Well, we’ve made it, folks. The final edition of Waiver Wired before the All-Star break. I hope your team (or teams, in many cases) is still in the hunt or you see a realistic path to get there during the second half. If you play in a dynasty or keeper format, this is still a fun time of year even if you aren’t winning. The ability to trade win-now parts for young players and prospects keeps one engaged and in tune with what’s happening. So I hope you use the All-Star break wisely, even if that means unplugging for a minute in preparation for the grind that awaits during the stretch run.
Just a little housekeeping here, I’m planning to go over some first-half superlatives to kick off next week’s column, but for now, we’re going straight to this week’s recommendations.
Have a specific question about your roster? Ask @djshort on Twitter.
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(Percentages are from the morning of Thursday, July 11)
Kyle Tucker OF, Astros (Yahoo: 49 percent owned)
This one is pretty easy to understand. I actually recommended stashing Tucker a couple of weeks ago in anticipation for a possible call-up, but I’ll go ahead and mention him again now that he’s officially in the majors. The 21-year-old is off to a quiet 4-for-18 (.222) start in the majors, but I’m not going to get carried away with the small sample size. He’s legitimately someone to get excited about in fantasy leagues. A consensus top-20 prospect coming into the season, Tucker was batting .306/.371/.520 with 14 home runs and 14 steals over 80 games in Triple-A prior to his call-up. He has a pretty good chance to stick, even after Carlos Correa returns from the disabled list. It’s not like Marwin Gonzalez has been producing recently. With his five-category potential, Tucker is worthy of consideration in most leagues.
Joe Musgrove SP/RP, Pirates (Yahoo: 20 percent owned)
Musgrove deserves to be back on the radar in mixed leagues after making his return from a right index finger infection this week. While the 25-year-old took the loss Tuesday against the Nationals, he struck out a season-high nine batters over five innings while allowing two runs on five hits and a walk. He now holds a solid 3.77 ERA with 45 strikeouts and 12 walks in 45 1/3 innings across eight starts overall. Musgrove had the look of a potential breakthrough candidate after coming over from the Astros in the Gerrit Cole deal and he’s backed that up by missing bats and showing excellent. He needs to be added.
Rougned Odor 2B, Rangers (Yahoo: 49 percent owned)
It’s understandable if you cut bait on Odor after his brutal start to the season. After all, he was batting just .217 with one homer and a .602 OPS through his first 45 games. He was benched after an alleged night of partying after that, but a funny things has happened since. He’s actually turned his season around. Odor is hitting .299 with five homers and a .924 OPS over his last 19 games. He’s also 4-for-4 in stolen base attempts during that time. He’s also shown improved patience during this time while chasing fewer pitches outside of the strike zone. It’s encouraging stuff given how flawed his approach has typically been. Odor brings pop and speed and still finds himself in a favorable situation with his home ballpark in the middle of the Rangers’ order, so it’s about time to pick him up in leagues where he was dropped.
Jordan Zimmermann SP, Tigers (Yahoo: 42 percent owned)
It’s always fun to suddenly include someone in this column that you never thought you’d have to mention again. I honestly thought Zimmermann’s days of being a mixed league-relevant pitcher were behind him, but he’s turned a new leaf recently. Even including Wednesday’s loss to the Rays, Zimmermann has reeled off a 2.56 ERA to go along with a stingy 29/2 K/BB ratio in 31 2/3 innings over his last five starts. And while he took that loss on Wednesday, he actually held the Rays to one run over the first six innings before giving up a three-run blast to C.J. Cron in the seventh. I still like what I’m seeing overall. Zimmermann’s season has had some fits and stops due to injury, but he has his highest swinging strike percentage and lowest walk percentage since 2014 with the Nationals. Reason enough to pay attention in mixed leagues. The Tigers suddenly have themselves a decent trade chip, though they’d surely have to pay down a bunch of his remaining contract.
