We've been down this road before with Clint Frazier.
So what makes this time different? Well, Frazier himself is different, in a way that's visible and was evident as early as spring training. He has a new timing mechanism, twisting his lead foot inward as far as it'll go, and every time he has gotten a chance to show it off (primarily in exhibition play), he has hit rockets. His home run upon joining the club Wednesday is just one example:
"A lot of times, people have talked about my bat speed, but I never really felt like it was always there," he said back in February, upon revealing the new setup. "I felt like I was trying to shoot a gun with it on safety. There were things stopping it along the way and I didn't feel like I wanted it to. I feel like this move is giving me my best chance."
Now, Frazier is saying he's the best player he's ever been. His manager, Aaron Boone, says he can be an impact player in the league right now and is giving him the chance, starting him in all four games since he arrived. Each of Aaron Hicks, Brett Gardner, Mike Tauchman and Mike Ford has already ceded a start to Frazier, which would suggest he's the preferred choice to all of them now that he's here. He has responded by going 8 for 15 with two homers and three doubles.
Judge's stay on the IL figures to be a brief one, but Stanton will be sidelined for several more weeks. And even after both return, the Yankees will be able to find a spot for Frazier if he proves deserving of it, what with Gardner batting .167 and Hicks batting .216 so far.
We discussed Frazier and all the weekend developments on Monday's edition of the Fantasy Baseball Today podcast. Follow all our podcasts and subscribe here.
It's all contingent on Frazier making himself indispensable in the interim, and if he does, you'll be glad you took a flier now, when he was still widely available. Frankly, there's no excuse not to add him in a five-outfielder league.
Unless, of course, you'd prefer to roll the dice on that other former prospect who may finally be breaking out in New York ...
NYM N.Y. Mets • #2 • Age: 25
Dominic Smith entered Sunday's game having homered in four straight, which will hopefully be enough to earn him a starting nod the next time the Mets face a lefty (especially since he performed even better against them than against righties last year). The Yoenis Cespedes replacement earned rave reviews in summer camp and has been putting the ball in the air more so far, backing up the power breakthrough.
NYM N.Y. Mets • #24 • Age: 38
Robinson Cano's sooner-than-expected return from a strained groin has come at a time when so many other bats are emerging on the waiver wire that it's easy to overlook the sort of tear he was on before getting hurt, ranking among the leaders in hard-hit rate while making contact at his usual high rate. He's 4 for 13 with a double since returning.
SD San Diego • #15 • Age: 32
Kirby Yates has bone chips in his elbow, is on the IL and may miss the rest of the season, but it's crystal clear who his replacement is given the number of times Drew Pomeranz has had to bail him out already, actually leading the team with four saves. He's not at much risk of giving away the role either, breaking through as an ace reliever with a 2.39 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and 15.4 K/9 in 25 appearances for the Brewers down the stretch last year.
HOU Houston • #59 • Age: 27
Framber Valdez had an easy matchup over the weekend, but he made good on it with a third consecutive gem, allowing a combined two earned runs while recording 22 strikeouts between them. He's not a sexy name, but the ground-ball ability itself gives him a chance to be an impact player even before you factor in the strikeouts.
MIL Milwaukee • #39 • Age: 26
Corbin Burnes is rejoining the starting rotation just in time for a two-start week, and while the Brewers may take it easy with him for his first couple turns, he was handling close to a starter's workload in long relief, never throwing fewer than 64 pitches. The walks are a concern, but with the number of bats he's missing, you roll the dice on the upside.
Pablo Lopez SP
MIA Miami • #49 • Age: 24
Pablo Lopez blew away his previous career high with 21 swinging strikes in Friday's start, leaning more than ever on a cutter that got some hype back in summer camp and may add another layer of effectiveness by further differentiating his fastball. He has always been an efficient worker with a nasty changeup.
SF San Francisco • #34 • Age: 30
Though it's not reflected in the ERA yet, the Giants may be the team that has finally unlocked Kevin Gausman's potential. His splitter has always been an overpowering pitch, but the fastball is playing up as well, leading to a swinging-strike rate that ranks among the elites. He's up to 34 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings and may become the subject of a bidding war if it continues for another turn or two.
STL St. Louis • #21 • Age: 35
Andrew Miller has recorded the Cardinals' only save since their return to action, allowing one hit and striking out two in the second game of a doubleheader Saturday. Giovanny Gallegos worked in a setup role in Game 1, and other contenders like Ryan Helsley and Carlos Martinez are on IL, making the 35-year-old Miller the early front-runner (albeit a weak one) for saves.