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A little extra flavor never hurts. Especially when puttin’ together a fantasy squad.
When I’m in the kitchen I make moves. If something aint selling, I take it off the menu. If a staff member isn’t doing their job, they’re gone. That’s how I run my fantasy teams.
Each week I will hit you with the players moving up the rankings that you NEED to know about. I don’t care if it is the No. 8 hitter on the Cubs or the No. 4 starter for the Astros. If they are producing, you’re gonna know about it.
I am big on sample size. And you should be too. It is tough to tell just how a player is going to end up when evaluating such few at-bats or inning pitched for that matter. So in the early going there is going to be a little more speculation than usual. But hey, maybe we will strike gold. Maybe not. There is just no tellin’ where the season will go from here.
In case you missed it I did a breakdown on the trending Grady Sizemore earlier in the week. He isn’t going to be featured here. As predicted, he hasn’t done much for an encore after his season debut. So let’s move on.
Justin Smoak, 1B (SEA)--It’s hard to imagine this guy was the centerpiece in the trade that landed Cliff Lee in Arlington a few years back. Well, for now it appears to be paying off. Through four games, Smoak has been very productive smashing two homers while driving in seven RBI, including two multi-hit games. Will he go up in Smoak? His track record says yes (career .228 BA), but as long as he continues to at least hit well from the left side of the plate there is no reason to think he can’t reach the 20-plus home run plateau.
Emilio Bonifacio, 2B, OF (CHC)--Just when I thought this guy was done he resurfaces and is one of the hottest pickups in the first week of the season. Through three games Bonafacio has gone 11-for-16 with two extra-base hits, three runs scored and more importantly four stolen bases. As we have seen over the course of his career, when he gets on base at a high clip, he is fantasy asset, considering he has converted 80 percent of his stolen bases. Obviously there is no way he keeps up this pace at the dish, but his stolen-base ability is worthy of an add nonetheless.
Angel Pagan, OF (SF)--I’m not sure why this guy didn’t get the love he deserved on draft day outside of last year’s injury-plagued season, but he has sure proved his critics wrong in the early going. The Giants outfielder has now recorded three multi-hit games through the first four contests, including three extra-base hits and six RBI. His recent power trend is somewhat of a surprise, considering he is more of a source for runs and stolen bases hitting atop the Giants lineup. Whether or not this trend continues is anyone’s guess, but he NEEDS to be owned regardless.
Mike Zunino, C (SEA)--Despite only recording four hits this season, three are extra-base hits, including a three-run home run on Wednesday. He was likely undrafted this year following a forgettable 2013 campaign (.176 AB in 23 games) which was cut shot by a hamate bone fracture in his left hand. Lets not forget how highly touted this guys was only a few seasons ago. The talent is still there, you just may have to be patient. For now, he is more of a No. 2 catcher with No. 1 upside until he really gets the ball rolling.
Casey McGehee, 1B, 3B (MIA)--After a season playing in the Japanese league, McGehee has a new attitude, new team and new approach. So far its working, leading the National League is RBI with eight through the team’s first four games. It appears the lax atmosphere in South Beach may have been just the right place for McGehee to land this offseason following a few rough years when playing stateside. Although I don’t see the Marlins continuing to play at this high of a level for much longer, he should at least he a solid NL-only contributor as long as he continues to keep his walk-to-strikeout rate (4:4 BB:K through 17 PA) near an even keel.
James Paxton, SP (SEA)--Good things come to those who wait. For the Mariners, that is following suit in regards to Paxton. Following an extended stay in the farm system Paxton finally got promoted to the big leagues in late-September of 2013 and hasn’t looked back. Through five career starts, he is now 4-0 with a 1.16 ERA and 0.84 WHIP, including his most dominating performance coming in his 2014 debut (7.0 IP, 2H, 2 BB, 0 ER, 9K). What might have been even more impressive than his final line was the fact that he was still throwing gas in his final frame (96 MPH). That’s some serious stuff. He is a must-add in all fantasy formats until he proves us otherwise.
Tim Hudson, SP (SF)--I don’t know about you, but it is really odd to see Hudson in a uniform without a tomahawk across his chest. The 38-year-old was successful in his Giants debut nonetheless, striking out seven batters over 7.1 scoreless innings in Wednesday’s shutout of the Diamondbacks. A move to the West Coast may just have been the ticket for Hudson to prolong his career, considering he gets to pitch in a pitcher-friendly division that has helped out many of aging-pitchers over the years. Let’s not go crazy folks, performances like we saw on Wednesday are going to be few and far between, but he will help keep down the ERA and WHIP categories at the very least.
Mark Buehrle, SP (TOR)--I’ve never been a huge Buehrle supporter, but when you dominate as he did in his first stat this season, I had to take notice (8.2 IP w/ 11 K). There are some categories in which the Blue Jays lefty can be of assistance (ERA and WHIP) to a fantasy team, and strikeouts isn’t one of them. His double-digit strikeout performance in his season debut was his first since 2005. That’s not a typo. So let’s not get carried away when looking to acquire him for the upcoming week. For now he’s more of an AL-only add until we see a few more starts out of him in 2014.
Felipe Paulino, SP (CWS)--If you are looking for a cheap source of strikeouts, Paulino is your guy. In his season debut, Paulino fanned six batters in 5.1 innings in a no-decision against he Twins and is now in line to receive two starts in the upcoming week. As we have seen over the course of his career, he is going to be a WHIP-killer (1.51 career WHIP) and continued that trend on Wednesday, allowing seven hits and two walks. He holds a career K/9 of 8.41, so at the very least you are going to get almost one strikeout per inning pitched, which is definitely worthy of a roster spot in deep leagues as long as you can balance out his inability to get through a clean inning.
Francisco Rodriguez, RP (MIL)--You had to be as surprised as I was on Opening Day to see K-Rod, not Jim Henderson, out there in the ninth inning recording the first save of the season. For now, he is going to be the Brewers closer, as the team gives Henderson time to get himself ready for the job. They claim it will be his job eventually, but until that day comes Rodriguez NEEDS to be owned. He looked sharp in his first outing of the year, allowing only one hit while striking out two batters in a scoreless ninth inning. Considering how the Brewers threw this on us earlier in the week, there is really no telling how long he will have the job. So add’em if you need’em. Just be aware Henderson could be back in the role at any given time.
Matt Lindstrom, RP (CWS)--Similar to the Brewers closer situation, the White Sox threw us a loop to start the season by anointing Linstrom as the team’s closer over youngster Nate Jones. Lindstrom hasn’t been a primary closer in a long time, but proved himself enough to the coaching staff to land a job outside of the setup role. So far, he is 1-for-2 in save chances following a disastrous outing on Thursday (1.0 IP, 2 H, 1BB, 2 ER). However, Jones’ rough spring has carried over in the regular season, having now allowed four runs having yet to record an out and just doesn’t look comfortable on the mound. Nonetheless, Lindstrom is worthy of a pick up in deep leagues as long as he continues to hold onto the closer role.
Jose Valverde, RP (NYM)--How many second chances can one pitcher get? If you are Valverde, apparently A LOT. The Mets will turn to Valvede to handle the team’s closer duties while Bobby Parnell is sidelined with an elbow injury. He is expected to miss at least six weeks with the elbow ailment, so Valverde will be fantasy worthy for a significant amount of time, that is, if he can keep a hold on the job. The Mets have other options, like Kyle Farnsworth, but with Valverde’s experience, it was a no-brainer decision. Adding Valverde should also be a no-brainer in deep mixed and NL-only leagues.