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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 Yangervis Solarte earlier in the week. His hot hitting continues and has now picked up third base eligibility in most fantasy formats. He isn’t going to be featured here. So let’s move on to this week’s top players to target off the wire.
Melky Cabrera, OF (TOR)--The “Melk Man” has been on a tear in the early going and has now complied five multi-hit games in the Blue Jays first 10 contests. That’s impressive. So is his four home runs, which is one more than he hit all of last season. Let’s not forget that he is only two years removed from reaching double-digit stolen bases, making him a sneaky five tool option if his hot hitting continues. The only downside to his current situation is the fact that he is batting leadoff, which is going to limit his RBI potential (only eight at-bats with runners in scoring position). But I’m not going to nitpick. We know what he can do and if he keeps it up he will not only be a must-add player this week, but a must-start down the line.
Michael Morse 1B, OF (SF)--There has been a lot chatter in the Bay Area and no it is not about Tim Lincecum’s new mustache. Rather the hot hitting of the Giants newest addition to the lineup, Michael Morse. Through his first 30 at-bats, Morse has recorded six extra-base hits, including two home runs, resulting in 10 RBI. Not to mention he has registered two hits in three of the last four games. Let’s face it, he isn’t going to hit .400 for long, but the power production is not something that will go away. Health has always been a major issue for Morse over his major league career and playing in the National League will not help his case there, considering he has to play defense (which is not pretty). As long as he can stay off the trainer’s table he is a great source of home runs and RBI nonetheless.
Jason Kubel, OF (MIN)--Opportunity means everything, and that is what Kubel has been given over the last five games. The Twins placed Oswaldo Arcia on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday with a wrist injury, which moved Kubel into the everyday lineup. Since being given everyday at-bats, he has registered three games of two or more hits including going 4-for-5 just two days ago. Keep in mind that once Arcia is back form injury the best case Kubel could hope for would be a platoon situation, which fits him well considering his career splits against right-handed pitching (119-of-140 have come against righties). As long as the opportunity is there he is worth riding while he is hot.
Charlie Blackmon, (COL)--Despite coming off of a 10-hit weekend, including going 6-for-6 with five RBI in a game, Blackmon isn’t getting the love he deserves. Let’s face it, anyone who receives regular at-bats in the Rockies lineup is worth owning. Although the Rockies continue to keep Drew Stubbs in the mix, Blackmon continues to separate himself from the pack having recorded at least two hits in four of the seven games in which he has was in the starting lineup. Not to mention the Rockies optioned Corey Dickerson to Triple-A earlier in the week ensuring more playing time for Blackmon. Did I mention he bats leadoff as well? Thought maybe I needed to do a little more selling.
Dee Gordon, 2B, SS (LAD)--His old man may have been given the nickname “Flash Gordon”, but it is his son that has all the speed. After a few disappointing seasons between Triple-A and the Majors, Gordon has really stepped up his game solidifying his spot in the Dodgers everyday lineup. Through nine games, Gordon is hitting .394 and has recorded at least two hits in four of those contests, including five hits in his last 10 at-bats. He only has two free passes thus far, which is very low for a leadoff hitter, but as long as he continues to make contact he will get on base on speed alone. Let’s face it, you aren’t adding Gordon for power, or batting average for that matter. His value is in his legs. So far he is 4-for-5 in stolen base attempts and there is no reason to believe he can’t lead the league in that category by season’s end. Billy Hamilton who?
Jackie Bradley Jr., OF (BOS)--His stay in the big leagues was not expected to last longer than Shane Victorino’s hamstring injury, but considering how well he has been playing lately he isn’t going anywhere. Since joining the starting lineup, Bradley has recorded three multi-hit games and has been a solid source in both the batting average and runs scored departments, although over a very small sample size. There have been rumors circulating around the Boston clubhouse that the team would like to deploy both Victorino and Bradley in the same lineup once he is back form injury, which would make his fantasy value more lasting. For now we have to consider him a short-term asset until there is more concrete news, but he has the chance of turning into a long-term investment down the road.
