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A little extra flavor never hurts. Especially when puttin’ together a fantasy squad.
When I’m in the kitchen I make moves. If something aint selling, I take it off the menu. If a staff member isn’t doing their job, they’re gone. That’s how I run my fantasy teams.
Each week I will hit you with the players moving up the rankings that you NEED to know about. I don’t care if it is the No. 8 hitter on the Cubs or the No. 4 starter for the Astros. If they are producing, you’re gonna know about it.
Now that the sample sizes are starting to grow, we can start to see trends, whether positive or negative. However, in this column we are only talkin’ about the guys on the rise due to recent production or increased playing time. No one his perfect, so I might swing-and-miss from time to time, but that is the beauty of fantasy sports. Let’s get to it shall we?
Chris Coghlan, OF (CHC)--The All-Star break couldn’t have come at a worse time for Coghlan, who had been tearing the cover off the ball in the month of July. Through 46 at-bats this month, this former Rookie of the Year winner is slashing .435/.509/.804 with three home runs, 12 RBI, 14 runs scored and two stolen bases. Although the Cubs have had a crowded outfield up to this point, his production has ensured him a spot in the everyday lineup, whether in left field or right field. To add to his recent success, he is now holding a career-high 29.8 AB/HR which is a direct result from a career-best 0.73 ground ball-to-fly ball ratio. If he can manage to keep that rate at that level while playing in a hitter-friendly park for half of his games, his current pace could have him finishing with a line like we saw in his breakout campaign back in 2009. The only downfall right now is that his RBI production is going to be limited slightly being used in the leadoff position on most days, but that is just being picky. For now, he is a solid addition to any team looking for depth in a depleted outfield.
Nick Swisher, 1B (CLE)--It was a very rough first half of the season for Swisher, but he managed to have a nice July up to his point, going 13-for-45 (.289 BA) with three home runs, 11 RBI and six runs scored over his last 12 games. To add to his recent increase in production, Swisher has now logged four multi-hit games in that stretch, after his last two-hit performance coming back on May 20. Considering he has hit 20 or more home runs in each of his last nine seasons, Swisher could still make this his 10th, if he is able to stay healthy, since his ground ball-to-fly ball ratio remains right around his career average (0.61) despite a career-worst 34.9 AB/HR. While I think that his batting average has dropped far too low to bounce back, his power categories are going to rebound, so if you can support his poor average with a solid surrounding cast his power bat could be just the ticket for a second half surge.
Danny Santana SS, OF (MIN)--After playing seven innings at shortstop in his latest rehab outing on Wednesday, Santana appears to be ready to return to the everyday starting lineup for the Twins. Despite his struggles at the plate in his two rehab outings (0-7 w/ 2 K), the fact he has been able to play both center field and shortstop for seven innings is a good sign his bone bruise has fully heeled. Through 36 games with the Twins in his rookie season, Santana is slashing .328/.366/.448 with two home runs, 16 RBI, 19 runs and six stolen bases, which makes him a solid low-end five-tool contributor if he is able to pickup where he left off. Surprisingly, he is still available in more than 60 percent of leagues throughout the major providers (ESPN, Yahoo!, CBS), but his ownership is certainly going to increase like crazy once the Twins release when they are going to activate him. I have stressed all season long to stay ahead of the curve. This is one of those situations.
Kevin Kiermaier, OF (TB)--For a lack of a better word, the Rays offense has been terrible this season, ranking near the bottom of almost every offensive category. So when they get production from a new player, it sticks out like a sore thumb. Kiermaier has been on a tear of late, going 9-for-18 with one home run, seven RBI and four runs scored over his last five games, which has made him one of the top additions in fantasy heading into the second half. Since this is his rookie season, it is difficult to forecast what the rest of the year is going to bring, but slashing .310/.349/.576 with eight home runs and 24 RBI through 158 at-bats is certainly worthy of an investment. To add to his solid start to his career, Kiermaier has struck out only 32 times (20.3 percent K Rate), but needs to find a way to be more patient at the plate (9 BB) if he wants to take the next step in his progression. Whether that happens or not, as long as he continues to make good contact he is going to be a solid outfield addition in all but the shallowest of leagues moving forward.
