Over the last week, Alex Avila has been able to get some at bats at first base with Miguel Cabrera out. He’s started four of the last six games for the Tigers leading to five hits in 16 at bats with four runs, two HRs, and four RBI. Alex has nine hits in his last 28 at bats with four HRs and eight RBI. Nothing more than a short-term filler if you have a weakness at C2 in 15 leagues or larger. The last reports have Cabrera coming back next Tuesday, so the window for playing time will close quickly for Avila.
The Giants have multiple injuries to their starting lineup. They’ve pushed Brandon Belt to the outfield four times over the last week or so creating more at bats for Nick Hundley behind the plate. He’s started nine of the last 14 games with empty results (5-for-33 with two runs and a RBI). Nick has some power so he may be ready to contribute in deep leagues at the C2 position.
Devin Mesoraco crawled back on the field on Friday night where he delivered one hit in three at bats with a run. Over 47 at bats at AA in 2017, Mesoraco hit .170 with one HR and three RBI. It’s been three years since Devin had his breakout season (.273 with 25 HRs and 80 RBI) and he is injury prone. I’m sure he’s worth a flier in a 12-team league, but he may need more at bats to find his rhythm.
The Dodgers called up Cody Bellinger this week due to some injuries in the outfield. His baseline stats at AAA look impressive in 2017 (.338 with five HRs and 15 RBI over 65 at bats), but he did strikeout 21 times. In 2016 between AA and AAA, Cody pounded out 26 HRs with 71 RBI and eight SBs while hitting .271 over 410 at bats. His K rate was 20.2 percent in AA last year, which was an improvement over his 2015 season at High A (27.6 percent K rate with 30HRs, 103 RBI, and 10 SBs over 478 at bats). Over 17 at bats in the majors, Bellinger has five hits with two HR and five Ks. Impact power, but he won’t stay in the majors if his K rate falters. Worth a flier in all formats if you have enough room on your bench.
Last weekend the Mariners called up Daniel Vogelbach after he hit .309 over 55 at bats at AAA with two HRs, 14 RBI, and a SB. Just like his struggles in spring training (.228 over 57 at bats with a HR and five RBI), Vogelbach is 2-for-13 in the majors with no production (only two Ks). Daniel had 19 Ks in March leading to his trip back to the minors. I’d be more inclined to sit on Danny Valencia (four hits in his last ten at bats with three runs, a HR, and a RBI) due to his better resume in the majors. Both options have no real playable value in 12-team leagues or smaller.
In the 12-team league that I’m using as a reference for this article, there are some interesting options at second base this week. Devon Travis was dropped after his dismal start to the year before this week (.127 with five runs, a HR, and four RBI over 63 at bats). The Blue Jays only gave him three starts in their last six games (two-for-10 with two SBs). He’s a much better hitter than this, but Travis would only be a speck play if you have room on your bench. When I did my preseason team outlooks, Devon had the talent to be a 20/20 guy if he stayed healthy.
I believe I mentioned Kolten Wong last week. He’s started 11 of the last 12 games for the Cardinals (.343 with eight runs, a HR, six RBI, and two SBs over 35 at bats) to put his bat back on the radar. In one high stakes team that I need speed from the middle infield position, I looked at Wong last week. I had too many injuries on my bench plus Didi Gregorius was coming back this past weekend. I wish I had room for him as his speed would work well with my team if he continues to get at bats when Jhonny Peralta returns from the DL.
If you have batting average covered and power is what your team lacks, Ryan Schimpf landed in the free agent pool this week. Over the last week, he has a home run in three of his last four games with a four-game hitting streak (5-for-12 with six runs, three HRs, and eight RBI). This stretch came after Ryan hit .102 over his first 59 at bats with three HRs, six RBI, and 25 strikeouts. Frustrating player when he’s struggling, but Schimpf can have some big games.
Jose Reyes remains a misplaced option at third base, but his bat rounded into form over his last five games (8-for-18 with five runs, a HR, four RBI, and two SBs). Jose needs one more game to qualify at shortstop in leagues with five game minimums.
San Fran called up Christian Arroyo this week after the Giants had some injuries in the outfield. This pushed Eduardo Nunez to left field leading to a starting job for Arroyo. Over 1465 at bats in the minors at age 22, Christian hit .300 with 23 HRs, 204 RBI, and 18 SBs. His K rate (14.9) grades out as an asset with a below league average (5.7 percent) walk rate. Over his first 24 at bats in the majors, Arroyo has five hits with two HRs and RBI. Not a sexy bat by any means so I would only take a shot at him in 15-team leagues or higher (NL only for sure).
The Braves have given Adonis Garcia a chance to bat second over the last week or so. He has a four-game hitting streak (7-for-19 with four runs and one RBI) while hitting .333 over his last 33 at bats with a HR and four RBI. Based on opportunity, Garcia should be a viable injury fill in a 12-team league with a chance to offer a power burst.
Orlando Arcia has been very good over his last ten games (10-for-32 with five runs, two HRs, and seven RBI). He continues to hit at the bottom of the Brewers’ lineup, which will change with each productive day at the plate. Arcia’s underlying skill set points to 30+ SBs, so the stolen bases will come. They key for him moving up in the batting order will be more walks (three over 78 at bats). Nice stash in a 12-team league with playable value in 15-team leagues. Double-digit home runs look well with reach based on his April success.
