Upton has batted .275 with 2 home runs and 2 stolen bases. That’s 5 home runs and 9 steals for the year so there is a pulse worth monitoring, just not rostering (yet). Do what you will here.
Available in 68% of CBS and 73% of Yahoo leagues
DL Specials that should be On Your Radar
Jeremy Hellickson (Rays): Hellickson is expected to go on a rehab assignment Saturday so he’s about 3 weeks away. Last year was a bad year for Hellboy, but there were some positive signs. His strikeouts went up slightly while his walk rate decreased. He lost a little velocity but it was almost in line with his 2012 speeds. As of now his elbow is pain-free, but monitor his status after each start. I’m cautiously optimistic he can come close to his 2012 numbers, although maybe with a slightly higher ERA. If you’re in need of pitching and have an empty DL slot (not many of us have that luxury), you may want to stash Hellickson now in advance of his rehab. You lose nothing by stashing him early but you could gain a nice arm for the back-end of your rotation if all goes well.
Available in 86% of CBS and 98% of Yahoo leagues
Taijuan Walker (Mariners): Another DL stash, but more for those of you in Yahoo leagues. Walker showed some rust in his first rehab start walking 4 in 2 innings of work. He still has some work to do and even then, there is no guarantee he will have a spot in the rotation when he’s ready. The talent is there though so even if he does start out in the bullpen or AAA, it shouldn’t be long before he’s starting in the majors again. Those in CBS leagues have been patiently waiting with Walker stashed away, but he could easily be out there for those in Yahoo leagues.
Available in 25% of CBS and 59% of Yahoo leagues
Johan Santana (SP Orioles): I jokingly mentioned Santana a month ago, but I’m not laughing now. He’s reaching the upper 80’s in his rehab starts. Santana can be a very good pitcher even without heat, remember he had an ERA below 3.0 for the first 3 months of 2012 throwing between 84 and 88 MPH. His secondary pitches are still plus and if healthy, Santana could be a useful pitcher for the back-end of your rotation. You may get some laughs from some of your league mates, but they were probably the same one’s that laughed last year when someone picked up Raul Ibanez. If you’re in a casual league you can probably wait, but more aggressive leagues may want to act sooner.
Edit 6/6 7:21 PM Santana suffered a torn Achilles tendon and is done for the season (or possibly his career)
Available in 92% of CBS and 99% of Yahoo leagues
Clay Buchholz (Red Sox): He’s had a horrible season so far so the “hyperextended knee” injury couldn’t have come at a better time. It wouldn’t surprise me if it was just a story and they told him to limp around for a few weeks just to get him out of the lineup. Whatever the case, something had to happen and maybe the time off to clear his head is what was needed. Buchholz is an average pitcher who can produce above average results at times and in stretches and is much better than the mess we saw the first few months. This isn’t someone you want to run out and stash now, but if you see him pitching well in his bullpen sessions or first rehab start, this is someone worth gambling on.
Available in 60% of CBS and 65% of Yahoo leagues
C.C. Sabathia (Yankees): I know, he’s lost some velocity and was pitching like crap before he went on the DL. Still, C.C. was getting a strikeout an inning with low walks and can still eat innings and generate wins thanks to his team. His ownership rate is down to 50% in Yahoo and 63% in CBS so owners aren’t completely giving up hope, but there are some doubters out there. Normally a player sways me one way or the other, but I’m on the fence with this one. I’d probably feel more comfortable stashing one of the pitchers above if I had the room, and I think your own personal comfort level is what you should use with C.C. If you’re a believer and he’s available then roll the dice, but if you have doubts then don’t beat yourself up about it and move on.
Finding their way back to the waiver wire
Seth Smith (Padres): After hitting .354 in May, it seems the luck is running out on the 31-year-old outfielder. Smith has hit .182 over the past few weeks and while his .306 batting average still looks good, it’s headed back down (career .268 hitter). His ownership has dropped 16% in the past week on CBS and is down 8% on Yahoo since yesterday. If you’ve been riding Smith’s hot streak, you might want to start looking for a replacement Now.
Garrett Jones (Marlins). His .264 average is almost in line with his career numbers and the power is still there, but Jones has hit .189 with only 3 RBIs over the past 14 days. His ownership is dropping but still high enough to suggest you bench him for now as opposed to release him.
Adam Eaton (White Sox): He may have long-term value but Eaton has been an utter disappointment this season. He batted .224 in May with 1 RBI and 3 stolen bases. B.J. Upton has produced better numbers and owners won’t touch him with a 10 foot stick. Try again next year, there are more productive options on waivers.
Nick Castellanos (Tigers): With a .237 average and only 3 runs and 2 RBI in the last 30 days, I think Castellanos can be tucked away on waivers next to Will Middlebrooks. You can keep tabs on him if you’d like, but keeping him on your team is pointless unless you’re in a keeper league.
Alfonso Soriano (Yankees): He wasn’t a waiver wire pickup, but he is becoming available on waivers. Soriano had a terrific season last year, but this year he’s not drawing walks and is hitting like a 38-year-old who’s lost his stuff. I wouldn’t tell you to release him as he could turn things around, but nobody would fault you for it if you did. With a .253 OBP and .226 batting average (.195 against righties), Soriano should not be active anywhere unless facing a lefty (and I question even that).