Congratulations, fantasy managers. We’ve made it to the All-Star break! If you’re reading this at this point of the season, that means your team is still in contention for a championship, and you haven’t given up and switched over to football content at our sister site QBList.com. You’ve likely made it this far by making savvy transactions, including some great buys from off of the waiver wire. Well done, friend! Hopefully this column has at least provided a modicum of helpful information here and there throughout the course of the season. I know the exercise of writing it every week has been a good practice for me (even if a handful of my teams have already bitten the dust). The remaining contending teams that I do have will remain under keen scrutiny as I continue to look for ways to improve my rosters, like any good fantasy manager would be.
Of course Sunday will be the last games of the first half of the year, with the All-Star break taking Monday through Thursday and regular season action resuming on Friday. All 30 MLB teams have three games scheduled from Friday to Sunday of the coming week, so we don’t have to worry about any schedule discrepancies.
Investment Rating System
Colton Cowser ($$$): For the second consecutive week, the Orioles have elevated a highly-touted prospect to the major league roster. Last week it was middle infielder Jordan Westburg and this week corner outfielder Colton Cowser joins the mix.
Jo Adell ($$$): Last time I wrote up Adell, he was sent back to the minors before the column even published. But with Trout on the injured list for the foreseeable future, Adell could potentially get extended run and yet another chance to prove himself MLB-ready. As I said a few weeks ago — I’m ready to be hurt again.
Oscar Colás ($$): Recalled from the minors this week, Colás could be a difference-maker in the second half if he shows improvement from his earlier major league action. Touted in the preseason for an above-average bat, he struggled in his first taste of the major leagues with just a .169 xAVG over his first 29 games. If Colás begins to show progress in the batter’s box, his 60-grade raw power makes him someone to watch.
Franchy Cordero ($): Last time he was called up to the major leagues, I completely overlooked him. But at this point, any left-handed power bat that is going to get semi-consistent at-bats in the Yankees’ lineup is worth considering (especially with the Yankees traveling to Coors Field next weekend).
Matt Vierling ($): Playing every day in the Detroit outfield, Vierling is an interesting option in deeper leagues. A fifth outfielder type, Vierling provides light power and middling speed numbers, and should help to prop up batting average as a replacement-level guy.
Jonathan Aranda ($$$): With a 60-grade hit tool and a .342 batting average at Triple-A to back it up, Aranda finally earned a call up to the Rays’ major league roster on Saturday. Aranda flashed solid power throughout his minor-league career, including 16 home runs in 71 games this season, but he profiles more as a gap-to-gap hitter. With Taylor Walls and Josh Lowe both falling off from a production standpoint recently, Aranda should have ample opportunity to prove himself.
Mike Ford ($$): The Mariners have seemingly found something in the former journeyman Mike Ford (no relation). Ford is slugging .682 with an absurd 30.8% HR/FB ratio. Of course, the success looks unsustainable, but fantasy managers should ride the wave as long as they can.
Jordan Diaz ($): Diaz is making hard contact at a 35.1% clip, with five home runs in less than 100 plate appearances this season. The raw power is there and he should still be basically free in most leagues.
Yu Chang ($): A deep-league fill-in in the middle infield, Chang should receive relatively regular playing time as nobody else pops off the page at shortstop for the Red Sox.
Matthew Batten ($): Called up by the Padres, Batten is a speed-only type of infielder who could snipe a couple of stolen bases in a short week.
Gabriel Moreno ($): The second half of the season should be enough of a sample size for the Diamondbacks to figure out that they should be playing the guy whom they gave up a star player to acquire this past offseason. Moreno is the superior offensive catcher in Arizona, but that hasn’t meant much as Carson Kelly has been the primary catcher since his return from injury. Moreno at this point is a speculative add for increased playing time in the second half, nothing more.
Ryan Jeffers ($): Jeffers has outplayed his counterpart Christian Vázquez in nearly every aspect of the game, and yet is still considered the backup on the roster. The Twins should make a correction to playing time coming out of the All-Star break.
Eury Pérez ($$$$): If Pérez’s fantasy manager in your league panic-dropped the rookie after one poor start and a demotion to Triple-A, immediately move him to the top of your waiver queue. Pérez was optioned to Double-A Pensacola for what Marlins officials are calling “rest,” but “not a complete shutdown.” Pérez has proven that he is an elite arm and should be bid on as such, even if he does miss some time for load management reasons.
Tarik Skubal ($$$$): Skubal flashed some amazing stuff last season, and looked really good in his abbreviated return earlier this week. A year ago, Skubal pitched through eight of his 21 starts without allowing an earned run. With the Tigers beginning to fall out of the race for the AL Central, they could be sellers at the deadline and Skubal could be a tempting target for a contending team. If he goes to a good ballclub, he immediately becomes even more appealing.
Kolby Allard ($$$): The latest Atlanta pitching reclamation project, Allard is thriving in the Braves’ starting rotation. Though he’s been limited to around 75 pitches in each of his first two starts, Allard has shown outstanding potential, including an eight-strikeout performance against the Twins. With an outstanding 32.6% CSW and a 14.6% swinging strike rate, Allard has the makings of a successful starter. If the Braves give him a longer leash in the second half, he’s a great target for wins and ratios.
Alek Manoah ($$): Manoah looked good in his return to the majors, albeit against a mostly punchless Tigers lineup. He generated seven whiffs on his four-seam fastball, more than he had in his previous three major league starts combined. The approach appears largely unchanged, so it’s unclear whether the results will be much better or not. If you haven’t already, read Nick’s take on Manoah in the June 7th SP Roundup before adding him.
Touki Toussaint ($): Once a highly-touted Braves pitching prospect — there have been so many in the past five years it’s insane — Toussaint is now pitching on the south side of Chicago. Toussaint has been good at limiting hard contact, but that’s about it. If he gets another turn in the rotation after the All-Star break, he’ll likely square off against the Mets, who’ve been uninspiring so far.
Aroldis Chapman ($$$): Since being traded to Texas, Chapman has slotted in as the Rangers’ setup man, pitching the eighth inning in each of his last two apperances. Chapman’s velocity is back up to 99 this season and his strikeout rate has jumped back up to 43.2% as well. If he’s available, scoop him. He’ll be the Rangers’ closer before too long.
Lucas Sims ($): Finally back from injury, Sims earned his first save of the season this past week (after Alexis Díaz had pitched the previous two games). Sims is the setup man in Cincinnati, but is first in line for the ninth if Díaz goes down with an injury or is unavailable due to fatigue.
Dauri Moreta ($): After one of the most promising starts in the majors, the Pirates are slowly falling out of the playoff race, sitting 8.5 games back of the division lead entering the Saturday slate. Pittsburgh closer David Bednar would make a lot of sense for contending teams to target in a trade at the deadline, and if he’s dealt, Moreta could fill in as the closer for the rest of the season. With a 32.9% CSW, a 14.5% swinging strike rate and a deceptive delivery, Moreta is worth a single-digit speculative add in deep leagues.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)