With temperatures on the rise and spin rate on the decline (hmmm ... strange how that works), it looks like Major League Baseball is in for a summer full of offense, and your fantasy baseball team better be geared up for the power surge. This week has some unique extremes in scheduling due to doubleheaders, and the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves will lead the way with eight games coming up in seven days. On the other extreme, the Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Angels, Colorado Rockies, Seattle Mariners and San Francisco Giants all play only five games. Making the Rockies even less appealing, all five of their games are on the road, so their fringe bats aren’t great options this week.
If your season-long fantasy baseball team needs some help off the waiver wire, check out my top two hitters and top two pitchers to target on waiver wires highlighted below. There are also some specialty options if you're looking to give your team a boost in a specific category at the bottom of the post. Throughout the week, I’m available for lineup and waiver wire advice on Twitter at @ZT_Sports.
1B Bobby Bradley, Cleveland Indians (at CHC, at MIN)
Cleveland called up Bradley earlier this month, and the left-handed-hitting power prospect finally looks ready to make a splash in the majors. He made his MLB debut in 2019, but posted a ghastly 40.8% strikeout rate in his 15 games and only managed one home run. After losing 2020 to the pandemic, Bradley dropped 35 pounds before spring training and came in hot, going 10-for-33 (.303) with five doubles, two homers and a .951 OPS. Even though he outplayed Jake Bauers, Cleveland gave Bauers the first base job when camp broke since Bradley had a minor league option left and Bauers did not. After Bauers scuffled out of the gate, though, Cleveland recalled Bradley, who has jumped right in and contributed.
In his 11 games coming into the weekend, Bradley has hit .333 with four home runs, 11 RBI, an unsustainable .389 ISO and a .468 wOBA. Bradley has also “only” struck out 10 times in 40 plate appearances, which is a much more acceptable 25% strikeout rate. He already has three barrels for an 11.5% barrel rate and a 38.5% hard-hit rate, per Statcast, so his production could definitely continue if he keeps crushing the ball moving forward.
OF Hunter Renfroe, Boston Red Sox (at TB, vs. NYY)
Renfroe has been a key contributor in the Red Sox’s surprising success this season and has a .179 ISO and .342 wOBA in his 59 games with eight homers, 34 RBI and 31 runs scored. Renfroe has a .299 average, .371 wOBA and .218 ISO since May 1, and he has a 37.2% hard-hit rate over those 147 at-bats with a 134 wRC+.
Over that span and also all season, Renfroe has done most of his damage against left-handed pitching, posting a .475 wOBA and .244 ISO against southpaws in May and June. He should be set up for a big week this week since the Red Sox are slated to take on three lefty starters. The 29-year-old always brings a high ceiling due to his power potential, but he has also cut down on his strikeouts with just a 22.9% strikeout rate, which would be his lowest rate in a full season in the majors.
SP Tarik Skubal, Detroit Tigers (vs STL, vs. HOU)
The kids are alright! This season has seen a number of good pitching prospects join the Tigers’ rotation, and for the second week in a row, I’m featuring an emerging starter here. as a good pickup. Skubal was the No. 9 overall pick in the 2018 MLB draft and has gone 4-7 in his 14 games this season with a 4.36 ERA and 5.36 FIP. His 2.18 HR/9 rate is a little scary, for sure, but there have also been some very good signs for the 24-year-old southpaw in his recent starts.
In his past six starts, Skubal has a 3.00 ERA and 3.38 FIP and has dropped that rate to 1.36 HR/9. He has also posted a very impressive 13.64 K/9 with a whopping 50 total strikeouts over 33 innings. He seems to always provide punchouts even if he does sometimes get a little roughed up. This week, Skubal is slated for a pair of home matchups against the Astros and the Cardinals. Houston’s lineup is a little less intimidating without Alex Bregman (quad), and St. Louis’ lineup has struggled lately as well. Skubal has been much better at home than on the road as well since Comerica Park is generally pitcher-friendly.
SP Ross Stripling, Toronto Blue Jays (at MIA, vs. BAL)
Another pitcher lined up for a two-start week who makes a great pickup is Stripling, especially given the quality of his two opponents. Stripling will be in good matchups against the Marlins in pitcher-friendly Marlins Park and against the Orioles, who have continued to struggle on offense this season. Stripling has a strong lineup behind him and could easily pick up a pair of wins if things go his way.
On the season, the former-Dodger is 2-4 in 11 games with a 4.56 ERA and 4.19 FIP. He is averaging just over a strikeout per inning with 58 punchouts in 54 1⁄3 innings. Stripling has gone at least five innings in each of his past five games with a 2.45 ERA and 3.54 FIP along with 29 strikeouts in 29 1⁄3 innings. Those starts include outings against the Rays, Red Sox and Yankees, so he could be in for even better results in much more favorable matchups this week.
Specialty pickups to consider
HR Pickup: OF Adam Duvall, Atlanta Braves
HR Pickup II: 1B/OF Joc Pederson, Chicago Cubs
AVG/hits Pickup: SS/OF Amed Rosario, Cleveland Indians
Counting Stats Pickup: 2B/SS/OF Josh Rojas, Arizona Diamondbacks
Hot Bat from a Bad Lineup: 1B/2B/3B Ty France, Seattle Mariners
If He’s Somehow Still Available: 1B/2B Jonathan Schoop, Detroit Tigers
SB Pickup: OF Steven Duggar, San Francisco Giants
C Pickup: C Yan Gomes, Washinton Nationals
Two-start Streamer: SP Merrill Kelly, Arizona Diamondbacks
Saves Pickup: RP Daniel Bard, Colorado Rockies
Saves Pickup Part II: RP Lucas Sims, Cincinnati Reds
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