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MIXED LEAGUES

(Players rostered in under 50 percent of Yahoo leagues)

Note: Percentages are from the morning of Thursday, May 26

Aaron Ashby, SP/RP, Brewers (Yahoo: 30 percent rostered)

Pitchers who getting a ton of ground balls and also a ton of strikeouts are in short supply, but Ashby is one of them who fits the bill. The left-hander has a 65.9 percent ground ball rate which, if he qualified, would be good for the second-highest rate in baseball. Ashby also boasts a 26.4 percent strikeout rate, which ranks 29th among 131 pitches with at least 30 innings. After bouncing between long relief and spot starts for the first six weeks of the season, Ashby should now have a rotation spot indefinitely with Freddy Peralta (shoulder) sidelined. In his first outing Wednesday as an “official” member of the rotation, the southpaw yielded just one unearned run while striking out five Padres over 5 2/3 frames. Ashby does have issues throwing strikes, as his 20 walks in 34 innings this season can attest. However, he’s capable of getting away with it with his elite mix of grounders and strikeouts.

William Contreras, C, Braves (Yahoo: 31 percent rostered)

Contreras has been fulfilling the sibling major league quota of late while his brother, Willson, deals with a hamstring injury. The 24-year-old has been doing it with aplomb, sporting a 1.146 OPS with seven home runs over his first 13 games this season. The younger Contreras already has two multi-homer games under his belt, and his Statcast data says he’s actually been unlucky thus far, sporting an xBA of .300 and an xSLG of .774. The Braves have been using Contreras in left field and in the designated hitter spot in an effort to get his bat into the lineup, and they recently elevated him to the No. 2 position in the lineup. Travis d’Arnaud has had a fine season and deserves regular playing time, but Contreras showing some versatility and also the presence of the DH spot offers extra ways to get into the lineup. Plus, it’s not as if d’Arnaud has been a bastion of health.

Brady Singer, SP, Royals (Yahoo: 27 percent rostered)

Singer failed to make the Royals’ rotation out of spring training and was eventually optioned to Triple-A Omaha in late April. He got his act together at Omaha, though, earning a return trip to the big leagues where he has tossed seven shutout innings in back-to-back starts. Singer’s velocity has been up a bit from the past two seasons and he’s also incorporating a changeup more often. Additionally, he boasts a robust 42.9 percent whiff rate so far on his slider.

Jonathan Villar, 2B/3B/SS, Cubs (Yahoo: 31 percent rostered)

Villar has pretty consistently been a better fantasy player than real-life player throughout his career, but he’s been bad from both perspectives for the bulk of this season. That’s started to change, however, as the veteran infielder has gone 8-for-25 (.320) with two home runs and three stolen bases across his last seven contests. The mini-hot streak has earned him a move up to the second spot in the Cubs’ batting order. Villar’s sprint speed actually ranks only in the 33rd percentile this season, which is notable since he’s probably not going to offer much in fantasy leagues if he’s not running. He’s been just in the 57 percentile the last two years, though, and has still managed 30 steals over basically the equivalent of one full season.

Danny Jansen, C, Blue Jays (Yahoo: 19 percent rostered)

Fantasy managers have been burned by Jansen in the past, as he had plenty of initial buzz but wound up producing .668 OPS over his first three seasons. But, while the results still weren’t great in 2021, he started to hit the ball harder and also in the air more. That has carried over into 2022, and on Tuesday he had a two-homer game to give him five over 11 contests this season. Jansen has also struck out only four times so far this year. The Blue Jays’ lineup is bound to get going at some point, and Jansen could be one of the beneficiaries of that.

Roansy Contreras, SP/RP, Pirates (Yahoo: 25 percent rostered)

Contreras made the Pirates’ Opening Day roster as a long reliever and pitched well, holding a 3.52 ERA and 10/3 K/BB ratio across 7 2/3 innings of work. The team decided at that point to send him back to the minors to get stretched back out as a starter, and Contreras returned as a member of the rotation earlier this week with five shutout innings against the Rockies. Contreras combines a fastball which possesses elite velocity (94th percentile) and spin (92nd percentile) with a slider with an elite whiff rate (56.5 percent). He’s not just a two-pitch pitcher, either, as he’s thrown a curveball more than 20 percent of the time and also mixes in a changeup.

Deeper Dandies:

(Players rostered in under 10 percent of Yahoo leagues)

Jose Barrero, SS/OF, Reds (Yahoo: 2 percent rostered)

Barrero has gotten a late start to the season after requiring hamate bone surgery, and his recovery went more slowly than anticipated. He’s back in playing in rehab games now, though, which should put his season debut with the Reds on track for no later than mid-June. Kyle Farmer has an ugly .620 OPS with just one home run this season, and he was always probably just keeping the seat warm for Barrero, anyway. The 24-year-old has struggled himself thus far during his brief time at the major league level, but in 2021 between Double- and Triple-A he posted a .919 OPS with 19 home runs and 16 stolen bases in 380 plate appearances. Barrero’s upside warrants a stash in deeper leagues.

