The first half of April has seen plenty of volatile closer situations, surprise strong performances from unknown players, a few players that were hyped in March that have failed to produce in April and hot starts from some unexpected teams. In other words, baseball season is back. It’s time to look at Riding the Waive and determine whether you should be following some of the add/drop trends of your fellow fantasy owners for players who may still be available or on your roster (all ownership changes are from CBSSports.com leagues).
Mark Canha, OF, OAK (+45 percent) – A Rule 5 pick this offseason, Canha racked up hits in six straight games before going 1 for 7 in his last two appearances. He’s quickly settled into the No. 2 spot of the lineup, a fine look for potential sleeper fantasy commodities. I wouldn’t cut a mid-round pick to grab him, but if your fifth OF isn’t performing and you didn’t invest much in him (think Torii Hunter), feel free to take a chance on Canha.
Joe Kelly, SP, BOS (+44 percent) – Kelly wowed in his debut, striking out eight and giving up just one hit and one run in seven innings. As with the Baltimore pitcher he’s facing Friday (and who I discuss below), fantasy owners shouldn’t grossly adjust their valuations of Kelly based on one start. As long as you’re not dropping a healthy, top-50 pitcher, feel free to use a lottery ticket on Kelly, but don’t be shocked if you’re ready to pop him back on the wire in a week or two.
Kevin Kiermaier, OF, TB (+40 percent) – Known more for his defensive chops than his offense, Kiermaier has hit .321 with four doubles, two triples and two HRs in 28 at-bats to deliver a 1.117 OPS in his first nine games. He enjoyed a very nice run upon his promotion last season but hit just .220/.284/.335 in 173 at-bats after the All-Star break. He’s seen some action atop the lineup, where his value is a little more intriguing, but he hasn’t shown much home-run power in the minors, so his fantasy value is pretty limited to random hot streaks like this early-season run.
Alex Avila, C, DET (+39 percent) – Many of the owners that lost Yan Gomes for an extended period of time or who have dealt with the hip injury of Devin Mesoraco have turned to Avila for an answer. Though he’s just 4 for 18 at the plate, he’s done a great job of pitch recognition, drawing seven walks and posting a .440 OBP. Aside from the walks, he hasn’t done anything over the last week, going 0 for 10 in his last four games. He’s nothing but a stopgap option for now.
Ubaldo Jimenez, SP, BAL (+37 percent) – When making changes at starting pitcher, remember that it’s impossible to trust a one-game or two-game sample size. We wouldn’t extrapolate a .320 batting average from the early-season success of Canha or Kiermaier, and similarly, we shouldn’t use a gem from Jimenez in his debut to shoot him up the fantasy-value board. Jimenez has shown fantasy relevance in the past, but let his 2014 season (4.81 ERA, 5.5 BB/9) caution you from cutting anyone but a late draft pick to add him.
Brandon Morrow, SP, SD (+35 percent) – Of all the popular adds discussed this week, Morrow is the one who has found a home on one of my teams. He’s shown the ability to be productive if he can stay healthy over an extended period of time, which has always been an issue. He’s landed in a great spot in San Diego and is locked into a rotation spot for now. He can be a matchup play at worst and has already delivered two excellent home starts against division rivals.
DJ LeMahieu, 2B, COL (+29 percent) – Aside from being one of the best hitters in baseball, LeMahieu hasn’t done much over the first 10 days of the season (/sarcasm). His 18 hits rank second behind Adrian Gonzalez and give him a .514 average. Unlike Gonzalez, the second baseman has hit for virtually no power, managing 17 singles and one triple. Since he’s not going to post a .563 BABIP over the course of the entire season, fantasy owners have to envision what they’ll be left with when LeMahieu’s luck runs out, and that’s a singles hitter who bats in front of the pitcher and could kick in a handful of SBs.
Derek Holland, SP, TEX (-35 percent); Brett Cecil, RP, TOR (-20 percent); Yan Gomes, C, CLE (-15 percent); Miguel Montero, C, CHC (-13 percent); C.J. Cron, 1B, LAA (-11 percent); Kennys Vargas, DH, MIN (-10 percent); Ryan Howard, 1B, PHI (-10 percent);
Holland was placed on the 60-day DL this week with a shoulder injury, and unless you have a deep stable of IR slots in your league, he’s not worth keeping around … Cecil lost the closer gig to Miguel Castro due to being behind in his preparation for the season after health issues this spring. However, he’s delivered 2 2/3 scoreless innings while racking up five strikeouts. I expect him to be back as the closer soon, so if he was dropped in your league, pick him up … Gomes is set to miss 6-8 weeks with an MCL sprain. He should be on fantasy IRs, not the waiver wire … Montero is going to sit every fifth day in favor of Jon Lester’s catcher David Ross, and he’ll also lose a little bit of playing time to third catcher and former starter Welington Castillo, so when he is playing, he needs to be hitting. That hasn’t happened yet (2 for 18) … Cron is just 2 for 21 and could begin to lose time to Collin Cowgill once Kole Calhoun is healthy. There are better 1B options available … Vargas couldn’t touch lefties last season, but ironically, it’s righties he’s having troubles with this year (1 for 14. He should settle into being a .250s hitter without much power in a bad offense … Nobody could expect much from Howard going into the season after the run he’s had in recent years, and he hasn’t failed to disappoint (4 for 27, 10 strikeouts).
Bobby Parnell, RP, NYM (23 percent owned) – Jenrry Mejia removed himself from the muddled closer picture in New York after being hit with an 80-game suspension. Jeurys Familia could certainly run away with the gig as the only viable, healthy option, but Parnell, who has begun his rehab assignment, could all right back into closing when healthy. He’s definitely worth an IR stash.
Colby Rasmus, OF, HOU (20 percent) – It’s been a rough start for virtually the entire Houston offense. That certainly applies to Rasmus, who was 1 for 7 over his first three games but is 4 for 14 with three extra-base hits, including one home run, in his last four. He’s always had excellent power potential, though his batting average has been hit or miss. If your team is suffering from a HR drought, Rasmus is a fine addition for a potential boost down the road.
Bud Norris, SP, BAL (18 percent) – Norris endured an awful spring and was terrible in his debut, but he did a nice job bouncing back Wednesday against the Yankees, racking up seven strikeouts in five innings while giving up three runs. He’s delivered high strikeout rates in the past, topping 8.5 K/9 in each of his first four years with the Astros, and his walk rate has steadily fallen over his career, culminating in a 2.8 BB/9 last season. If he can combine the two aspects of his game –and his strikeout rate wasn’t all that terrible last season either – he could be an eventual breakout.
Tim Beckham, 2B, TB (6 percent) – Deep leaguers will want to take note of Beckham, who impressed as a sub late in the first week of the season and has earned three straight starts for the Rays (two at second base, one at shortstop). He’ll certainly need to tame the strikeouts to be a potential long-term starter, but he has a little speed upside if he sticks. Standard-league owners should put him on their watch list to see if he can keep hitting.