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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.
Now that the sample sizes are starting to grow, we can start to see trends, whether positive or negative. However, in this column we are only talkin’ about the guys on the rise due to recent production or increased playing time. No one his perfect, so I might swing-and-miss from time to time, but that is the beauty of fantasy sports. Be sure to hit me up in the comment section if there is anyone I missed or if you have a question about who to add to give your roster a little more flavor.
Adam Lind, 1B (TOR)--After being sidelined for almost a month with a back injury, Lind made his presence felt immediately in his return to action on Thursday, going 1-for-4 with a two-run home run and three RBI. He is now the owner of a .316 average with two home runs and nine RBI through his first 38 at-bats, while holding down an even 9:9 K:BB ratio. Although he has been absent for most of the season, he was able to pick up right where he left off prior to the injury and will be a staple in the Blue Jays potent starting lineup moving forward. His ownership throughout the major providers dipped below the 40 percent mark due to the extent stay on the disabled list, making him a great value to add in any format if he is currently sitting on the waiver wire.
Wilmer Flores, SS (NYM)--The Mets have been struggling to get solid production from the shortstop position in the early going and had seen enough from the platoon of Ruben Tejada and Omar Quintanilla, which resulted in the promotion of Flores on Thursday. He will take over for Quintanilla, who was designated for assignment, and should provide the Mets with added offensive production if his hot start translates to the big league level. Through 114 at-bats for Triple-A Las Vegas, Flores slashed .307/.360/.500 with five homers and 25 RBI proving he was ready to make the jump to the next level. Although the PCL is known for its bang box stadiums, he has shown the ability to hit for both power and batting average at every minor league level. Until we see how he is used in the Mets lineup, Flores should be an NL-only add for the time being, but if/when he takes off he will be a hot commodity considering the lack of options a the shortstop position throughout the league once he gains his eligibility.
Alcides Escobar, SS (KC)--His production has been up and down over the course of his career, but in the early stages of 2014, he appears to have taken a liking to being slotted at the bottom of the Royals lineup and it has shown in his fantasy production. Escobar is currently sitting on a .271 average with one home run and 10 RBI through 118 at-bats, which is nothing special. However, what is special is that he has already reached double-digits in stolen bases converting 10 of his first 11 chances on the base paths. With the Royals offense continuing to struggle in the power categories, it has opened the door for speedsters like Escobar to get the green light more when on base, in an effort to move into scoring position. He is currently sporting a .328 OBP, which will improve if he starts taking more walks (9 BB), but as long as he continues to convert his opportunities at a high rate, he could be on his way to setting a new career-high by season’s end (career-high 35 SB in ’12).
Kolten Wong, 2B (STL)-- Following a miserable start to the season (.225 BA through 71 AB), the Cardinals sent Wong packing back to Triple-A Memphis to ensure he received regular at-bats to work out the kinks. Since being demoted, Wong is slashing .326/.356/.442 over his first 10 games (45 AB) with one home run, five RBI and three stolen bases as he appears to have made the proper adjustments to make a return to the big leagues. With veteran Mark Ellis struggling at the plate, the Cardinals may opt to bring Wong back sooner than later, to give the team’s offense a jump start after a sluggish start. Although the Cardinals have yet to address this situation, it is clear that if Wong continues his hot hitting he is just one phone call away from becoming fantasy relevant again. Those in NL-only and deep mixed leagues in need of middle infield help will want to consider stashing him now before he becomes a top waiver wire target later in the month.
Drew Stubbs, OF (COL)--After falling out of fantasy consideration the last few seasons, Stubbs has resurfaced as a legitimate option in the absence of Michael Cuddyer. He has gone 9-for-17 (.529 BA) over his last four games, including five extra-base hits (1 HR) and two stolen bases in that stretch. Although he has struggled over the course of his career against right-handed opposition (.228 BA), Stubbs has been able to hit .300 or greater against both lefties (.345 BA) and righties (.300 BA) in the early going, with both of his homers coming against his Achilles heel. The Rockies do not expect to have Cuddyer back in the starting lineup until late May, so in the very least Stubbs will be a solid source of power and speed in both NL-only and deep mixed leagues in the short-term.
Tom Koehler, SP (MIA)--With the majority of the attention being given to staff ace Jose Fernandez, it’s easy to forget about a player like Koehler. However, now that his solid start has carried over into the month of May, it is time to give him the rest he deserves. Through seven starts, the Marlins righty is sitting 3-2 with a 1.99 ERA and 0.99 WHIP having allowed only 10 runs through his first 45.1 innings of work. He has issued more walks than one would like (17 BB) when compared to his strikeout total (29 K), but he has allowed more than five hits only once in the early going making it easy to see why I feel it is time to climb aboard. Although he is unlikely to own a K/9 above 7.00 at any point this season, his ability to eat innings and limit base runners is a valuable asset to just about any fantasy team moving forward.
Zach McAllister, SP (CLE)--The Indians may not be off to a good start, but their big righty has had his way with the opposition in the early going, making him a solid add in most fantasy formats. Through seven trips to the mound, McAllister is the owner of a 3-2 record with a 3.18 ERA and 1.21 WHIP while averaging just under one strikeout per inning pitched (8.17 K/9). Outside of allowing four walks back in his April 30 start, McAllister has surrendered two or less free passes in five of his last six starts, while having yet to allow more than six hits in a contest. Not to mention he has only allowed one home run through his first 39.2 innings of work. As long as he continues to limit his free passes and keep the ball in play, he has the making for a solid back-end starter as the season progresses.
Roenis Elias, SP (SEA)--Depsite his issues with walks allowed (19 through 41.1 IP), Elias is off to a solid start, sitting 3-2 with a 3.27 ERA and 1.31 WHIP through seven starts while striking out just under one batter per inning (8.06 K/9). He has lasted into the seventh inning three times in the early going, due to high pitch counts, but if he is able to work on his command slightly we could see his counting stats improve as the season progresses. With both James Paxton and Taijuan Walker slated to return in the month of June, Elias may be in danger of losing his starting gig, although it seems likely that he has pitched well enough to secure a spot long term. If you are searching the waiver wire for help in the strikeout department, Elias could be just the trick without hurting the other pitching categories too much.
Dellin Betances, RP (NYY)--With little options on the wire to aid the saves category, I find myself talking about another setup man with high strikeout potential. The Yankees tall righty has been in beast mode since Opening Day sitting on a 2.08 ERA and 1.15 WHIP through 17.1 innings or work in the early going, but that isn’t the best part. He is the proud owner of a 15.58 K/9 having struck out at least two batters in all but two appearances while being used to get one out to six outs depending on the situation. This guy has the making to be a great closer one day, but won’t see the ninth inning unless David Robertson was to suffer an injury. Considering both his high-strikeout ability and solid control, Betances makes for a solid add for those in search of alternatives beyond the lower tier closer options.