The top pitcher add this week has been Rays starter Alex Colome (+26 percent ownership), who followed up a debut of five scoreless innings and a win by giving up two runs on four hits in five innings Wednesday for another win. Can we expect similar results from the pitcher moving forward?
Colome battled with control issues in his brief major-league exposure before this season, and he didn’t have the strikeout numbers to make anyone sit up and take notice. While the control issues have been present in the minors, he’s reined in his walk rate the older he’s gotten and the higher he’s climbed in the ranks, finishing with a respectable 3.2 BB/9 rate in 18 starts last season. His strikeout rate has been good-to-great in the minors, showing that if he can keep the control in check, he could be a viable starter in the majors.
Through two starts, so far so good. His pitch count has been limited, as pneumonia forced him to miss much of the spring and move his preparation for the season into late April and early May. He was limited to just 60 pitches in his debut but still managed to complete five innings; he did so again Wednesday while throwing 79 pitches and figures to be able to handle a full workload within 1-2 starts.
The production has been excellent, nary a walk in 10 innings while racking up 10 strikeouts and not surrendering any home runs, something with which he had difficulty in his minor-league tune-up prior to promotion. He’s succeeded by keeping the ball out of the air and by finding a new gear with his secondary pitches, as he’s getting a much higher swing-and-miss rate on his slider/cutter, curve and change this season than he has in his previous 40-ish major-league innings.
The light might be coming on for Colome, and I think it’s a wise move to rush out a grab him now to see if he can maintain a level of success worth using in fantasy. I’ve picked him up myself in my dynasty league, going a little shorthanded on my offensive bench to help battle all the pitcher injuries I’m sure most fantasy owners have suffered in the rotation.
Brandon Crawford, SS, SF (+34 percent). Crawford has been a forgettable option offensively for most of his minor- and major-league career, but the small steps he’s taken at the plate in his first few seasons with the Giants have blossomed into a monster start to 2015 that includes a .252/.363/.494 line with five home runs and 15 RBI in 87 at-bats. I don’t think the party will last, as his sky-high BABIP against lefties is going to come down at some point, but he’s worth riding in the short-term while productive.
Kevin Pillar, OF, TOR (+31 percent). Through April 26, Pillar had been delivering an unassuming season, and it was fair to wonder how much playing time he’d receive when the outfield was at full health. Since that date, he’s hit .350/.395/.525 with three stolen bases in 40 at-bats and Dalton Pompey, Pillar’s main competition for playing time in center, has been optioned to the minors. The Blue Jays have kicked him a little higher in the order while he’s clicking with the bat, and considering Pillar has a 51-steal season in his minor-league resume, he’s a quality fantasy option moving forward.
Blake Swihart, C, BOS (+26 percent). The catching position at Boston has been a high-risk job this season. Tommy John surgery put starter Christian Vazquez on the shelf for the season, and his replacement, Ryan Hanigan, is out through the All-Star break with a fractured hand. Rather than turn to Sandy Leon or search outside the organization for the answer, the team accelerated the timetable of top prospect Swihart, who remains a work-in-progress in the batter’s box but has enough upside to be worthy of consideration in redraft leagues. I wouldn’t cut a solid veteran to add the rookie, but if my team was struggling with the Zuninos and Cervellis of the game, I wouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger.
Drew Hutchison, SP, TOR (-14 percent). Hutchison has mixed a few excellent starts into several duds this season to deliver a 7.47 ERA and 23:12 K:BB ratio in 31 1/3 innings. He’s always been prone to blow-ups, but last year’s body of work was too solid to ignore considering his velocity has been typical this season. I’d consider this a buy-low opportunity, hoping he gets things figured out.
Michael Morse, 1B/OF, MIA (-12 percent). Morse has struggled with the bat over the first month of the season, hitting just .193/.253/.284 with two home runs and eight RBI in 88 at-bats. The Marlins have given him a break from starting, with Justin Bour getting the call at first base in each of the last three games. The replacement is 9 for 18 with one home run, so who knows if Morse will see regular playing time anytime soon. He’s definitely cuttable at this point.
Steven Souza, OF, TB (-12 percent). Souza was excellent at the start of the season but has managed to hit just .179/.319/.205 with no home runs and no stolen bases over the last 14 days. I wouldn’t jump ship yet – he started to find success in the just-finished series with the Red Sox, reaching base multiple times in each of his team’s three games in Boston. I’m still looking at past minor-league production and his hot start and seeing a player worthy of owning in fantasy.
Deeper Add Recommendations
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C, ARI (8 percent owned). Saltalamacchia underperformed with the bat last season and was so bad in the early part of 2015 that the Marlins decided they’d rather pay him to not play for their team. He’s signed a minor-league contract with the Diamondbacks Thursday and will enter an offensive environment much more conducive for power hitters. The playing time is there for Saltalamacchia, after Arizona gives him an opening stint in the minors, and he could be back to producing as a cheap, power options in fantasy leagues within a few weeks.
Jace Peterson, 2B, ATL (8 percent). Manager Fredi Gonzalez said recently that he would use Peterson as his primary second baseman, and he’s stuck to that decision, with the lefty swinger playing every inning at second base in each of his team’s last 11 games. He’s a whopping 15 for 36 with six walks, and though he hasn’t been racking up stolen bases, he’s shown elite potential in that department in the minors. The Braves are rolling out Andrelton Simmons as the No .2 hitter on a daily basis, but if Peterson keeps producing, he could eventually fight his way into a part-time role in that slot. After all, his first five starts came batting either first or second during the first week of the season.
Chris Taylor, SS, SEA (5 percent). Taylor was battling Brad Miller for the starting shortstop role this season, but a broken wrist in mid-March put Taylor on the shelf. He’s healthy and back with the Mariners, who have started him at shortstop in each of the last three games. The results aren’t there yet, and who knows if the wrist injury will continue to linger and limit his offensive production. His minor-league track record shows an upside in batting average and steals in fantasy, making him at least worth monitoring to see if things start to click at the plate.