We’re into July now, with the All-Star break coming next week. So it’s time for fantasy baseball owners to really take realistic stock of their rosters, and try to make moves.
The waiver wire remains the easiest path to reshape a roster, and here are our five must-adds for the first week of July.
Note: All stats, trends are through action on June 30.
5. Keston Hiura, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers
After sending a productive Hiura back to Triple-A to make room for a healthy Travis Shaw, the Brewers made it right last week. He hit .281 with five home runs during his first stint in the big leagues, then continued to rake at Triple-A for the majority of June (.321 with a 1.061 OPS, eight home runs and 20 RBI) to force a recall in concert with Shaw’s struggles.
Hiura is just 2-for-10 since being recalled, but ignore that small sample. He is a must-add in all leagues.
Yahoo! Ownership: 41%
ESPN Ownership: 15.4%
4. Kevin Newman, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates
Newman’s hitting streak technically ended at 17 games on Sunday, though he did have a hit in 19 straight games he started before Sunday. In June he tuned up opposing pitchers with a .316/.352/.491 slash-line, four home runs, 16 RBI, 14 runs scored and four stolen bases. He has also become Pittsburgh’s leadoff hitter, which bolsters his fantasy outlook.
Newman hit just .209 for the Pirates last year, so some regression may be coming. But his run in June was not fueled by excessive luck (.323 BABIP), and eligibility at both middle infield spots as well as possibly third base eventually (six games so far this season) adds to the rosterability in fantasy leagues.
Yahoo! Ownership: 37%
ESPN Ownership: 14.6%
3. Carlos Martinez, RP/SP, St. Louis Cardinals
With Jordan Hicks (Tommy John surgery) out for the season, Martinez was named the Cardinals closer and his usage in his first appearance since Hicks was injuredhas confirmed it.
Martinez entered Sunday’s game against the San Diego Padres in the bottom of the eighth, and pitched 2.2 scoreless innings with four strikeouts and a walk along with getting the win. He’s now got a 2.55 ERA with a 1.02 WHIP and an 18:6 K/BB ratio over 14 relief appearances (17.2 innings) this season.
Martinez has starting pitcher eligibility in fantasy leagues (Yahoo! and ESPN at least), which adds to his utility for fantasy owners. Even though he’s over our general 50 percent ownership line in Yahoo! leagues, there’s plenty of room to add him.
Yahoo! Ownership: 62%
ESPN Ownership: 39.1%
2. Brendan McKay, SP/1B, Tampa Bay Rays
After posting a 1.22 ERA with an 11.9 K/9 and a 2.0 BB/9 between Double-A and Triple-A, McKay made his major league debut against the Texas Rangers last Saturday. He did not disappoint, retiring the first 16 batters he faced and pitched six scoreless innings with three strikeouts and one walk while throwing 81 pitches (55 strikes; 15 looking, 10 swinging).
Missing more bats would be nice, but that’s nitpicking on McKay. He has progressed better early in his pro career as a pitcher, but he had a .951 OPS at Triple-A before being called up and Rays manager Kevin Cash has suggested McKay will be in the lineup regularly while following the same plan he had in the minors (starting every six days, with a day off on each side). McKay has exclusively been a DH so far this year in the minors, but it seems he could see time at first base.
#Rays Kevin Cash says Brendan McKay will hit inside the cages today and club will follow similar hitting/pitching plan that he had in the minors.
— Josh Tolentino (@JCTSports) June 30, 2019
In ESPN leagues, owning McKay means owning him as both a pitcher and a hitter automatically. He can be added and owned as if he was two different players on Yahoo!, with a drastic difference in current ownership rates but also a case to add him as both if possible.
Regardless, having a two-way player on your fantasy roster would be fun. McKay the pitcher has more immediate and predictable value though.
Yahoo! Ownership: 59% (Pitcher), 4% (Batter)
ESPN Ownership: 34.4% (Both)
1. Chris Taylor, SS/2B/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
Since Corey Seager (hamstring) last played on June 11, Taylor has stepped in as the Dodgers’ starting shortstop and he’s hitting .407 (24-for-59) with a 1.176 OPS, three home runs and 16 RBI over that span (18 games-15 starts).
Taylor hit 38 home runs and drove in 135 over the 2017 and 2018 seasons, with 85 runs scored in each season. He has not produced at quite that rate so far in 2019 (eight home runs, 39 RBI), but use at multiple positions (outfield, shortstop, second base) keeps him Dave Roberts’ lineup on a regular basis.
Seager is progressing toward a return, which is an automatic ding (however slight) to Taylor’s fantasy value. That said, he needs to be owned in far more leagues than he is.
Yahoo! Ownership: 55%
ESPN Ownership: 46.4%