The All-Star break is just a week away with most teams looking at a four-day break starting next Sunday, July 11. Before we hit the ceremonial halfway point of the season, though, there is still another week of fantasy baseball, which can help your team gain momentum for a strong finish. It’s a fairly standard week for most teams from a schedule perspective, with every team playing either six or seven games. There’s also no Coors Field effect in play since the Colorado Rockies are on the road all week. Without any outliers from a number of games or a park environment perspective, the playing field is relatively level for most teams this week, so you can target pickups more based on your own fantasy team’s need than specific team situations.
To help you find the right additions to give your season-long fantasy baseball team a boost, 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/OF Andrew Vaughn, Chicago White Sox (at MIN, at BAL)
Vaughn is actually making his second appearance in my recommended pickups, since the 23-year-old slugger is starting to heat up again and is still available in over 75% of Yahoo! season-long fantasy leagues. Coming into the season, Vaughn was expected to be the biggest impact rookie hitter for the White Sox, but he started slowly compared to the red-hot Yermin Mercedes. As Mercedes has cooled off, though, and actually been sent back to the minors this week, Vaughn has remained consistent and seems to be locked into a key lineup spot for one of the best offenses in the big leagues. In his 67 games, he has a .190 ISO and .324 wOBA with eight home runs and 22 RBI. He has an impressive 49.7% hard-hit rate and a very solid 11.0% barrel rate, per Statcast, showing he has been making good contact and his power production hasn’t been flukey.
Over his past five games, Vaughn has gone 9-for-17 with a pair of home runs, so he’s heating up coming into a week where he gets very favorable matchups. He’ll be on the road, but will get a very easy slate of opposing SP with the exception of a matchup with José Berrios in Minnesota. In fact, if Vaughn has already been grabbed in your league, you could take a look at his teammate Gavin Sheets, who is a recent callup with a similar power profile and the same favorable matchups.
OF Akil Baddoo, Detroit Tigers (at TEX, at MIN)
Baddoo has been a fun story to watch all season and he’s definitely worthy of a roster spot in most mixed leagues at this point. The Rule 5 draftee has been one of the highlights of the Tigers’ season, making the team a fun one to watch ever since earning his way into a full-time roster spot with a scintillating spring training. He has built on that throughout the season and has even been moved to the leadoff spot for Detroit now, making him a solid source of speed and counting stats.
The 22-year-old speedster has shown some power with five home runs to go with his 12 stolen bases and has a very solid .203 ISO to go with his .367 wOBA. His hard-hit rate isn’t as high as Vaughn’s, but he brings stolen base potential and has swiped five bases over his past 11 games and scored six runs over that stretch while hitting .361. His BABIP of .391 on the season is probably unsustainable, but until he cools off, he makes a great option to bring some speed and volume production as the Tigers hit the road to face the Rangers and Twins before the break.
Especially for his first start of the week against the struggling Diamondbacks, Gray makes a great addition. He’s had a strong bounce-back season overall and would be much more highly owned if it wasn’t for a trip to the injured list a few weeks ago. On the year, he is 5-6 in 14 starts with a 3.89 ERA, 4.36 FIP and 7.91 K/9 rate. He has reduced his home-run rate and his hard-hit rate allowed significantly and has seen his results improve as a result of much more movement and bite on his slider.
Gray has allowed just two runs on seven hits over 11 innings since coming off the injured list with strong starts at Milwaukee and at home against Pittsburgh. He also has 15 strikeouts in those 11 innings, and he seems to have rediscovered his early-season form. Before landing on the IL, he was scuffling a bit but that may have been as a result of the flexor strain that ultimately sidelined him. Gray could be on the trade market if he pitches well coming up to the Trade Deadline, and getting out of Coors Field to a team with a better offense could make him a solid addition for the rest of the season.
SP Kolby Allard, Texas Rangers (vs. DET, vs. OAK)
Another two-start pitcher this week who is widely available and can give your team boost is Allard, who has gone 2-4 in his 16 games this season with a 3.46 ERA and 3.98 FIP. His strikeout numbers have been very good with an 8.48 K/9 rate, and he has been eating innings for the Rangers, going at exactly six innings in three straight starts.
He had a stint in the bullpen in May, but in June he made five starts and posted a 3.54 ERA and 3.40 FIP while picking up 22 strikeouts in 28 innings. He hasn’t been getting great run support and has gone just 1-3 over those starts, but he does get a very good matchup against the Tigers to start the week before finishing with another matchup with the A’s, who he just faced in back-to-back starts with solid results. He doesn’t have as much long-term upside as Gray, and his stuff isn’t especially overwhelming; however, if you need a SP to give you a couple of strong outings before the break, Allard is a solid pickup candidate in the short term.
Specialty pickups to consider
Counting Stats Pickup: 2B/OF Kiké Hernández, Boston Red Sox
Leadoff Bat Pickup: 2B/3B/SS Luis Urías, Milwaukee Brewers
HR Pickup: 1B Bobby Bradley, Cleveland Indians
Hot Bat Pickup: 1B/2B/3B/OF Jace Peterson, Milwaukee Brewers
SB Pickup: SS/OF Myles Straw, Houston Astros
Good Bat in a Bad Lineup Pickup: OF Jake Fraley, Seattle Mariners
Good Bat in a Bad Lineup Pickup II: 2B/SS/OF Josh Rojas, Arizona Diamondbacks
C Pickup: C Tyler Stephenson, Cincinnati Reds
Two-start Streamer: SP Jameson Taillon, New York Yankees
Saves Pickup: RP Heath Hembree, Cincinnati Reds
Prospect to Stash Pickup: OF Jarren Duran, Boston Red Sox
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