He made a start Thursday for the first time in nearly two years following Tommy John surgery, limiting Los Angeles to five baserunners with seven strikeouts over five innings. Lamet also gave up three runs, but it came on the road against a strong Dodgers lineup that he held to a .141 expected batting average while regularly working in the mid-90s with his fastball.
He wasn’t dominating in the ERA department in the minors during his rehab starts but owned a 12.4 K/9 rate and looks ready to miss bats in the majors now, with the aid of a fastball with a strong spin rate and a home park in Petco that remains incredibly favorable for pitchers. Lamet sports a career 28.9 K percentage in the majors that would rank 12th among starters this season, just ahead of Luis Castillo, Walker Buehler, and Trevor Bauer, and he’s rostered in just 15% of Yahoo leagues.
Danny Salazar, Cleveland Indians
An old fantasy favorite, Salazar is back making rehab starts (he struck out five batters over 1.2 innings during his first one) and is soon expected to join Double-A. He’s reportedly throwing 95/96 mph, and while it’s not a sure thing he won’t return as a reliever, he’s on a five-day rotation schedule right now. Salazar hasn’t pitched since the 2017 ALDS, but Cleveland shouldn’t waste time (or bullets in his arm) as soon as he’s deemed ready. He’s something of a long shot at this point, but the last time we saw Salazar he produced a 16.4 SwStr% that would currently rank second behind only Max Scherzer (16.7%) among starters in 2019. There’s good upside here for a pitcher who’s available in more than 85% of leagues.
Will Smith is one of the best relievers in baseball (his 41.7 K% ranks third in MLB, and his .212 wOBA allowed is in the top 1% of the league), but he’s also arguably the likeliest player to be traded at the deadline this year, which would open up the closer’s role in San Francisco. Watson isn’t a guarantee to take over (and is also a lefty like Smith), but he’s been acting as the Giants’ clear setup man for a while now (his 18 holds are also the third-most in MLB, for whatever it’s worth) and flashes a 2.67 ERA with a 12.8 SwStr% this season. If you’re in a deeper format and searching for someone to stash for future saves, Watson is still available in 88% of leagues.
Gavin Lux, Los Angeles Dodgers
After racking up 20 homers/steals in Double-A this season, the 21-year-old is hitting .519/.567/.815 over his first 30 plate appearances after a recent promotion in Triple-A. Few minor leaguers have seen their stock rise more this season, as Lux is flying through the Dodgers’ system, moving his timeline way up. It’s possible he’s not given an opportunity in LA until 2020, but Lux could also easily force his way into the majors soon and be the team’s everyday second baseman down the stretch. Fantasy gamers will be sprinting to waiver wires if Lux gets the call.
Mitch Keller, Pittsburgh Pirates
He got hit hard during his last start in Triple-A and had a 10.50 ERA over three outings in the majors earlier this year, so this stash is aimed for forward-thinking gamers in deeper leagues. But Keller is one of the best prospects in baseball, has pitched well in the minors this season before Thursday’s hiccup and struck out 15 batters over 12.0 innings with Pittsburgh, so he wasn’t exactly overmatched by big league hitters during his brief MLB audition. PNC Park has oddly been hitter-friendly this year, but it typically suppresses run scoring, and Keller’s stuff has the ability to make an impact on the Pirates and fantasy teams after the All-Star break.
Bo Bichette, Freddy Galvis & Danny Jansen, Toronto Blue Jays
Bichette homered in Triple-A on Thursday, remains one of the best prospects in the minors and should provide a nice power/speed combo as soon as Toronto calls him up. In the meantime, there’s Galvis, who’s hitting toward the top of the Blue Jays lineup and is already up to 14 long balls on the year, yet remains readily available in fantasy leagues.
Jansen, meanwhile, has six homers over his last seven games and gets an excuse for his slow start this season, as catchers usually take more time to develop than other positions. The Blue Jays hitters get an extra boost thanks to their home park as well, which has increased homers this season like Coors Field in its prime.
Evan Longoria, San Francisco Giants
The declining veteran has suddenly hit four homers over his last three games, all coming in Petco Park. Of course, Longoria is used to playing in a pitcher’s park, and the newly named version in San Francisco has remained as tough as ever to homer in. But Longoria hits in the No. 3 hole and the Giants’ offense hasn’t been quite as terrible of late (top-five in wRC+ over the last two weeks). He doesn’t offer much upside at this stage of his career, but Longoria is showing he’s healthy now and still has something left in his tank. His defense has bounced back in a big way this season when he’s also sporting his best BB% (9.2) since 2013, and his expected slugging (.492) is in the league’s 77th percentile.