Now that the All-Star break is fully within our rearview mirror, it is time for fantasy baseball owners to make that push toward a championship. Hopefully, you used the time off from daily lineup decisions to assess your roster, your place in the standings and what you are going to need to start that climb to the top. If not, you better hop to it and determine exactly what you will need to succeed.
In an effort to help nudge you in the right direction, here are a few players expected to have a second-half breakout. Depending on your team’s needs, any one of them could be a game-changer.
If power is your need, look no further than Oakland first baseman, Matt Olson. After missing all of April with a broken bone in his hand, Olson has shown that his growth in power over his first two seasons was no fluke. His 19 home runs and .315 ISO leave no doubt that a 35-homer season is in the works, and, even better, his low-profile keeps him off far too many people’s radar.
There is more power to be had with up-and-coming Toronto backstop, Danny Jansen. His slow start to the season has left him in the shadows, and your knowledge of his impending surge is sure to give you an edge at a position bereft of true talent. The start to this rookie campaign focused on defense and properly handling a pitching staff, and with the strides he has made, he now can focus on hitting. He doubled his home run total and raised his average 20 points in just seven July games, and that momentum is sure to carry over with little to no pressure on him.
An under-the-radar arm who needs to be considered is Reds right-hander Tyler Mahle. Though he has just two wins this season, he is striking out more than a batter per inning and has shown dramatically improved command. His walk rate from last season has been cut nearly in half, and he is among the top 25 in baseball in xFIP and SIERA, two underlying peripherals used to gauge a pitcher’s performance.
Lastly, saves have been tough to come by on the waiver wire, but with a number of relievers likely to change teams, things should open up for those in need. The White Sox are expected to trade closer Alex Colome and replace him in the ninth with Aaron Bummer. The 25-year old southpaw is averaging just over a strikeout per inning and has a strong 1.89 ERA over 33¹/₃ innings this season. Stashing him now would be wise.
The names may not be sexy, but acquiring them in trade or off the waiver wire certainly will be easier than going after a Christian Yelich or Justin Verlander. Besides, it is time to forget about the names and focus on the numbers. A high-profile doesn’t win you a title. Results do.
Howard Bender is the VP of operations and head of content at FantasyAlarm.com. Follow him on Twitter @rotobuzzguy and catch him on the award winning “Fantasy Alarm Radio Show” on the SiriusXM fantasy sports channel weekdays from 4-6 p.m. Go to FantasyAlarm.com for all your fantasy sports advice, MLB lineups and DFS weather updates.