Martin Maldonado played well over his last 12 games (12-for-40 with seven runs, two HRs, and seven RBI). In 12-team leagues, he looks like the best available option in the free agent pool this week.
Tom Murphy hasn’t played a game at any level in 2017, but he’s getting closer. He was expected to take batting practice over the last couple of days. He’ll need some at bats in the minors before returning to the majors. Last season he had 24 HRs and 72 RBI over 347 at bats between AAA and the majors. Player to follow with upside in power if he regains his form over the last four months of the season.
The Rays expect to Wilson Ramos back in the middle of June. He had an electric batting practice this week. His game made a huge step forward in 2016 (.307 with 22 HRs and 80 RBI), so he will be a nice add if you have weakness at catcher.
Matt Adams gets a tremendous opportunity in Atlanta as Freddie Freeman’s replacement. The Braves made an excellent move to help cover the loss of Freeman. Adams only has one start over the last 3 and 1/2 weeks for the Cardinals. Last season he had 16 HRs and 54 RBI over 297 at bats with reasonable success against lefties (.283 with three HRs and 13 RBI over 46 at bats).
Greg Bird’s return remains a mystery while making some progress over the last week. Chris Carter started six of the last seven games for the Yankees, but he did strike out 11 times in 20 at bats with a HR and four RBI. Chris has elite power with batting average risk. If your team is struggling in HRs, Carter could provide a power streak until Bird returns.
With Yoan Moncada on the DL at AAA with a left thumb issue, Yolmer Sanchez may get a longer window to start at 2B for the White Sox. He has an eight-game hitting streak (13-for-32 with four runs, one HR, five RBI, and a SB). Sanchez has a short and underwhelming resume in the majors. He did show growth in both HRs (8) and steals (10) at AA in 2016 over 235 at bats. There’s more here than meets the eye.
The Cubs called up Ian Happ last week due to a couple of injuries. Over 21 at bats in the majors, he has seven hits with six runs, two HRs, and four RBI while batting cleanup in multiple games. His swing looked electric at AAA (.298 with nine HRs, 25 RBI, and two SBs over 104 at bats). Chicago has a weakness in center field and Ian make the most sense to take the job and run with it. Happ has a 20/20 skill set, and he has a chance to stay in the majors.
Fantasy owners continue to disrespect Trevor Plouffe. Last week I picked him in a 15-team league with no runner-up bid. Over his last 14 games, Trevor has 15 hits in 41 at bats with eight runs, two HR, and four RBI. He only has 13 RBI over 131 at bats, so he needs to get hot in this area.
Chris Taylor started nine of the last ten games for the Dodgers at second base while batting leadoff of late. He hit .341 over his last 44 at bats with nine runs, three HRs, and eight RBI. His window for starting should be closing with Logan Forsythe due back shortly, but LA lost Justin Turner for a couple of weeks with a hamstring issue. Worth a short-term ride if you need to cover an injury.
Miami placed Adeiny Hechavarria on the DL with an oblique injury. This gives J.T. Riddle a chance to be in the lineup every day. He has six hits his last 16 at bats with a run and a RBI. Last year he only had four HRs and six SBs over 445 at bats. Low-level option, but the shortstop free agents remain weak.
Andrelton Simmons has four two-hit games over his last seven starts (9-for-28) with four runs, an RBI, and two SBs. Of all the starting free agent options at this position, Simmons will give a Fantasy owners counting stats while being on a career-high pace in steals.
Over his last five games, Lonnie Chisenhall has five hits in 15 at bats with five runs, three HRs, and seven RBI. He’s done a nice job transitioning to center field. Lonnie’s on pace for 20 HRs and 83 RBI over 324 at bats. The Indians have given him only ten at bats against lefties (3-for-10 with a HR and two RBI). Developing 20/80 skill set with a starting job.
Mark Canha has three HRs with six RBI over his last four games. His success should create more at bats. In 2015, he played well in the majors when given an opportunity (.254 over 441 at bats with 16 HRs, 70 RBI, and seven SBs). Canha needs to outplay Matt Joyce to earn a full-time job.
The Indians called up Bradley Zimmer this week due to some injuries in the outfield. Over four seasons in the minors, he hit .270 with 42 HRs, 171 RBI, and 103 SBs over 1246 at bats. Brad will take a walk (11.4 percent), but he needs to make better contact (25.9 percent K rate). Over 254 at bats in his career at AAA, Zimmer struck out 99 times (33.7 percent). Excellent combination of power and speed, but he needs more time to develop. In his first 12 at bat in the majors, Bradley has seven Ks.
Jackie Bradley Jr. is only hitting .198 over his first 91 at bats this year leading to him being dropped in some 12 team leagues. His swing showed a spark over four games (6-for-15 with four runs, two HRs, and three RBI) vs. Tampa and St. Louis before fading vs. the A’s (0-6). Jackie is a streaky hitter so I’d keep an eye on him or stash him on your bench if you have some weakness in the outfield. In 2016, Bradley was a better hitter at home (.299 with 12 HRs, 49 RBI, and three SBs).
The Indians will need to decide the value of Mike Clevinger over the next couple of weeks. Over four games in the majors covering 17.1 innings, he’s allowed only six hits (.111 BAA) while showing command risk. Mike spun a great game on the road vs. the Astros this weekend (no runs over seven innings with eight Ks) to make his case to pass Josh Tomlin in the starting rotation. Clevinger has a 3.28 ERA over 431.1 innings in his career in the minors with 418 Ks plus an excellent resume at AAA (14-2 with a 2.63 ERA and 129 Ks over 123 innings). Tomlin started to show an uptick (two runs over 15 innings with 10 Ks) after posting 8.87 ERA and 1.76 WHIP over his first five starts, but the Rays drilled him in his last outing (six runs and nine base runners over 2.1 innings). Mike should be owned in 14-team leagues with being a possible rotational double starter in 12-team leagues or smaller.
Over the weekend, I was reviewing a team in a 10-league on CBS.com when I noticed Rich Hill was in the free agent pool. He threw the ball great in 2016 (2.12 ERA and 1.00 WHIP over 110.1 innings), but he battled blister issue for too long. The same problem arose this season leading to him being cut in this league. In his first start back in the starting rotation for the Dodgers, he allowed one run over five innings with no walks and six Ks. Rich should be owned in all formats.
Joe Ross pitched much better at AAA on May 17th (one runs over seven innings with six Ks), which is a move in the right direction. He’s been working on getting his arm slot back in a more favorable area. There’s chance the Nationals call him back up at the end of next week.
Reynaldo Lopez has won his last four starts at AAA (four runs and 25 base runners over 22.2 innings with 23 Ks) to lower his ERA to 3.18. Command remains an issue (22 over 43 innings). The White Sox have a doubleheader this week, so Lopez could be called up soon. Live arm with K ability, but he’s only worth a look leagues with 15 teams or more for now.