Trevor Cahill SP/RP, Athletics (Yahoo: 17 percent owned)
Cahill has been out for over a month with a right Achilles strain, but he’s slated to make his return Thursday against the Astros. I don’t mind mentioning him on the same day he’s starting, as I probably would hold off on using him for this first start back, anyway. Still, he showed enough prior to the injury to be worth stashing in most leagues, posting a 2.77 ERA and 47/11 K/BB ratio in 48 2/3 innings across eight starts. Cahill also missed time with a right elbow impingement back in May, but he’s sporting a career-best swinging strike percentage as well as the best way percentage of his career. Certainly worthy of being rostered in more leagues than he is right now.
Victor Arano RP, Phillies (Yahoo: 25 percent owned)
Seranthony Dominguez is still probably the name to own in this bullpen in most fantasy leagues, but don’t forget about Arano. The 23-year-old has notched each of the last three save chances for Philadelphia and now owns a sparkling 2.45 ERA and 36/11 K/BB ratio in 33 innings this season. And yes, this includes the walk-off homer he allowed to Wilmer Flores earlier this week. With the way Gabe Kepler likes to play things with his bullpen, it’s very likely that Arano will see some more chances coming up.
Jesse Winker OF, Reds (Yahoo: 16 percent owned)
I’ve gone back and forth on whether I consider Winker a useful mixed league option, but it’s tough to ignore what he’s doing right now. The 24-year-old has been as advertised from an on-base perspective, but he’s even picked things up from a power perspective of late by slugging six home runs with 26 RBI over his last 29 games while posting a .356/.472/.609 bating line. He’s now batting .286/.398/.424 on the year with more walks (46) than strikeouts (43). In fact, he’s just one of seven qualified hitters with more walks than strikeouts this season. It’s a pretty good group, including Andrelton Simmons, Carlos Santana, Jose Ramirez, Joey Votto, Ben Zobrist, and Mookie Betts. Winker doesn’t run and I’m still skeptical about the power upside, but he’s close to a must-own in leagues which use on-base percentage in a category.
Lou Trivino RP, Athletics (Yahoo: 24 percent owned)
The Athletics have been a nice surprise during the first half and the back-end of their bullpen has been a big key toward making that happen. Blake Treinen has emerged as one of the most valuable fantasy closers during the first half, but Trivino has gained momentum as a top-set up option. Armed with big-time velocity and a nasty cutter, Trivino holds a dominant 1.34 ERA and 45/16 K/BB ratio over 40 1/3 innings. Among relievers with at least 40 innings pitched, Trivino has the sixth-highest swinging strike percentage. Treinen’s job obviously isn’t in any danger, but Trivino can still help with ratios in many leagues.
Niko Goodrum 1B/2B/3B/SS/OF, Tigers (Yahoo: 21 percent owned)
I haven’t been sure what to make of Goodrum for a while now, but he just keeps putting up interesting numbers. The 26-year-old is hitting .413 (19-for-46) with eight extra-base hits (including a home run) and eight runs scored over 11 games this month. The switch-hitter is now up to eight homers and seven steals though 75 games overall. Locked in as the regular second baseman for Detroit, Goodrum has batted third in each of his last seven games. The main draw for me is his versatility, as he can be plugged in anywhere outside of catcher. He’s been better against lefties than righties (even in the minors), so I see him as more of a plug-and-play option than a set-it-and-forget-it one. But there’s still plenty of value in that in mixed leagues.
Mark Trumbo OF, Orioles (Yahoo: 33 percent owned)
Maybe it’s because the Orioles are flat-out awful and the future of Manny Machado is taking up most of the conversation around this team, but Trumbo has quietly reestablished himself as a viable power bat in mixed leagues. Granted, the bar is pretty low after he regressed to the tune of a .686 OPS last year, but Trumbo has amassed nine homers in the last 30 days. Only five players (Jesus Aguilar, Francisco Lindor, Alex Bregman, Nolan Arenado, and Aaron Hicks) have slugged more home runs in that time. Trumbo’s fly ball rate is still down a bit from where he was in his 47-homer campaign in 2016, but his hard-hit rate is the highest its ever been and he still finds himself in a great park for power.
