Alex Bregman(3B/SS-HOU): Alex Bregman went 1-for-3 with a triple, three RBIs and two walks against the White Sox out of the leadoff spot. While Bregman has disappointed fantasy owners who drafted him with a top-10 round pick, the 23-year-old looks be catching his stride in the second half. He is now 26-for-80 with an 11:6 BB:K ratio in 22 second-half games, increasing his hard hit, pull and contact rates along the way. With Carlos Correa on the shelf, Bregman has also added shortstop eligibility for this season in most leagues and should hold it into next season, which will only boast his already rising stock. He is going to be special.
Jackie Bradley(OF-BOS): Jackie Bradley went 2-for-4 with one RBI against the Rays. With offense (especially power) up again across the league, Bradley's .261/.333/.435 line with 13 homers has been disappointing to say the least from a fantasy perspective, which has led many to jump ship. However, I see big things in store for Bradley down the stretch and see him as a great buy-low candidate for two reasons. One: despite an increase in his hard hit rate up to 36.9 percent and his speed off bat on homers to 104.5, Bradley has witnessed a downturn in his HR/FB rate to 14.1 percent. Two: he has struggled mightily hitting out of the 5-spot (.180 AVG, 0 homers in 15 starts) and has thrived towards the bottom of the lineup, a place where manager John Farrell envisions him playing for the rest of the season. If he's available in a 5 OF league, go get him.
Andrew Cashner(SP-TEX): Andrew Cashner was scratched from his start today against the Mets due to a stiff neck, although he looks likely to take another turn before the end of the week. The right-hander has been red hot, posting quality starts in his last five outings. The key has been the increase in his ground ball rate (up to 50.4 percent) and a decrease in his hard hit rate (down to 29.5 percent). A newfound confidence in his changeup seems to be fueling the improvements in surface stats, as hitters are mustering a .179 ISO after they posted a .244 mark last season. His 5.9 swinging strike rate leaves him susceptible to batted ball luck, but you could do worse than Cashner at the back end of your mixed league rotation.
Max Kepler(OF_MIN): Max Kepler went 3-for-4 with two homers, three RBIs and one walk vs. the Brewers. Kepler has homered three times in his last three gams to give him 13 on the campaign. While it has been a disappointing sophomore season for Kepler, he has been making subtle gains beneath the surface, such as increasing his fly ball rate (3.3 percentage points) and decreasing his chase rate (2.8 percentage points). The next frontier for Kepler will be improving against left-handed pitching, as he's carrying a .128 AVG with two XBH in 86 at-bats against them this season. Play the matchups for the rest of this season, and etch him in your preseason prep book, as I believe he has the makeup and the goods to be a great sleeper pick for next season.
Kevin Gausman(SP-BAL): Kevin Gausman has allowed two earned runs over his last 27 2/3 innings while posting a 32:9 K:BB ratio. He has struggled on the road this season, but, he's a different pitcher now and he's heading into an Angel Stadium of Anaheim that ranks 17th in Park Factors. Plus, the Angels are 26th in total offense against right-handers and have the kind of lineup (with only two big power threats in Trout and Pujols) that Gausman can navigate. I'm not in love with the other top options today (Bumgarner, Greinke, Verlander) and think Gausman (priced at $9100 on FanDuel) can deliver similar production while saving you around $1000 to use for hitting.
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