I’m not sure if you noticed or not but BASEBALL IS BACK. We now have a series of games under our belts which means that we finally have some decisions to make. If you’re a John Axford or Carlos Marmol owner then you’re already looking at other options. Meanwhile, Ryan Ludwick and Brian Roberts owners have been busy looking for replacements. Bryce Harper owners are doing their best Bryce Harper impression by being overly confident in their abilities right now. No matter how you slice it, the highs and lows of baseball are undeniably back and we should all rejoice.
While it should be noted that we’re dealing with very small sample sizes, you should start checking out your waiver wire anyway. Sometimes these hot starts turn into breakout seasons and it’s time to roll the dice and find out (disclaimer: don’t drop anybody of value yet; patience is a virtue). Let’s check out some of the hottest pickups and see if they are worth a damn:
Gerardo Parra – Oh my word. He’s leading off now and batting .500 after three games with a homer and stolen base. Of course, that means he’s a hot pickup. He’s filling in for Adam Eaton and is the type of player who could flirt with 10 HR and 20 SB with a decent AVG in a full season of plate appearances. He likely won’t be a full-time player all season long but he’s an attractive option for the time being.
Collin Cowgill – He homered on Opening Day! He’s in New York! This got attention and made him worthy of punny headlines like “Need More Cowgill” and “Where There’s A Cowgill There’s a Way” and such. Oh, but aside from the homer, he’s only had one hit. That being said, Cowgill did have two minor league seasons with about 15 HR and 30 SB so he’s got roto appeal. In deep leagues, he’s worth a look. <insert some sort of clever cow joke>
Tyler Flowers – If this guy was a flower then he would be some sort of beautiful but poisonous flower. This beautiful flower can smack homeruns like it ain’t no thang and could probably flirt with 25 HR’s in a full season of AB’s. But, right, it’s poisonous and will absolutely kill you in batting average and not contribute any stolen bases. No thanks, silly flower.
Evan Gattis – The story of Gattis’ fall from grace, infatuation with marijuana then return to baseball is an interesting one. The story of him on your fantasy team likely wouldn’t be as interesting. He’s got power, yes, but he doesn’t really have a full-time job. The Braves will have Brian McCann back eventually and Gerald Laird is still their primary catcher until then. So, while we can enjoy the Gattis batflip from afar, don’t rush to the waiver wire.
Justin Maxwell – Mad Max hit 18 HR with 9 SB in a half season last year yet everyone kind of ignored him in drafts because, well, his batting average sucked. The good news is that it looks like the Astros are going to play him because they’re the Astros. He’s got appeal with his power and speed combo but he will likely still burn you in AVG. If you can cover up that deficiency on your roto team, he’s worth a look.
Lucas Duda – Duda! Sweet! Duda! Sweet! Erm, sorry about that. So, last season, I had Duda pegged as a major sleeper and thought he had 30 HR potential. In three-quarters of a season, he hit half that number. I still think he’s got the potential to smack out of a ton of HR’s but this will be the year where we find out for sure. In the opening series, he did manage to hit a 2-run bomb which is hopefully a sign of things to come. He’s one to keep an eye on and scoop up if he continues to mash.
Dillon Gee – I’ve already written about him. He started off the season well. He’s still not owned everywhere. Go correct that.
Jhoulys Chacin – After letting one earned run and three hits in his opening start, Chacin suddenly became a hot pickup. He’s still Jhoulys Chacin, y’all. He will get you those 6 K and 3 BB in most of his starts but he’ll likely do it with a 4.00 ERA and 1.40 WHIP. Have at it, if that’s your thing.
Lucas Harrell – He will likely have a monster season. I picked him up prior to Opening Day but dropped him for J.A. Happ. If past fantasy experiences have taught me anything, it’s that those type of little moves mean that I’ve just blessed Harrell with super pitching skills in 2013. But, really, he’s a decent option for a fairly low ERA that won’t contribute much else in any other category. In very deep leagues, there’s some value in that.
Hishashi Iwakuma – Iwakuma bounced between being a closer, middle reliever and starter last year. He was most successful as a starter though as he posted a 2.65 ERA and 1.23 WHIP with 7.4 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 over 95 innings. There’s still question marks about whether Iwakuma can do this over a full season as hitters adjust but he started off 2013 on the right foot with a 7 K, 0 BB gem. He’s worth an add.
Andy Pettitte – It’s funny that Pettitte gets such little love each year in fantasy drafts. It’s not “funny ha-ha” but more like “funny hmm,” like a Wes Anderson movie. Regardless, Pettitte is a craft old man who still shows good control and ability to outthink other teams. You don’t need to rush to a nursing home to help out the elderly; just pick up Pettitte instead.
Detroit Closers – Oh goodness. I don’t even know. Your guess is as good as mine. Three possible closers and the Tigers even signed Jose Valverde to a minor league contract now. Until something clears up here, I’m not going to try to guess every game about who is closing.
Jim Henderson – I still like John Axford but he’s standing on shaky ground right now after letting up 3 HR’s in the first series of the season. If these struggles continue then Henderson is next in line. Henderson is worth a speculative add to see what happens here but I wouldn’t drop Axford until something definitive happens here.
Kyuji Fujikawa – Meanwhile, a closer who is on even shakier ground is Carlos Marmol. He’s still walking guys at an incredible rate and striking them out an incredible rate too. He’s still giving Cubs fans heart attacks. I don’t see how much longer this can go on. The Cubs have a nice option in Fujikawa waiting in the wings now too. Fujikawa has looked nice in his MLB debut thus far and I think he’s got to take the job at some point soon. He’s worth adding now though.