A month has gone by and the season is starting to shift. Some of the guys who had a hot streak are still riding that streak and making us think about adding them to our teams. Some closers have been bad enough to lose their jobs. And, more than anything, the dreaded injury bug is coming about and forcing us to search for injury replacements. Ah, May baseball! Gotta love it. Before you go hit up your waiver wire this morning, let's take a glance at some of the hot pickups and whether they're worth pursuing or not.
Pedro Alvarez (3B, PIT) - There's been a lot of major injuries to third basemen this week (Evan Longoria, Pablo Sandoval, Kevin Youkilis, Mat Gamel) so it doesn't come as a big surprise that one of the hot pickups is a third basemen. Alvarez, for once, is swinging a hot bat. He has 7 multi-hit games in his last 11 and has hit 5 HR's in his last 9 games. He still has some things going against him (a lineup that doesn't produce RBI opportunities, high strikeout rate, low walk rate, etc) but he's certainly a viable temporary replacement. ZiPS has him projected to finish the season with 29 HR's and a .246 AVG at this point. If you can afford the dip in AVG and need some power then Alvarez is your man. Be wary of his slumps and be prepared to have a backup for Alvarez though.
Will Middlebrooks (3B, BOS) - It's hard to know what we'll get out of Middlebrooks but he's a power hitter with some speed and that's very valuable at the thinning 3B position. In a full season, he has the potential to hit 20 HR with 10 SB while not killing your AVG like Alvarez or Davis. But, he's a bit of a wild card given his youth. I think the three available 3B are all fairly close in value but I'd rank Middlebrooks a tiny notch above Davis then Alvarez as a temporary injury replacement for your team.
Tony Campana (OF, CHC) - In watching the Cubs/Phillies game the other day, the announcers declared Campana as maybe the fastest guy in the league. You may know him from his 24 SB last year in limited time and he already has 7 this year. The thing that keeps Campana from being a big contributor is that he's still not getting AB's. He's starting to get consistent AB's in Chicago and has the potential to be a Michael Bourn-ish player with a .275 AVG and 40-50 SB. In roto leagues, that's exactly what you want to find on the waiver wire.
Drew Smyly (SP, DET) - We don't have a lot to go off of when it comes to the young rookie. He had a brief minor league career before bursting onto the scene. But, his minor league K and BB rates match up with his MLB rates of 9 K/9 and 3.27 BB/9 thus far. He has a 1.23 ERA and hasn't been aided by a lucky BABIP or HR/FB rate. Through four starts (small sample size!), everything points to him being legit. I'd pick him up if you have some expendable pieces and bench Smyly for a couple more starts to see what he can do for ya.
Others I've Written About Recently - Bryan LaHair
Could Be Good Pickups
Scott Downs (RP, ANA) - The new closer in Anaheim has been lights-out thus far. I have concerns as his strikeout rate is abysmal and he's been aided by a fluky BABIP rate. But, regardless, he's the closer for now. The Angels acquired Ernesto Frieri and he could compete for the closer's role as well there. But, for the time being, pick up whatever saves Downs gets you but just don't expect him to be the long-term answer.
Let Someone Else Pick Them Up
Joe Saunders (SP, ARI) - We have over 1000 innings of baseball from Saunders to analyze and he won't suddenly become a brand new pitcher at this point in his career. He's started the season well with five nice starts but let's not get overly excited here. Someone who struggles to strikeout more than 5 batters per nine is generally not on my "want" list. He's most likely going to have a 4.50-ish ERA as the season goes on with low strikeout totals and that's not worth picking up to me.