We’re about 60 games into the MLB regular season and starting to hit the “dog days of summer,” which are the pivotal stretch for season-long fantasy baseball contests. It’s a lighter week on the schedule across the league with nine teams scheduled for five games and only three scheduled for a full seven-game slate. Those three teams bringing more volume are the Kansas City Royals, Boston Red Sox and Miami Marlins, so target those teams if you need pickups that will have a strong chance to bring you value.
If your season-long fantasy baseball team needs some help off the waiver wire, you can start your search for upgrades with 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, where I’ll send out streaming starting pitching options along with pickup alerts. As always, remember to consider your specific team needs and league rules when making your pickups.
1B/2B Jonathan Schoop, Detroit Tigers (vs. SEA, vs. CWS)
The Tigers swept the Yankees May 28-30 then went on the road, where their pitching has let them down against the Brewers and White Sox. But the lineup has continued to produce, though, providing several solid fantasy options, led by a red-hot Schoop and including a few other options making appearances in the specialty section below. On the season, he has a .323 wOBA and .172 ISO, and he has been heating up over his 10 games that preceded the weekend, going 17-for-37 (.459) with six home runs, an unreal .541 ISO and a .625 wOBA.
Schoop has struggled after a pair of big years with the Orioles but has remained a solid source of power, especially from a shallow offensive position like second base. He has improved his hard-hit rate from 33.3% last year to 39.4% so far this season, and he typically hits in the heart of the order for the Tigers, setting him up for 12 RBI and eight runs scored over his previous 10 games. He should be a nice play in the coming week and for as long as he stays so hot.
2B/OF Odúbel Herrera, Philadelphia Phillies (vs. ATL, vs. NYY)
The Phillies have given Herrera their leadoff spot for the past five games and it looks like the resurgent 29-year-old will be able to stay in that spot for a while. Herrera has played 35 games after serving an 85-game suspension for violating MLB’s domestic violence policies in 2019 and missing the entire 2020 season.
Herrera could be in a prime spot going forward since the Phillies lineup is starting to get a little healthier with Bryce Harper returning Saturday. Herrera offers an intriguing blend of speed and power when at his best. He has a .167 ISO and .335 wOBA in his 35 games this season with four home runs and three stolen bases. He has a 44.9% hard-hit rate, which is more than a 10 percentage-point improvement over his previous career high. If Herrera keeps ripping the ball and getting on base, he should make a nice addition, offering good upside in both power and speed categories.
SP Robbie Ray, Toronto Blue Jays (at CWS, at BOS)
Due to the lighter schedule, there aren’t as many two-start SP this week. Ray is in line for two starts, though, and is a great pickup if you can get him since the lefty continues to bring strikeout upside. He has limited the home runs that have plagued him over the past couple of seasons and has only allowed 24 runs for a 3.57 ERA to go with a 4.72 FIP. Ray has still given up some long balls, but he has survived thanks to a 90.9% LOB rate (league average is around 70%).
Even though some regression is definitely possible, his strikeout potential (63 in 48 innings over his past eight starts) and the volume of innings he typically delivers make him definitely worth adding if he’s available..
SP Adbert Alzolay, Chicago Cubs (at SD, vs. STL)
If the matchups against the Sox and the other Sox is a little too high-risk for you to feel comfortable rolling with Robbie Ray, check out Alzolay, who gets a pair of matchups with the Padres and the Cardinals. Alzolay just beat the Padres by allowing just three hits and one run while striking out seven over five innings in his most recent start.
Overall, Alzolay is 4-4 with a 3.62 ERA and has 58 strikeouts in 54 2/3 innings this season. His 3.92 FIP shows that not much luck has been involved in his strong start, and he continues to build on what he accomplished over 21 1/3 innings throughout the shortended 2020 season, during which he posted a 2.95 ERA. He hasn’t been going particularly deep into games, so his innings and strikeouts aren’t quite as reliable as Ray’s, but Alzolay still makes for a strong pickup to consider.
Specialty pickups to consider
AVG/hits Pickup: OF Avisaíl García, Milwaukee Brewers
Counting Stats Pickup: 1B/OF Ryan Mountcastle, Baltimore Orioles
OBP/Runs Scored Pickup: SS José Devers, Miami Marlins
SB Pickup: OF Bradley Zimmer, Cleveland Indians
HR Pickup: OF Hunter Renfroe, Boston Red Sox
Turn-back-the-clock Pickup: OF AJ Pollock, Los Angeles Dodgers
C Pickup: C Ryan Jeffers, Minnesota Twins
Two-start Streamer: SP Tony Gonsolin, Los Angeles Dodgers
Beginning to Believe: SP Austin Gomber, Colorado Rockies
Saves Pickup: RP Paul Fry, Baltimore Orioles
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Z.Thompson) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.
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