Over one-third of the short season is complete. Teams like the New York Yankees and Oakland Athletics are beginning to separate themselves from the rest of the league. There are many players available to add off the fantasy baseball waiver wire to push your team to the next level. All the following players are available to add in over 50% of ESPN leagues.
Due to injuries and losing Gerrit Cole to the Yankees, the Houston Astros starting rotation looks a lot different from a year ago. This is a prime spot to look for new starting opportunities on a team that gives a lot of run support. Frambler Valdez is one of the new Houston starters, and he’s been nothing short of spectacular. Fantasy owners have begun to notice his excellence as his ownership is up to 42%. In 23 and two-thirds innings, Valdez has an impressive ERA of 1.90 and 24 strikeouts while surrendering only four walks. The 26-year-old has earned a spot in the rotation for the foreseeable future.
Sticking with the Astros rotation, young prospect Cristian Javier has been making a case to stay in the rotation himself. His ownership has also crept up now at 40%. If either of these two pitchers are available in your leagues, it is recommended to add them as soon as possible before someone else does. Javier made his first start after Justin Verlander ended up on the injured list. The twenty-three-year-old has made the most of his opportunities. In 21 and two-thirds innings, Javier has a 2.91 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, and 21 K’s. The Astros sixth overall prospect has been dominating the minor leagues since 2015, showcasing his high strikeout rate and low ERA.
In last week’s article, Zach Davies was mentioned as a deeper league pick. Now he is proving he should be owned in all leagues. In his start against the stacked Los Angeles Dodgers, Davies went seven innings deep while only allowing two earned runs. Consequently, his ownership has climbed to 28% from 12% last week. On the season, the San Diego Padres starter has an impressive six K/BB, keeping his total walks allowed to just three. In addition, his ERA is down to 2.78 and his WHIP is at 0.84 in 22 two-thirds innings. He should be owned in all fantasy leagues with the pace he is on.
This week’s hitters section focuses on the New York Yankees. There is plenty of talent on this roster to take advantage of with Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge on the IL. However, the two main guys that look to benefit the most are Aaron Hicks and Mike Tauchman. Owned respectively in 30% and 13% of leagues, the pair of outfielders are seeing there playing time increase greatly. Even without Stanton and Judge, this Yankees lineup scores a ton of runs, and Hicks and Tauchman will see plenty at-bats with runners in scoring position. Hicks has been inconsistent to start the year, but that can happen with limited at-bats. He will look to get in a groove while starting every day. On the other hand, Tauchman is batting .342 so far in 38 at-bats.
Deeper League Options
Freddy Peralta pitches in a flexible out-getting role for the Milwaukee Brewers. He started the year in the starting rotation, then became the designated long reliever when Eric Lauer and Brett Anderson returned. With Lauer’s recent struggles, Peralta may find himself back in the rotation. Regardless, he offers significant fantasy value with his outstanding swing and miss rate. In the past, Peralta had command issues resulting in high walk rates, but he has seemed to find control this season. He is still only twenty four-years-old and he looks like he found his confidence on the mound. To show for this, he has an astonishing 9.5 K/BB, and 22 K’s in 12 innings. As a result, his ERA and WHIP are at a career-low 3.00 and 0.83. Only owned in 10% of leagues, Peralta can offer you some added strikeout depth, especially if he moves back to the rotation.
The best right-handed pitching prospect in all of baseball. That’s all that needs to be said about the potential of Casey Mize. He, along with the newly drafted Spencer Torkelson, are the future of the Detroit Tigers. The issue is we don’t know if and when he will get the call up this year. Chances are trending towards him making his MLB debut at some point this year. He is listed as a deeper league option now since he hasn’t been officially called up yet. Owned in 11% of leagues, owners have to pick him up before he is called up to have a chance at the elite prospect.
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