The Cubs were in a short-term roster crunch last weekend. Kris Bryant was dealing with the stomach flu. Addison Russell banged up his shoulder. Jason Heyward hit the DL with a finger injury. Ben Zobrist had a bout of back spasms. That led to the team’s top prospect, Ian Happ, getting the call. At the time, it appeared it would be a quick cup of coffee for the 22-year-old. Once all the regulars got back in the lineup, Happ would be on his way back to Iowa to continue making life a nightmare for Pacific Coast League pitchers.
Guess what? Bryant is back. Russell is back. So is Zobrist. And, as of Saturday, Heyward is back. Yet, Happ is still in Chicago. What was supposed to be a quick stay has turned into something much different. If Happ is in the majors for good, he needs to be owned in all fantasy leagues.
Happ has started six of the Cubs seven games since getting promoted. He is 7-for-21 with two homers, two doubles, four RBI and five walks against six strikeouts. He drilled a homer in his first career game, and then did the same in his first start at Wrigley Field. All told, Happ is slashing .333/.462/.714 in a little more than a week.
What’s most interesting, however, is the way Joe Maddon has used his shiny new toy. Happ, a second baseman by trade, has spent all his time with the Cubs in the outfield, fanning out over all three positions, staring three times in center, twice in right and once in left. Happ did start playing the outfield once the Cubs drafted him, in anticipation of a possible logjam up the middle in Chicago, and this year he has split his time at Triple-A Iowa just about evenly between second base and the outfield. Despite that, it’s noteworthy that Maddon has used him exclusively in the outfield, and even more so that he has been comfortable using him in center, taking playing time away from Albert Almora and Jon Jay.
There could still be a playing-time issue for Happ. Heyward is going to play mostly every day, taking away the spot that Happ has held down for the last week or so. Happ’s not going behind the plate; first base is spoken for on the North Side of Chicago; and Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber are also locked into everyday gigs. That could squeeze Happ out of the regular lineup, but it’s telling that he’s in Saturday’s lineup in centerfield, alongside Heyward. Even if he doesn’t play every day, it appears that he’s going to find his name on the lineup card with regularity. That makes him a worthwhile gamble in all fantasy formats.
Yoan Moncada, 2B/3B, White Sox
Speaking of highly rated Chicago prospects, the other side of town should get an injection of youth-based excitement and optimism very soon. Moncada continues to hit everything in sight at Triple-A Charlotte, slashing .331/.401/.504 with six homers, four doubles and 10 steals in 157 plate appearances. With the super two deadline in the rearview mirror, the White Sox no longer have any incentive to keep him in the minors, and he’s showing that he has little more to prove there. When he gets the call, he will play every day. There’s a reason why he 1) was the centerpiece of the Chris Sale deal, and 2) is considered the top prospect in baseball by both Baseball America and MLB.com. He is on the 7-day DL because of a thumb issue, but that shouldn’t delay his arrival in the majors too long. If your league allows you to stash minor leaguers before they get to The Show and Moncada is available in your league, add him now.
Jayson Werth, OF, Nationals
Werth is still enjoying an age-38 season renaissance, and still not getting noticed by fantasy owners. He’s hitting .298/.401/.479 with six homers and 12 RBI, and bats in the middle of one of the best orders in baseball every day. The run-scoring and RBI opportunities will be plentiful all season. Even if he slacks off his current pace, he’s going to push 80 runs and 70 RBI. With 20-plus homers comfortably within reach, as well, it’s hard to imagine Werth not being a top-30 outfielder this year. He should be owned across the board.
Koda Glover, RP, Nationals
The Nationals bullpen has been a pain all season, with Glover, Shawn Kelley and Blake Treinen all struggling in the ninth inning. If one of them is going to lock down the closer’s role, at least before the team likely dips into the trade market, Glover has to be the favorite. He has thrown three shutout innings since returning from the DL, allowing four hits with three strikeouts against one walk. If you’re speculating for saves, Glover is someone to target.
Logan Forsythe, 2B, Dodgers
Forsythe is in the middle of a rehab assignment and is expected to return to the Dodgers next week. After serving as the DH in his first rehab game, he played second base the following night, the surest sign yet that he is over both the fractured toe and hamstring pull that have had him out of the Dodgers lineup for more than a month. When Forsythe returns, he’ll get right back to the top of the lineup, hitting in front of the likes of Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger. If an owner in your league soured on him during his time on the DL, now is the time to add someone who will produce like an easy starter at second base in all fantasy formats.
