With nearly three weeks complete in the fantasy baseball season, owners are getting a better idea of how their teams look for the 2014 season. A rash of injuries, particularly on the pitching side, and some notable slow starts have left owners scrambling for answers.
That has caused many to risk questionable pickups of players who have started hot or are coming off of a major injury. Some of these pickups will be worth the risk.
Michael Pineda, P, New York Yankees
Michael Pineda underwent a huge increase in ownership this week after his third successful start to begin the year. He’s given up just two runs in 18 innings while striking out 15 and walking just three batters.
Of course, the big concern with Pineda is his shoulder, after he missed the past two seasons with an injury. But so far, it looks like his stuff and velocity is back.
As Pineda gets more starts under his belt, he should move closer to the 9.11 K/9 ratio he posted as a rookie with the Seattle Mariners, an improvement from his current rate of 7.50.
We’ll have to see how far the Yankees push Pineda in August and September, but for now, he has the ability to be a dominant pitcher and is absolutely worth the risk.
Pineda looked like he was returning to full strength against the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday.
Jesse Chavez, P, Oakland Athletics
Jesse Chavez spent several years bouncing around the league as a relief pitcher before injuries forced the Athletics to move him to the rotation this season. That transition is always unpredictable, but so far, it looks like Billy Beane has worked his magic again, as Chavez has been successful in the role.
A nasty cutter (which he added this season) and excellent curveball have helped Chavez to strike out 22 batters in 20 innings. Not only that, but Chavez has shown great control by walking just two on the season.
As Jonah Keri pointed out, Chavez's K/BB ratio puts him with some elite company early in the season.
He will continue to rack up the points with the high strikeout rate and is a good sleeper pickup at this point in the season. Chavez has a pair of nine-strikeout performances on the season, including this one April 9 against the Minnesota Twins.
Chris Colabello, 1B, Minnesota Twins
A 30-year old who has played just 70 games in the major leagues is a risky pickup, but Chris Colabello seems to have it figured out in 2014. So far, he is hitting .357 with nine doubles and nine RBI in the heart of the Twins order.
Colabello probably isn’t going to lead the American League in RBI for the entire season, but he should keep getting opportunities to drive in runs hitting behind Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer. Colabello is a great option during his current hot streak and will be a useful player to have the rest of the way.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire told Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press that Colabello was doing a great job of adjusting to pitchers, who are trying a number of things at the moment to get him out.
"That's the whole game -- somebody might think they can get you out one way, and that's the way they're going to pitch you. And if they're successful, other teams might see that and you're going to have to adjust to how they're pitching. And right now, he's doing pretty darn good."
Roenis Elias, P, Seattle Mariners
Roenis Elias was expected to only be in Seattle for a couple of weeks, but injuries to four different starting pitchers including Taijuan Walker’s latest setback will extend Elias’ stay. Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs explained the Mariners’ current pitching situation best.
A pitcher jumping from Double-A to MLB is a huge risk—the Mariners themselves were burned by it last year with Brandon Maurer—but Elias has shown he belongs at the major league level. The 25-year-old has given up just four runs in 16.2 innings and has been particularly tough against left-handed batters.
Elias probably won’t be around Seattle for the entire summer, but he is a useful spot starter for the moment, particularly against lefty-heavy lineups. His start against the Texas Rangers on Wednesday was particularly encouraging, as he got into the seventh inning and picked up his first career win.
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