Justin Masterson – Masterson has always had control issues that have raised his WHIP and limited his potential, but his strikeout rate has undeniably been valuable in fantasy. We don’t want to jump to the conclusion that he’s put everything together after two starts this season, but so far, Masterson has posted a 1.35 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and 9:3 K:BB ratio in 13.1 innings. Buy him for the strikeouts and hope that his ERA and WHIP remain on career-low paths. Mixed: $10; AL: $22.
Matt Harrison – Harrison has posted a 1.29 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, and 11:3 K:BB ratio in 14 innings over his first two starts of the season. His early season success begs that he be added as a speculative pickup, but Harrison’s past issues with walks and giving home runs could return at any time. On top of that, Brandon Webb could return at some point and put Harrison’s rotation spot in jeopardy. With that in mind, we’re not willing to spend as much as we would if he were guaranteed to start all season. Mixed: $1; AL: $9.
Alexi Ogando – Arguably, Ogando should be talked about in the relief pitchers section of the article, he is an injury fill-in right now but is not expected to be a long-term part of the Texas rotation. Nevertheless, Ogando made his first start Tuesday and came away with the win after pitching six scoreless innings. If you’re looking to take a flier on a temporary option with decent upside, Ogando might be a good cheap add. Just don’t expect him to be starting all year. Tommy Hunter (groin) was originally projected to miss over a month, but there haven’t been many updates on his expected return date, which could mean Ogando will get a few extra starts. Mixed: $1; AL: $8.
Jordan Walden – Walden assumed the closing duties after Fernando Rodney walked the bases loaded and blew the save in just his second opportunity of the season. In 5.1 innings this season, Walden has struck out seven batters and only allowed three runners to reach base. He recorded his first save of the season Tuesday against the Rays, and he’ll continue to handle the duties for the foreseeable future. Scott Downs’ (toe) eventual return could complicate the situation, but we wouldn’t expect Walden to lose the job unless he struggles. Mixed: $12; AL: $25.
Aaron Crow – Crow opened the year in the Royals’ bullpen and got off to a fast start, posting a 0.00 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and 8:1 K:BB ratio over 6.1 innings. The Royals will keep Crow in the pen for the foreseeable future and consider him for the rotation if he’s successful in a limited pen role. So far, he’s recorded a win and a hold in his four appearances, and the Royals’ terrible rotation would seem to beg that a savior rise up and claim a large role for the team. Crow’s strikeouts may make him worth owning in some formats, but those in keeper leagues could justify owning him based on his potential to join the starting rotation down the road. Mixed: $0; AL: $2.
Tim Collins – Collins jumped onto everyone’s radar last Sunday when he pitched three innings of relief in extra frames to get his first career win. He struck out five in that outing, and the hype train fired up. In his last two appearances, Collins was used in a situational role. That will often be the case with Collins, which will limit his innings and potentially his production. Collins is undeniably a strikeout pitcher, but he’s never been used as a starter and his role as a lefty specialist will probably keep him out of the running for save chances. Mixed: $0: AL: $0.
Kyle Farnsworth – Farnsworth was given the ball in the Rays’ first save situation of the season Friday, and he came through with a perfect inning to help the Rays pick up their first win. Though the team plans on using a committee in the ninth inning, Farnsworth is first in line at this point. Many prognosticators believe Jake McGee will eventually take sole possession of the closing duties, but until that happens, Farnsworth is the man to own. Mixed: $8; AL: $14.
Chris Sale – Sale was used in the closer’s role Saturday and picked up his first save of the season. Manager Ozzie Guillen said Matt Thornton would still get most of the opportunities to close out games, but Guillen isn’t going to put someone in just because he is supposed to. Thornton was hit around a bit when he blew the save Thursday, but two errors by the White Sox’ fielders also contributed to the loss. Buy Sale more on potential than his current value. Mixed: $6. AL: $10.
Yorvit Torrealba – Torrealba is the Rangers’ primary catcher this season. He has caught six of their first eight games and has batted exclusively out of the eighth spot so far. Anyone playing half their games in the Rangers’ home park and batting at in their slugger-filled lineup has the potential to put up huge offensive numbers. Torrealba has hit better than .271 in each of the last two seasons and is currently hitting .273 with a home run, two doubles, two RBI, and only one strikeout in 22 at-bats. Teams are going to give him pitches to hit all year because they’d prefer to avoid the rest of that scary lineup, so don’t be surprised if Torrealba finishes with career-best numbers. Mixed: $0; AL: $10.
