The mathematical halfway point of the MLB season passed last week, but there’s still plenty of newfound value on the waiver wire. The players below are ready to make fireworks for fantasy owners this week and beyond.
Shohei Ohtani, DH, Angels
The Angles are still deciding what to do with Ohtani, but it sounds like he’ll spend the remainder of the season as a DH while nursing an elbow injury that may eventually require serious surgery. That presents fantasy owners with a unique opportunity. If we knew Ohtani would be a full-time hitter at the start of the season, he likely would have been a top-50 pick. He’s hitting .289/.372/.535 with six homers, eight doubles and 20 RBI in 129 plate appearances. Assuming a full season of about 600 plate appearances, that translates to a 28-homer, 37-double, 93-RBI pace. Stash him on your DL while you still can.
Enrique Hernandez, 2B/3B/SS/OF, Dodgers
Hernandez has been swinging a hot bat over the last three weeks, going 19-for-59 with six homers and 12 RBI since June 10. That comes out to a .322/.394/.661 slash line, and he’s now hitting .236/.316/.472 for the season. He may be a better bet in batting average leagues, where his low season-long rate isn't as damaging, but he can be useful in all formats, especially considering his versatility.
Joc Pederson, OF, Dodgers
Pederson has cooled off a bit since we discussed him in last week’s waiver wire column, but he does have two homers since then. Despite a dreadful start to the year, he’s hitting .263/.347/.548 with 11 homers and 32 RBI in 213 plate appearances. He doesn’t play every day, but when he does start he typically leads off, dramatically increasing his upside. What’s more, he has really cut down on his strikeouts, fanning just eight times in 63 plate appearances this month. That comes out to a 12.7% strikeout rate, far lower than his career mark.
Josh Reddick, OF, Astros
It took Reddick some time to get going after returning from the DL earlier this month, but he seems to have finally shaken off the rust. He recently had a six-game hitting streak snapped, but he remains on a torrid pace, hitting .370/.386/.389 since June 10, a stretch covering 16 games. He’s firmly entrenched in the 5- or 6- hole in Houston’s lineup, giving him a ton of RBI upside. Reddick is now hitting .263/.341/.392 with six homers and 21 in 221 plate appearances this season.
Avisail Garcia, OF, White Sox
Garcia has a hit in all seven of his starts since returning from the DL last weekend. He has gone 9-for-32 with two homers in those seven games, spending most of his time hitting second in the order. He is striking out quite a bit, but for now we can chalk that up to him missing two months. Garcia was dropped in far too many leagues while he was on the DL, and it appears most leagues have yet to readjust to his return.
Scott Schebler, OF, Reds
Schebler has remained hot, going hitting .286/.375/.510 with a pair of homers and five doubles since June 12. He’s now hitting .283/.356/.480 with 10 homers and 30 RBI on the season. The batting average may be a mirage given that he hit just .233 last year, but he has legitimate on-base skills and power. He should be owned in all competitive fantasy leagues.
Matt Duffy, 2B/3B, Rays
Duffy continues to pack some punch atop the Rays lineup, bringing an eight-game hitting streak into Saturday. He has gone 10-for-31 with two doubles, two steals and three walks in that time, and is now slashing .315/.361/.428 on the season. Duffy has hit safely in 22 of his last 27 games, and is one of the few bright spots on Tampa Bay’s offense this season. Remember, he hit .295/.334/.428 with 12 homers and 12 steals in 2015, his lone full season in the majors. He’s proving once again he can be that type of player.
Jake Bauers, 1B, Rays
Bauers has been in the majors for a little more than three weeks, but it already looks like he’s going to join Duffy as one of those lone bright spots in Tampa. He’s hitting .264/.404/.500 with two homers, seven doubles and seven RBI in 89 plate appearances. What’s most encouraging is that he has drawn 17 walks compared with 19 strikeouts. He’s going to need to show a bit more power to play as a regular fantasy first baseman, but he has shown us enough thus far to give him a spin.
Johan Camargo, 2B/3B/SS, Braves
Camargo has settled into a regular role with the Braves, getting most of his time at third but also spelling Ozzie Albies at second. He isn’t tearing the cover off the ball, but he’s hitting a useful .253/.356/.435 with seven homers, 11 doubles and 34 RBI in 216 plate appearances. He’s doing enough already to warrant kicking the tires, especially given the run-scoring environment of Atlanta’s offense. There’s a lot to like here, and he offers eligibility at three positions.
Jesse Winker, OF, Reds
Winker has suddenly found his power stroke, belting three homers in his last nine games. He never showed much power in the minors, leaving the yard just three times in 448 plate appearances at Triple-A Louisville last year. He did hit seven homers when he arrived in the majors last season, though, so there is something to him being a 15-homer guy. He has high on-base skills, which will help make him an asset in both runs and RBI, as well. Equally important is the fact that he seems to have a regular spot in the Cincinnati lineup. He’s worth a shot in the short term to see if he can keep this up.
Carlos Rodon, SP, White Sox
Rodon was great in his last outing, limiting the dangerous A’s offense to two runs on seven hits in eight innings, striking out three and walking none. He has made four starts since returning from the DL, pitching to a 3.70 ERA, 4.13 FIP and 1.11 WHIP with 19 strikeouts in 24 1/3 innings. He’ll make his fifth start of the year Saturday against the Rangers. No matter what happens in that outing, he should be a priority add for owners in need of help on the mound.
Steven Matz, SP, Mets
All is lost in Queens this season, with the few positive vibes seemingly produced only by Jacob deGrom and Brandon Nimmo. Matz has flown under the radar, but he is enjoying a strong bounceback season after missing most of last year due to injury. He has a 3.69 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and 70 strikeouts in 78 innings across 15 starts. He has made five quality starts in his last six trips to the mound, including his most recent outing, during which he surrendered three runs on six hits with seven strikeouts and zero walks against the Pirates.