Michael Chavis, 1B/2B, Pirates (Yahoo: 5 percent rostered)

It wasn’t that long ago (2019) when Chavis was one of the Red Sox’ top prospects and got off to a tremendous start at the big league level. He fell on hard times in Boston, though, eventually winding up with the Pirates at last year’s trade deadline. Perhaps the 26-year-old just needed a fresh start, as Chavis has put up a .309/.333/.487 batting line with five home runs over 48 games since landing in Pittsburgh. Chavis doesn’t draw walks, but he’s cut his strikeout rate down to 25 percent this season and also has a healthy 45.8 percent hard-hit rate. The multi-position eligibility doesn’t hurt, either.

Ken Giles, RP, Mariners (Yahoo: 4 percent rostered)

Giles completed his rehab from Tommy John surgery only to suffer a sprain of his right middle finger which sent him to the injured list to start the season. He resumed throwing off a mound last week, though, and is expected to begin a rehab assignment any day now. Giles hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2020, so it remains to be seen how long it will take him to find himself back in high-leverage situations. He also has a manager in Scott Servais who hasn’t been keen on having a set closer. That said, when the Mariners signed Giles to a two-year deal knowing he’d need a year-plus to recover from Tommy John surgery, they surely did so with the hope that he would eventually become their closer. He’s proven to be excellent in the role in the past, even with some bumps in the road here and there.

Weekend Warriors:

JT Brubaker, SP, Pirates (Yahoo: 5 percent rostered)

Brubaker posted a 3.82 ERA and 75/17 K/BB ratio over 77 2/3 innings across his first 14 starts last season before collapsing down the stretch. After a clunky April, Brubaker has rebounded to a 3.22 ERA and 26/9 K/BB ratio over 22 1/3 innings in four May outings. His slider in particular has been a terrific offering, as it has garnered whiffs at a 47.7 percent rate thus far in 2022. The right-hander faces a Padres team this weekend which has been mediocre offensively.

Austin Gomber, SP, Rockies (Yahoo: 11 percent rostered)

Gomber has posted a quality start in five of his last six tries, with the lone exception being against a Giants team which has always given him trouble (10.90 ERA in four career starts). The strikeouts haven’t been there for Gomber in his last two outings, but he had fanned about a batter per inning prior to that and he’s had excellent control over the aforementioned six-start stretch with just seven walks in 37 frames. This weekend Gomber goes on the road to face a Nationals lineup which doesn’t pose a major threat.

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AL ONLY

Vinnie Pasquantino, 1B, Royals (Yahoo: 2 percent rostered)

The Royals have been starved for offense this season, which should soon enough lead to them giving Pasquantino an opportunity. Ranked by MLB.com as the team’s No. 4 prospect, Pasquantino has put up a robust .296/.396/.638 batting line with 12 home runs, 45 RBI and a 27/24 K/BB ratio in his first 42 games with Triple-A Omaha this season. The 24-year-old has consistently posted big power numbers along with elite plate discipline so far in the minors. Chances are he’s probably already rostered in your AL-only league, but if he’s not you should rectify that.

Harold Castro, 1B/2B/3B/SS, Tigers (Yahoo: 1 percent rostered)

Castro had his first-ever multi-homer game in the Tigers’ extra-innings victory over the Royals on Wednesday. Power isn’t typically something we’ve seen out of the utility player, but he’s a career .292 hitter across 848 plate appearances over parts of five major league seasons. Like the Royals, the Tigers have been desperate for offense, so perhaps they’ll give Castro a little more run. He was in the No. 2 spot in Detroit’s lineup on Wednesday. The multi-position eligibility is certainly handy to have in deep formats.

NL ONLY

Tyrone Taylor, OF, Brewers (Yahoo: 3 percent rostered)

The Brewers lost Hunter Renfroe this week to a hamstring injury, which is going to mean more opportunities for Taylor. He had already been playing quite a bit, between Lorenzo Cain’s struggles and need for plenty of days off. Taylor has popped 18 career home runs over 433 plate appearances, and he can run a little, as well. He was used in the cleanup spot against a left-hander on Tuesday and batted sixth on Wednesday versus a righty.

Calvin Mitchell, OF, Pirates (Yahoo: 2 percent rostered)

Oneil Cruz is the prospect Pirates fans have been clamoring to see, but Mitchell has outperformed him at Triple-A Indianapolis this season with a .306/.362/.500 batting line, five home runs and six stolen bases. Mitchell got his first call his first call to the majors earlier this week, and the former second-round pick has gone 3-for-9 with a double and a couple RBI in his first two contests. The left-hander hitter even batted second for the Pirates on Wednesday against a right-hander.