Matt Treanor/Brayan Pena – Treanor and Pena have both received 15 at-bats this season as the Royals have used a committee at catcher until Jason Kendall (shoulder) is ready to return sometime in mid-to-late-May. Pena probably has a little more upside than Treanor offensively, but both players are only of use in the absolute deepest of AL-only leagues. Mixed: $0; AL: $1.
Alex Avila – Though the Tigers brought in Victor Martinez during the offseason, Avila is the team’s everyday catcher. He has caught six of the first eight games and is displaying a renewed confidence at the plate. When he debuted with five home runs, 14 RBI, and 10 walks in 61 at-bats in 2009, the expectations for Avila rose quickly. Unfortunately, he struggled in his first full season and only hit .228 with seven home runs over 294 at-bats in 2010. Through 21 at-bats in 2011, Avila is hitting .286 with two home runs, seven RBI, three walks, and a steal. At only 24 years old, manager Jim Leyland won’t shy away from playing Avila most days. Avila is worth a pick up if he is still available in any AL-only leagues, and he could even be of some use in mixed leagues if he continues to put up better-than-expected numbers. Mixed: $1; AL: $16.
Alberto Callaspo – Callaspo started the year sharing third base duties with Maicer Izturis, but Erick Aybar’s oblique injury and the versatility of the Angels’ infield has allowed him to play in seven of their first eight games. Callaspo has batted sixth in the lineup every time he’s played and is hitting .370 with two home runs, five RBI, two doubles, and four walks through 27 at-bats. As long as he’s hitting well, manager Mike Scioscia will find a way to keep him in the lineup; so those in deep mixed and AL-only leagues could grab Callaspo on a speculative basis. Mixed: $0; AL: $12.
Mark Trumbo – Trumbo has played seven of the Angels’ eight games at first base in place of Kendrys Morales (ankle). Morales won’t be allowed to start fieldwork until his ankle feels 100 percent on the treadmill, so Trumbo should still have at least a few more weeks of regular action. He hit .301 with 36 home runs and 122 RBI at Triple-A Salt Lake in 2010, earning the opportunity to fill in at first while Morales is out. His power hasn’t translated yet, but the three doubles Trumbo has hit in his first 29 at-bats this season indicate that the home runs may just be a little off. If you need help at the corner infield slot and are looking for someone with upside, Trumbo might be your guy. Mixed: $1; AL: $4.
Matt LaPorta – LaPorta was the big piece that came back to the Indians when they traded CC Sabathia to the Brewers in 2008. Over the last two seasons, the Indians have given the 26-year-old plenty of chances to play at the big league level, but LaPorta hasn’t been able to put up big numbers consistently. To keep the pressure off of him, the Indians have batted him eighth to start the season. He’s their everyday first baseman and has put together some decent numbers over the first week of action. Through 22 at-bats, LaPorta is hitting .273 with a home run, a double, a steal, three RBI, and four walks. He punished the ball in the minors and the hope is that he’ll figure out how to translate minor-league success to the majors very soon. Eventually, LaPorta could be of use in standard mixed leagues, but we’re only recommending him in AL-only leagues at this time. Mixed: $0; AL: $16.
Dan Johnson –Evan Longoria’s oblique injury opened up playing time for Johnson, but Manny Ramirez’s retirement has made him the team’s primary designated hitter for the time being. Though Johnson is getting the at-bats, he is not producing. Johnson has gone just 3-for-30 (.100) so far this season and hasn’t hit better than .236 in a season since his rookie year of 2005. Johnson should continue to get playing time, and he does have the potential to put up good power numbers despite a putrid average. Grab him if you need power at the corner infield slot and are willing to weather his poor average. Mixed: $0; AL: $3.
Casey Kotchman – The Rays called up Kotchman to take the roster spot of Manny Ramirez and almost instantly installed him as the starter at first base. Though Kotchman is a plus defender, he will have a tough time matching the production of other AL first basemen. Kotchman is worth adding for his at-bats, but it’s far to soon to count on him as a regular starter on your team unless you are in the deepest of leagues. Mixed: $0; AL: $1.
