Welcome back to another edition of Deep League Risers and Fallers, Volume XVII.
With the All-Star break in the rearview mirror, we’re now entering the late innings of the fantasy baseball regular season, as the month of August will determine the fate of many teams fighting to make the playoffs. Whether your team is sitting near the top of the standings or clawing their way to remain in playoff contention, below are a handful of player recommendations that could help give your team a boost for the stretch run.
Note: There are many different league shapes and sizes. We’ll primarily be discussing players that were roughly ranked outside the Top 200 during draft season in March and/or are currently rostered in less than 50% of Yahoo! leagues at the time (at least for the players we are bullish on.)
Some of my previous recommendations over the past couple of months:
SP Tanner Bibee CLE (69% Rostered)
SP Michael Wacha SD OAK (78% Rostered)
SP Mitch Keller PIT (86% Rostered)
OF Esteury Ruiz OAK (76% Rostered)
SS Matt McLain CIN (82% Rostered)
SS/3B Elly De La Cruz CIN (95% Rostered)
SP Reid Detmers LAA (57% Rostered)
Perhaps the hottest hitter in baseball, Red Sox first baseman Triston Casas homered again Wednesday night – his sixth homer in his past 11 games. The 23-year-old slugger appears to finally be coming into his own, after an up-and-down start to his young career over the past year. Casas continues to hit just sixth in the lineup for the Red Sox, but he’s deserved a shot to move up in the order with his recent power surge – which should boost his fantasy value even more. Casas deserves to be rostered in all leagues at this point and has league-winning potential if he keeps this up. He’s scored at least one run in 12 of his past 14 games while driving in at least one run in seven of his past 11 games. Add him wherever you can.
Triston Casas – Boston Red Sox (15)
— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) July 27, 2023
I’m cheating because I’ve recommended Kirilloff in this space before, but I’m going to keep banging the drum until he’s rostered in the proper amount of leagues. Although he sat on Wednesday with what was deemed to be a minor shoulder injury, the 25-year-old first baseman has been a fixture in the coveted third spot in the Twins lineup over the past several weeks. And he has delivered, hitting .288 with a .932 OPS in July. The former highly-touted prospect was named AL Player of the Week last week and has homered four times this month while driving in a healthy 18 runs. He deserves consideration in the majority of fantasy leagues.
Continuing with the trend of highly-regarded first basinal prospects, the first overall draft pick from the 2020 MLB Draft has had a…how do we put this nicely….sluggish start to his MLB career after posting a dreadful .604 OPS as a rookie. However, he’s shown some modest signs of life in July, entering Wednesday night with a .286 AVG and .832 this month. The pedigree far outweighs the production at this point and Torkelson is by no means a must-add (I would much prefer the two names above for instance), but he’s worth keeping an eye on if he starts to figure out major-league pitching.
In what has been a disappointing season for the left-hander, Sandoval has rattled off back-to-back impressive outings against the Yankees and Padres over his past two starts. With a favorable matchup on deck on Thursday against DET (stream him where you can), Sandoval has a chance to continue to build some momentum over the second half of the season. While he’ll never excel in the WHIP department and his 2.91 ERA in 2022 was a fluke, the 26-year-old southpaw is still a fantasy-relevant pitcher worth using in the right matchups.
Patrick Sandoval, K'ing the Side. pic.twitter.com/Fn9u3O3Y20
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 19, 2023
One of the centerpieces in the blockbuster trade that sent Max Scherzer and Trea Turner to the Dodgers in 2021, Ruiz hasn’t delivered on his prospect hype during his first couple of seasons. However, he’s hitting .298 with an .818 OPS in July which is nothing to sneeze at given the catcher landscape in fantasy baseball. Counting stats will be hard to come by from a weak offense, but Ruiz could prove to be a solid source of batting average from a weak position.
As the Vice President of the Byron Buxton fan club, this one stings. I have been pro-Buxton year after year in the fantasy realm since his early career, constantly clinging to hope that things would magically all come together, and he would finally stay healthy. And shockingly, in 2023, he has finally stayed healthy – having already played in 81 games with two months left in the season. And yet, this time around, it’s the performance – and not the durability – that has been the issue. Recently dropped down in the Twins lineup, Buxton is hitting just .195 on the season with a .702 OPS. The 17 home runs and nine stolen bases are nice, but expectations were much higher for the 29-year-old in what was supposed to be an MVP-type season.
One of the more obvious sell-high candidates early in the season, Gray’s performance since his sparkling April has been mediocre at best.
April: 0.77 ERA, 1.06 WHIP
May: 3.91 ERA, 1.42 WHIP
June: 3.95 ERA, 1.46 WHIP
July: 4.94 ERA, 1.31 WHIP
The 33-year-old right-hander is a serviceable innings-eater in fantasy leagues, but those expecting a repeat of his early-season production are likely to be disappointed. Given that his season numbers still appear solid (3.15 ERA), I would trade him for something of comparable value if I could.
Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Redler (@reldernitsuj on Twitter)