Shopping at the five-and-dime:
(Players owned in under 10 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Alen Hanson 2B/OF, Giants (Yahoo: 4 percent owned)
With Joe Panik expected to miss about three weeks with a left groin strain, Hanson makes for an interesting option in deeper formats. The 25-year-old switch-hitter has performed well when afforded the opportunity this year, batting .278/.306/.510 with six homers, 25 RBI, four steals, and 26 runs scored in just 51 games. He’s not the most patient hitter, but he makes a good amount of contact and has really cleaned up against right-handed pitching. He’d be more interesting if he wasn’t lower-third of the batting order, but he’s capable of wreaking plenty of havoc on the basepaths. The multi-position eligibility is a nice bonus for a short-term roster addition.
Wilmer Flores 1B/2B/3B, Mets (Yahoo: 7 percent owned)
It’s possible that Flores is playing out his final days in a Mets uniform, but at least he’s going out on a high note. After struggling to begin the year before missing three weeks with a back injury, the 26-year-old is batting .306/.337/.576 with five home runs, eight doubles, and 16 RBI over his last 25 games. And yes, he’s delivered more walk-off magic along the way, which is his specialty. Long known as a lefty-masher, Flores has actually been more productive against right-handers (.893 OPS with seven homers) than southpaws (.653 OPS with one homer) this year. It would certainly be a good thing from a fantasy perspective if his improvement against right-handers is legitimate. Perhaps he’ll be more of a utility player if he gets traded to a contender, but there’s really no reason for the Mets to not use him on a semi-regular basis right now.
Cedric Mullins OF, Orioles (Yahoo: 0 percent owned)
Truth be told, I’m not crazy about a lot of the AL-only options this week. Hopefully I can make it up to you next week. Sandy Leon (Yahoo: 2 percent owned) is an obvious pickup with Christian Vazquez out, so you don’t need my help there. Same goes for Brock Holt (Yahoo: 2 percent) with Rafael Devers out. Guys like Yefry Ramirez and Martin Perez will make starts this weekend, but I’d probably sit out those matchups. So instead I’m thinking ahead with Mullins, who is regarded as the center fielder of the future for the Orioles. The 23-year-old has had a nice year between Double- and Triple-A, batting .300/.359/.499 with 10 homers and 15 steals over 84 games. He’s been especially hot recently. The timing of a call-up could depend on the team’s decision at the trade deadline, but it would make sense to experiment and get his feet wet down the stretch. Track him closely.
Luiz Gohara SP/RP, Braves (Yahoo: 3 percent owned)
The Braves optioned Gohara to Triple-A Gwinnett on Thursday, but the plan calls for him to be stretched out as a starter in preparation for a possible role in the major league rotation in the second half. The 21-year-old has had mixed results in his time in the majors this year (5.95 ERA with 18 strikeouts and eight walks in 19 2/3 innings), but he gained serious momentum as a prospect last year before showing some promise with the Braves down the stretch. If Gohara has been dropped in your league, pick him up now. He could even help in mixed leagues. Enyel De Los Santos (Yahoo: 6 percent owned) was optioned after his major league debut this week against the Mets, but he’s another pitcher to keep in mind for the second half. Jeff McNeil (Yahoo: N/A) is a name on the position player side to monitor, assuming there’s a spot for him with a trade of Asdrubal Cabrera.
Steven Duggar OF, Giants (Yahoo: 1 percent owned)
With the Austin Jackson trade clearing the way, Duggar has been called up from Triple-A Sacramento and is expected to platoon with Gorkys Hernandez in center field. It’s not always going to be that way, though, as Duggar was in center field on Wednesday while Hernandez played left field. Either way, it looks like Duggar is going to get a real shot here. Duggar brings a lot of value with his defense, but he was hitting .272/.354/.421 with four homers and 11 steals over 78 games with Triple-A Sacramento. He’s hit leadoff a couple of times since his call-up, which obviously enhances his fantasy appeal.