Surprising starting pitchers, a pair of outfielders who are the beneficiary of injuries and a few blasts from the past highlight this week's waiver wire. Let's get to it.
Chris Narveson, Brewers -- In two starts this year, the first against the Braves and the second against the Cubs, Narveson has not allowed a run. Further, he has surrendered just nine hits and four walks in 13 innings, striking out 14 batters. He has done well against righties, limiting them to a .189/.250/.216 line, thanks to a plus-changeup. It's admittedly a very small sample, so you have to be wary of extrapolating it out too far, but Narveson looks like a worthy add in 12-team mixed leagues. In addition to a strong offense at his back, check out his next four turns: @ Pittsburgh, @ Philadelphia, vs. Houston and @ Houston. Grab him now and reap the rewards of the next two weeks.
David Murphy, Rangers If you had April 12 in the "Josh Hamilton to the disabled list" pool, congratulations are in order. Murphy will get most of the ABs Hamilton leaves behind and is worth an add in 12-team mixed leagues. He gave the Rangers a useful .291/.358/.449 with 12 homers and 14 steals in 419 at-bats last season, and the environment, both home park and lineup, doesn't get much better than Texas. With Hamilton out for at least six weeks, Murphy has the chance to be a long-term contributor in fantasy.
Corey Patterson, Blue Jays -- If you're looking for a short-term steals and homers grab, Patterson is your guy. He should be starting every day with Rajai Davis on the DL, and manager John Farrell has had Patterson in the two-hole since he entered the lineup. In two games, he has already belted a homer and swiped a bag. In 308 at-bats last season, he had eight homers and 21 steals while getting caught just four times. As long as he's getting consistent ABs, he's a reliable source of steals with the occasional home run.
Justin Masterson, Indians -- Masterson projects as particularly useful in the short-term, as his next three starts feature the Orioles and two dates with the Royals. Masterson, an extreme ground-ball pitcher, has been unlucky each of the last two years and probably has below-average infield defenses to thank. His BABIP was .314 in 2009 and .324 last year. His 4.04 FIP two years ago and 3.93 FIP in '10 outpaced his ERA by a good margin each season, though, and this year the Indians are turning more of those ground balls into outs. Despite his nine strikeouts against the Mariners the last time out, he's not going to strike a ton of guys out and he has always struggled against lefties, but he's worth an add, especially in the short term.
Derek Holland, Rangers -- Just like Alexi Ogando last week, Holland is a guy getting a chance in the Rangers' rotation thanks to some injuries to guys ahead of him on the depth chart. Also like Ogando, he's going to make it tough on manager Ron Washington to take him out of the rotation once some of those guys get back to full strength. Holland has surrendered just three runs in 12 innings with 11 strikeouts. His average fastball velocity has increased to 93.5 miles per hour, up from 92.1 a season ago. That uptick in velocity likely has something to do with an increase in swinging strike percentage, although I'm contractually obligated to mention the small sample size, as well. Still, Holland should be owned in all formats at this point, and I think he has a better shot at hanging onto a rotation spot than Ogando.
Travis Hafner, Indians -- I wouldn't blame you for chuckling at the sight of Hafner's name in this column and moving on to the next guy. I, too, had written off Hafner a few years ago. But through 10 games this seasons, there are signs that the Pronk of old is back. He's got a pair of homers and six RBI, while racking up 11 hits in his first 34 at-bats. Lefties are still giving him troubles in the early stages of the season, but he has absolutely raked against righties. Make sure to check your league rules, because odds are he only qualifies as a utility player or DH, but he could be a nice source of cheap power moving forward. Deep mixed leaguers should be taking a look.
Alex Avila, Tigers -- As we discussed last week, unless you have an elite catcher you should be looking for the guys with the most upside, regardless of track record, this early in the season. Avila entered his name into the upside lottery this week, hitting two more homers to run his season total to three. You're not going to break the bank with him, but he's going to play nearly every day and could end the season as a top-12 catcher if things break well for him.
Miguel Batista, Cardinals -- The Ryan Franklin roller coaster has been nauseating for Cardinals fans, Tony LaRussa and Franklin owners this season, and it's safe to say his grip on the closer's job is tenuous at best. Should LaRussa relieve him of his duties, it's hard to say who will step into the role. Jason Motte and Mitchell Boggs both have the power repertoire indicative of a closer, and Boggs has been especially effective this season, striking out nine batters in six innings. But LaRussa recently said both of them would need to grow into the closer's role. That leaves Batista as the most likely replacement for Franklin. It's not ideal, but save opportunities are save opportunities. He doesn't have the job yet, but if you're out their prospecting for saves, take a look in Batista's direction.
Let me know what you think on Twitter, @MBeller.
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