Capable players available on waivers for Week 4
Seven-game schedule allows owners to use wire to maximize starts, hitting stats
We are still in April, but Week 4 is going to be a pivotal one in many fantasy leagues. Most teams are scheduled for seven games next week, which allows for many two-start pitchers and plenty of hitter statistics. It is important for fantasy owners to set their best lineup next week, and here are some players who could be plucked off the waiver wire to plug holes.
Catcher, Devin Mesoraco (Reds): The 25-year-old was a breakout candidate for 2014, and with three homers and a .500 batting average in six games, he is rewarding fantasy owners who took him over more established backstops. Cincinnati committed to playing Mesoraco in at least two games per series, and his hot start may earn an even heavier workload.
First Base, Justin Morneau (Rockies): It is possible that a move from Minnesota to Colorado is just what the 32-year-old needed to revive his career. Morneau kept his average over .300 all April, and he flashed some recent power with two homers in his past five games. The dingers were impressive, because they came at noted pitcher-friendly venues in San Diego and San Francisco.
Second Base, Kelly Johnson (Yankees): Heading into the season, many thought Johnson could flourish in Yankee Stadium. Johnson has made his supporters look good during the early going, as he has already smacked three homers in nine home games. An aging, injury-prone Yanks infield should allow the 32-year-old to play a lot this season, and he could post 20 homers and 10 steals in 500 at-bats.
Shortstop, Chris Owings (D-backs): The 22-year-old has become a fixture in this column, as fantasy owners have been slow to reach to his promising start to the season. Owings is batting .320 with four steals, and the fact that he has yet to drive in a run has more to do with his teammates' slow starts than his own shortcomings.
Third Base, Kevin Kouzmanoff (Rangers): The veteran did not play in the Majors during the 2012 and '13 seasons, but he turned heads in Spring Training with three homers and a .370 batting average. The 32-year-old is off to a hot start with Texas, and he can be used as a short-term solution.
Outfield, Eric Young Jr. (Mets): The speedster has racked up nine steals in his past nine games, which puts him behind only Dee Gordon for the Major League lead. Young is one of a few players with the wheels to lead the Majors in steals, and for that reason, he should be owned in virtually all roto leagues.
Outfield, Jarrod Dyson (Royals): A left groin strain sent Lorenzo Cain to the 15-day DL, which will give Dyson and Justin Maxwell a boost in playing time. Dyson has swiped 86 bases in 614 career at-bats, and owners in search of speed should take a good look at him. Think of the 29-year-old as a temporary version of Young Jr.
Outfield, Dexter Fowler (Astros): Fowler started the season red hot, then he dealt with an illness before going into a massive slump. The 28-year-old has gone 1-for-27 in his past six games, which has caused him to fall to the waiver wire in many leagues. When he returns to full health, Fowler can likely help mixed-league owners in all five categories.
Starter, Mike Leake (Reds): Leake's mediocre strikeout rate limits his use to deep leagues, but a two-start week should allow him to rack up at least six or seven whiffs. He will work in two pitchers' parks in Pittsburgh and Atlanta, and even though the Pirates and Braves are winning clubs, they are not offensive juggernauts.
Starter, Zach McAllister (Indians): With a 2.04 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP, McAllister is off to a fine start. The 26-year-old's 15-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio shows that his 2-0 record is well-deserved. He is scheduled to face the Royals at home and the Giants at AT&T Park in the coming week, which should give him a good chance to keep his ratios down.
Starter, Wily Peralta (Brewers): Peralta has opened the season with starts against three 2013 playoff teams (Cardinals, Pirates, Red Sox). He has handled the tough opposition so well that his 1.96 ERA and 1.09 WHIP have made him one of the National League's biggest early-season surprises. The 24-year-old could be in the early stages of a breakout season, and home matchups against the Padres and Cubs next week give Peralta a great chance to earn at least one more win.
Starter, Dillon Gee (Mets): Gee briefly deviated from his profile of having elite control when he walked four batters on April 11, but he returned to form when he issued zero free passes against the D-backs in his most recent start. The 27-year-old's 0.98 WHIP should attract mixed-league attention, and he is scheduled for two starts in pitcher-friendly Citi Field next week.
Starter, Edinson Volquez (Pirates): Is Volquez the Bucs' latest successful reclamation project? His 1.71 ERA and 0.95 WHIP suggest that Pittsburgh has reined in his wild arm. Volquez has been plagued by control woes throughout his career, but with just four walks in 21 innings this season, he seems to have made a positive change. Week 4 matchups against the Reds and Cardinals will provide a tough test.
Starter, Travis Wood (Cubs): Wood is not usually a high-strikeout starter, but he has racked up 19 K's in 18 innings this season. He is not a good option in shallow leagues, but those in deeper formats can give him a chance for his upcoming starts against the D-backs at home and vs. the Brewers at Miller Park.
Reliever, LaTroy Hawkins (Rockies): The 41-year-old did not receive much respect from fantasy owners during Spring Training, and he was drafted after Colorado setup man Rex Brothers in many leagues. But Hawkins has taken control of the closer's job after allowing just one run in six appearances. Brothers, who has issued seven free passes in 6 2/3 innings, does not seem to be a ninth-inning challenger at this time.
Reliever, Jim Johnson (A's): Oakland's closer committee does not seem to be working, as both Sean Doolittle and Luke Gregerson blew saves in the past week. Johnson, meanwhile, has allowed just three baserunners across five scoreless innings since being removed from the closer's role. The A's are paying Johnson a large salary this season, and they could soon be tempted to give him another shot at the ninth inning.
Reliever, Jonathan Broxton (Reds): Broxton recently converted his first save chance as Cincinnati's interim closer. The 29-year-old has plenty of experience in the ninth inning (112 career saves), and he should be able to provide fantasy owners with one or two saves per week until Aroldis Chapman returns in May.