Let’s cut right to the chase this week. Guys previously mentioned that I’m still very high on include starting pitcher Justin Masterson (Cleveland), starting pitcher Livan Hernandez (Washington), outfielder Willie Bloomquist (Arizona) and third baseman Placido Polanco (Philadelphia). Many of these guys are still available in online leagues. They are still worth not only considering for pickup, but for a starting lineup spot in deep leagues.
On to the rest of this week’s wonders…
OF Sam Fuld, Tampa Bay
The tremendous week for Fuld gets him a mention in this space for the second week in a row. We talked about him taking over the at bats for the retired Manny Ramirez, and he hasn’t disappointed. He’s hitting close to .400, leading the league in stolen bases, and already he has two games where he has collected four hits. He won’t be available for long. He’s become a must start in all fantasy formats.
2B Jed Lowrie, Boston
With the Red Sox scuffling, manager Terry Francona was trying every type of lineup imaginable. He literally hit a home run by putting Lowrie at the top of the lineup. The light-hitting second baseman going yard three times in the span of five games. He won’t be hitting leadoff on a regular basis, but for the time being, Lowrie has forced his way into the everyday lineup. Ride him while you can, as he’s hitting better than .450.
SP Bruce Chen, Kansas City
The Royals have been a good place to find some low end starting pitching, and Chen is another that fits the bill of quietly going about his business for the small market team. Fantasy owners will take note that prior to his last start against Cleveland where he only gave up two runs, he held Detroit and Seattle scoreless. He will have the occasional game where he gives up a handful, but right now he is gold waiting to be picked up off the waiver wire.
SP Randy Wolf, Milwaukee
Another starter that had a terrible first start, but has quietly had three strong outings is Wolf. Like Chen, he is also familiar to fantasy owners in a different uniform in the past. Holding the Chicago Cubs to two runs, then shutting down the Pittsburgh Pirates garnered a little attention, but holding the Philadelphia Phillies off the scoreboard solidified his spot in this week’s column. He is worth taking a flyer on in all formats.
OF Johnny Gomes, Cincinnati
Fantasy owners can no longer ignore Gomes and his home run stats. He is in a situation where he is getting regular at bats, and he is responding very well. His patience at the plate is very evident, and is helping out his overall fantasy stats. With the trust of manager Dusty Baker, fantasy owners are able to trust Gomes in their starting lineup as well.
SP Aaron Harang, San Diego
Finally healthy and in fresh new scenery in San Diego, Harang is flourishing. He has recently picked up his fourth win against no losses, and he’s sporting a sparkling earned run average less than 2.00. These are the kind of early-season stats and fantasy owners would be wise to take a flyer on.
3B David Freese, St.Louis
After a brief early season slump, Freese is hitting the ball with authority. He’s currently at .360, and while that probably won’t continue at that level, he has been picking up some numbers in the power categories as well. The Cardinals lineup is going to produce a lot of scoring, and Freese will get his share of those numbers.
RP Mitchell Boggs, St. Louis
Tony LaRussa is playing it close to the vest, but it would appear that Ryan Franklin is stepping aside as the closer for the Cardinals. These things have a way of working back to the original closer, but for the time being, all signs point to Boggs getting a chance to close out a few games in St. Louis.
RP Matt Capps, Minnesota
Another “closer in waiting” currently holding the closer duty for his team. With Joe Nathan struggling to return to his pre-surgery form, Capps has filled in the role that he once had as an all-star for the Washington Nationals last year. As in St. Louis, this situation could flip back and forth, but for now, Capps will get the call for the Twins.
C Nick Hundley, San Diego
Still available in many leagues, Hundley probably won’t be for long. The Padres have moved him up in the batting order and he has responded by showing a little bit of power. As we talked about last week, any time you can get a catcher in your lineup that doesn’t hurt you, you are doing well. Plus, the power numbers here are an added bonus.