The weather is getting warmer and so are player’s bats. When injuries strike your team, or if you just have a need to fill, I will provide the best possible replacements off the waiver wire.
Michael Morse – 1B/OF – Washington Nationals
It is time to remind owners everywhere that Morse is coming back very soon, and should be rostered in all formats. He hit over .300 with 31 HR’s in 2011, and is heading out on a minor league rehab assignment starting Monday 5/28. This means that Morse could be back as soon as week 10, and should be able to fill the stat sheet in multiple categories. Be sure to check if he is available in your league, and once you pick him up, be ready for the trade offers to come your way.
Alcides Escobar – SS – Kansas City Royals
As an everyday player for the Royals, Escobar could offer some value in deeper formats as he is making consistent contact this season. Over his past 25 games he is hitting .326, but has 0 HR and just 7 RBI. With 3 SB’s over that time frame, he mostly will help in the H, AVG, and R categories, and should be expected to start stealing more. If you are sick of Dee Gordon, give Escobar a look, but don’t expect a power surge anytime soon.
Andy Dirks – LF – Detroit Tigers
Chances are you don’t need outfield help in your format. OF is the deepest position in fantasy sports, and most owners stockpile their biggest bats in that category. If you happen to be one of the poor souls afflicted by the injuries to guys like Desmond Jennings or Jacoby Ellsbury, you will want to make sure you pay attention to what Andy Dirks is doing for the Tigers. During his latest stretch of 25 games he is hitting .316 with 4 HR and 14 RBI. The best part is, he sees everyday action and if all the best OF prospects like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper are already rostered in your league, give Dirks a look.
Chris Davis – 1B/3B – Baltimore Orioles
Here is one of the last names I ever expected to be doing a write-up on, Chris Davis. The last time I rostered him was three years ago, when he was still a promising power hitting prospect for the Texas Rangers. After multiple call ups and send downs, it looked like Davis would never be able to make enough consistent contact to find a position with the Rangers, and they shipped him off to the Orioles. Apparently all he needed was a change of scenery, and over his last 24 games spanning 30 days, he has hit 5 HR’s and 15 RBI’s to go with a .311 batting average. Davis still has trouble in the contact department, as evidenced by his 26 strikeouts in 90 at-bats, but he is worth a look if eligible at 3B in your format. With all the injuries at third base this year he is an interesting add, especially if your format doesn’t worry about strikeouts.
Shin-Soo Choo – RF – Cleveland Indians
The Indians recently moved Choo to the leadoff spot in their lineup, and he has responded well to the change. Chances are he is already rostered in your league, but if he is available, Choo should be added immediately no matter how deep the format. .302/3/7 over his last 24 games with 4 SB and 0 CS is a pretty convincing argument, and he will be seeing even more AB’s going forward from the leadoff spot. Make sure you check your waiver wire to see if Choo is still sitting there.
Omar Infante – 2B/3B/SS – Miami Marlins
Infante is the everday second baseman for the Miami Marlins, and depending on format and league rules, could also be eligible at third base and shortstop. He has been lights out when in the lineup for the Marlins this season, while also showing some decent pop in his bat. Over his last 26 games he is batting .354 with 1 HR and 13 RBI. He will also be filling the void left behind when Emilio Bonifacio went on the DL, and his SB total shoud continue to rise. In the last month he has stolen 6 bases while getting caught just once. Infante is contributing across the board this season, and should not be left on waivers in any format.
Bud Norris – SP – Houston Astros
While reading an article last season on CBS sports, I vaguely remember the sports write calling Norris “the next Roy Halladay” and I found it hard to contain my laughter. Surely the guy with the ERA of 6+ wouldn’t ever develop into a major league talent, but here we are 2 months into fantasy baseball 2012, and Bud Norris looks like he may be turning a corner in his career. Over the past month he has been one of the hottest pitchers in baseball, posting an ERA of 1.10 to go with 4 wins and 0 losses. Norris posted a 36/10 strikeout to walk ratio, while giving up just 1 HR over the 5 games he started. He has been nothing short of dominant, and fantasy baseball owners will want to take advantage while he is hot. While I am not yet ready to crown him the next Roy Halladay, I am certainly no longer laughing.
Chris Capuano – SP – Los Angeles Dodgers
The early season favorite for bounceback player of the year is Capuano of the LA Dodgers. His ERA of 1.36 over the past month ranks him second behind only Bud Norris, and his 4-1 record over the same span reflects just how good he has been. With a miniscule WHIP of 0.85 and an AVG against of just .175 it is time to start believing once again in the former Brewers pitcher. Capuano should be owned in 100% of mixed leagues at this point as he has shown it is no fluke, but be aware his arm may not be up to the challenge of 230 IP this year, so the Dodgers may rest him depeding on need come September.
Jeff Samardzija – SP – Chicago Cubs
It seems that Samardzija was merely regarded as a sideshow by many fantasy owners, even entering the 2012 season when he was named a starter in the Cubs rotation. The notoriety was mostly due to the fact that he was a well known wide receiver at Notre Dame, but he is quickly making a name for himself at the major league level. While Samardzija’s win/loss will not be stellar this year as the Cubs struggle offensively, his K/9 numbers are stellar, and he has struck out 32 batters in his last 33 IP. Over the last month, his ERA is a tiny 2.18, but Samardzija is just 2-2 due to the Cubs lackluster offense. If you need strikeouts, and the occasional win, pickup the hard throwing starting pitcher now.
James McDonald – SP – Pittsburgh Pirates
They must be doing something right in the bullpen sessions these days up in Pittsburgh, as McDonald is developing into a pretty decent starting pitcher. Over the course of the past month, James has struck out 44 batters in just 34 2/3rds innings while posting a 2.34 ERA and 3-1 record. Most fantasy owners don’t look to Pittsburgh to help their fantasy teams out, but James McDonald is worth a look these days as he continues to post nice numbers. If McDonald is already owned, give A.J. Burnett a look as he has posted an ERA under 2.00 over the last 30 days, and just shutout the Cubs for a win at home. While Burnett has been a streaky player in the past, now would be the time to jump on while he is hot.
Santiago Casilla – RP – San Francisco Giants
Quick question, who has the most saves over the past month? It isn’t Craig Kimbrel, John Axford, or Jose Valverde. The answer lies in Northern California, as Santiago Casilla has saved 10 games in the past 30 days, and should be starting in all formats where saves are counted. With an ERA of 1.29 and a WHIP of 0.86, he contributes in all the categories you can ask a closer to help in, and there is no reason to let him sit out there on waivers since Brian Wilson won’t be retuning until next season. If Casilla isn’t available there should be plenty of places to turn, including Jim Johnson in Baltimore, Matt Capps in Minnesota, Dale Thayer in San Diego (until Huston Street returns), and Casey Janssen in Toronto.
Any more questions about who to pick up in your league? Check out the forums where the community can get in on the discussion.