With both Carl Crawford and Yasiel Puig on the disabled list, Alex Guerrero (+40 percent change) should be in line to receive more playing time moving forward. All he’s done so far is rack up 11 hits, including five home runs, in 26 at-bats. While it’s obvious he won’t continue at such a torrid pace, it’s encouraging that he’s not running into any struggles against a particular set of pitchers, having produced just as well against righties as lefties.
If Guerrero can continue to be productive while Crawford is sidelined, it’s easy to see manager Don Mattingly leaving him in the lineup over the underwhelming, oft-injured former Ray. Guerrero could also be a factor at third base, where he’s lined up in four of his five starts this season. He already carries eligibility at both positions in fantasy leagues and makes for a fine speculative play for fantasy owners.
Adeiny Hechavarria, SS, MIA (+68 percent). Hechavarria has gone from being barely owned to snapped up in most leagues thanks to his sparkling .321 average at an offensively-challenged position. Will it last? I find it hard to believe it will; Hechavarria has benefited from a lot of batted-ball luck (.515 BABIP in the last two weeks!), and he still isn’t displaying a particularly good batting eye. If possible, sell high ASAP.
A.J. Pierzynski, C, ATL (+39 percent). Pierzynski has been one of the top offensive catchers in all of baseball over the first month of the season, stringing together a 12-game hitting streak to deliver a .422/.442/.689 line with three home runs and 14 RBI in just 45 at-bats. He should continue to see plenty of action against righties as the Braves need any kind of offense in the lineup, and he’s batted cleanup in each of his last four game. His true value may be as an excellent trade chip, both to his real-life and fantasy owners.
Jimmy Paredes, 3B, BAL (+38 percent). Paredes has quickly established himself as a force atop the Orioles lineup, riding an impossible-to-maintain .414 BABIP to a .385/.400/.769 line with three home runs and nine RBI in 39 at-bats. Another sell-high candidate worth owning while hot, Paredes could factor into the mix at second base long-term, though most of his work has come as a DH. The bad side of his hot start? Less playing time for fantasy sleeper Travis Snider, as manager Buck Showalter has rewarded the hot Paredes and Delmon Young with more playing time. Snider’s a nice buy-low for when the course correction comes on Paredes and Young.
Jesse Chavez, SP/RP, OAK (+31 percent). Here’s a pitcher add I fully endorse. Chavez pitched well enough last season to open this year in the rotation, but the A’s decided to go with young Kendall Graveman and his upside in the No. 5 role. That move has backfired, and with Graveman heading back to Triple-A for more work, Chavez is locked into the rotation for now. He’s capable of providing close to a strikeout per inning; combine that with serviceable walk and homer rates and you have the makings of a quality fantasy contributor.
Steve Pearce, 1B/OF, BAL (-17 percent change). Pearce has seen his share of struggles over the first month of the season, hitting just .196/.288/.314 in 51 at-bats. With Paredes and Young performing beyond expectations, Pearce, like Snider, has been a victim of a playing-time crunch. He could eventually settle in on the lesser side of a platoon and likely isn’t worth holding in standard leagues.
Mark Canha, OF, OAK (-17 percent). A Rule 5 pick who shot out of the gate to a hot start, Canha has predictably come back down to Earth, going 4 for 27 over the last two weeks. It’s time to cut bait and move over to the next hot pickup du jour.
Miguel Castro, RP, TOR (-14 percent). Castro’s stay in the closer role was predictably short, and Brett Cecil is in regular-season mode at this point after getting a late start to his preparation this spring. Cecil picked up his first save of the season Tuesday and is the Toronto reliever to own moving forward. Castro can be dropped for him or John Axford (+25 percent owned).
Mike Fiers, SP, MIL (-13 percent). Fiers admittedly hasn’t been great over his first four starts, the last two of which have lasted just four innings as it’s taken the pitcher plenty of pitches per batter to record outs. However, there’s nothing wrong with his velocity, which has never been his strength anyway, or his peripherals, has he’s delivered a 22:7 K:BB ratio in 18 2/3 innings. That walk rate should come down slightly and Fiers will start working more economically, leading to a reversion to his excellence of last season. Take this as a great buy-low opportunity.
Deeper Add Recommendations
Andre Ethier, OF, LAD (19 percent owned). Like Guerrero, Ethier will get the chance to play a lot more than anticipated with both Puig and Crawford on the disabled list. He struggled in part-time duty last year but has destroyed right-handed pitching to date, batting .300/.417/.625 with three home runs in 40 at-bats against righties. Pick him up for as long as he has a regular role.
Marco Gonzales, SP, STL (18 percent). The Adam Wainwright news is a big blow to the top of the Cardinals rotation, but the organization has excellent starting-pitching depth when everyone is healthy. Unfortunately, the best two fill-ins for Wainwright, Gonzales and Jaime Garcia, are both rehabbing from injury, but Gonzales shouldn’t be out for much longer and should be in line for the first crack at replacing Wainwright. Walks were an issue in his first taste of the majors last season but haven’t been an issue in the minors, especially in last year’s breakout performance. Grab and stash if possible.
Stephen Drew, 2B/SS, NYY (15 percent). I chose Drew as my injury replacement for Ben Zobrist for a few reasons. One, he has dual eligibility in the middle infield, which is nice in leagues with limited bench slots. Two, he’s displayed excellent plate patience this season despite his .177 average, as he’s drawn nine walks in 74 plate appearances. Three, he’s an intriguing power option as a lefty playing half his games in Yankee Stadium, though three of his four home runs this season have come on the road. His average should creep up eventually, and while it’ll never be a fantasy plus, the power potential makes him worth owning.
J.T. Realmuto, C, MIA (14 percent). The Marlins decided they’d had enough of Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s lagging bat and poor defense, designating him for assignment earlier this week. That opens the long-term job to Realmuto, who hit .299/.369/.461 with eight home runs, 62 RBI and 18 stolen bases in 375 at-bats with Double-A Jacksonville last season. The speed isn’t a mirage; he’s racked up 54 stolen bases in 1,590 at-bats over his minor-league career, and the possibility of him boosting SB totals on fantasy teams while providing what could be a league-average bat or better makes him a must-own in two-catcher leagues, if nothing else, with the upside for more.