Will Rhymes – Rhymes is worth owning in AL-only leagues right now, not because of his numbers but because of his playing time. He’s played in seven of the Tigers’ eight games at second base. Carlos Guillen’s (knee) return is still an ominous subject, and no target date has been announced recently. The Tigers are batting Rhymes second every day, and he has reportedly been making good contact with the ball despite only picking up five hits in 25 at-bats. Rhymes has the ability to steal the random base from time to time, so grab him if you need some occasional speed and a steady average from a temporary option. Mixed: $0; AL: $8.
Maicer Izturis – Izturis started off the year sharing third base duties with Alberto Callaspo, but he has seen extra action thanks to Erick Aybar’s oblique injury and the versatility of the Angels’ infielders. Izturis has played in seven of their eight games and has posted a .361 average with one home run, three doubles, five RBI, and two steals. He bats leadoff whenever he plays, making him a good source of runs, and has the potential to contribute in average and steals. Izturis may be available in even the deepest of leagues due to the uncertainty surrounding his playing time entering the season, and he’s worth a speculative add. Mixed: $1; AL: $8.
Orlando Cabrera – Cabrera is the Indians’ everyday second baseman. He has batted sixth most of the time, but he did get a shot at the leadoff role when Michael Brantley got Thursday’s game off. Cabrera has never batted .300 in his career, so his early .357 average is just a factor of luck. However, his seven RBI are intriguing. The Indians have been hitting the ball very well this season; so if people continue to get on base in front of him, Cabrera could post one of the best RBI totals of his career. Mixed: $3: AL: $14.
Brennan Boesch – Boesch has played in six of the Tigers’ first seven games. They’ve played him at LF, RF, and DH. In those six games, he went 8-for-22 (.364) with three extra-base hits (one homer, two doubles). The Tigers haven’t batted him lower than the six-hole in any game. When discussing his lineups for Friday and Saturday, manager Jim Leyland commented that he kept Boesch in the lineup Friday because he knew Boesch wouldn’t play Saturday and didn’t want his bat out of the lineup for two straight games. Leyland is making a point to keep Boesch playing while he’s hot. Players in deep leagues and AL-only formats should grab Boesch for his power numbers and the occasional stolen base. Mixed: $3; AL: $12.
Milton Bradley – Bradley was originally expected to lose playing time to Michael Saunders this season, but the early absence of Franklin Gutierrez (illness) has kept Bradley in left field in each of the Mariners’ first eight games. He’s always had the ability, but he has that crazy disease Ron Artest used to have that always seems to derail him from sanity. As long as he’s getting regular playing time, Bradley is an intriguing option in the outfield. If you bought into the Saunders hype early and are looking for a replacement, Bradley would be a good linear move. Mixed: $0; AL: $8.
Ryan Langerhans/Michael Saunders – They’re sharing the center field duties while Franklin Gutierrez (illness) is out, and it’s limiting both of their numbers. Langerhans has played in five games while Saunders has seen action in four. Saunders ultimately has more potential, but the team’s unwillingness to give him everyday starts in either left or center field leaves us to believe they may still consider sending him back to the minors when Gutierrez returns. Mixed: $0; AL: $4.
Michael Brantley – Brantley is the Indians’ starting center fielder. He has started seven of their first eight games and is batting leadoff for them daily. Brantley is a great buy if you potential speed on your roster, but don’t expect him to provide much pop. Through 28 at-bats, Brantley has a .321 average with two doubles, four RBI, and a steal. Mixed: $0; AL: $13.
Sam Fuld – Evan Longoria’s injury and Manny Ramirez’s retirement have allowed Fuld to claim his stake in the Rays’ lineup. He has started the last five games and has served as the leadoff hitter in the last three games. Fuld swiped three bags the first time he led off and has collected a total of five on the season. Fuld never hit .300 above Single-A and doesn’t have much power to speak of, but he’s using his above-average speed to take full advantage of his current opportunity. If you’re looking for steals, Fuld is the man to grab right now. Anyone doubting Fuld’s ability to stay in the lineup should check out the catch he made in right field Saturday. Even without his steals, the Rays are happy to have him for his defense. Mixed: $2; AL: $14.