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- American baseball player
Jordan Lyles: Expectations weren’t high when Lyles was moved into the starting rotation, but after two starts in which he’s allowed just one run with a 16:2 K:BB ratio over 12.1 innings, he certainly has fantasy owners’ attention. Lyles carried a perfect game into the eighth inning of his last start and suddenly sports a 2.53 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP on the year. Petco Park has oddly played like a hitter’s park so far, something that will almost certainly regress, and he’s throwing harder than ever, especially his curveball, which has been one of the fastest in baseball. Lyles’ xwOBA (0.266) is the 11th lowest among all pitchers (minimum 100 PAs), and his 11.3 SwStr% is easily a career high, while his ownership (24%) is too low.
Jedd Gyorko: He was already starting to see more regular playing time, and he’s locked in a starting role now that Paul DeJong is out with a fractured hand. Gyorko has clubbed 50 homers over the last two seasons while never playing in 130 games, and he’s posted a .905 OPS in 2018. His average exit velocity (89.5 mph) and Hard Hit% (40.4) are both career highs, and he’s eligible at three positions (1B/2B/3B). Gyorko has been hitting fifth in the Cardinals’ lineup lately, and he’s still available in more than 75 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Kyle Freeland: The former top-10 pick has been on a roll, going 4-1 with a 1.59 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP with a 32:9 K:BB ratio over his last five starts (34.0 innings). He’s yet to throw even 20.0 innings in Coors Field this season, and calling that home could be a problem during the summer months, but he’s still under owned at just 37 percent. He’s attacking hitters more up in the zone with great results, giving the Rockies another intriguing arm. It’s remarkable Colorado is in the wild card hunt with a team wRC+ (75) that ranks last in MLB. It’s thanks to their FIP (3.96) that’s one of the dozen best in baseball, as their pitching has carried their hitting.
Austin Meadows: The former top prospect got called up by the Pirates when Starling Marte was placed on the DL and will be the team’s everyday center fielder as a result. Meadows disappointed last year but was dealing with injuries and was once highly regarded, so grab him if you’re looking for help in stolen bases. The No. 9 pick in the 2013 draft, Meadows just turned 23 years old and had a 111 wRC+ with one home run and eight steals over 126 at-bats in Triple-A this season.
Jesus Aguilar: He hit two homers Friday, reaching base four times while batting third in Milwaukee’s lineup. Aguilar should remain a starter for the Brewers with both Eric Thames and Ryan Braun on the disabled list, and he’s quietly hitting .326/.396/.558 over 95 at bats on the year. Aguilar finds himself in a good spot, batting in between lefties Christian Yelich and Travis Shaw in a park that’s increased homers by 16 percent (top-five in MLB) over the last three seasons, so it’s a gift he’s still available in more than 90 percent of leagues.
Joe Musgrove: He wasn’t great during his latest rehab start but still sports a 17:2 K:BB ratio over 17.2 innings and looks ready to join Pittsburgh’s rotation soon. It’s unclear if Musgrove is truly recovered from his shoulder issues, but he’s got enough upside to pick up in fantasy leagues to find out, especially now that he’s in the National League.
Mac Williamson: He looked like a possible breakout candidate before suffering a concussion that’s sidelined Williamson for nearly a month now, but his return appears imminent. An everyday job in San Francisco’s outfield (as well as a prominent spot in the lineup) is certainly there for Williamson to take, and he sure looked like an improved hitter with a retooled swing while blasting three homers in five games (and recording a 295 wRC+ in Triple-A) before going down.
Dustin Pedroia: He’s playing rehab games and should be back with Boston before the end of the month. Pedroia is no longer the hitter he once was and is always a risk to suffer another injury, but he’s one season removed from scoring 105 runs, and he had 62 RBI (with a 48:49 K:BB ratio) over just 406 at bats in 2017 even in a down year. The Red Sox lead MLB in runs scored and OPS, so Pedroia will find himself in a good situation once he returns.
Freddy Peralta: He struck out a whopping 13 batters in Coors Field during his MLB debut, making it impossible for Milwaukee not to give him another turn in the rotation. Peralta threw his fastball 91.8% of the time during his dominant start, and while his velocity is underwhelming (91.4 mph), his deceptive delivery and long stride make it appear faster to hitters. Peralta is a bit of a wild card but well worth adding after such an impressive first start, in baseball’s toughest environment no less.
Nick Pivetta: He has a 3.72 season ERA with a 1.13 WHIP and has recorded an 18:1 K:BB ratio over his last two starts yet is owned in just 38 percent of leagues. Pivetta tied a career high with 11 Ks during his last outing and has rebounded nicely after a poor two-start stretch a couple weeks back. His average fastball velocity (94.4 mph) is one of the highest in baseball.
C.J. Cron: His three-game homer (and 10-game hitting) streak came to an end Friday, but Cron is suddenly on pace to finish with a .286-102-41-102 line. His ownership numbers have been climbing fast lately, but make sure he’s not somehow still available in your league.
Trevor Cahill: He’s back in action and held his own (three runs over five innings) during his return from the DL in a tough assignment in Boston. Cahill’s 28.6 K% this season would rank No. 12 among starters if he qualified, and he benefits from a pitcher’s park, yet he’s still available in more than 80 percent of leagues.