SP Nate Karns, Kansas City Royals
The overall stats don't show it, but Karns is on the rise. He is 2-2 with a 4.46 ERA and 1.21 WHIP. Karns has always flashed skills, but has never been able to show consistency or pitch deep into games. Karns has turned it on over his last three starts spanning 17.1 innings. He has allowed 12 hits, four earned runs, four walks and struck out 29. In five of his eight starts, he has allowed two earned runs or less. His strikeout percentage is up 4.2 percent to 28.4 percent. His walk rate is a career-best 7.7 percent and he's producing a career-high 55.2 percent ground ball rate. The only drastic change is Karns is using his changeup more and his swinging strike rate is up to 12.9 percent. If he's available in your league, add him.
SP Alex Wood, Los Angeles Dodgers
Wood was not slated to be in the starting rotation going into the season. While the Dodgers had a lot of depth among starters, they also had many injury risks. Wood made his first appearance of the season in the bullpen and then made a start, lasting 3.2 innings before being sent back to the bullpen. Since then, he's made five straight starts and even when the Dodgers have everyone healthy, it will be difficult to send Wood back to the bullpen. Wood has been excellent despite not going more than six innings in any start. He has been dominant in his last two starts, including a start at Coors Field. In those games, he pitched 11 scoreless innings, allowing seven hits, two walks and struck out 21. He is 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA, a 1.01 WHIP, 33.1 percent strikeout rate and 7.6 percent walk rate. He has a 62.8 percent ground ball rate, a 22.1 percent hard hit rate and an 11.9 percent swinging strike rate. Wood is legit.
2B Devon Travis, Toronto Blue Jays
Travis was a huge disappointment in April, batting .130 with five runs, a home run, four RBIs, two stolen bases and a .388 OPS. Many owners may have cut him, especially in shallow formats. If you stayed patient, at least you have got the stats as he's started to turn it around this month. Travis is batting .327 with nine runs, six RBIs, two stolen bases and a .903 OPS. He is hitting more line drives and pulling the ball less, going to all fields. The overall numbers aren't good, but that's expected with a poor April. He's hitting .209 with 14 runs, one home run, 10 RBIs and four stolen bases. The Blue Jays lineup has finally started hitting and will get back Troy Tulowitzki and Josh Donaldson soon.
RP Edwin Diaz, Seattle Mariners
After four straight scoreless appearances that included no walks, two bad games caused the Mariners to temporarily remove Diaz from the closer role. Diaz took a loss on May 14 when he got two outs and allowed a walk-off homer to Kevin Pillar. The next day he could only get one out and allowed four walks and two earned runs. Diaz has seven saves in nine chances and is 1-2 with a 5.28 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. While he has 20 strikeouts in 15.1 innings, he has walked 10 and allowed four home runs. That's an awful combination for a closer. Diaz had an 88:15 K:BB ratio in 51.2 innings last season. He has a 23.5 percent home run/fly ball rate, so there's some bad luck there. Mariners manager Scott Servais wants Diaz to work in lower leverage roles to work out mechanical issues. The Mariners plan to go with a committee and there isn't a clear cut good option. Look for Diaz to get his job back. Hold him on your roster for a little while.
2B Dee Gordon, Miami Marlins
I don't like drafting Gordon because he costs way too much and he doesn't do enough. People were overpaying for stolen bases since not as many players are running. It happened with Gordon and he's not getting it done. Sure, the 12 stolen bases are nice, but he's hurting in several categories. He was moved out of the leadoff spot for a few games, but is back up top and he needs to be there for those that drafted him early. Gordon is batting .245 with 19 runs, no home runs, five RBIs and a .604 OPS. Gordon barely walks with a 4.1 percent walk rate and has a .302 on-base percentage. He should get the steals but he's going to be a negative in several categories. With so many more home runs, it's really difficult to roster a player that has five home runs over his last 263 games and is not a good hitter.
3B Nick Castellanos, Detroit Tigers
Castellanos was on his way to a breakout season last year before it was interrupted due to injury. It's not going that way in 2017. Castellanos has been slumping in May with a .190 average, no home runs, five runs, eight RBIs and a .531 OPS. He is batting .224 with 20 runs, three home runs, 22 RBIs and a .683 OPS. His strikeout rate from last season is up 2.2 percent to 27 percent. The walk rate is up 2.6 percent to 8.6 percent. He has a .299 BABIP and that's below his career average of .327. The biggest issue for the power is the lack of fly balls. Castellanos is hitting a lot of line drives as he always has with a 26.4 percent line drive rate, but the fly ball percentage is down to 33.6 percent compared to his career average of 39.1 percent. The good news is Castellanos is hitting the ball real hard with a 50.9 percent hard hit rate. Buy low.