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Nothing improves a player's Fantasy value like opportunity, and as we reach that point in the baseball season when we're reminded just how long baseball season is, opportunity is knocking all over the place.
The Red Sox have decided their starting pitchers are tired, so they're giving prospect Eduardo Rodriguez a turn as the sixth man. Does he go back to the minors afterward? Probably, but just by introducing him to the majors, the Red Sox have declared him ready. And it's not like they have no holes in that starting rotation.
Then we have Buck Farmer, who isn't as sure of a thing but was good in his own right at Triple-A, compiling a 2.98 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 8.8 strikeouts per nine innings in nine starts. Equipped with a mid-90s fastball, he's certainly more interesting than the man he's replacing, Kyle Lobstein, who went on the DL with a shoulder injury Sunday.
Farmer may have staying power, but Rodriguez is the more interesting one to me as potentially the left-handed equivalent of Noah Syndergaard. He has issued just 1.3 walks per nine innings at Triple-A Pawtucket, so he won't have the control issues that plague some young left-handers (see Rodon, Carlos).
Of course, the new opportunities aren't limited to just minor-leaguers. Some part-timers we've been longing to see in the lineup every day now have a better chance than ever.
Alex Guerrero, 3B/OF, Dodgers (61 percent owned)
Granted, the Dodgers freed up third base more for Justin Turner than Guerrero, but they can't dismiss the 28-year-old Cuban defector's production as an early-season hot streak anymore. With three home runs in his last four games, he's just not going away. And with Juan Uribe out of the picture, that's one less impediment to everyday duty.
After a three-week period when it seemingly died down, the momentum is back and building to a point where sooner or later manager Don Mattingly will cave, whether it's at third base or in left field. With Yasiel Puig slow to recover from a hamstring injury and Scott Van Slyke now banged up, Guerrero's chances are improved across the diamond.
And he's on pace for 32 home runs this season even with the sporadic at-bats so far.
Delino DeShields, OF, Rangers (49 percent owned)
A Rule 5 pick who's making the jump from Double-A last year just so the Rangers could steal him away from the Astros, DeShields has already exceeded everyone's wildest expectations so far, which isn't to say he's performing over his head. He's a former eight overall pick, after all, and he stole 101 bases in the minors two years ago. It's just that nobody expected him to be this good this soon.
And maybe he's not. He is striking out more than every four at-bats, so if he settles into a .250 batting average, it wouldn't be the shock of the century. But it also wouldn't be a deal-breaker given his high walk rate, which is higher than Matt Carpenter's so far. As long as he gets on first base one way or another, the steals will continue.
Will the at-bats? Well, he got his first action at second base Wednesday -- a position that's wide open with Rougned Odor in the minors -- and has started two of three games in center field since Josh Hamilton's return. The Rangers seem to be buying into him over the higher-priced Leonys Martin, so at least in Rotisserie leagues, DeShields is approaching must-own status.
Peter O'Brien, C, Diamondbacks (7 percent owned)
In what was hardly earth-shattering news to the Fantasy Baseball world, Tuffy Gosewisch jammed his knee Wednesday. It may be nothing, but then again, he's not such a great player anyway, batting .211 with a .542 OPS, so the Diamondbacks might take any excuse to replace him at this point. And his injury just so happens to coincide with their renewed confidence in him behind the plate after they had previously banished him to the outfield at Triple-A Reno.
"He's catching and doing a nice job," manager Chip Hale recently told MLB.com. "He looks good back there. His at-bats have been great and he is another guy pushing the envelope."
O'Brien is batting .345 with 11 home runs and a 1.033 OPS at Reno -- not much plate discipline, but still. The only reason we haven't been hyping him in Fantasy is because the Diamondbacks have too many outfielders as it is. They have too few catchers, though, and they may have one less now, so certainly in two-catcher leagues, O'Brien needs to be on your radar.
Wouldn't Jarrod Saltalamacchia get the first shot, though? Judging from Hale's comments, probably not. Saltalamacchia is batting just .188 with a .597 OPS at Reno anyway.