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There is a long way to go in the season, so struggling fantasy baseball owners are hoping April showers bring May flowers as the calendar gets set to flip.
With that in mind, a couple days earlier than usual, here are five options to add on the waiver wire heading into a new week.
5. Cody Bellinger, OF/1B, Los Angeles Dodgers
Since being called up, Bellinger is 1-for-10 with two walks over his first three major league games. He has taken over in left field for the Dodgers, but Bellinger has mostly been a first baseman during his minor league career.
Adrian Gonzalez is reportedly still dealing with tendinitis in his right forearm, so a disabled list stint could be coming soon. Bellinger would be an obvious fill-in at first base, but the position he plays in the field would only be important to fantasy owners based on the prospect of multi-position eligibility.
Bellinger is a worthy addition in NL-only leagues, if only as a bench stash in the near-term while he gets adapted to major league pitching. Mixed league owners can press the brakes on Bellinger right now, outside of very deep or keeper formats.
ESPN Ownership: 30%
4. Matt Bush, RP, Texas Rangers
The Rangers finally pulled the plug on Sam Dyson as their closer, with Bush named as the favorite to take over. He has only had one save since then, but Bush has also picked up a win in three outings since being promoted.
Bush has a 2.35 ERA, a 0.65 WHIP, 12 strikeouts and just one walk over 7.2 innings so far this season. A shoulder issue limited him for a time, so that’s worth keeping an eye on, but Bush should be the Rangers’ closer until further notice. With that role, even as the team hovers around .500 right now, comes fantasy value.
ESPN Ownership: 34.5%
3. Shawn Kelley , RP, Washington Nationals
Kelley was on this list last week, and even with some increase in his ownership rate he still qualifies. Koda Glover had been taking a share of the closer for Washington, but he’s now on the 10-day disabled list with a hip injury. So Kelly is the last man standing to close games for the Nationals right now, barring a surprising turn back to Blake Treinen to take some save opportunities.
The Nationals are rumored to be interested in some bullpen help on the trade market, which would bring a shift of roles. But Kelley is the closer for a good team until an injury of his own and/or Glover returns, so fantasy owners can’t ignore him.
ESPN Ownership: 46.4%
2. Bud Norris, RP, Los Angeles Angels
Norris has mostly been known as a starter during his career, but a litany of injuries (Huston Street, Andrew Bailey, Cam Bedrosian has pushed him into the closer role for the Angels. Four straight saves later, and Norris has shown he can handle the role.
Bedrosian (groin) seems closest to a return of the aforementioned trio, but he has yet to resume throwing and seems sure to be out longer than his earliest possible return date next week. Street (shoulder) can return on June 1, and Bailey (shoulder) may be able to return sometime in May.
Norris may find himself in a nondescript relief role before too long, but he could also make a strong case to keep closing games. In the short-term mixed league owners looking for saves can add him, and AL-only league owners already should be making the move.
ESPN Ownership Rate: 12.8%
1. Didi Gregorius, SS, New York Yankees
Gregorius’ defense was way ahead of his offense, until 2016. He set career highs across the board, most notably in home runs (20), RBI (70), doubles (32) and OPS (.751). More fly balls and a better home run/fly ball ratio combined to bring that power surge. Its sustainability is unclear, though Gregorius is at a peak age (27).
Gregorius suffered a right shoulder injury during the World Baseball Classic, and he has been out since. But he is making his 2017 debut on Friday night, hitting sixth against the Baltimore Orioles and starter Kevin Gausman.
A full repeat of last season was not in the cards for Gregorius, even if he hadn’t missed most of April. But he did prove he can be a useful fantasy shortstop, and now is the time to add him in all leagues.
ESPN Ownership Rate: 22.7%