This week was a perfect example of that when it came to a few free agents. At the top of the list was Washington's Jordan Zimmerman, the hot prospect who was called up last week. Zimmerman got two starts and delivered with two wins. If you slept on his call-up, you likely missed out on a player who should remain in the Nationals' starting rotation for the rest of the season. And if you didn't get him in your starting lineup in time, you missed out on the wins. Timing is everything.
Now let's take a quick look at the Week 4 pickups you should be considering:
Jordan Zimmerman, SP, Nationals: You're probably too late to the party by now if you don't have Zimmerman on your team. He wasn't available in any NFBC league this week because owners drafted him and then reserved him for his two-week stint in the minors. He was scheduled to join the rotation once the Nationals needed a fifth starter and he delivered nicely this week. The 2007 second-round pick out of UW-Stevens Point showed good poise on the mound and a solid breaking ball. He went 2-0 with a rain-delayed win on Monday over Atlanta and then a gritty win on Sunday against the Mets, striking out eight in a total of 11.1 innings. He's the best thing going on this bad team and is worth starting this week once again.
Scott Downs, RP, Blue Jays: With B.J. Ryan now on the DL, Downs has taken over as Toronto's new closer. The Blue Jays say that Ryan just has tightness in his shoulder and that he needs rest, but he had no velocity this spring and it wouldn't be surprising if he needs more time off than expected. That's good news for Downs and his owners because he could take this job and keep it for a while. He picked up two saves last week and for the season he now has 14 strikeouts in 10.2 innings with a 0.84 ERA and a stellar 0.47 WHIP Ratio. In our 12-team NFBC Online Championship Leagues where he was a free agent, owners spent 20-30 percent of their FAAB budget to get him, so they must think he will hold onto this job for more than a couple of weeks. I tend to agree with them.
Jason Frasor, RP, Blue Jays: If you're looking for a cheaper option in Toronto, don't be afraid to pick up Frasor, the right-handed closer. Frasor has been perfect so far this year, picking up three wins and a save in eight appearances while posting a 0.00 ERA and a 0.36 WHIP. Even when Ryan returns, Frasor will have value because he's the last option against right-handed hitters. In the NFBC, teams bid just 1 percent of their FAAB budgets for him, but that could be very good value down the road.
Philip Hughes, SP, Yankees: With Chien-Ming Wang on the DL, the Yankees have called up top pitching prospect Hughes to fill the void. But don't expect this to be a short-term call-up. Hughes is pitching well enough that he's expected to remain in the Yankees' rotation even after Wang returns, so grab him now and get ready for some success. Injuries derailed his past two seasons, but he was solid this spring and he has gotten off to a great start at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In three starts there, Hughes went 3-0 with 19 strikeouts in 19.1 innings, while allowing just 17 hits and three walks. He will start on Tuesday at Detroit and should get three starts in the next two weeks. Pick him up now because he's going to be a positive spark for the struggling Yankees.
Brad Bergesen, SP, Orioles: The Orioles called up their top pitching prospect this week and have said that he is here to stay. He looked like the top guy to get on Tuesday when he defeated the White Sox for his first career win, but on Sunday against Texas he got roughed up for 10 hits and five runs in four innings. He showed great poise and a nice breaking ball in his debut, but the Rangers hammered his fastball on Sunday. He's still a worthy prospect to watch, but you may want to reserve him until he gets his feet settled in Baltimore.
Brandon Wood, 3B, Angels: The Angels finally called up Wood last week and then promptly sat him on their bench for most of the week. There was hope that he would take some of the at-bats vacated by Vladimir Guerrero, but instead the Angels turned to veteran Gary Matthews Jr. for that role. Wood was off to a great start at Triple-A Salt Lake, hitting .346 through his first seven games with four home runs and eight RBIs. But he didn't get his first start in the majors until Sunday and now seems to be a wasted fantasy pickup without any hope for more playing time. It's a shame because this guy has the potential to be a star in the majors, but it's tough to do that while sitting on the pines.
Aaron Laffey, SP, Indians: This 24-year-old lefty was called up two weeks ago by the Indians and despite control problems has been effective. He's never going to be overpowering, but he knows how to locate his pitches and gets a lot of ground balls. During his first three starts, he's 2-0 with a 2.41 ERA and 1.34 WHIP as he's walked 10 with nine strikeouts in 18.2 innings. He's a back-of-the-end rotation for your team, but certainly one who can help if you need a late pickup.
The free agent wire is filled with veteran plug-ins who suddenly earned starting jobs this week because of injuries. They include Augie Ojeda, who replaces Stephen Drew at shortstop in Arizona. Ojeda is hitting .323 in limited action, but he offers little for fantasy owners even with the increased playing time. The same is true of Ramon Vazquez, who takes over at shortstop in Pittsburgh with Jack Wilson on the DL. In Chicago, the White Sox will likely turn to BrettLillibridge to start at second base now that Chris Getz is on the DL. White Sox fans would love to see Gordon Beckham called up to fill that void, but he's still learning the trade at Double-A Birmingham, where he's currently hitting .297 with two home runs and seven RBIs in 16 games.
It's just a matter of time before the Braves call up uber-prospect TommyHanson. Even with a strict pitch count, he had another solid outing this week and has now struck out 29 batters in 20.2 innings. Forget about the 0-3 record at Gwinnett because he has a solid 2.18 ERA with only seven walks and 16 hits allowed. His time is soon.
The Red Sox don't need a new closer, but they may get a new setup man soon enough. Keep an eye on RHP Daniel Bard because he has been lights out at Triple-A Pawtucket. In seven appearances, he has gone 1-0 with a 1.69 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 10.2 innings. Almost as impressive, he's allowed just two hits and three walks. At 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, he could be another strong arm for the Red Sox soon.
Owners are still waiting for the Rays to call up SP David Price and the Orioles to call up C Matt Wieters, but don't look for either move to happen this week. Instead, focus on the current call-ups and get them on your team now before it's too late. Remember, timing is everything.