This week I’ll have to take a serious look at Erick Aybar. He has a long resume in the majors, but Erick struggled in 2016 (.243 with three HRs, 34 RBI, and three SBs over 415 at bats). Aybar has a seven-game hitting streak (9-for-26) with solid production over his last 11 games (.300 with six runs, two HRs, six RBI, and three SBs). The key here is the stolen bases as it makes him playable in many formats. If he moves to the second slot in the batting order, he will be a must own until he falters. Erick is on pace for 12 HRs and 19 SBs for what it’s worth.
The Yankees activated Didi Gregorius from the DL, and he immediately delivered four hits in nine at bats with two runs and two RBI. New York is much improved offensively (first in runs score  in the AL after 22 games), making Didi a nice find on the waiver wire. In 2016, he had 20 HRs and seven SBs over 562 at bats. I expect continued growth in his skill set.
It won’t be hard to identify Scott Schebler this week after he bashed five HRs and nine RBI over his last 18 at bats (.444). Scott has two seasons on his minor-league resume with 27 HRs or more plus four years with double digits steals. He has flash power with enough playing time to warrant a start in 12-team leagues. Schebler looks well on his way to a 20/80 season with speed being a bonus.
If you are still seeking to make up speed, Delino DeShields showed a spark while starting and batting leadoff the last three games (4-for-10 with six runs, one RBI, and two SBs). Delino has three seasons in the minors with over 50 stolen bases (83, 51, and 54). Many of us will add many closers in waiting to make up saves. I would say elite base stealers are tougher to come by so DeShields is your base stealer in waiting if he’s not getting enough at bats.
Michael Saunders has a five-game hitting streak (5-for-17) with four runs, a HR, and two RBI. His swing delivered 24 HRs and 57 RBI over 490 at bats in 2016, and his opportunity is better in 2017. Even with short production (one HR and three RBI) over his last 44 at bats, Saunders hit .295. More of an injury cover in shallow leagues. Michael has played 14 of his 21 games against WAS, NYM, and LAD). His pitching matchups won’t get softer over next two weeks (@CHC, WAS, SEA, and @WAS) so he looks more like a buy-and-hold unless you are forced to cover an injury.
We all know Nick Markakis hasn’t had a viable power stroke since 2008 (20 HRs), but that doesn’t mean he can’t hit. Nick has a five-game hitting streak (9-for-20 with six runs and two RBI), and he has a hit in 19 of his 22 games played in 2017. His RBI production (89) was on point in 2016, and the Braves do hit him in a favorable part of the batting order. I smell upside, but I would only start him in 15-team leagues or larger unless I need to a short-term filler.
The time is now for Ian Desmond as he will be activated from the DL on April 30th. The Rockies will get him in the starting lineup on just about every day after signing a nice contract in the offseason. I’m sure he’s owned in every 12 and 15 team leagues, but there is a chance he’s floating around in some shallow leagues with short benches.
The Twins will need a fifth starter this week, and there is a very good chance they call up Jose Berrios. Over four starts at AAA (scheduled to start on 4/30 at AAA), Jose has a 1.44 ERA with 28 Ks over 25 innings. Batters hit .180 against him compared to .219 in his minor-league career. Berrios was a train wreck in the majors in 2016 (3-7 over 14 starts covering 58.1 innings with an 8.02 ERA, 35 walks, and 49 Ks). His resume in the minors points to the high upside (47-25 with 2.82 ERA and 617 Ks over 577 innings). He should be picked up this week, but his matchup doesn’t look favorable (home vs. BOS).
For one week, Matt Cain bridged the gap closer to Madison Bumgarner for the Giants. Cain has been exceptional in his last four starts (2-0 with a 1.17 ERA and 19 Ks in 23 innings). It’s almost like he looks like the old Matt Cain as far as stats. His average fastball (89.5) is well below 2016 (91.2), and his best years in the majors so this ride is far from a lock. Before getting too excited, Matt made three of his last four starts at home and the fourth vs. a struggling Royals’ offense that ranks last in the majors in runs scored (2.6 runs per game). His next two starts come on the road vs. the Reds and the Mets. More of a week-to-week start. With so many pitching injuries of late, his name will be at the top of many free agent lists. Don’t overpay is my best advice here.
It’s easy to write off Yovani Gallardo based on his poor success in 2016 (5.42 ERA) and fading K rate (5.9 in 2015 and 6.5 in 2016) plus he’s put up some crooked number already in 2017 (5.08 ERA and 1.553 WHIP). Over his last 12.1 innings, Gallardo does have 14 Ks with a 3.65 ERA and 1.135 WHIP. A Fantasy owner can’t leave any stone unturned when searching for starting pitching, so I looked at his velocity this year. His average fastball is 92.2 in 2017 compared to 90.8 in 2016, 91.6 in 2015, and 92.2 in 2014. Also, his slider and his curveball have more life. The last time Yovani has value in Ks was 2012 (204), but he did produce a playable ERA in 2014 (3.51) and 2015 (3.42) with continued WHIP risk (1.29 in 2014 and 1.42 in 2015). His next two starts aren’t favorable (TEX and @TOR) even with the Blue Jays struggling to score runs. Gallardo could be worth a bench flier in deep leagues while we see another game or two before taking a starting plunge.