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Now that Marwin Gonzalez has seen his ownership rise tenfold over the past week, let’s see who else can we put our collective weight behind and turn them from waiver wire fodder to must-start status:
Luis Perdomo, P, Padres:
He’s been solid in his last three starts yet is still searching for his first decision of the season. Perdomo has worked his ERA from 9.00 down to 4.18, while also showing better than expected strikeout rates (7.94 K/9), along with the fact he has not allowed a homer since his first start on April 7. Owned in just 20 percent of CBSSports.com leagues, Perdomo is a steady but unspectacular play in NL-only leagues and should merit consideration in deeper mixed leagues, especially if he is able to maintain a groundball rate that is hovering at almost 70 percent. Trust me, he’ll get a win sooner or later. Right? Right?
Ben Gamel, OF, Mariners:
Sizzling since his recall from Triple-A, Gamel is making the M’s tolerate the loss of injured Mitch Haniger, batting .373 with a pair of homers and 11 RBIs while becoming a staple in the Seattle lineup. Those interested in Gamel should keep in mind that there’s stolen base potential lying dormant, as Gamel stole a combined 45 bases in his last three seasons in the Yankees minor leagues, while also showing hints of double-digit home run power. He’s had five multi-hit games over the past week and has seen his CBSSports.com ownership rise to 16 percent, a number that will take a climb if Haniger and his sore oblique remain sidelined.
Rhys Hoskins, 1B, Phillies:
A name to keep an eye on, Hoskins is sheer terror to International League pitchers to the tune of .333 and seven homers in Triple-A. While regular first sacker Tommy Joseph is showing faint signs of shaking off his early season doldrums, Hoskins’ 38 homers in Double-A last season and the reduction of his strikeout rate thus far are trends for those in leagues who have either deep roster space and/or minor league spots to stash Hoskins away until his eventual recall date. Hoskins currently has an 11 percent ownership rate in CBSSports.com leagues, so it might be wise to get in front of the trend and pick him up. The power is very, very strong in this one.
Ryan Schimpf, 2B, Padres:
The beautiful and talented Diana Krall’s version of “All or Nothing at All” is more pleasing to the eye. In the case of Schimpf, his rendition comes at a cost most Fantasy owners are hesitant to pay. Entering Thursday, nine of Schimpf’s 17 hits are homers, but his .170 batting average and 31.7 percent strikeout rate is not that tuneful a song to sing along with. Still, Schimpf’s extra base pop has a certain appeal to some owners, as 23 percent of CBSSports.com owners are willing and able to take the risk. Those of us who miss the pleasure and pain that came from owning Dan Uggla at the back end of his career can take heart in knowing Schimpf has picked up the mantle.
Eddie Butler, P, Cubs:
Freed from the hell that comes from the expectations of being a Rockies starter, Butler’s dominant start in Triple-A (1.17 ERA) resulted in him being called up to make his first start for the Cubs on Friday. Butler, owned in six percent of CBSSports.com leagues, is intriguing in that most owners will be curious to see if his redemption from Coors Field is a reality worth seeing perhaps every five days, or if the 15th overall pick of the 2012 draft (picked ahead of Lucas Giolito, Corey Seager, Stephen Piscotty, Joey Gallo and Lance McCullers) is just another failed Rockies arm. Considering his low strikeout rate, Butler’s only Fantasy value may come from the fact that the uniform he wears will result in a frequent number of wins.
Jed Lowrie, 2B, Athletics:
He’s already exceeded last year’s total of four homers in just 120 ABs and is sporting his highest walk rate (10.9 percent) since 2012. If he’s healthy, Lowie is capable of hitting 10-12 homers, especially if his current 45 percent flyball rate is maintained. He’s owned in 15 percent of CBSSports.com leagues and is a more reasonable offer than the aforementioned Schimpf, provided owners are fine with the reduced power numbers and are willing to accept Lowrie’s totals in most other categories.
Hansel Robles, P, Mets:
News of Jeurys Familia’s clot in his pitching shoulder on Thursday will result in a spike in ownership of Robles, who is currently sitting at 10 percent ownership in CBSSports.com leagues. Robles will now become the full-time setup man as Addison Reed moves back into the closer’s role. Having won four games thus far, Robles has already been a candidate for Vulture of the Year and will keep swooping victories behind a fastball (95.3 mph average) he has used more often compared to last season. Obviously, if Reed struggles for an extended period, it won’t take long for Robles’ growing ownership base to call out for him to get a chance to shut things down in the ninth.
Kennys Vargas, 1B/DH, Twins:
YES!! Anyone who has followed this column over the past few seasons knows I am a licensed charter member of the Kennys Vargas Fan Club. The big slugger was recalled from Triple-A three weeks ago and slowly asserted himself into the lineup with typical Vargas results. Of course, the power (four homers in 39 ABs entering Thursday) is there, but the shaky walk rate (4.1 percent) is accompanied by a slew of whiffs, although Vargas has cut that down compared to his previous stays in the Majors. He’s sitting at a nine percent ownership rate in CBSSports.com leagues and could see his totals go up if the Twins embrace the reality that Vargas is a mirror image of Yankees human air conditioning machine Chris Carter. That would translate to a sub .230 batting average, but Vargas could hit 23-30 homers if simply left alone and plugged into the lineup 4-5 times a week.
Jose Urena, P, Marlins:
The back end of Miami’s rotation smells like rotting Marlin, but Urena may have given the fifth spot some stability after allowing a mere hit over six shutout innings against the Mets last Sunday. Urena fell short of his bid to win a rotation spot, yet his control and three-pitch arsenal could keep him there indefinitely. For a hurler who can dial up his heater at an average of 96.1 mph, Urena’s strikeout rates are disappointing, but could see an uptick once he’s more adjusted to starting rather than his previous role in middle relief. He’s owned in just six percent of CBSSports.com leagues and is more of an NL-only/very deep league type at this point; but he is worth keeping an eye on.
Jorge Soler, OF, Royals:
Yeah, he’s 1 for 18 since debuting with the Royals last week, but the former Cubs prospect is still shaking off the rust from an oblique injury that caused him to miss the first 28 games. It’s not as if KC has Amos Otis, Darryl Motley or Jermaine Dye as fallback options if Soler continues to struggle, so the six percent who own him simply have to keep the faith with the confidence that his prodigious power will play well in Kauffman Stadium once he gets his bearings. He’s worth the stash in deeper leagues.