Jose Peraza: A popular sleeper entering the season, Peraza was dropped by many fantasy owners before a recent two-week stretch in which he’s hit .315/.403/.519 with two homers and five steals (with more walks than strikeouts) over 54 at bats. Peraza owns one of the weakest average exit velocities (83.3 mph) in baseball, so his two long balls over the past three games are an especial rarity, but he’s just 24 years old, plays good defense, benefits from a hitter’s park and moved to the No. 2 spot in Cincinnati’s lineup Saturday. Peraza is fast, and after going just 24-for-42 (57.1%) on SB attempts over the past two seasons, he’s 14-for-16 (87.5%) in 2018 (he stole 64 bases as a 19-year-old in Single-A in fewer than 115 games, so there’s legit SB upside here). Peraza is both second base and shortstop eligible and still available in nearly half of Yahoo leagues.
Nathan Eovaldi: After six starts returning from Tommy John surgery, Eovaldi sports a 0.82 WHIP and a 30:5 K:BB ratio over 35.1 innings. He dominated the Nationals his last outing but was likely on most waiver wires after coming off back-to-back tough road starts against the Yankees and Astros (who rank No. 1 and 2 in wRC+). Eovaldi is throwing as hard as ever (his 97.0 mph average fastball velocity is second only to Luis Severino), and his 18.7 K-BB% would rank No. 22 among starters if he qualified, directly in front of Blake Snell and Aaron Nola. Pitching for the Rays is hardly ideal (although at least Tropicana Field is a pitcher’s park), but Eovaldi has oddly gone from overhyped in the past to overlooked now (he’s just eight percent owned) despite still flashing the overpowering heater.
Greg Bird: He was off to a slow start after missing the first six weeks of the season thanks to ankle surgery, but Bird’s ownership numbers should soon climb after he hit two homers Friday night. He was actually in danger of losing playing time, entering the game hitting just .191/.308/.382 and with New York recalling Brandon Drury (the Yankees see a bunch of upcoming lefties), which explains why he’s still out there in nearly 60 percent of leagues. Bird posted an .891 OPS after the All-Star break last season, is 25 years old and hits in a park that’s increased home runs for LHB by an MLB-high 42 percent over the past three seasons. He should be universally owned.
Marcus Stroman: He picked up his first win of the season Friday, holding the Tigers to two runs over seven innings. It was a favorable matchup, but Stroman has looked much better through two starts since returning from shoulder fatigue, posting a 9:1 K:BB ratio with just two runs allowed over 12.0 innings. The six weeks off appear to have done Stroman plenty good, as his velocity is creeping back up, and he’s coming off a season in which he posted a 3.09 ERA. He’s still available in 43 percent of leagues.
Keon Broxton: Broxton was recalled after Lorenzo Cain went to the DL to act in a bench role with Eric Thames moving to the outfield, but that’s changed with Ryan Braun now sidelined with a back injury. Broxton homered twice Friday, and he just went 20/21 last year in only 414 at bats. Braun’s injury may be minor, but Broxton is back in the lineup Saturday and whether it’s because of injuries or platooning, he’s looking at more at bats moving forward and is back on the fantasy radar.
Quick Hits: Zack Wheeler is showing real signs of progress lately and is absolutely worth a look in deeper leagues…With Chad Kuhl placed on the disabled list, Nick Kingham could soon get another chance in Pittsburgh. He continues to be highly intriguing and is available in more than 90 percent of leagues…Scott Pianowski recently implored us to pick up Jesse Winker and also possible new San Francisco closer Will Smith. Smith has looked terrific, doesn’t have platoon splits, and could easily soon put an end to this Giants closing madness. Go add him…Ryan Tepera hit the DL with right elbow inflammation, and Tyler Clippard looks like the current favorite to close in Toronto. He worked a clean ninth inning to record a save Friday, sports a 10.5 K/9 and is still available in 80 percent of leagues. Meanwhile, Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said Roberto Osuna will be the team’s closer when he’s back from suspension August 5.