The All-Star break is over, which means it's time to get your eyes back on the road toward a fantasy baseball title. As we head into the second half, we already have a significant trade along with a breakout outfielder, an outfielder that's just broken and a reliever that could lose significant value at the trade deadline.
Jose Quintana, CHC - Quintana is the first shoe to drop with the MLB trade deadline approaching, and he doesn't have to move far. He doesn't have to find a new home at all as Quintana is still in Chicago, shifting from the White Sox to the Cubs. He's been one of the most consistent pitchers over the past four seasons. Quintana has reached 200 innings in four straight years with a mid-to-low 3.00 ERA and at least 164 strikeouts. This season hasn't been Quintana's best, but after posting ERAs over 5 in April and May, he bounced back with a 1.78 ERA in June. Quintana will see a slight boost by moving to the National League thanks to pitchers hitting, and while Wrigley Field leans slightly toward being a hitter's park, so did Guaranteed Rate Field. Quintana will be a top 25 pitcher the rest of the way, and if you are in a NL-only league, you need to spend your top waiver spot or your entire free agent acquisition budget to get him.
Domingo Santana, MIL - It may surprise most that Santana is on his third team already. Santana went from the Phillies to the Astros to now the Brewers, as teams traded for his potential. The promise is a true five-category hitter with 30/20 HR/SB upside. It's taken a few years, but Santana is finally providing that value. Heading into the All-Star break, Santana was hitting .291 with 15 HRs, 54 runs, 50 RBIs and nine steals. The good news for those that might be hesitant to believe in Santana is that he's not much different of a hitter from last year. In fact, his metrics are nearly identical. The main boost is in his average, which has helped Santana score and drive in more runs. Part of that is also due to the overall improvement in the Brewers lineup. Santana is for real, as is the Brewers offense. If you have him, enjoy having a top 25 outfielder, and if not, try to buy him while many are still hesitant to believe.
Yoenis Cespedes, NYM - Cespedes has not only missed time again this year, he's carrying his lowest average since 2014 with just 21 runs and 19 RBIs in 42 games. Through 42 games last year, Cespedes was hitting .301 with 15 HRs, 30 runs and 36 RBIs. Should you panic? No, but you should think about selling if Cespedes can put together a hot streak. The good news is that Cespedes is carrying a hard hit ball percentage of 41.6, which is the highest of his career and higher than his 37.3 mark through 42 games last year. The bad news is that Cespedes is having more trouble than ever staying on the field - with Mets management not helping. On top of that, the Mets are in sell mode at the deadline, which means Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce and Lucas Duda could all be headed elsewhere. That's a lot of lineup protection and production to lose, leaving Cespedes with little quality around him. Owners should hope that Cespedes can get hot for a week or two and then sell quickly.
Jim Johnson, ATL - Speaking of the trade deadline, the Braves are in limbo right now. While the team is under .500, they are still in the playoff hunt, even if it's a long shot of sorts. The Braves are clearly building for the future, but that doesn't mean they will stop contending this year. That leaves Johnson in flux, especially when it comes to his fantasy value. While Johnson's ERA isn't great, Johnson has been a tad unlucky with a high BABIP and low strand rate. It helps Johnson to have a solid 21.5 SOBB (strikeout percentage minus base on balls percentage). The Braves could hold on to Johnson as they contend, but it makes more sense to trade him to a contender. If so, Johnson would end up in a setup role, losing most of his value. Trade Johnson if you can. If Johnson departs, Arodys Vizcaino had two saves before hitting the DL over a 10-day span. Vizcaino also has a 2.38 ERA, 19.3 SOBB and is seen as the closer of the future. He's hurt right now but looks to be the best bet as the future Braves closer.
Most teams haven't set their rotation for the next 10 days in full yet. The Padres offense is the best one to target, so keep an eye on the Rockies and Giants pitchers next week. The Rangers offense isn't clicking and strikes out at a high rate, which makes Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman of the Orioles risk/reward plays and all three Rays starters worth using. On the other side, the Orioles are struggling significantly of late, which makes the Rangers starters stronger than theirs and the Astros pitchers quality plays.
This column was provided to The Associated Press by Jake Ciely of the Fantasy Sports Network, http://FNTSY.com