Closing Time: Zack Wheeler making progress

New York Mets’ Zack Wheeler is starting to look more interesting for fantasy purposes (AP Photo).
New York Mets’ Zack Wheeler is starting to look more interesting for fantasy purposes (AP Photo).

Zack Wheeler shut out the Pirates over seven innings with a 7:1 K:BB ratio during arguably his best start of the season Wednesday (he allowed just five hits, all singles and two of them infield), rewarding DFS owners who gambled on him in a game that called for possible rain. Jeurys Familia blew up and allowed four earned runs without recording an out, costing Wheeler a win, but it was another step in the right direction for the former prospect. Wheeler is throwing harder than ever this season (95.4 mph), owns a career-high 10.1 SwStr% and has a 9.9 K/9 over his last three starts. Wheeler’s average exit velocity (85.6 mph) ranks top-10 in baseball, and he’s still available in more than 85 percent of Yahoo leagues.

Jesus Aguilar homered for the second straight game, giving him four long balls over the past five contests and upping his season OPS to .995. Undrafted in fantasy leagues, Aguilar has 18 homers and 52 RBI over just 207 at bats. His 160 wRC+ ranks top-10 in MLB, just ahead of Aaron Judge and Freddie Freeman. Aguilar’s bat wasn’t coming out of the lineup much anyway with him hitting this well, but his spot is even safer now with Lorenzo Cain on the disabled list (allowing Eric Thames to move to the outfield, keeping newly recalled Keon Broxton still on the bench). It’s safe to say Aguilar isn’t quite this good, but he’s clearly legit (his average exit velocity is a healthy 91.6 mph, and his Barrel% ranks top-20), and he’s batting in the middle of the lineup in a strong home hitter’s park. Aguilar is going to go down as one of the best waiver wire adds of the year.

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Shane Bieber turned in his third straight impressive start, holding the Cardinals to one run over six innings and now has a 27:4 K:BB ratio since joining the bigs. He somehow sports a 2.22 ERA despite a .382 BABIP, and this after he had a 1.38 ERA in Triple-A. Bieber is incredibly intriguing yet is still available in 45 percent of leagues. He gets the Royals and their MLB-low 82 wRC+ next time out.

After holding the potent Yankees lineup scoreless over seven innings Wednesday, Zach Eflin sports a 1.76 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP with a 28:6 K:BB ratio over his last five starts (30.2 innings). He entered with a 10.1 SwStr% and just keeps getting it done (Seranthony Dominguez finished the shutout with two clean innings to earn his fifth save of the season). Eflin is owned in just 31 percent of leagues.

Madison Bumgarner recorded another positive start Wednesday when he held Colorado scoreless over seven innings. He took a no-decision and still has just one win on the season, but Bumgarner hasn’t been scored on during each of his past two starts, when he’s produced a 16:4 K:BB ratio. The schedule couldn’t have been easier over that span with home starts against the Padres and Rockies, but it’s encouraging nevertheless. Hopefully Bumgarner’s slow start was purely rust coming off the DL, but he gets a much tougher test in Coors Field next time out.

Bumgarner was matched by Kyle Freeland, who tossed seven scoreless innings himself, and he’s allowed three runs or fewer in 11 of his past 12 starts (he gave up four in the other). The former top pick somehow ranks top-10 in average exit velocity (85.4 mph) and Hard Hit% (27.6) despite calling Coors Field home, and he’s still available in 55 percent of leagues. This Rockies/Giants game Wednesday night ended 1-0 thanks to a walk-off homer by Brandon Crawford, whose torrid stretch continues.

Joc Pederson homered and walked twice and now sports a .900 OPS on the season. He’s been hitting leadoff for a strong Dodgers offense and is up to 11 homers over just 158 at-bats against righties yet is still available in more than 70 percent of leagues.

Evan Gattis had two doubles with three more RBI, giving him 54 on the year. He entered June 6 hitting .219/.287/.419 yet is currently the No. 1 fantasy catcher for the season. Gattis has already set an Astros franchise record with 30 RBI in June.

Closer Talk: Wily Peralta recorded Kansas City’s second straight save Wednesday and looks like the team’s new closer. He’s a bit of a wild card with shaky control, but Peralta is throwing extremely hard (96.6 mph) now that he’s moved to the bullpen full-time and is still available in 90 percent of leagues…The Braves didn’t have a late save situation, but Dan Winkler worked the seventh/eighth while A.J. Minter pitched the ninth in the team’s 6-5 loss…Brandon Morrow was activated from the DL, while Ryan Tepera had a rare hiccup, allowing a walk-off homer on an 0-2 pitch to Alex Bregman. Tepera’s job should be safe…Edwin Diaz is on pace to record 60 saves, two shy of the MLB record.

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