5/9/2014 3:31 P.M. ET
Plenty of fantasy value available on waiver wire
From rookies like Springer to veterans like Pierzynski, gems still there for the taking
By Fred Zinkie / MLB.com
There is a little bit of everything in this week's article. Fantasy owners who are looking for help on the waiver wire can consider some reliable veterans. Other owners, however, may pursue high-upside youngsters. So often, the key factor in waiver-wire decisions is the length of time a player is needed. Owners who are looking for a two-week injury replacement can consider hot hitters or talented youngsters, while those in need of a long-term lineup member will likely want to target a reliable veteran who can provide stable production.
Catcher, A.J. Pierzynski (Red Sox): Sometimes the boring options are the best ones. Heading into 2014, Pierzynski had hit .270 or better in six consecutive seasons, and he averaged 14.5 homers over those campaigns. If he continues to hit for average and power in Boston's loaded lineup, Pierzynski will drive in plenty of runs.
First base, Adam Lind (Blue Jays): In many leagues, Lind became a forgotten commodity because of his recent DL stint. But he was activated Thursday, and he will immediately step back into his regular role. The lefty slugger hit at least 23 homers in four of the past five seasons, so he can be a quiet source of power.
Second base, Brian Roberts (Yankees): The 36-year-old should not be added in shallow leagues, but those in deep formats can give him a chance. He has collected eight hits, a homer and a steal in his past five games, and he has stayed surprisingly healthy so far this season.
Shortstop, Alcides Escobar (Royals): There are 12 players in the Majors with at least 10 steals, and Escobar is one of them. He's hitting .276 and, because of his speed, should be active in all leagues as long as the average stays above .250.
Third base, Wilmer Flores (Mets): Frustrated by a lack of offense, the Mets plan to give Flores a chance to earn the shortstop job over Ruben Tejada. The 23-year-old Flores had been hitting .307 with five homers and 29 RBIs in 29 games at Triple-A, and his 2013 numbers were just as strong. Flores will have to prove that he can handle the defensive responsibilities of an important position, but the Mets knew his limitations when they gave him this chance.
Outfield, George Springer (Astros): Springer was mentioned in this space last week, and he is still on waivers in too many leagues. The 24-year-old has immense upside, and his eight-game hitting streak shows that he is starting to figure out Major League pitchers.
Outfield, Chris Young (Mets): The 30-year-old is one of the streakiest sluggers in baseball, and he's on a hot streak right now, with a homer, two steals, six RBIs and eight runs scored in his past eight games. His long-term usefulness is questionable, but he is worth a shot in deep leagues for the coming week.
Outfield, Michael Bourn (Indians): Frustrated with Bourn's nagging injuries and poor stolen-base success rate, fantasy owners dropped the 31-year-old in droves this week. However, the center fielder had been heating up before sustaining a minor injury, and he stole more than 40 bases for five straight seasons from 2008-12. He should be owned in all leagues.
Starter, Tyler Lyons (Cardinals): News that Joe Kelly will be further delayed because of a hamstring injury means Lyons should keep his rotation spot all month. The 26-year-old has gone six innings in each of his three starts, and he gets two outings against less-powerful offenses (Cubs, Braves) in the coming week.
Starter, Tom Koehler (Marlins): Mediocre control (3.4 BB/9) and a low strikeout rate (5.8 K/9) make Koehler's long-term future questionable. But it is worth taking a chance on a pitcher with a 0.99 WHIP who is set for a two-start week in pitcher-friendly parks (Dodgers, Giants).
Starter, Jorge De La Rosa (Rockies): De La Rosa was a mixed-league asset last season, when he went 16-6 with a 3.48 ERA. He started slowly this season, but he has allowed just nine runs over his past five outings. Looking ahead to next week, he gets out of Coors Field to face the light-hitting Royals before returning home for the offensively challenged Padres, who rank last in baseball in runs scored.
Starter, Mike Leake (Reds): Consistency is the name of Leake's game. He has allowed two to four runs in six of his seven starts. His low strikeout rate is not a factor when he makes two starts in a week, and his upcoming opponents -- the Padres and Phillies -- present two favorable matchups.
Starter, Cesar Ramos (Rays): The bad news is that Ramos has made five starts and he has yet to last six innings. The good news is that he has allowed more than two runs just once. His 19-to-16 strikeout-to-walk ratio rules him out of shallow leagues, but those in deep formats can use him next week against the Mariners' lefty-laden lineup and the Angels.
Reliever, Mark Melancon (Pirates): Fantasy owners continue to avoid Melancon, who could be a top-tier closer for the month of May. He owns a 1.69 ERA, a 0.75 WHIP and a firm grip on the closer's job for the time that Jason Grilli is on the DL. He should be owned in all leagues.
Reliever, Cody Allen (Indians): John Axford is giving up plenty of walks and homers, which is a bad combination for a closer. Meanwhile, Allen has been lights-out, with 22 K's in 14 1/3 innings. Smart fantasy owners will speculate now and add Allen before Axford loses his job.
Fred Zinkie is a fantasy baseball writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.