With a month in the books, there is still reason to scan the waiver wire and continue to build quality depth on your roster. Depth comes in handy when you want to get a player with a hot bat into your starting lineup for a short period of time. Major league teams are calling up players from the minors that are making an impact. These are especially valuable assets for those that are in keeper leagues. And after a month, guys could be rebounding from a slow start or even a week when they were benched by their manager. Playing time is a tremendous motivator!
Let’s get right into this week’s edition …
In the Field
DH/OF Johnny Damon, Tampa Bay
I’ve resisted putting Damon on a list, but can hold it off no longer. He is available in half of the online leagues, and that is on the rise. The sudden retirement of Manny Ramirez set off a chain reaction that has given Damon new life. With Ramirez gone, the red hot Sam Fuld stepped into the lineup, and he’s been batting leadoff in front of Damon. All Damon has done is hit and knock in game-winning runs. The Rays are batting him as a designated hitter to keep him fresh, but he should have plenty of games in the field to keep him outfield eligible. He’s hitting for average, scoring a ton of runs and knocking in the occasional run as well. I see no signs that would indicate there will be a major drop off from his current production.
2B Mike Aviles, Kansas City
After an extremely slow start that landed Aviles on the bench, he is back in the starting lineup and hitting with authority. At press time, he was tied for the team lead with 21 runs batted in, which is invaluable from a middle infield position. Continue to ride him while he is hot as he should be owned in all formats.
3B Jack Hannahan, Cleveland
With the rash of injuries at the third base position, Hannahan is likely a guy available on the waiver wire. He has hit safely in seven of his last eight games, including a game where he belted a couple of home runs against the Kansas City Royals. The Indians lineup is producing, so if you are in need of a third basement to fill in for a couple of weeks, Hannahan is hot right now.
3B/OF Ryan Roberts, Arizona
Now that he is getting some regular playing time, Roberts has been producing on a high level, belting out home runs on a regular basis. He’s getting most of his action at third base, so he’s another guy that would be a nice fit into the starting lineup. He’s also grabbed a couple games at second base and shortstop as well this year while spending most of his time last year in the outfield, so check your lineup requirements to see what he qualifies for. If he does qualify at a middle infield position, then you’ve struck gold, and even if not, he’s a viable starter right now.
OF Matt Joyce, Tampa Bay
Joyce is a guy that I picked up on draft day for a dollar, and came very close to dropping him after he didn’t do much in the beginning. I’m glad that I held onto him as I’ve needed to put him in my lineup where I can’t seem to keep any of my outfielders healthy. He’s another beneficiary of the Manny Ramirez shakeup, as since his retirement, the Rays offense has been clicking. Joyce, in particular, has been white hot, with 10 hits in his last 18 at bats, two of which were home runs. He won’t generate a ton of power numbers, but he can hit for average. Ride him in the short term if you need a productive (and healthy) outfielder.
OF Melky Cabrera, Kansas City
Cabrera is riding a hot streak right now, and he’s hitting a shade over .300 for the season. Not a lot of power numbers will come from him, but he’s pretty hot right now. He’s certainly worth owning in all formats.
OF Kosuke Fukudome, Chicago Cubs
We’ll dig a little deep here, but I see some good future potential out of Fukudome. He’s been getting the occasional start in the leadoff spot, and he has really excelled when in that position. He isn’t getting regular playing time, so he doesn’t qualify in the league leaders despite his better than .450 average. If he could only hit lefties then I’d give a strong recommendation. For now, if you have room at the end of your bench, Fukudome is worth stashing.
2B Scott Sizemore, Detroit
Another deep reach which might be necessary for some owners that are suffering from the injury bug. He was tearing it up in Triple-A and was recently called up to the big club. Three hits in his big league debut this year is a glimmer of hope, so grab him early and see how he does in his first week in Detroit.
On the Mound
I’m still very high on starters that we’ve mentioned before, including Kevin Correia (Pittsburgh), Doug Fister (Seattle) and Dustin Moseley (San Diego). Correia is owned in most leagues, but it’s still early enough to get in on Fister and Moseley. Both don’t have much of a record, but have had a number of quality starts. Grab them now before they start making some serious noise.
SP Bud Norris, Houston
Norris has had three outings this year where he has not allowed an earned run, and in his latest outing he struck out 11 against the Milwaukee Brewers. He is striking out a ton of guys (43 strikeouts in 35-plus innings), so if he is still available in your league, he won’t be for long.
SP Jason Hammel, Colorado
In his five starts this year, Hammel has given up three or more runs in only two of those outings (one of them, he still picked up the win). His last two in particular have been stellar, 6.2 and 7.0 innings pitched with a single earned run while picking up the win. He won’t notch a lot of strikeouts, but with a couple of recent wins, he’s sure to garner some attention from the fantasy community. Grab him now and enjoy as his numbers are top notch.
P Philip Humber, Chicago White Sox
I’m giving Humber the double listing here because he is likely eligible in both for many leagues. He was projected to be in the bullpen and has been filling in as a starter, and has done very well for the White Sox. In his last two outings, he shut out the New York Yankees over seven innings, and only gave up two earned to the Baltimore Orioles also over seven innings. Ozzie Guillen isn’t sure what to do with Humber, and he’ll have to make a decision soon with Jake Peavy soon to return to the club. He’s worth a flier in deep leagues.
SP Alex White, Cleveland
The Indians have been a hotbed for fantasy pickups, as they are out to prove their April is no fluke. Even with a couple starters out, they dip into Triple-A and pull out a gem in White. An impressive quality start against the Detroit Tigers (two earned runs in six innings) will get him on fantasy radar screens, especially keeper leagues.
RP Brandon League, Seattle
I still see that League is available in almost half the online leagues out there. He’s done all that has been asked of him, including picking up a save in each of his last three outings. The Mariners have publicly said that the job will be David Aardsma’s when he returns, but the recent news of his arm stiffness gives a boost to League’s value. Good chance here that League sticks in this role for a long time, ride him while you can.
RP Vincent Padilla, Los Angeles
The one time starter grabbed a save the other night, retiring the Florida Marlins in order. He has been getting consistent action in middle relief and has been performing well. Worth a look if you need a middle reliever that might grab an occasional save.
RP Fernando Salas, St. Louis
Tony LaRussa is the fantasy baseball equivalent to football’s Mike Shanahan with running backs. He says one thing, does another thing, then changes his mind at the drop of a hat. Salas closed out the month of April with a couple of saves and has looked good, but guys like Mitchell Boggs have also looked good in the closer’s role for a game or two for the Cardinals. As with Padilla, if you can use a middle reliever that will grab an occasional save, then Salas is worth picking up.