The first full week of June means we’re over two full months into the fantasy baseball season and it’s time to grind out the mid-season wins that put you in place for your postseason push after the All-Star break. It also means it’s time to keep churning the bottom part of your roster to make sure you have the best players in place for the coming week.
On the original schedule for Major League Baseball this week was scheduled to be one of the quieter fantasy baseball weeks of the season, but several makeup games due to weather issues earlier this season have helped it be a more normally paced week. Two of those games are set up to be a pair of doubleheaders Saturday which give the Rays, Red Sox, Athletics and Rangers seven games in the upcoming week along with Cubs, Astros, Padres and Mariners who were already lined up for full weeks. The rest of the league is set to play six games except for the White Sox, who play just five.
There are plenty of good options on most leagues’ waiver wires, so be sure to stay active and add the players who can give you a boost you in categories of need. The following four picks are widely available and set up for success this week. If they don’t seem to be quite the right fit or are already rostered in a more competitive or active league, I’ve also included some other options at the bottom of the page who can also provide good production. If you have specific questions about your roster or league format, I’d be happy to answer them on Twitter @ZT_Sports, where I’ll do my best to tell you what I would do in your roster situation.
SP DEVIN SMELTZER, MIN (at CLE, at DET)Coming off a strong Major League debut last Tuesday against the Brewers, Smeltzer is set up for a two-start week if the weather cooperates in Cleveland and Detroit. The 23-year-old lefty has an amazing story of overcoming bladder cancer as a boy, but he showed he’s more than just a feel-good narrative by throwing six shutout innings with seven strikeouts and just three hits allowed against a good Milwaukee lineup. He only threw 69 pitches, but manager Rocco Baldelli played it safe and took Smeltzer out.
Smeltzer has dominated at his two stops in the minors this season in Double-A for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos and at Triple-A for the Rochester Red Wings. In nine combined starts, he went 3-2 with a 1.15 ERA, picking up 48 strikeouts in 54 2/3 innings. With a pair of good matchups and a strong lineup behind him, the rookie makes a great addition to your roster this week.
C MITCH GARVER, MIN (at CLE, at DET)Another option from Minnesota to take a look at is Garver, who returned on Sunday from a high ankle sprain that cost him three weeks. He hit leadoff against Tampa and went 1-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. Garver has filled in at leadoff a few times this season, but typically hits further down in the order.
Before the injury, he was having a breakout season and will look to pick back up where he left off. He was hitting .329 with nine home runs, 19 RBI and a 1.164 OPS in his first 25 games for Minnesota this season. Garver’s batting average is second to only James McCann among catchers with over 50 at-bats, and his nine home runs rank fourth among all catchers on the season. He could be worked back into the lineup slowly since the Twins have Jason Castro and Willians Astudillo as options behind the plate as well, but he could also get some at-bats at DH this week if Nelson Cruz (wrist) remains on the IL. Garver is a great way to get a solid bat at a thin catcher position and also gives you a piece of the highest-scoring lineup in baseball against a pair of beatable opponents.
2B KESTON HIURA, MIL (vs. MIA, vs. PIT)Another lineup that ranks in the top 10 in almost every category in the Majors is the Brewers, and they have two three-game series against below-average pitching staffs at hitter-friendly Miller Park. Hiura was viewed as the team’s top prospect coming into the season and has delivered on his promise so far, hitting .300 with five homers in his first 16 games.
Coming into Sunday’s contest, Hiura homered in three of his previous four games and came through in the clutch against the Pirates with a game-tying home run in the ninth on Saturday. The 22-year-old has earned himself more playing time and should stay involved even when Travis Shaw (wrist) is activated from the injured list. Shaw was batting just .163 with 50 strikeouts in 135 at-bats before the injury, so Hiura definitely seems to be the better offensive option. He could also get some playing time in place of Mike Moustakas, who was hit on the hand Saturday and was out of the lineup Sunday. There is some risk that Huira will get sent back to Triple-A when Shaw returns, but as long as he stays in the lineup in the Majors, he should be a nice option this week, offering some unusual power production from 2B.
Editor’s Note: Hiura was sent down to Triple-A on Monday.
RP LUKE JACKSON, ATL (at PIT, at MIA)The Braves bullpen has been an adventure since the team lost projected closer Arodys Vizcaino for the season to a shoulder injury. Atlanta actually traded Vizcaino to Seattle this week as part of a trade for Anthony Swarzak. A.J. Minter also had a shot at the closer job, but struggled and was sent to Triple-A. Even converted starting pitcher Sean Newcomb is among six different relievers that have a save this season for the Braves. The most effective of the bunch lately is Jackson, who leads the team with eight saves in his 25 games pitched.
The right-handed reliever relies heavily on his slider but also has swing-and-miss movement on his fastball. He has picked up 41 strikeouts in his 28 2/3 innings this season including 10 punchouts in his past three games over the span of 4 2/3 innings. He does get multi-inning appearances more often than a traditional closer, but also sometimes gives up save opportunities to other members of the patchwork bullpen. However, if Jackson is on the waiver wire and you need saves and some solid strikeouts, he’s a great option to add.
Other options worth watchingBATTERS
- 1B/3B Renato Núñez, Baltimore Orioles
- 1B/2B/3B/SS/OF Niko Goodrum, Detroit Tigers
- 1B/OF Jay Bruce, Philadelphia Phillies
- 2B/3B/SS/OF David Fletcher, Los Angeles Angels
- 2B/SS/OF Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Toronto Blue Jays
- OF Kole Calhoun, Los Angeles Angels
- OF Bryan Reynolds, Pittsburgh Pirates
- OF Kevin Kiermaier, Tampa Bay Rays
- SP Eric Lauer, San Diego Padres
- SP Garrett Canning, Los Angeles Angels
- SP Jimmy Nelson, Milwaukee Brewers
- RP Scott Oberg, Colorado Rockies
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Z.Thompson) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.