Let's make sure those lineups are set for the first weekend back from the break. If you play in a Roto league, now's the time to identify your shortcomings and figure how to fix them. If you're in a H2H league, your goal is to make sure you get to the playoffs if you aren't on your way. Once you get there, well, anything can happen.
In today's newsletter, we're going to do things a little different from your typical Friday newsletter. I still have some streamer and waiver-wire pitcher targets, but it's a bit tougher to come up with that list with a few teams holding out their probable pitcher announcements. Plus, we just gave you awho are widely available, and there's going to be a lot of overlap in the names there -- if you're looking for upside, those names are who you should be looking at.
So, instead, I have a mini-lookahead at the trade deadline for you, as well as a smattering of news you need to know about heading into the weekend. Scott White and Frank Stampfl also have more Week 16 and second-half preview content for you in this morning's FBT podcast, so make sure you check that out before setting your lineup.
Let's get the second half off on the right foot.
Waiver wire starting pitchers to watch
These players are listed roughly in order of how interested I am in adding them. They're also (mostly) viable streamers this weekend:
Christopher Sanchez vs. Padres (Friday) – I've been pretty interested in Sanchez for a while, and I wrote him up as a sleeper for the second-half earlier this week. Here's part of what I had to say: "[Control] that hasn't been an issue so far this season, with just four walks in 25.1 innings. He's a ground-ball pitcher who doesn't get a ton of strikeouts, but if he can keep the walks down while striking out batters at around an average pace as he has so far, he could be pretty useful. The leap his changeup has seemingly made – to a 42% whiff rate and .129 expected wOBA allowed so far – certainly helps."
Michael Kopech at Braves (Friday) – The White Sox placed Kopech on the IL before the break to give him a rest and help manage his workload, though the fact that he struggled mightily with his control in three starts before that was probably the precipitating factor. He did have a stretch of five starts just before then with 44 strikeouts and a 1.72 ERA over 31.1 innings of work, which coincided with a jump in his fastball velocity – and his struggles mostly coincided with the velocity dipping back down about 1 mph. I'm not really a believer in Kopech, given his limited repertoire, but I can't deny there's upside. Maybe the time off helped him rediscover the fastball.
Fantasy Baseball Today Newsletter
Your Cheat Code To Fantasy Baseball
You're destined to gain an edge over your friends with advice from the award-winning FBT crew.
Thanks for signing up!
Keep an eye on your inbox.
There was an error processing your subscription.
Kyle Hendricks vs. Red Sox (Friday) – When he was at his best, Hendricks was usually right around an average strikeout pitcher, maybe a little bit below, in addition to being one of the best control pitchers and elite at suppressing damage on contact, and the strikeout rate is the one thing that hasn't bounced back so far – his 14.9% rate is by far the lowest of his career. However, the elite control is back, and his .334 expected wOBA on contact is back to being an elite mark, as well. Which is to say, I don't expect Hendricks to rediscover the form that made him a consistent Fantasy standout, but he's back to being useful, at least. I'm not sure I'd start him against this matchup, but he should be worth starting moving forward.
Kenta Maeda at Athletics (Friday) – Speaking of second-half sleeper picks, Maeda was on Frank's list. He had 21 strikeouts to five walks in 17 innings over three starts since coming off the IL, and looks like he may have rediscovered something interesting after injuries derailed his career.
Seth Lugo at Phillies (Sunday) – Lugo struggled a bit before going on the IL in May, but he's been pretty consistently solid outside of that, including with 2.05 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 22 innings in four starts since coming back. Lugo isn't a star, but he's gone at least six innings in seven of 11 starts (not counting the one he left with an injury), and he probably deserves more credit than he's been getting.
Kyle Bradish vs. Marlins (Sunday) – My policy with Bradish has been pretty consistent: I'm starting him at home. I don't really buy his recent strong run, but his 2.81 ERA at Camden Yards seems moderately sustainable, especially against a pretty good matchup here.
Trade deadline preview: Three big questions
Which teams blow it up?
We've already heard that the Cardinals are planning to make some changes, though I don't know if that will count as "blowing it up." They've had a glut in the outfield all season, and it hasn't settled naturally yet, so I would expect at least one of Dylan Carlson or Tyler O'Neill to get moved, with Lars Nootbaar possibly on the block if they want to take a bigger swing.
Otherwise, teams like the Nationals, Royals, and Athletics seem like pretty safe bets to be sellers. Lane Thomas in particular feels like an obvious trade candidate, and he's certainly benefited from batting leadoff primarily for the Nationals, something he wouldn't necessarily be in line to do with a more competitive team. He feels like this year's Brandon Drury, and I had him as a second-half bust in yesterday's newsletter.
