Fantasy Baseball Pickups: Carlos Gonzalez and others to add
Carlos Gonzalez: He continues to play everyday with David Dahl sidelined and remains plenty useful in Coors Field (1.042 OPS) even during an overall down year. Gonzalez looked horrible during the first half of last season before hitting .314/.390/.531 after the All-Star break, and he’s available in more than 60 percent of Yahoo leagues. Gonzalez has remained primarily the Rockies’ cleanup hitter right behind Nolan Arenado (and his .420 OBP), and CarGo has quietly increased his launch angle this season while averaging a career-best exit velocity (90.4 mph). Don’t underestimate Coors Field, which has increased run scoring by 38 percent over the past three years (the next closest is 17 percent), and it only plays more toward hitters during the hotter summer months.
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Joc Pederson: He’s raised his OPS nearly 150 points over the past five games, when he’s gone 8-for-16 with five homers. Even with a slow start, Pederson still boasts a .925 OPS against righties this season and has 60 big flies over 1,081 career at bats against them. Still just 26 years old, Pederson has been hitting leadoff lately, owns a 133 wRC+ this year that would rank top-35 if he qualified and is owned in just five percent of leagues.
Randal Grichuk: After a disappointing 2017, Grichuk has been an utter disaster this season, hitting .146 with 25 strikeouts over 82 at bats. He’s obviously better than this and has looked much improved in five games since returning from the disabled list. He’s getting regular playing time, owns a career-high 49.2 Hard Hit% (league average is 34.1) and is available in more than 95 percent of leagues. Grichuk averaged 23 homers and 64 RBI in just 429 at bats from 20016-2017.
Jung-ho Kang: He appears on track to return to Pittsburgh sometime this month, and when we last saw Kang, he had an .867 OPS with 21 homers over just 318 at bats. He’s SS-eligible and currently tearing up High-A (he has more walks than strikeouts while slugging .941). Kang is likely to be a very popular pickup as soon as he’s recalled.
Jake Bauers: He’ll get a chance to act as Tampa Bay’s regular first baseman after hitting five homers with 10 steals in Triple-A. While the Rays’ lineup and home park limit his upside, Bauers could approach something like 10/10 over the rest of the year.
Anthony DeSclafani: When he last pitched in 2016, DeSclafani owned a 3.28 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP with a 105:30 K:BB ratio over 123.1 innings. Returning most recently from an oblique injury and making his season debut Tuesday, DeSclafani flashed as good velocity as ever, so it appears his arm is healthy. It’s a tough situation pitching in Cincinnati, but DeSclafani’s impressive K-BB% numbers reveal potential, especially for a pitcher still so widely available.
Jurickson Profar: He has three homers and six RBI over his last three games and suddenly sports a 102 wRC+ on the season. Profar isn’t going to live up to his past hype, and he doesn’t hit the ball very hard, but he’s SS-eligible and has vastly outplayed Rougned Odor, so he deserves to play regularly after Elvis Andrus returns. Only Coors Field has increased run scoring more than The Rangers Ballpark in Arlington over the past three years.
Closer Talk: Hector Rondon recorded the Astros’ last save, and Houston’s situation remains wide open (and one almost certainly addressed at the trade deadline). Rondon has a 1.64 ERA, a strong fastball and closing experience, so he shouldn’t be available in more than 90 percent of leagues like he is right now, especially given the upside of becoming the Astros closer…Joakim Soria has recorded back-to-back saves while Nate Jones was pounded for four runs in a recent outing and has struggled with his control. Soria is owned in just 34 percent of leagues…Zach Britton is expected to be activated off the DL soon and should be closing sooner rather than later after Brad Brach’s latest blowup. Britton should be added in all leagues…Jeurys Familia hit the DL with a sore right shoulder, so those in deeper formats should look to add Robert Gsellman and/or Anthony Swarzak.
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