Bradley Zimmer, OF, Indians
The Indians promoted Zimmer, their top offensive prospect, earlier this week, and it looks like he is here to stay. Unlike Happ, he’s not facing the same sort of playing-time dilemma that would force him back to the minors. He’s 2-for-10 with a homer and two RBI in his first 11 plate appearances, after slashing .294/.371/.532 in 144 trips to the plate with Triple-A Columbus before his promotion. Understand that he doesn’t have quite the ceiling of Happ or Moncada. Only MLB.com graded him as a top-20 prospect among the major ratings services. Baseball America had him 62nd, while Baseball Prospects ranked him 80th. What’s more, he has hit at the bottom of Cleveland’s lineup in all his starts, and that’s not likely to change any time soon. Still, if you’re looking for outfield help, he’s a better choice than most of the veterans likely kicking around on your waiver wire.
Logan Morrison, 1B, Rays
This is what we always thought Morrison would become after he belted 23 homers as a 23-year-old with the Marlins in 2011. Injuries and the lack of a steady starting job have prevented him from getting in a rhythm at any point of his career, but he’s healthy (for the time being) and starting every day with the Rays this season. He’s hitting .248/.333/.533 with 11 homers and 29 RBI in 159 plate appearances. He’s a bit easier to roster in OBP leagues, but his batting average isn’t unsightly to the point that it counts as a major demerit, especially when he’s hitting for consistent power.
Ian Kennedy, SP, Royals
Kennedy is set to make his return on Saturday after spending about two weeks on the DL with a hamstring injury. Before going on the shelf, Kennedy amassed a 3.03 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 31 strikeouts in 35 2/3 innings. Kennedy is a known commodity at this point of his career. He’s not going to anchor your staff, but he’ll likely give you about 120 innings the rest of the way with solid rates and close to a strikeout per inning. There’s a lot of value in a pitcher like that in all fantasy formats.
Tyson Ross, SP, Rangers
Ross took the next step in his rehab from thoracic outlet surgery earlier this week, throwing four innings and 60 pitches in an extended spring training outing. That was the last box he needed to check before going on a rehab assignment, which he should begin next week. The Rangers have said all along they want him to make two rehab starts before rejoining the rotation, which would have him on track to return in early June. Stashing a player on your DL always makes sense if you have the space to do so. It makes even more sense when the player you’re stashing struck out 9.4 batters per nine innings across 391 2/3 frames in 2014 and 2015 combined.
Dan Straily, SP, Marlins
Straily will start this weekend despite leaving his last start early after getting hit on the forearm with a line drive. The veteran seems to have found another level this season, posting a 3.56 ERA, 4.23 FIP, 1.00 WHIP and 40 strikeouts in 43 innings—and carrying a no-hitter into the fifth inning of that aforementioned start. Even if his ERA starts to trend closer toward his FIP, his 23.3% strikeout rate suggests that he can be an asset in all fantasy leagues. If he strikes out close to a quarter of the batters he faces, fantasy owners can live with an ERA near 4.00.
Luis Perdomo, SP, Padres
Like Straily, Perdomo has seemingly turned into a different pitcher this year. The 24-year-old has a 4.19 ERA, but his 2.95 FIP suggests he has been on the unlucky side of the coin. He has fanned 34 batters in 34 1/3 innings. Again, just like Straily, that sort of strikeout rate plays in all fantasy formats, even if his ERA is around 4.00. There seems to be an explanation for Perdomo taking a step forward in his second year that goes beyond youth. He has basically given up on his four-seam fastball, and is now relying almost entirely on his sinker and slider, the two best offerings in his repertoire.
As always, we will keep a list at the bottom of our weekly waiver wire column of relief pitchers who are not closers, but can still be fantasy assets because of their strikeout rate, ERA and WHIP. The relievers are listed in order of fantasy value.
Carl Edwards, RP, Cubs
Hector Neris, RP, Phillies
Kyle Barraclough, RP, Marlins
Adam Ottavino, RP, Rockies
David Phelps, RP, Marlins