Some days, we have to strain for possible pickups to highlight in this space, weighing down our recommendations with so many conditions and provisos that they're barely recommendations at all.
It's the rare occasion five weeks into the season when the possible pickups -- two in one day, no less -- are too good to pass up.
So let's get into it ...
BOS Boston • #72 • Age: 26
The Red Sox's best pitcher (yeah, I said it) can't fill every need on the staff, and you could argue he's needed more in the bullpen than the starting rotation. But what began as a move of necessity is now looking like the most perfect fit of all. Garrett Whitlock actually was perfect for his first 4 1/3 innings Wednesday. He ended up going a career-high 5 1/3, needing just 78 pitches to do so despite piling up nine strikeouts. In three starts spanning 12 innings, he has allowed two earned runs while striking out 18. Though the starting role has long been regarded as the most valuable one a pitcher can fill, manager Alex Cora isn't committing one way or another. By pointing out there's no scenario in which Whitlock pitches every day, though, he seemingly tipped his hand. THIS IS NOT A DRILL, PEOPLE.
Rowdy Tellez 1B
MIL Milwaukee • #11 • Age: 27
It's not just that Tellez had four hits, two home runs and eight RBI Wednesday (the last of which, amazingly, no Brewer had ever done before). It's that the performance likely locked him into something like an everyday role, which the metrics have long suggested would be an exciting development indeed. Not only is he hot, homering four times in his past four games, but he has also started against two of the past three lefties the Brewers have faced. It never made sense to make him a strict platoon player. His career slash line against lefties is no worse than against righties, and manager Craig Counsell may have wised up to this. I mentioned the metrics? Yeah, Tellez entered Wednesday with a .298 xBA and .738 xSLG. His peak exit velocities are consistently among the best five percent in baseball, and they come with relatively low strikeout rates.
Joe Barlow RP
TEX Texas • #68 • Age: 26
Reliable saves sources have been in short supply early this year, which is why Joe Barlow can't be overlooked. He's a confirmed closer. Chris Woodward did what few managers care to do anymore and declared him such a couple weeks ago. It took Barlow so long to get his first save that it was easy to lose faith, but now he has two in as many days. Saves aren't evenly distributed over the course of the season. They often come in bunches, as is true for most counting stats. The Rangers should win somewhere around 40 percent of their games, which means Barlow should get at least 25 saves if he can hold onto the role. So far, he looks like the only one in that bullpen up to the task.
OAK Oakland • #22 • Age: 27
Ramon Laureano has been plugging away at Triple-A for the past few days, preparing for a Sunday return from a PED suspension. The Athletics say he's on schedule, and given the current state of their lineup, he'll immediately become their most high-profile hitter, which should ensure the most consistent playing time he's ever gotten. Given the many interruptions throughout his career, we still don't know the full extent of his upside, but we've seen him flash and power and speed without the sort of excessive strikeout rate that would undermine it all. Certainly in Rotisserie leagues, he's a must-add.
Max Meyer RP
MIA Miami • #63 • Age: 23
Max Meyer didn't do anything Wednesday, but Elieser Hernandez did, allowing five earned runs in four innings against the lowly Diamondbacks to raise his ERA to 6.66. The Miami Herald had already reported that the Marlins were considering making a change there, specifically to clear a spot for their surging pitching prospect. Surely, that switch is even more likely now. Meyer, the third pick in the 2020 draft, has been near perfect at Triple-A this year, even striking out a rehabbing Ronald Acuna twice in one game, and actually was perfect in four innings this spring. He offers the sort of upside worth stashing ahead of time.
COL Colorado • #26 • Age: 28
This outing represented Austin Gomber's third straight quality start after two rocky ones to begin the season, but the 18 swinging strikes (including six on the fastball, six on the slider and four on the changeup) were something new. He entered the start with a pitiful 8.3 percent swinging-strike rate. It may have been a fluke, but it opens the mind to new possibilities, particularly since Gomber enjoyed a stretch of dominance last year. In seven starts from May 12 through June 14, he had a 1.28 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, 8.7 K/9 and no-less-than-impressive 13.2 percent swinging-strike rate. A forearm injury crushed his momentum, and he never got it back. Maybe this is his return to form?