For the audience of this weekly piece, we all know the fantasy baseball season is a marathon and not a sprint, so it is never a good idea to panic after the first week. If your fantasy squad is underachieving and hovering in the second division of your league’s standings in early April, breathe deep… it will be okay. Lord knows, as an owner who drafted Hisashi Iwakuma, Kendall Graveman, Derek Holland, Taijuan Walker, Mike Napoli, C.J. Cron, Albert Pujols, and Alexei Ramirez in the AL-only CBS Analyst League, my first week’s results were laughable. While I don’t recommend taking drastic measures in terms of roster management a week into the season, it is never too early to scour the waiver wire for potential gems who can turn profits for possibly an entire season. Hey, I picked up Alfredo Simon and Aaron Harang last year during the first waiver wire period in one of my NL-only leagues and kept them both for the entire year. The end result was 25 combined wins along with a decent ERA and K numbers, which assisted in netting me a second-place finish—for a team that was pitching deficient after the auction.
The message here is to take gambles in the early season with your FAAB—the risk is low but the reward can be, well, big. In competitive only keeper leagues, it’s fine to be a little aggressive in the early going. In my old school AL-only 4×4 keeper league, the owner who was a little aggressive last April in FAAB’ing J.D. Martinez not only was the beneficiary of a $31 AL-only 4×4 season, but was also able to keep him for a $10 salary this year. That’s a game changer—and these FAAB finds happen in the early season each year.
With that said, here is a list players who can offer some assistance both this year and possibly beyond if you are in keeper leagues. A few of the players profiled in last week’s edition have already provided dividends (Chris Heston, Tyler Matzek, Jordan Lyles, etc…) for their fantasy owners, so we will see what this week’s batch yields.
Yes, the former overall no. 1 pick is up for the Rays and seeing regular ABs while Nick Franklin is out. The Rays are rebuilding and this could be an opportunity for Beckham to show what he can do. He’s already registered a couple of two-hit games, including a home run and steal the past week. Beckham is the type of player worth taking a gamble on if you have an open MI spot.
I featured Peguero in Monday’s Free Agent Watch. Peguero was called up Saturday to replace Rua on the Rangers roster and was immediately plugged into the starting line-up. Since then he has played in five games and has five hits in 13 AB with a SB while Smolinski has struggled. Peguero has the power to help a fantasy team, evidenced by his 30 home runs Triple-A in just 418 PA last year, so he should be a decent power source while in the lineup.
The injury to Yan Gomes has catapulted Perez to the primary backstop for the Tribe. Perez has some pop and put up solid K:BB rates in the minors, and he already has a long ball for the Indians this year. Perez should be a solid second catcher while Gomes is out.
Lough was reinstated from the 15-day disabled list by the Orioles on Monday. Travis Snider has secured his place as the everyday right fielder in Baltimore in the early going, but Lough should see the occasional start, not to mention as a regular defensive replacement. Lough is not a sexy fantasy play, but did earn $10 in 2013 and $7 last year in standard AL-only 5×5 league formats in limited time. An injury to Snider could mean a big bump in playing time for Lough, who has sneaky speed.
Full disclosure: I really like Carson Smith. I like him a lot, actually. I drafted him back in February in the CBS AL-Only Analyst league and also own him in my home AL-Only league. He was listed under my “other” AL-Only pitching options last week, but I have to give him top billing this week with the recent struggles of Fernando Rodney. Smith’s fastball hits the high-90s on the gun, and he has been an extreme groundball pitcher, putting up ground-ball rates of 72 percent and 70 percent, respectively, in Double-A and Triple-A the past two seasons. The 6-foot-6 righty was impressive with the Mariners after his September call-up last season, and after his call-up in the first week of this season he has already been put in late inning pressure situations and registered two holds in his five appearances. In his short big league career, he has given up just four hits (three singles and a double) while striking out 17 in 13 1/3 innings. I felt he was being groomed to be Seattle’s closer in 2016, but now I am onboard for that happening this year, and the Mariners may be as well.
Yoervis Medina, RP, Seattle Mariners
So after I just waxed poetic about Smith, I now include Medina as another Mariners reliever to target this week. As much as I like Smith, Medina posts strong peripherals and has the ability to be a ninth-inning option for the Mariners. If Seattle chooses to go with a veteran arm if Rodney loses the closer’s gig, Medina could be the guy.
This is truly your typical AL-Ooly play. Sipp is the perfect fill in if you have an injury on your pitching staff and need a safe bet that will not hurt your peripherals and might vulture some wins. Sipp posted an 11.2 K/9 last year along with an 0.89 WHIP over 50 2/3 innings. He is picking up where he left off last year, when he quietly netted $8 in earnings in standard AL-only scoring formats.
Jeff Mathis’ broken finger could sideline him for up to four to six weeks, so that gives Realmuto immediate relevance in NL-Only leagues. Realmuto, our no. 3 prospect in the Marlins organization this year, will split catching duties in Miami with Jarrod Saltalamacchia for the time being. While he does not excel at any one offensive category, Realmuto puts up solid number across the board and will make for a solid second catcher option. Saltalamacchia is slashing .091/.200/.273 at the time I am writing this, so do not be surprised to see Realmuto get more starts down the road.
With David Wright heading to the DL, Campbell was recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas this week and should see regular time at the hot corner for the Mets. Campbell is very capable with the bat is will provide some counting stats along with a solid AVG while Wright is on the shelf.
Carlos Gomez appears to be headed to the DL with a hamstring injury suffered in Wednesday’s night game, and missed Thursday’s game with the Cardinals as he flew back to Milwaukee for an examination by team doctors. Gerardo Parra will see the bulk of the playing time in Milwuakee’s outfield in Gomez’s absence, but Schafer should see some more AB. Strictly an injury replacement if you need a potential speed source.
I have been following Caminero since this spring when he was battling John Holdzkom for the last spot in the Pirates bullpen. Even though he made the opening day roster, I did not include him in last week’s article, which was my bad, and loyal reader jfranco77 was quick to point out the error of my ways in his comments…
You were 100 percent correct, jfranco77, and I apologize to the BP readers for my negligence.
It's obviously a small sample size, but he impressed this spring and lead the Pirates in K's with 21 punch outs over 13 1/3 innings. Control is the issue with Caminero, but we have seen what Searage can do in tweaking mechanical flaws. He hit 101 MPH on the gun against the Tigers on Tuesday night, and has been throwing strikes thus far. I still think the predictions of Mark Melancon’s demise based on his decreased velocity in the early season is a tad premature, but Caminero’s emergence in the back end of the Pirates bullpen makes him an interesting play.
Rafael Betantcourt, RP, Colorado Rockies
Adam Ottavino has clearly stepped in and taken over as the closer for the Rockies since the demotion of LaTroy Hawkins. However, I think the Rockies plan for Betancourt is to get him enough work to bump up his trade value to move to a contender at the deadline. That could entail more appearances in high leverage situations, including as a ninth-inning option in save situations where Ottavino is not available after pitching on consecutive days.
Throw out his first start in Coors field, where Wood did not pitch that badly, and focus more on the bounce back in his second start against the Reds this week where the lefty tossed seven scoreless innings while striking out seven picking up the win against the Reds. I picked Wood for a bounce back candidate before the season began, as despite how bad he was last year, it’s too early to write him off. He did post the best strikeout rate of his career at 7.6 K/9 a season ago and the numbers say he was a tad unlucky, based on nearly a 50-point jump in BABIP from his career averages. Wood sported a career WHIP of 1.288 coming into this season, so last year looks to be an anomaly to me. He gets a struggling Pirates offense in his start next week.