We end up a little heaving on the hitters this week, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any valuable pickups on the bump. I’m still very high on many of the guys mentioned last week, including SP Kevin Correia (Pittsburgh), SP Jeff Francis (Kansas City), SP Justin Masterson (Cleveland), and SP Braden McCarthy (Oakland). We talked about these four guys last week, and they have not disappointed. If they are still available, then act fast as the window on their availability is likely to close this week.
Plenty of hitting to talk about this week, as injuries (and retirement!) to key starters have created some opportunity for other guys to get some regular playing time. Don’t be afraid to jump on some of the guys that have opened up the season white hot. While it’s likely they will tail off, the astute fantasy owner will grab and enjoy their hottness for a couple of weeks – ride it while you can!
As always, thanks for reading and emailing me at email@example.com. Let’s start things off out in the field…
OF Willie Bloomquist, Arizona
We start off the week with one of the hottest players in baseball right now, yes, Willie Bloomquist. He’s hitting close to .400, which surely won’t continue, but he’s forced the Diamondbacks into finding him a position to play on an every day basis. Don’t worry about when he’ll drop off, if you have a struggling outfielder right now, set him aside and drop Bloomquist into your starting lineup while he is tearing the cover off the ball.
2B Freddy Sanchez, San Francisco
Sanchez is another guy that is starting the year off extremely hot. Even with his white hot start, his name won’t be mentioned with the elite of the position, but that shouldn’t matter. He’s batting well over .350 for the season, so enjoy the hot streak while it lasts and bump up your team’s batting average.
3B Placido Polanco, Philadelphia
Polanco was most likely overlooked on draft day, as most fantasy owners prefer to lock down a single third baseman and ride two first basemen in the starting lineup (one at 1B, one at the corner). Polanco’s hot start cannot be overlooked, and like Sanchez, he is a guy that can have an immediate impact on a fantasy team in the batting average department. He’s been able to thrive even as the Phillies ride a lineup without Chase Utley. Fantasy owners should find room in their starting lineups to ride Polanco for a few weeks.
DH Travis Hafner, Cleveland
Like most fantasy owners, I’m not a big fan of having a designated hitter on my team as it doesn’t allow for much flexibility using the utility position. If Hafner were available in my league, I would make an exception. He’s off to a tremendous start, batting well over .350 at press time. The Indians really stuck it to the Red Sox last week, and they seem to be riding this wave of offensive momentum. Hafner is worth owning in all formats, and if you aren’t a fan of having him in your lineup, move him while he’s hot.
OF Sam Fuld, Tampa Bay
The Rays broke out in a big way against the Red Sox on Monday night, nearly doubling their nine game run total in a single night. Fuld had a huge game, bypassing a single late in the game that would have filled out the cycle, hustling for his second double of the night. With Manny Ramirez retired, Fuld will continue to see steady playing time. He’s been batting leadoff, which is additionally valuable in the stolen base and runs categories.
OF David Murphy, Texas
Murphy will be the beneficiary of plenty of playing time with the recent announcement that Josh Hamilton will be out for six to eight weeks. The Rangers have a potent lineup, and Murphy will fit right in as he enjoys a couple months worth of steady playing time.
2B Luke Hughes, Minnesota
We dig a little deep here at the middle infield position, but he’s worth a look in deep leagues. He led the Twins in homers in spring training, and he’s been called up to the big club to replace Tsuyoshi Nishioka (broken leg) on the roster. He’ll likely split time with Matt Tolbert, but it’s not out of the question that he would be able to push him aside to score some regular playing time.
C Alex Avila, Detroit
As we will try to do on a weekly basis, we find another catcher that might be of help for those of you in deep leagues. The key to catching is to have guy(s) in your starting lineup that aren’t going to hurt you, especially if you don’t have one of the top handful of players. Avila isn’t going to play every day, but he will fill in for Victor Martinez at least twice a week. He has proven to this point, that he is not a liability at the plate, batting close to .300 while clubbing a couple of home runs. Not a lot of playing time, but making it count when he gets in there, those deep leagues that need to start two at the catching position would be wise to consider Avila if he is available.
1B Brett Wallace, Houston
The rookie had a tremendous spring training, and the Astros handed over the starting first base job to him. He struggled early on, but seems to be finding his stroke of late. For deep leagues, he’s worth a flier.
1B Chris Davis, Texas
Only in deep leagues should Davis be considered. He was called up to fill the roster spot of Josh Hamilton. He can play first base and would also see a little time at DH. Keep an eye on him and the Rangers to see how they try to fill in for the loss of Hamilton.
On the Bump…
RP Chris Sale, Jesse Crain, Chicago White Sox
Last week we talked about the Angels setting aside Fernando Rodney, and lo an behold he registers a save less than a week after the demotion. This week, it is the closer situation in Chicago White Sox land that gets us talking. Matt Thornton is apparently out as closer, with Chris Sale and Jesse Crain poised to grab some short term closing chances. Both are worth a flyer in all formats.
SP Matt Harrison, Texas
Harrison is filling in for an injured Tommy Hunter, and all he’s done in two starts is allow only two runs in his first two starts. If he continues at this pace, the Rangers will have to keep him in the rotation. Worth a look in all formats.
SP Charlie Morton, Pittsburgh
Morton has looked very strong in his two opening starts of the season, holding the Cardinals at bay and only allowing two earned runs against the Rockies. The season is very young, but Mortin is worth keeping an eye on to see if he can continue in the coming weeks.
SP Esmil Rogers, Colorado
The youngster opened the season as the Rockies fifth starter, and so far he has done well. This is a classic case of fantasy owners keep an eye on teams’ fourth and fifth starters to see what they can do, and so far Rogers has not disappointed. Obviously, as a fifth starter, there are no guarantees, but worth a flier in deep leagues to see if he can solidify his spot in the rotation for the long term future.
RP Tim Collins, Kansas City
Working at the Royals setup guy, Collins has excelled. I wouldn’t categorize him as a “closer in waiting”, but those of you that are in need of a middle reliever, Collins on this young season has proven is can fill that role well.