We are a couple weeks into the fantasy baseball season and more than likely you already need to tinker with your roster somewhat.
That’s not a problem as there is likely some help on the waiver wire. Thanks to some early season surprises and some injuries that have caused a good bit of lineup reshuffling, the following six players are some you should be keeping an eye on, even for a short term fix.
Apr 13, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Aaron Harang (34) pitches in the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
For this purpose I’m only looking at guys who are owned in less than 30 percent of ESPN leagues as players owned more than that were not considered.
The first guy to keep an eye on is a familiar face that very few expected to ever be fantasy relevant again.
Aaron Harang, Atlanta Braves, 29.4 percent owned
Can Harang keep up his outstanding start for the rest of the season? Not a chance.
Can he keep it up long enough to give your pitching a boost for the next few weeks? Absolutely.
I never thought I would be suggesting that anyone own Harang, but the veteran right hander just allowed one run through six innings in his last start and and through three starts, Harang has a 0.96 ERA, a 0.80 WHIP and 17 strikeouts.
I don’t buy into Harang having a big year even for a little bit, but it makes sense to ride him while he is hot.
He faces the Mets this week so his hot start could continue and if the schedule holds true should be facing the Miami Marlins next.
Harang has so far held opposing batters to a .145 average and the Mets are hitting a whopping .207 as a team. Do yourself a favor and snatch up Harang while you can as he should at least ride his hot start into the month of May.
Danny Espinosa, Washington Nationals, 0.4 percent owned
Thanks to the injury to Ryan Zimmerman that will cost him the next 4-6 weeks, Anthony Rendon will slide over to third base for the Nats, meaning that Espinosa will likely be the starting second baseman.
Espinosa’s still got nice power/speed upside and has shown much better contact and plate discipline (2:3 BB: K ratio in 19 at-bats) to go along with a .316/.381/.474 line so far in 2014.
He’s still a guy that hit 38 home runs with 37 stolen bases during the 2011 and 2012 seasons combined, but he struggled with a wrist injury last season and hit just .158 with three home runs and 12 RBI over 158 at-bats. He looks healthy and has the chance to put up some decent numbers over the course of the next few weeks.
Grab him now, especially if you are in an NL-only format.
Rajai Davis, Detroit Tigers, 15.5 percent owned
Mar 11, 2014; Lakeland, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers left fielder Rajai Davis (20) at bat against the Toronto Blue Jays at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
It can never hurt to add some speed to your lineup and Davis certainly fills that void, swiping an average of 43 bags per season over the past five years.
He doesn’t offer up much more than speed, but as the Tigers semi-regular left field to start the season, Davis has the chance once again to be a force on the base paths.
He’s hitting .345 to start the season with a homer and five steals already and is riding a seven-game hitting streak.
Pick him up now.
Garrett Richards, Los Angeles Angels, 14.6 percent owned
Richards can bring it.
That’s never been a question considering he averages over 96 mph with his fastball.
And while that has never translated to MLB success or even a high strike out rate (6.3 K/9 career), his last outing in which he dominated the Seattle Mariners through seven innings was very encouraging.
If Richards can hold a full-time spot in the Angels rotation this year he could wind up being a big surprise.
His next start is against the Oakland A’s. I would grab him for that start and hold onto him for a bit.
Travis Wood, Chicago Cubs, 11.5 percent owned
Mar 27, 2014; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Travis Wood (37) throws in the first inning against the Chicago White Sox at HoHoKam Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
I’m a believer that you can always find decent pitching on the waiver wire if you work the wire correctly and Wood is a guy that you should be targeting for the short-term future.
Wood doesn’t get the respect he should get in the fantasy world. Much of that is due to playing for a bad team and not being a high strike out guy.
But he turned in 24 quality starts last season (32 outings) and had an ERA barely over three (3.11).
So far this season he has turned in a couple nice starts against the Pirates and Phillies and has struck out 17 batters.
Wood is a valuable guy that should be owned more as he simply doesn’t hurt you team.
Jose Quintana, Chicago White Sox, 14.7 percent owned
Quintana had a decent 2013 campaign but lost some value on draft day after a horrendous spring training.
However he has turned in three quality starts to start the season, which is big. He is coming off two nice outings in which he turned in seven innings of two-run ball for a win at Coors Field, before following that up with one run over six innings against the Cleveland Indians Sunday.
He’s a guy that will give you a consistent option at the backend of your rotation.