In my golf league, I had to listen to one of my fellow league mates complain that one of his pitchers went on the disabled list with a blister on his finger. His complaint, like many others, is that it seems that MLB players seem to go on the DL list more often than previous years, due mostly to the new rule that shortened the time from 15 days to 10 days. He is likely right. As per ESPN, there were 165 disabled-list stints in the first 25 games compared to 147 a year ago, and that trend seems to be continuing. More than ever, it is important to stay on top of your waiver wire as you drop or place injured places in your team’s DL slots. For the purposes of this article, we will use ownership levels at the 50% level or lower in ESPN leagues.
Justin Bour, 1B, Miami Marlins
Even as we speak, Bour is soaring past the 50% owned mark, but I am including him in this list anyway. Why, you may ask? Because I wrote about him back in March in my fantasy sleepers article, and as my wife is always telling me that since I’m not right very often so I might as well take credit for this one. 15 HRs, 36 RBIs and a .287 average would be a nice addition to most teams.
German Marquez, SP, Colorado Rockies
A replacement for the injured Jon Gray, the Rockies rookie has an ERA of 4.53 and a WHIP of 1.42 over 45.2 innings. Even though he did give up six earned runs in five innings in his most recent outing at San Diego, he did have nine strikeouts to only one walk. I would still give him strong consideration as a waiver wire pickup.
Devon Travis, 2B, Toronto Blue Jays
Travis had a very rough April, slashing only .130/.193/.195 with just three extra base hits. May has been a bit different as an adjustment at the plate has resulted in a slash line of .364/.373/.646 with an MLB-leading 18 extra base hits. Travis began standing a bit further back from the plate, and the success of this adjustment would indicate that he can continue hitting well for quite a while.
Trevor Bauer, SP, Cleveland Indians
Yes, I know he has an ERA of 6.00 for the season. However, Bauer hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in any of his last four starts, while racking up 36 strikeouts. According to Travis Sawchik of Fangraphs, Bauer’s career-high 11.5 K/9 is a direct result of an increased usage of his curveball. If he can continue to mix that in with his mid-90s MPH fastball, his last four start stat line could continue to be a long-term trend.
Andrelton Simmons, SS, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Simmons has started to pick up his hitting stroke of late compiling a slash line of .408/.444/.653 during his last dozen or so games, while just ending a 12 game hit streak. He would be a good deep league pickup while he is hitting so well.
Sean Manaea, SP, Oakland A’s
With Kendell Graveman and Jesse Hahn on the DL, Manaea has picked up the slack for the depleted A’s rotation. He has won his last three starts, including victories over the stout lineups of the Indians and Yankees. Since coming back from an injury of his own, he has compiled a 2.63 ERA with 27 strikeouts and only seven walks. His next scheduled start is June 5th vs. Toronto.
Domingo Santana, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
Within the last month, Santana has 32 hits, six HRs, and 24 RBI while recently adding his first career grand slam to his resume. Being more disciplined at the plate may be the jump start he needed to become the top level prospect that was projected of him.
Lucas Duda, 1B, New York Mets
I was a little surprised to see that Duda is owned in less than 20% of ESPN leagues but that’s probably due to the fact that he struggled through an injury-plagued 2016 season and had a recent stint on the DL. In addition to the 11 walks he had in the month of May, Duda also had a slash line of .278/.548 /.617 to become one of the Mets top hitters. If he can work through the trauma of having Mr. Met fired, he would make a great addition to most leagues.
C.C. Sabathia, SP, New York Yankees
I am fully aware that this is the year 2017, not 2012. However, Sabathia has won four straight starts for the first time since April and May of 2012. His current record is 6-2 with a 4.12 ERA and 52 strikeouts. Not too bad for a player owned in less than 30% of ESPN and leagues. He is not the pitcher he was 5 years ago but he has improved and with a potent Yankee lineup behind him, he becomes a viable option in many leagues.