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Riding the Waive: Ranger Danger

The three most-added players in fantasy this week are Noah Syndergaard, Colby Lewis (+35 percent owned) and Yasmani Grandal, but while the rookie phenom and the slugging catcher are now owned in most leagues, the Rangers pitcher is still available in a fair amount of places around the rotosphere. Should you be going cuckoo for Colby?

Lewis missed the 2013 season due to hip surgery and wasn’t great upon his return in 2014, with batters teeing off on the righty from his season debut through his final start before the All-Star break, in which he allowed 13 runs (11 earned) in 2 1/3 innings. He seemed to be a new man in the second half, posting a 3.86 ERA and 60:22 K:BB ratio in 86 1/3 innings over 13 starts.

Lewis has been even better thus far in 2015, as he’s 3-2 with a 2.40 ERA and 34:11 K:BB ratio in 45 innings over seven starts. Considering he’s been plenty effective in 20 starts since last year’s All-Star break, is it time to start trusting the Rangers pitcher?

Yes and no. His solid peripherals have been boosted by a low .260 BABIP, a low 16.7 percent line-drive rate, a low 4.8 percent homer-per-nine rate and a high 81.8 percent strand rate, meaning he’s very unlikely to challenge for the ERA title. However, there’s no question he’s been effective thus far, and he’s worth riding in the short term while it lasts. Just don’t cut a struggling quality pitcher to grab him.

Popular Adds

Torii Hunter, OF, MIN (+30 percent). Hunter seemingly refuses to get old, as his .281/.331/.488 line in well within the range of his typical production dating back to the early 2000s. He’s been on fire in May, hitting .396 with five home runs and 14 RBI in 48 at-bats. His flyball rate is going to fall eventually, but considering he’s managed line drives on just 10.3 percent of his batted balls, he has the potential to provide high-BA, moderate-power numbers over the rest of the year. A solid add for needy managers.

Carlos Frias, SP/RP, LAD (+29 percent). Things have worked out well for Frias since being moved to the rotation, as he’s 2-0 with a 3.31 ERA and 14:3 K:BB ratio in 16 1/3 innings across three starts. The hard thrower has managed to keep his average fastball/sinker velocity in the 96-97 mph range in his three May starts, but he’ll need to mix in his off-speed stuff a little more to have continued success throughout the season. He’s certainly worth owning in the short-term.

Maikel Franco, 3B, PHI (+13 percent). Franco isn’t necessarily being added at the level of many of the players I feature here, but I expect that to change in the next few days. Cody Asche has been sent to Triple-A to transition to left field, and the Phillies are likely to call up Franco this weekend. Considered a top-20 prospect by Baseball America before struggling in 2014, the third baseman has hit .350/.372/.540 with four home runs, 23 RBI and two stolen bases in 137 at-bats with Triple-A Lehigh Valley this year. Considering he posted a similar slash line while hitting 31 home runs in 2013, the upside is enormous.

Popular Drops

Travis Wood, SP, CHC (-22 percent). Wood has posted a 4.96 ERA and struggled in his last two starts coming into Thursday’s matchup with the Mets, causing many people to jump ship. However, he’s actually made gains in 2015, elevating his K rate to 9.37 per nine innings, which is huge, considering it’s never been above 7.6 per nine over an entire season. His fastball velocity has been fine, and he’s even been able to slow down the curve a bit and turn all of his off-speed pitches into better swing-and-miss offerings. I’d consider him a sneaky-good buy-low option.

Joe Kelly, SP, BOS (-19 percent). Kelly has gained some velocity on his fastball and sinker, but while he looked like a potential fantasy gem over his first two starts, he’s been rocked for at least five earned runs in each of his last four. Part of his struggles have been a result of being unlucky, as the pitcher has managed a career-low strand rate of 57.5 percent and a career-high homer rate of 1.32 per nine innings. On the plus side, his increased velocity has resulted in a spike in strikeout totals, and he’s racked up 34 Ks in 34 innings. You can’t run him out as a fantasy starter now while he’s struggling, but he should have solid value in the near future.

DJ LeMahieu, 2B, COL (-13 percent). LeMahieu opened the season with a nine-game hitting streak that included six multihit performance, and he was able to do enough throughout the rest of the month to carry a .406/.446/.522 line into May. However, despite his outstanding batting average, the infielder wasn’t providing any power or speed production, making him a very one-dimensional fantasy commodity while hitting well. His bat has gone south in May, and he’s hitless in 15 at-bats over his last five games. I don’t see LeMahieu helping much in standard leagues over the rest of the year.

Deeper Add Recommendations

Raisel Iglesias, RP, CIN (16 percent owned). A converted Cuban reliever with less than 50 innings in the books stateside, Iglesias is mostly projection and little production at this point. However, he excelled against the Braves Wednesday, giving up just two hits and three walks in eight innings while striking out five to earn his first career win. The team may give him an extended look in the rotation to see if Wednesday’s success can be repeated, and the high-upside wild card is the perfect pitcher to have on the end of a fantasy bench to see if he breaks out.

David Peralta, OF, ARI (15 percent). Peralta is seeing regular playing time against righties and the results have been great, as he’s managed a .304/.367/.580 line with four home runs and 14 RBI in 68 at-bats against right-handed pitchers this season. He’s typically filled the team’s cleanup spot behind Paul Goldschmidt this week, so the potential is there for plenty of RBI as well as decent power/speed potential in the right matchups.

Chris Colabello, 1B/OF, TOR (7 percent). Colabello has been a fixture in the starting lineup since being recalled, and he’s rewarded the Blue Jays by going 14 for 30 with one home run, five RBI and five runs scored. He’s hit sixth in each of the team’s last four games and could continue to be featured in that quality RBI-producing role. Colabello managed a .337/.421/.554 line with five home runs in 83 Triple-A at-bats before his promotion, so his hot start could be more than a flash in the pan.