Otherwise, I'd expect to see closers like Hunter Harvey, Scott Barlow and Trevor May to be moved, almost certainly to non-closer roles. Those teams aren't good enough to try to get ahead of any potential moves, but I would keep an eye on names like Carlos Hernandez (Royals) or Shintaro Fujinami (A's) as potential late-inning options.
The other team to watch is the White Sox. They aren't entirely out of it, but they need to go on a run or else we'll almost certainly see Lance Lynn and Lucas Giolito moved at the deadline, and Yasmani Grandal, Kendall Graveman, Reynaldo Lopez and Keynan Middleton would all be trade candidates as well.
Do the Rockies make any trades?
The Rockies are about as hopeless as the Nationals, Royals, and A's, but they deserve a special shout out because of the Coors Field of it all. The Rockies are never as forward-looking as the baseball intelligentsia thinks they should be, but C.J. Cron and Jurickson Profar both seem like obvious trade candidates if they show anything over the next few weeks, seeing as they are expiring contracts.
I would also keep an eye on Ryan McMahon and Elias Diaz as possible candidates to be moved. McMahon has taken a nice step forward this season as a power hitter, and while it wouldn't be ideal for him to leave Coors, I do think he's shown enough this season to think he could still be useful outside of Coors. I do not feel the same about Diaz. McMahon is under contract until 2027, while Diaz has one year left on his deal, so neither is guaranteed to be moved, but it could impact both of their values if they were.
Which prospects get an opportunity after trades?
Frank and Chris Welsh talked on Monday's episode of the FBT podcast about prospects who could make an impact in the second half of the season, and a couple of them are going to get a chance starting this weekend with the A's calling Tyler Soderstrom and Zack Gelof this weekend. They have pretty similar weaknesses (batting average), and very different strengths, depending on where you play Fantasy; Soderstrom is not catcher eligible at CBS, but he is at Yahoo, which makes him a lot more interesting there. In CBS leagues, Gelof's speed (30 steals in 168 games between Double-A and Triple-A) gives him the edge, since his in-game power production hasn't been far off Soderstrom's. But where Soderstrom is C-eligible, he's obviously the better target.
Beyond those two, here are some of the other prospects we could see in the second half:
- Grayson Rodriguez, SP, Orioles
- Oswald Peraza, SS, Yankees
- Christian Encarnacion-Strand, 1B, Reds
- Colt Keith, 3B, Tigers
- Ronny Mauricio, SS, Mets
- Ben Brown, SP, Cubs
- Endy Rodriguez, C, Pirates
- Masyn Winn, SS, Cardinals
- Robert Gasser, SP, Brewers
- Justyn-Henry Malloy, OF, Tigers
Injuries, news & notes
Shane McClanahan is listed as the probable starter for the Rays on Saturday, and he has a nice soft landing against the Royals. I'm a little wary seeing as he left both of his last two starts with back tightness, but I'm probably starting him this weekend.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman said Thursday that there's no timetable for Aaron Judge to return from the IL. Judge did some light hitting last week, but he'll have to show he can run the bases without pain and probably play in a rehab assignment before he's back. I'd expect something around early August, but that's honestly just a guess, and not a particularly educated one.
Yordan Alvarez and Jose Altuve will start rehab assignments at Triple-A this weekend. They've both missed some time due to oblique injuries, but could be back some time next week. I probably wouldn't plan on having them in my lineup, but they're close.
Max Fried will make his next rehab start at High-A Saturday. He recorded four outs in his first rehab outing last Sunday, and is probably on track for an early-August return.
Cristian Javier will rejoin the Astros rotation and start Sunday against the Angels. He got pushed back before the break after putting up a 9.14 ERA over his last five starts. I'm probably starting him, but there's certainly some risk there.
Yandy Diaz was placed on the paternity list and, as a result, Jonathan Aranda was recalled. Diaz will miss at least Friday's game, but should be back shortly, which should lead to a trip back to Triple-A for Aranda, unfortunately.
Jose Urquidy will begin a rehab assignment at Triple-A Friday as well. Urquidy struggled before the injury and hasn't been a difference maker the past few seasons, but could still be useful if he gets back to last year's level of production.
Roansy Contreras was transferred to the Florida Complex League to re-find his form after a disappointing first half where he posted a 6.59 ERA and 1.57 WHIP. There are still some interesting skills here, but he's looked completely lost and will need to prove himself before we give him another look.