We’ve passed the first quarter mark of the 2014 season, and I imagine there have been very few accurate predictions as to which Indians players would help carry your fantasy team to a league victory. There have been many disappointments and just as many surprises in the 216 so far this season. I’ve written up some advice on players to drop, stick with, or add.
5 Players You Might Already Have
John Axford (RP)
Axford has been awful so far this season, walking nearly a batter per inning and blowing 3 games for the Tribe. It looked as though he might be getting on track when he pitched a couple of perfect innings in non-leverage situations, but when put in a pressure situation again yesterday he threw more balls than strikes and was unable to pitch even a full inning. He may continue to have success in low-pressure outings, but he’s not going to get you the saves you need to make use of one of your relief pitcher spots.
Justin Masterson (SP)
Masterson has struggled in his past few outings, driving his ERA up above 5 with an unsightly 1.48 WHIP. However, he’s been adjusting to a decrease in velocity and has found a different life on his pitches this year. I expect him to rebound once he adjusts.
Carlos Santana (C, 1B, 3B, DH)
Despite his newfound defensive flexibility, Carlos Santana’s bat so far this year has cost the team close to half a win in terms of WAR, and he shows no sign that he’ll be getting hot any time soon. His decreased line drive rate has been alarming, and results in a lot of weak groundouts and shallow pop-ups. However, if and when he does finally get it together, you don’t want to be the guy who put Carlos Santana on waivers. Keep him for now, but leave him on the bench until he shows improvement over a decent length of time.
Nick Swisher (1B, OF)
As much as we all admire Swisher’s personality, he’s been less than spectacular this year, and certainly isn’t making good on his contract. Although he had a good showing against the Tigers this week, I don’t expect him to produce on the level of a solid fantasy outfielder or first baseman. Christian Yelich, George Springer and David Murphy (who I’ll get to later) are examples of better options who may be available.
Danny Salazar (SP)
Salazar had a poor showing in the rotation this year, showing an inability to go late into games, and more troublingly a lack of command. Aside from that, he’s back pitching at the AAA level for now, and his latest start showed no improvements. He gave up 6 runs over 2.2 innings, walking three batters and striking out only one. If you haven’t already put him on waivers, do that soon. Jordan Lyles, Phil Hughes and Trevor Bau
er (who I’ll also get to later) may be available in your league to replace him.
5 Players Who Could Seriously Help You Out
Yan Gomes (C)
Yes, I have a serious obsession with Yan Gomes, and my fellow writers will poke fun at me for putting him first on this list, but the statistics back this up. In the ESPN leagues, Yan Gomes has been worth more points this year than all but 5 major league catchers, so if you’re in an 8-team league, he’s an upgrade for at least somebody. He hits for power, he hits for average, and his OPS currently sits at .811. He’s available in nearly 70% of all ESPN leagues, making him one of the most undervalued players in fantasy baseball. With Buster Posey and Jarrod Saltalamacchia day to day with their respective injury scares, Gomes may be picked up soon. Don’t be the one who missed out.
Josh Tomlin (SP, RP)
Because of Tomlin’s relief appearance against the Tigers yesterday, you can now use him in one of your reliever slots. Take advantage. Tomlin has yet to give up more than 3 runs in any of his outings so far, and has 3 wins in 4 appearances to show for it. Tomlin is a consistent pitcher capable of throwing strikes. Grab him while you can.
Trevor Bauer (SP)
Bauer’s recent call-up means he can officially start earning you points. In his latest outing against one of the best lineups in baseball, he allowed only two runs over 6+ innings while striking out five and earning the win. He touched 100 mph on the radar gun a couple of times, and his fastball averaged around 95 throughout the game. He’s on the roster with the benefit of the doubt now, so chances are he’s going to stick. He’s available in over 80% of all leagues, so odds are you can grab him now, before one of your opponents does.
David Murphy (OF)
Murphy has been swinging a hot bat in the month of May, slugging .702 with three homers. His batting average is nearly .400, and his 4 games with 4 RBIs or more this year is tied for most in baseball. He’s a good name to pick up for Carlos Beltran owners, and a probable upgrade over names like Jacoby Ellsbury, Austin Jackson and Alex Rios. He has a good track record too, aside from a down 2013 season that allowed the Indians to grab him.
Cody Allen (RP)
With John Axford unlikely to win back the closer role any time soon, Cody Allen is going to be a common go-to for Terry Francona in the ninth, meaning he could pick up some save opportunities. Furthermore, Allen is a great strikeout pitcher, having struck out well over a batter per inning so far this year. He’s not going to overwhelm anyone with points this month, but he may become popular soon when he starts getting more save opportunities. If you’re willing to be patient, he could prove to be a valuable pickup later in the year.