D.J. Short

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Zack Attack

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Kirk Nieuwenhuis OF, Mets (Yahoo: 1 percent owned, ESPN: 0.2 percent)

Most expected Nieuwenhuis would make his major league debut a couple of months from now, but the Mets were forced to bring him up a little early after Andres Torres aggravated a calf strain on Opening Day. The 24-year-old should get the majority of the playing time in center field, though Scott Hairston will draw at-bats against left-handed pitching. Nieuwenhuis was limited to just 53 games with Triple-A Buffalo last year due to a shoulder injury which resulted in surgery, but he has shown an intriguing combination of power and speed in the minors. While he strikes out too much to hit for a high batting average, he should help in multiple categories right away.

Ross Detwiler SP/RP, Nationals (Yahoo: 3 percent owned, ESPN: 0 percent)

The Nationals surprised many at the end of spring training by sending John Lannan to the minors and awarding Detwiler with the final spot in the starting rotation, but the 26-year-old southpaw validated the decision by striking out six over five shutout innings in his season debut Monday against the Mets. Truth be told, the 2007 first-round pick actually made a pretty good case for a rotation spot after posting a 3.21 ERA over 10 starts last year. He's not much of a secret anymore, though. Detwiler isn't going to pile up a ton of strikeouts, so keep expectations in check, but he has the command and arsenal to survive as back-end starter.

Justin Maxwell OF, Astros (Yahoo: 0 percent owned, ESPN: 0 percent)

Maxwell was designated for assignment by the Yankees last week, but it's really the best thing that could have happened to him, as he had no shot at finding any playing time with the big club. The rebuilding Astros snatched him up off waivers and he promptly delivered a pinch-hit two-run homer in his first at-bat with the club on Monday night. The 28-year-old has struggled to make contact in the big leagues, but his combination of power and speed remains enticing. He could find his way into the lineup against southpaws, so there's appeal here in daily leagues.

Joe Wieland SP, Padres (Yahoo: N/A, ESPN: 0 percent)

The Padres are a little short-handed in their rotation with Dustin Moseley and Tim Stauffer on the disabled list, so Wieland is expected to make his major league debut Saturday against the Dodgers. Wieland, who was acquired from the Rangers in the Mike Adams deal, had a ridiculous 1.97 ERA and 150/21 K/BB ratio over 155 2/3 innings in the minors last year. The 22-year-old right-hander sits in the low 90s with his fastball and his curveball and changeup are both average or better pitches, but his outstanding control is what makes him intriguing. Worse pitchers have enjoyed breakouts in PETCO Park, so I wouldn't be surprised if he becomes relevant as a spot-starter in mixed leagues as soon as this season.


Andy Dirks OF, Tigers (Yahoo: 1 percent owned, ESPN: 0.4 percent)

Dirks won a spot on the Opening Day roster and while he isn't an everyday player, he should be in the lineup pretty regularly as the designated hitter or left fielder against right-handed pitching. The 25-year-old was useful in part-time duty for the Tigers last year, batting .251 with seven homers, 28 RBI, five stolen bases and a .703 OPS over 78 games. It's not a major leap to say that he could reach double-digits in homers and steals this season, which actually makes him worth watching in deeper mixed formats, as well.

Vicente Padilla RP/SP, Red Sox (Yahoo: 1 percent owned, ESPN: 0.2 percent)

Padilla came to Red Sox camp in hopes of winning a rotation spot, but he currently finds himself in a swingman/middle relief role. The 34-year-old right-hander was impressive in relief of Clay Buchholz on Sunday against the Tigers, striking out four over four scoreless innings. Who knows how long Padilla can stay healthy, but with many questions remaining about the back-end of the bullpen and the rotation, he's an interesting name to keep stashed away.  

Liam Hendriks SP, Twins (Yahoo: 1 percent owned, ESPN: 0 percent)

We learned Wednesday that Scott Baker needs surgery to repair the flexor pronator tendon in his elbow and will miss the rest of the season. While it's a tough blow for the Twins, this officially opens the door for Hendriks, who had a 3.36 ERA and 111/21 K/BB ratio over 139 1/3 innings last year between Double-A New Britain and Triple-A Rochester. The 23-year-old Aussie doesn't have electric stuff, but throws plenty of strikes and has a varied arsenal at his disposal. Keep in mind that he recently dealt with food poisoning and is now scheduled to make his season debut Sunday against the Rangers, so it might make sense to leave him inactive initially.   

Jonny Gomes OF, Athletics (Yahoo: 1 percent owned, ESPN: 0.1 percent)

Is Gomes a sexy name? Nope. We're talking about someone who batted .211/.336/.399 last year between the Reds and Nationals and owns a .242/.329/.452 career batting line. But as we saw with his homer off Bruce Chen on Wednesday, the one thing that he can do is mash left-handed pitching. The 31-year-old has an .872 career OPS against them. His playing time will likely be limited, but he's useful in leagues where you can make daily lineup changes.

D.J. Short is a Rotoworld baseball editor and contributes to NBCSports.com's Hardball Talk blog. You can also find him on Twitter.
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