Garrett Richards, SP (LAA)--After a 2-0 start to the season, the Angels and prospective fantasy owners have to be pleased with what they have seen thus far. Through 15 innings, Richards has posted a 0.75 ERA with a 1.00 WHIP allowing just four hits combined in those two starts. His downside, he needs to work on his strikeout-to-walk rate (13:8 K:BB), which is going to lead to trouble down the line if it continues trending in the wrong direction. Will this hot start fizzle off eventually? Yes. Don’t forget he holds a career 4.24 ERA with only 11 wins coming into 2014. But until then he should continue to be a top add in mixed leagues while he draws solid opposing matchups as the Angels No. 4 pitcher in the rotation.
Nathan Eovaldi, SP (MIA)--Leading up to 2014 it was hard to imagine that this guy was the centerpiece that landed Hanley Ramirez with the Dodgers a few years back, but through his first two starts it is all starting to make sense. Eovaldi has posted two solid outings to start off the season, and has been a solid compliment behind Jose Fernandez in the Marlins rotation. Through 13.0 innings, Eovaldi has posted a 3.46 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP while striking out 14 batters to just one free pass allowed. That’s impressive. He has always possessed velocity that could devastate whoever steps in the batters box, but now that he has added control to the mix, he appears ready to take the next step in his progression. If you are as interested as I am it’s now time to pony up before it’s too late.
Aaron Harang, SP (ATL)--Right when you think he’s got nothing left in the tank the “Harang-utan” resurfaces as a legitimate fantasy option in the early going. Through two starts Harang has allowed just one run on four hits and five walks leading to a 0.71 ERA and a 1-1 start. I know what you are thinking, we have been down this road before and it has failed miserably. But hear me out. Three of the top 10 teams with the most strikeouts reside in the National League East (Mets, Phillies, Marlins). Not to mention he has already faced the Mets and fanned nine. If nothing else, he is going to help out in the strikeout department and throw in a few wins here and there making him a solid deep mixed league add until he proves otherwise.
Jesse Chavez, SP (OAK)--There weren’t many people on the Chavez-train to start the season, so don’t feel bad if you don’t recognize his name. Prior to the injuries to both A.J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker, Chavez was slated to open the season in the Athletics bullpen, but has proven he can be a quality starter if given the opportunity. Through two starts Chavez has posted a 1.38 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP which goes well with his 9.00 K/9. He has yet to factor into a decision, but that has not been because of the way he has pitched in the least. At this point, once Griffin returns from injury there is no way he can be replaced in the starting rotation, with Tommy Milone likely the odd man out in that situation. There is a good chance he was drafted in AL-only that drafted late in the season, so those in mixed league formats will want to give him a strong look if looking for starting pitcher depth moving forward.
Shawn Kelley, RP (NYY)--After only three appearances, the Yankees were forced to place David Robertson on the disabled list after suffering a groin injury, moving Kelley into the closer role until he returns. So far Kelley has had one good appearance (perfect inning for 1st save) and one to forget (2 ER on 4 H and a loss), but manager Joe Girardi will continue using him until the wheels fall off completely. Also in the mix are both Matt Thornton, who has ninth inning experience, and Dellin Betances, who may be too raw for the job. So for now if you are searching for saves, Kelley is the guy to own in the Yankees bullpen. Just remember Robertson is only expected to miss the minimum required amount of days, so this experiment is going to be short-lived.
Sean Doolittle/Ryan Cook/Luke Gregerson, RP (OAK)--It was announced on Thursday that the Athletics will go turn to a closer committee after a terrible start to the season by Jim Johnson. I can’t stress enough on how I hate speculating about who will get the nod in situations like this, but for now all three players are worth adding depending on your depth at the position and your league settings. While I don’t think the Athletics will turn to a committee for the rest of the season (usually ends up failing), I think that until someone separates themselves from the pack there is really no telling who is going to escape victorious. Of the three pitchers, Doolittle is at a disadvantage strictly on the fact that he is left-handed, but as Fantasy Alarm’s Ray Flowers pointed out the splits don’t give any reason not to use him in the role. So pick your poison. Just remember things could change in a blink of an eye or in one game for that matter.