This is the first full week after the MLB All-Star break, and it’s time to get serious about your fantasy baseball playoff races coming down the stretch. Whether your league scores the first series after the break as a separate week or adds it into the coming week for an extra-long scoring period, there are plenty of ways you can give your team a boost for the near future.
In the next week, 13 of the 30 MLB teams play seven times while the Colorado Rockies, Kansas City Royals and the Milwaukee Brewers each only play five contests. That’s one of many factors to consider as you make your pickup plans for this coming week. 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 listed 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 Joc Pederson, Atlanta Braves (vs. SD, at PHI )
Pederson was one of the earliest pieces on the move ahead of the upcoming MLB trade deadline, which is coming up at 4 p.m. ET on Friday, July 30. Pederson signed a one-year deal with the Cubs this past offseason, but he was traded from Chicago to Atlanta on July 15 in exchange for prospect Bryce Ball. The Braves needed to add a leadoff option to their roster after losing Ronald Acuña Jr. for the season to a knee injury. Pederson didn’t arrive in time to start Friday, but on Saturday, he started and hit leadoff against the Rays even though lefty Josh Fleming started for Tampa Bay. If Pederson is that locked in at the top spot in a potent Atlanta offense, he should have a very nice stretch run and contribute across the board.
He made an instant impact in his first Braves start with a two-out, two-run home run in the fourth off of Fleming and added another hit later in the game as well. In his previous 74 games this season, Pederson had 11 home runs and a .187 ISO along with a .309 wOBA. Over his previous 29 games before Saturday, he had a .225 ISO and .311 wOBA along with a 39% hard-hit rate and 9.1% barrel rate. Pederson is a noted righty masher and could end up facing all righties in the coming week while establishing himself as a fixture at the top of the Braves’ order.
OF Jarren Duran, Boston Red Sox (at TOR vs. NYY)
The Red Sox also added a new bat to their potent offense, but they did it by calling up a prospect rather than through trade. Duran was the No. 86 overall prospect in all of the MLB coming into the season, so he doesn’t come with the pedigree of some of the other recent call-ups, but he offers an intriguing skillset for fantasy production and will be stepping into a key role in a good offense.
Duran was originally drafted primarily for his speed, but he has made big strides at the plate over the past few seasons. After missing last season’s development in the minors, Duran won MVP honors in the Puerto Rican Winter League playoffs hitting .400 with a 1.640 OPS in the Caribbean Series. He looked great in spring training for the Red Sox, hitting .340 with three home runs, and also played well at Triple-A Worcester with a .270 average, 15 homers and 12 steals in 46 games. Duran has a great blend of power and speed and could eventually grow into a leadoff role for Boston. His anticipated debut was delayed by Thursday’s cancelation, and he sat out Friday against a lefty. He got his first MLB hit on Saturday night against Gerrit Cole and also drew a walk. Expect him to get a chance to quickly establish himself as a key contributor. If he has similar success to his minor-league numbers, he’ll bring a great power/speed weapon in the OF for the remaining months of the season.
SP Tarik Skubal, Detroit Tigers, (vs. TEX, at KC)
Skubal has a pair of enticing matchups this coming week at home against the Rangers and on the road against the Royals. The 24-year-old lefty is a great addition to any pitching staff for the upcoming week and brings a high ceiling due to his 10.66 K/9 rate over his first 18 games this season. He has gone 5-8 but has posted a decent 4.36 ERA and 5.04 FIP.
Skubal continues to have some issues with giving up home runs, but that issue has started to be marginally better lately with only six home runs allowed over his past eight starts. The strikeouts continue to be there for him as well, and he has picked up 56 punchouts over those eight starts with a 3.55 ERA, 3.80 FIP and a solid 4-1 record.
RP Ranger Suárez, Philadelphia Phillies (at NYY, vs. ATL)
The Phillies’ bullpen has been a wild ride to this point in the season, but they seem to have found a nice closing option with Suárez. The 25-year-old lefty is 4-2 in his 22 relief appearances this season with a sparkling 0.75 ERA. His 2.95 FIP and 91.9% left-on-base rate show that there may be some regression at some point, but for now, he looks locked in.
Before the All-Star break, manager Joe Girardi called on him for a seven-out save against the Red Sox, and he delivered an outstanding performance. He grabbed another save on Friday before giving up a pair of runs in the ninth on Saturday. Despite that one rough outing, he should stay in place as the Phillies' best end-of-the-game option and should be able to deliver some big saves in the next few weeks.
Specialty pickups to consider
Return from IL Pickup: 3B/OF J.D. Davis, New York Mets
Still Underowned: 1B/OF Andrew Vaughn, Chicago White Sox
C Pickup: C Max Stassi, Los Angeles Angels
High-Upside Prospect: OF Jarred Kelenic, Seattle Mariners
SB Pickup: 2B Vidal Bruján, Tampa Bay Rays
Top of the Lineup Pickup: Luis Arraez, Minnesota Twins
Power Bat Pickup: 1B/OF Garrett Cooper, Miami Marlins
Power Bat Pickup II: 1B/OF Alex Kirilloff, Minnesota Twins
Counting Stats Pickup: OF Robbie Grossman, Detroit Tigers
Two-start Streamer: Shane McClanahan, Tampa Bay Rays
Two-start Streamer potential: Kyle Muller, Atlanta Braves
Pitching Prospect to Stash: Josiah Gray, Los Angeles Dodgers
SP Pickup: Zach Thompson, Miami Marlins
Saves Pickup: RP Paul Sewald, Seattle Mariners
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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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