Do four eyes help you hit four seamers? (USAT)
You can't blame B.J. Upton owners for being depressed over the last couple of years. The enigmatic outfielder has been a colossal bust since he joined the Braves for the 2013 season. Heck, he didn't even have a dedicated role in last year's playoffs. It's been a .190/.273/.297 mess for Upton in Atlanta, with a piddly 11 homers (he's also stolen 17 bases).
Is there any light at the end of the tunnel? Maybe. Perhaps we've finally found reasons for Upton optimism over the last week.
Upton started wearing glasses on the field seven days ago, and coincidentally or not, he's on a five-game hitting streak since then. It's as modest as a hitting streak can get – just one hit in each appearance – but remember the depths we're starting from. Upton also has a couple of walks over that stretch (and to be fair and complete, seven strikeouts). He posted a three-run homer and a steal in Thursday's loss at Miami.
The fantasy public bailed on Upton a while ago; he's only owned in 31 percent of Yahoo leagues. But the Braves clearly aren't giving up on Bossman Junior; he's batted second in every start this season. He's still just 29. You know you're paying a batting-average tax, but he was a 28-homer, 31-steal guy as recently as 2012. Do you feel lucky? Will better vision lead to a 20-20 season?
It's a good time to kick the tires on Upton; Atlanta opens a nine-game homestand Friday, with some appealing matchups on the way (starting with gopher-feeding Tim Lincecum and journeyman Ryan Vogelsong). Keep an open mind here. Category juice isn't that easy to find.
• Most fantasy players already had sufficient definition in the Milwaukee bullpen, but whatever remaining stragglers existed can now jump on board. Ah, those "need proof" players.
Jim Henderson allowed five runs in Milwaukee's loss on Thursday, and the Brewers moved Henderson to the DL on Friday. Apparently it's a shoulder issue. Meanwhile, Francisco Rodriguez sits on his closing throne, with a perfect ERA and a dynamic K/BB rate (23 whiffs, four walks) over 16 innings. I know the velocity is modest with K-Rod, but the change is dipping and his command has been excellent. Why worry?
Capless in Seattle (USAT)
Elias made his Yankee Stadium debut Thursday and came through with the best turn of his short career: 7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 10 K. Here are some pretty pictures to examine. Seattle might have something here. Elias also pitched reasonably well in Arlington back on April 14, showing poise and confidence.
"He's not a typical lefty where he's up there trying to trick you," Derek Jeter told MLB.com. "He gets it up there pretty good, and when he gets ahead, he's got a strikeout pitch. He was better than us today."
Elias has a tidy 3.09 ERA through 35 innings, and his ground-ball rate is almost 50 percent. He's striking out eight men per nine innings, but that's up against a nasty walk rate (4.1/9). His K/BB number was 2.6 in the minors, covering 59 appearances. He skipped Triple-A entirely.
If you feel like a test drive (alongside an impressed Michael Salfino), Elias draws Oakland (road) and Kansas City (home) next week. Elias is owned in just four percent of Yahoo leagues.
• Rockies manager Walt Weiss is often the bane of a fantasy owner's existence, but the lineup card could be fun in Colorado this weekend. The Mets are in town with a four-game series, and all of New York's probable pitchers are right-handed. That should keep Charlie Blackmon parked in the leadoff spot, and it could lead to lots of playing time for Corey Dickerson.
Dickerson took advantage of Thursday's start, collecting three hits (including a triple) in four at-bats. He scored twice, knocked in a run. He's rocking a zesty .382/.417/.706 line in limited action this year, and his minor-league resume jumps off the page. Who's in the mood for a short-term rental? You can make the move in 95 percent of the Y.
Speed Round: The Tigers won the Joel Hanrahan lottery (does anyone really win that sort of thing?), which means Hanrahan probably won't be saving games in 2014. His elbow isn't ready yet, anyway . . . Manny Machado went 0-for-5 in his first game of the year, though he looked nifty in the field . . . Billy Hamilton had a short evening, injuring his knuckles on a first-inning catch. At least the problem wasn't anything related to his legs . . . Sure looks like Adrian Gonzalez is back to full throttle. He clocked his eighth homer Thursday, and has a .321/.392/.651 line through the first month or so of the year. If I could take just one LA bat for all my teams, I'd pick Gonzalez . . . If you came for the Aroldis Chapman party, Andy Behrens has you covered over here . . . Jacoby Ellsbury finally slugged his first New York tater, allowing John Sterling to unleash another groan-inducing home-run call. You're no bargain either, Michael Kay.
- Sports & Recreation