With the Cubs pulling off the stealth-like move to acquire Jose Quintana from the White Sox on Thursday, the bar is going higher between now and July 31, as playoff contenders go all-in (we see you, Astros, Dodgers and Yankees) to fill holes.
Anibal Sanchez, P, Tigers: No, Detroit did not acquire a pitcher with the same name of the shell-shocked former staple of their rotation who was banished to the minors earlier in the season. This is the same Sanchez, only he has come back looking like a savvy hurler who still has some magic left in his right arm. Sanchez has yet to get beyond the sixth inning in any of his five starts since returning to the Majors on June 19, yet he’s worked his ERA from 9.00 to 5.89 while also earning his first win of the season last Thursday. His ownership status has more than doubled, climbing from ten percent to its current 25 percent in CBSSports.com leagues, with much of it due to his improved strikeout rate. Sanchez is fanning 8.43 per nine innings, as he has relied less on his fastball and focused on using a combination of a cutter and changeup, the latter of which Sanchez now uses more than a fifth of the time. He’s worth the gamble and should be considered in deeper formats by owners in need of strikeouts.
Rafael Devers, 3B, Red Sox: With Boston getting a composite slash line of .235/.287/.338 from its hot corner men, you know they’re upgrading. Whether it’s by trade or recalling Devers is the question on the minds of most BoSox loyalists. If they choose the latter, it will usher in the potential Devers era sooner than expected, but the 20-year-old has earned the chance to be brought up, swatting 18 homers and batting .300/.369/575 in Double-A. Fantasy owners are starting to see the clouds form over the prospect of Devers’ arrival, as he now owned in nearly half of CBSSports.com leagues. If Devers is called up to Triple-A in the next 7-10 days, it’s a strong sign the Red Sox will look to throw the 12th overall prospect in the midst of what will be a hot AL East race between them and the Yankees.
Max Kepler, OF, Twins: Perhaps the one player who hated the arrival of the All-Star break, Kepler has been sizzling in July, swinging it to the tune of .467 with seven of his 14 hits of the extra base variety. He has raised his batting average 23 points since June 30, going from .243 to .266, with part of his hot streak courtesy of his ability to hit more line drives and fly balls to go along with a slight reduction in strikeouts. Kepler is owned in 39 percent of CBSSports.com leagues and is on pace to flirt with 20 homers and 10-12 stolen bases, so while he’s not going to carry a Fantasy team across the finish line, Kepler can emerge as the type of fifth outfielder who quietly adds to the success.
Brad Miller, 2B, Rays: He’s not going to approach last season’s total of 30 homers, but Miller is going to do a good job of being Miller. That is, he’s going to be damn streaky while having value to his Fantasy owners, and he’s quickly proven that by going 4-for-9 with a homer and three runs batted in since returning from the disabled list last week. Don’t look at his .209 batting average, as Miller is getting on base at a .355 clip this season and still swipes the occasional base. Currently owned in 35 percent of CBSSports.com leagues, Miller’s power potential and middle infield residence will make him worth owning as he continues to settle back into the Tampa Bay lineup. Now is a good time to grab Miller before his current run goes from hot to blistering.
Mike Minor, P, Royals: More of an AL-only or very deep league option, Minor has been an unsung reason behind KC staying in the thick of the wide-open AL Central chase. The middle inning stopper has allowed just two runs in his last ten outings while giving up just nine hits and three walks in that span. Minor is owned in 11 percent of CBSSports.com leagues and should be strongly considered in leagues in which middle relievers have more value. He has nine holds, making him a good option in leagues that use the category.
Paul DeJong, 2B, Cardinals: He’s the cool kid in the classroom, at least for right now. DeJong has smoked the dickens out the ball since his debut, batting .313/.331/.571 with a .909 OPS. The power is legit and I wouldn’t be surprised if he puts up a 30-homer season or two down the road. I’d also venture DeJong’s ownership in CBSSports.com leagues is going to continue its current rocket ride (14 percent to 44 percent in the last week) as it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he puts 20 over the fence by season’s end. My concern lies within the lack of plate discipline DeJong has displayed, as he’s walked just 5.9 percent of the time while fanning at a 28.6 percent clip. Something’s going to give at some point and I wouldn’t be shocked if DeJong hits Trevor Story territory (a run of whiffs that makes you cover the eyes of the less innocent) at some point. Still, he’s worth the add and while he should have a solid second half, just know there’s going to a brutal run of regression. You’ve been warned.
Luke Voit, 1B, Cardinals: He’s flown under the radar, as the play of DeJong and Tommy Pham have helped reignite a St. Louis offense that lagged for much of the first half, but Voit has done his part as well. He’s hit three homers and sports a 1.050 OPS in his first 41 ABs, making him a hot name in deeper formats and NL-only leagues. Voit has become the Cards’ full-time first baseman and his power numbers in the minors (12 homers, .569 slugging percentage in Triple A) suggests he should be able to hold on to the role. He’s seen his ownership in CBSSports.com leagues rise from three to 15 percent and if he continues to flex his muscles, Voit will become more attractive in standard leagues in the near future.
Brent Suter, P, Brewers: After toiling in the minors for more than six seasons, Suter is now playing a key part in Milwaukee’s bid to overthrown the NL Central. Brought in as a middle reliever, Suter has allowed just two runs in his last two starts while striking out 13 in 12.1 innings of work. He’s averaging 8.23 K/9 and has given up just one homer in 27.1 innings this season. Suter, now owned in 14 percent of CBSSports.com leagues, is a nice speculation play and could be a pleasant source of wins and a low WHIP if the Brewers continue to hold the defending world champs at bay.
Ahmed Rosario, SS, Mets: That Jose Reyes is still getting ABs makes one wonder whether he has compromising photos on someone in the Mets front office. Rosario, MLB.com’s third-ranked prospect, is hitting .327/.365/.474 with seven homers and 16 steals in Triple-A and is ready now. However, the Mets continue to be hesitant to bring him up. CBSSports.com owners are anticipating his arrival, as he’s been picked up in nearly half of leagues. He’s going to be a star from the moment he is recalled, which means owners has better buckle up before going all-in if Rosario is available in their league.
Jesus Aguilar, 1B, Brewers: He’s been a heck of a pickup in NL-only leagues and could become a factor in other leagues in the second half. Aguilar caught attention with his two-homer, seven RBI night at the Yankees last Friday, and while he is owned in just five percent of CBSSports.com leagues, Aguilar is on pace to hit 16-18 homers and about 60-65 ribbies, numbers that aren’t too shabby for someone who gets a start or two each week. The Brewers will continue to deploy him against lefties, whom Aguilar has mashed to the slash line of .367/.418/.617 with a 1.035 OPS. He’s also lethal on the road, swinging it at a .346/.416/.731 rate.
Rhys Hopkins, 1B, Phillies: He’s coming to Philly, I promise. Each time his ownership has climbed this season, the rumors of his arrival are suddenly muted. An appearance in the Futures Game last Sunday helped take his ownership in CBSSports.com leagues to 18 percent and with the Phillies heading toward 100-plus losses, it stands to reason the Philadelphia front office will want to see what the man with light tower power can do. Hopkins is hitting .289 with 20 homers, 66 RBIs and a .961 OPS in Triple-A, and while Tommy Joseph has been a roller coaster ride of sorts, the time has arrived for Hopkins to take his turn in the franchise’s youth movement.
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