With just three days of games remaining until the All-Star break, fantasy baseball managers should be focused more than ever on players who can help them this weekend. After all, there will be plenty of time during the three-day layoff next week to look for long-range options in the second half.
Danny Jansen (C, Toronto Blue Jays, 12 percent rostered)
Jansen is back from the IL and is poised to be used heavily by a Blue Jays team that has multiple struggling starters and prefers the way that he handles the staff. Since the 2021 All-Star break, Jansen has posted a 1.046 OPS, which shows that he has much more upside than most fantasy managers realize.
Daniel Vogelbach (1B, Pittsburgh Pirates, 4%)
The lefty-swinging Vogelbach has been predictably terrific against right-handers this year, posting a .917 OPS. He could rip multiple round-trippers when he faces a trio of starters who throw from the right side at hitter-friendly Coors Field.
Aledmys Diaz (1B/2B/3B/SS/OF, Houston Astros, 11%)
Those who are looking for ways to maximize their games played this weekend should take a look at Diaz, who is playing regularly while Yordan Alvarez and Michael Brantley serve stints on the IL. Eligible at nearly all positions and getting chances to hit high in the lineup, Diaz is a great short-term option in daily leagues.
Nolan Jones (3B/OF, Cleveland Guardians, 35%)
Jones is a notable prospect who posted a .917 OPS in Triple-A this year and has been terrific (1.053 OPS) in 27 plate appearances since joining the Guardians. In shallow leagues, I would give him a lineup spot against a mediocre Tigers pitching staff this weekend, with the consideration of keeping him into the second half if he fares well.
Adam Duvall (OF, Atlanta Braves, 29%)
Duvall is a sneaky option this weekend, when the Braves face a Nationals staff that ranks 29th in baseball in ERA. The veteran outfielder has been effective against left-handers this year (.863 OPS) and Washington is scheduled to throw southpaws Friday and Sunday.
Esteury Ruiz (2B, San Diego Padres, 44%)
Every manager who needs more steals in their lineup should take a long look at adding Ruiz. The 23-year-old swiped 60 bases in 77 Minor League games this season, which might be the highest stolen base rate that I have ever referenced in an article. He also hit 13 homers and posted a 1.027 OPS before making his MLB debut on July 12. While his level of playing time remains to be seen, there is no doubt that Ruiz has game-breaking potential.
Tyler Wells (SP, RP Baltimore Orioles, 49%)
I seem to mention Wells every week, which means that Yahoo managers continue to be slow to pick him up. The right-hander has been one of the most consistent starters in baseball this year and now owns an impressive 3.28 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP. He also has seven wins on a surprisingly competitive Baltimore team. Wells won’t rack up a huge strikeout total but should fare fine on Friday against a mediocre and injury-riddled Rays lineup.
Jake Odorizzi (SP, Houston Astros, 34%)
Odorizzi is widely considered to be Houston’s worst starter, but his overall numbers this year are solid (3.38 ERA, 1.22 WHIP). He's also coming off his best start of the season, when he struck out seven over seven scoreless frames against a weak Oakland offense. The right-hander will wrap up the first half on Sunday with a rematch against that same Oakland lineup.
Zach Plesac (SP, Cleveland Guardians, 51%)
Plesac isn’t anything special, but he did have a four-start stretch where he allowed four runs across 24 innings before having a subpar outing last time out. Pitching in the AL Central gives him plenty of manageable matchups, another of which comes Friday when he faces a Tigers lineup that ranks last in baseball in runs scored.
Max Castillo (RP, Toronto Blue Jays, 1%)
Castillo is an under-the-radar option in 12-team leagues this weekend, as he gets a matchup against the Royals that will be missing several non-vaccinated regulars on Saturday. The right-hander has posted an 18:3 K:BB ratio across six outings (one start) and made it into the fifth inning against the Mariners last week. His ratios will be fine and getting through five frames will be the biggest challenge.
Brett Martin (RP, Texas Rangers, 36%)
Although it would be premature to name Martin as the Rangers closer, the left-hander has collected three saves over four scoreless innings since Joe Barlow was removed from the role one week ago. Martin is a must-add for anyone who needs saves right now, with the disclaimer that there could be better options in a week or two.