Travis d’Arnaud, C (NYM)--Once known as the top catching prospect in all of baseball, d’Arnaud’s production has yet to catch up with his highly touted name. However, since returning to the big leagues, d’Arnaud has started to come out of his shell showing why he was so highly regarded in the minors. Since his promotion on June 24, the Mets catcher has improved his production significantly, moving from a .182 average all the way up to a .263 average while smacking three home runs and 10 RBI along the way. He is far form being a finished product, but his recent confidence at the plate has resulted in increased ownership throughout the major providers, although still un-owned in more than 90 percent of leagues. His first few games out of the break are going to be crucial to his fantasy value, because if he keeps swinging a hot bat he isn’t going to be on the waiver wire for long.
Trevor Bauer, SP (CLE)--Bauer has been one of the most talked about players in waiver wire articles this season, both good and bad, but it appears he has finally come into a zone and is here to stay. Over his last two outings, Bauer has allowed only two runs while pitching into the seventh inning, owning a 16:5 K:BB rate, which was a great way to end the first half. The biggest issue he has faced up to this point has been with his control, walking 27 batter through 72.2 innings, although his 70 strikeouts prove he is arsenal can still be considered to be elite. What is certainly working in his favor is the fact that the Indians starting rotation has had some serious issues this season, so there is little chance he will find himself on the outside looking in if he was to hit a rut at any point in the second half. With that said, his recent production and high pedigree make him a solid add for those in deep leagues, just expect to take a hit in the WHIP category if he doesn’t put it all together.
Kevin Gausman, SP (BAL)--After being moved up and down from the big leagues to the minors throughout the first half of the season, the Orioles have finally committed to Gausman in the team’s starting rotation. When in the big leagues he has had mixed results, but when a player doesn’t know where he s going to be on any given day, it is really hard to get into a groove. Now that he knows he is here for the stretch run, we should see the pitcher that has allowed only two runs over his last two starts, rather than the player that coughed up five runs on two occasions earlier in the year. Through his seven starts in 2014, Gausman owns a 4-2 record with a 3.39 ERA and 1.25 WHIP while maintaining a 26:13 K:BB rate, so his production has been respectable regardless of the team’s indecisions in the first half. There was some question that he would be on an inning cap once in the big leagues, but that notion has been put to rest after the Orioles released there will be no restrictions the rest of the way. So those looking for immediate help in both the wins and ERA category, give Gausman a look because if he pitches like he did to end the first half he isn’t going to be on the waiver wire for long.
Jacob deGrom, SP (NYM)--Like the rest of the pitchers featured in this week’s Waiver Flavor, this isn’t the first time deGrom has made it onto the short list. Over his last two starts, deGrom has been dominant, allowing only one earned run over 14 innings while owning a 19:2 K:BB rate. His recent increase in strikeouts comes at somewhat of a surprise, considering half of his starts have resulted in four strikeouts or less. However, he now owns a 72:28 K:BB rate over 73.2 innings, so there is certainly a lot to like of late, even if that ratio was to take a hit in the second half. He is now sitting 3-5 with a 3.18 ERA and 1.33 WHIP, but will need to work on his 0.81 ground ball-to-fly ball rate if he wants to have long term success in the big leagues. Whether or not he makes the changes needed to force more ground balls or not, if he continues to strikeout batters at his current rate, he can at least be an aid in that category without hurting too much elsewhere.
Chris Young, SP (SEA)--Young continues to defy the odds, owning a 0.33 ground ball-to-fly ball rate, but sitting on a 3.15 ERA and 1.10 WHIP through 111.1 innings (18 starts). It is truly remarkable that he has been able to stay in the Mariners starting rotation despite having allowed 16 home runs, but over his last 10 starts he has allowed three runs or less in nine of those starts, which can directly be attributed to the fact he doesn’t allow a lot of base runners (only 38 BB on the season). His home ballpark certainly helps keep his high fly ball rate in check and will continue to as long as he can keep his control on track and not have a lot of base runners aboard when the ball does leave the yard. Adding him is like playing with fire, but the good has certainly outweighed the bad up to this point as he makes for a solid help in all but the strikeout category.