Fantasy Baseball: Waiver wire pickups to start the second half off on a high note

The All-Star break gave us all a chance to catch our breath, and if you’re anything like me, it also gave us a chance to miss baseball and realize how much more exciting life is with 30 Major League teams battling it out each day. For fantasy managers who are committed to winning this year, it’s time to get back to work. Let’s find some long-term gems and weekend rentals.

Josh Naylor (1B/OF, Cleveland Guardians, 38 percent rostered)

Naylor is someone who often finds his way into this article, as his platoon splits (.921 OPS vs. RHP) make him an obvious target when the Guardians are set for a string of games against right-handers. Such is the case today, as Cleveland will play eight contests against righties in the next seven days.

Nico Hoerner (2B/SS, Chicago Cubs, 43%)

The middle infield options on the waiver wire aren’t great right now, making a steady asset such as Hoerner feel more appealing than usual. The shortstop has been one of the most consistent helpers in the batting average category this year, hitting over .280 each month, leading to an overall average of .307. He also has a bit of speed (nine steals) and could help many roto teams until someone more exciting comes along.

Ramon Laureano (OF, Oakland A’s, 47%)

Laureano continues to present a valuable power-speed mix, having tallied nine in both homers and steals columns across 64 games played. In fact, if you add up his totals over the past two campaigns, he has 23 homers and 21 swipes in 152 contests. This is the perfect time to find roster space for Laureano, as there is a chance that he is part of a contending team’s lineup after the trade deadline.

Ramon Laureano #22 of the Oakland Athletics has fantasy value
Now's the time to add Ramon Laureano in fantasy leagues. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

Anthony Santander (OF, Baltimore Orioles, 43%)

I won’t use too much space on Santander, who has little breakout potential from this point forward. But the right-handed hitter could finish the year with 30 homers and 90 RBIs, which makes him an underrated producer to fill out fantasy rosters.

Akil Baddoo (OF, Detroit Tigers, 9%)

Akil has put the Bad in Baddoo (sorry, I couldn’t resist) this season, posting a .323 OPS and not showing any real signs of improvement since being recalled from a stint in the Minors. But he is just 23 years old and still possesses the skill set that led to 13 homers and 18 steals in 124 games last season. Those who can afford to keep Baddoo on their bench for a week or two could have someone with an exciting power-speed mix for the stretch run.

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Braxton Garrett (SP, Miami Marlins, 10%)

Fantasy managers have been quick to pick up recently recalled prospect Max Meyer but not his rotation mate, Garrett. Their enthusiasm for Meyer may be misplaced, as Garrett is the one who has posted solid ratios (3.70 ERA, 1.23 WHIP) and a 40:10 K:BB ratio across eight starts. Coming off an 11-strikeout outing, Garrett should be rostered in most leagues for his start today against the Pirates.

Jake Odorizzi (SP, Houston Astros, 37%)

Odorizzi has been solid in 10 starts this year (3.56 ERA, 1.19 WHIP) including posting a 12:1 K:BB ratio across 12.1 innings in back-to-back starts against the lowly A’s lineup prior to the All-Star break. The right-hander will make a third consecutive start against Oakland on Monday before wrapping up a two-start week vs. the Mariners. This is the time to grab him in weekly transaction leagues.

Ross Stripling (SP/RP, Toronto Blue Jays, 40%)

Stripling continues his successful conversion from the Blue Jays bullpen to rotation (2.84 ERA as a starter), and he should stick in the starting quintet from this point forward. The right-hander is a risky option in Boston this weekend but could help those in abbreviated points-league weeks. He has an advantageous matchup against the Tigers next week.

Kutter Crawford (SP/RP, Boston Red Sox, 5%)

Crawford has been successful across four starts with the Red Sox, posting a 3.60 ERA and a 22:6 K:BB ratio. And with Chris Sale dealing with a broken finger, the right-hander should stay in the starting quintet for the foreseeable future. Supported by Boston’s talented lineup, the 26-year-old has the potential to pick up a few victories, starting with a matchup against the Blue Jays tomorrow.

Kyle Finnegan (RP, Washington Nationals, 16%)

For the second straight year, Finnegan has been anointed the Nats' closer for the final months of the campaign. The right-hander picked up 11 saves from July 29 to the end of 2021 and is poised to do the same thing this year now that Tanner Rainey has been sidelined until 2023. With a lifetime 3.53 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP, Finnegan is far from a dominant reliever, but he should be good enough to help those in desperate need of saves.

Brett Martin (RP, Texas Rangers, 39%)

Martin continues to look like the Rangers' top option for saves, having allowed his last earned run way back on May 29. The left-hander has collected three saves since Joe Barlow was relieved of the closer’s role in early July, and there is a chance that he never allows another Texas hurler to enter the closer picture. For those who have the option, I would grab Martin over Finnegan.