Fantasy Baseball Pickups: Under-owned players ready for the spotlight

Dalton Del Don
Oscar Mercado of the Cleveland Indians
The bat is finally beginning to match the speed for Oscar Mercado. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Myles Straw, Houston Astros

He’s been recalled by Houston with Carlos Correa out 4-6 weeks after fracturing his rib, and while Straw is unlikely to have a regular position (he was moved to shortstop earlier this season and can play the outfield), his speed makes him plenty interesting for fantasy purposes, even in a utility role. Straw stole 70 bases between Double and Triple-A last season and even added three for the Astros in just nine at-bats (he’ll do damage as a pinch runner as well). Straw offers zero power but can take a walk and carries a ton of SB upside, yet he’s owned in just 1% of Yahoo leagues right now.

Dinelson Lamet, San Diego Padres

He made his first rehab appearance this week, and while the results were mixed (three runs over 2.2 innings), he struck out five and reportedly looked far better than the box score would indicate. Lamet is more than a year removed from Tommy John surgery, and he recorded 139 strikeouts over 114.1 innings with San Diego when we last saw him as a rookie. He’ll have the NL West and Petco Park on his side, so patient fantasy owners with an open IL spot should be stashing Lamet now.

Jose Urena, Miami Marlins

After a rough beginning to the year, Urena has allowed two runs or fewer in seven of eight starts, giving him a 2.77 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP over that span (although that’s come with a modest 33 strikeouts over 52.0 innings). Urena is a possible trade candidate, which would obviously help his run support, but no venue has decreased run scoring more than Marlins Park over the last three seasons (making it odd and fluky that he has a 5.08 ERA at home this year). Urena can be useful in deeper formats, and he’s still out there in more than 90% of leagues.

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Jordan Luplow, Cleveland Indians

He hit his seventh homer of the season Thursday while batting cleanup, and he’s especially interesting to fantasy owners in daily transaction leagues thanks to extreme platoon splits. In fact, all seven of Luplow’s homers have come against lefties (in just 48 at-bats), whom he’s recorded a 1.190 OPS against (compared to .390 versus righties). That will regress some moving forward, of course, but THE BAT projects a .253-47-15-49-4 line rest of season, which would typically exceed production from someone who’s available in 98% of leagues.

Lourdes Gurriel, Toronto Blue Jays

After getting sent to the minors earlier this season thanks to a poor start at the plate and developing a case of the yips at second base, Gurriel is back with Toronto, and he’s raised his OPS from .525 to .895 in the week since his return.

He’s clubbed four homers over 23 at-bats during that span and has taken over left field in Toronto yet is 2B, SS and OF eligible, giving him plenty of fantasy appeal.

Oscar Mercado, Cleveland Indians

Overlooked among the group of exciting recent callups, Mercado wasn’t given a starting role immediately but has secured one since and has been heating up recently, batting .348 with a homer and two steals over the last five games. Mercado has recorded 51 steals since the start of last season in Triple-A, and he’s recently been moved to the second spot in Cleveland’s lineup. The rookie is still available in more than 70% of leagues.

Kyle Schwarber, Chicago Cubs

With a .224 batting average and a .699 OPS entering May 15, Schwarber has been dropped in many shallow leagues, but he’s clubbed four homers over the last seven games and has even been moved to the leadoff spot in the Cubs’ lineup. He’s also hitting far better against southpaws (.313/.410/.563), which is a huge improvement compared to his career mark (.656 OPS). Schwarber quietly ranks in the top 7% of the league in exit velocity (92.4 mph), Hard Hit% (51.7) and BB% (14.6). THE BAT projects 22 homers and a 124 wRC+ rest of season. Schwarber remains available in more than half of leagues.

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