Ketel Marte (3-5% FAAB) is not the most intriguing pick-up of all time. He will not star in any Dos Equis commercials alongside silver-haired foxes who dive out of planes into the North Atlantic as an extreme form of salmon fishing. However, if you have injuries, it was surprising to see Marte available on the waiver wire. If your league is savvy enough, someone may be stashing the 24-year-old Arizona shortstop still trying to achieve his full potential. Since June began, Marte has 3 of his 4 HR to go along with a .426 ISO, 209 wRC+, and 3 barrels, that have all come on offspeed pitches. He has found more success this year on breaking and offspeed pitches. In fact, all 4 of his homers have come off of these offerings. Marte hasn’t made significant changes. However, now that he has 316 games of experience in the majors, this young player can finally be comfortable in the box against big league stuff. The MLB is not the best for a kid who can’t catch up to fastballs. Ketel Marte is now making all the contact you want to see while adding a little power to go with the speed. He’s not going to turn into a 20/20 candidate overnight, but that speed potential has been there this whole time. Pairing it with 15 HR pop is what Marte needed to stay relevant in today’s fantasy baseball landscape. While Ketel Marte doesn’t have off-the-charts raw power, he is looking a little more athletic these days, and it shows in the numbers. Pick him up where he is available and enjoy a solid floor for the rest of the season.
FAAB Bid: 2-4%
You may need an extra boost of confidence to go out and scoop up Jhoulys Chacin, which is understandable. Let me remind you that he was once a successful pitcher in Coors Field. Now with that out of the way, let’s check in to see what he is doing this season. Chacin is now part of a Milwaukee Brewers team that claims successful stints from guys like Brent Suter, Zach Davies, Junior Guerra, and the reclamation of Chase Anderson and Jimmy Nelson. While looking around the league for pitching, it is hard to find another situation in which pitchers rise from obscurity to fantasy relevancy. In the last start against the Chicago Cubs, Chacin employed a new split-fingered grip on his changeup. This pitch has always been one that the right-hander was looking for to throw lefties off-balance. Chacin always has kind of thrown a changeup, but nothing that any hitter would have feared. This last outing was a bit different as only one of the splitters was put into play by Cubs hitters. In fact, only 4 of his offspeed/breaking offerings made it into the field. Jhoulys Chacin is another pitcher having a successful run due to increasing secondary pitch usage and adding more to his repertoire. Anybody making changes to their game, and succeeding because of it, deserves to be rostered. Chacin was ownable before this change during the start on June 13th, so this new splitter has me even more intrigued.
FAAB Bid: 1-3%
Won’t you all come and join me on the Anibal Sanchez bandwagon? There is plenty of space for those of you who are claustrophobic, trust me. Let me try and make my best case for the 34-year-old veteran making a new name for himself on one of the younger teams in the league. The main reason for Sanchez’ success this year is his huge repertoire of pitches. In a game where velocity is the most coveted pitching tool, it is also the skill hitters are trained to neutralize. Anibal Sanchez does not have what you may call, “elite velocity.” Anibal Sanchez does not have, “average velocity.” The Braves right-hander is performing as such because he throws six pitches at least 10% of the time, adding in a changeup around 5% to mess with hitters throughout the game. Sanchez has turned himself into one of the smartest sequencing pitchers, which is obvious when you watch his starts this year. Wondering why he’s doing what he’s doing is not hard when realizing how extremely uncomfortable these at-bats must be for opposing hitters. In today’s game, you go up to the plate usually worrying about high heat, bendy breakers, and maybe a changeup. Anibal Sanchez is presenting low-velocity, pitch tunnels, and anything he can muster to confuse the hitter and move the ball slightly away from the barrel. This fantasy add is due to his weak contact, win potential and craftiness.
FAAB Bid: 5+%
This name is most likely the one nobody knows on this list, but should. The rest of these guys have been around for a while shifting from desired to unwanted and back again throughout their fantasy careers. Zach Eflin once had the profile of a low upside prospect without much strikeout potential. Decent velocity and command could not help him generate whiffs in the way one wants to see when looking for fantasy baseball ceiling. He was surpassed this season by another unintriguing command pitcher in Nick Pivetta from the same organization. Pivetta has struggled slightly as of late, and Eflin has picked up the slack in many ways. His success is in large part due to a change in pitch mix and location. Last season Eflin relied on his sinker most of the time, which did not garner any positive results. In 2018, however, he is using this pitch to his advantage by targetting the bottom right corner of the plate in a precise pattern. His four-seam now gets more run, as it is a decent pitch around 95 MPH, and works better with his slider and changeup. Eflin already had a proper repertoire, but slight adjustments in the usage percents and location have allowed him to take a big step towards becoming a successful big-leaguer and coveted fantasy asset. These changes are legit, and the previous command tool should enable him to continue utilizing his pitches in the particular way he has this season. Eflin is a fantastic bet to stick on fantasy rosters for the rest of the year as more than a streamer.
FAAB Bid: 2-4%
We all know what Jason Heyward is capable of, and that is half the reason he makes this week’s list. The power, the average, the speed, the defense, all of the tools are what made the legend of Heyward into a disappointment post-contract. He is getting under the ball a lot more while increasing his overall hard-hit rate. Could Jason Heyward be saving his career by focusing more on launch angle, generating backspin, and hitting fly balls? He wouldn’t be the first, but it’s shocking that people still don’t see the benefits of this approach. This change is one Heyward needed to make for a long time. The power within the profile was never going to actualize without raising his FB% above his career rate, ~32%. This season Heyward currently sits at 42% FB%, which is very healthy especially considering his past and has not lost any of his contact skills to achieve this change. Heyward seems to be a better hitter this year without much explanation. The adjustments that we have always wanted to see are finally here, so it’s time to go out and throw some money down on a hitter who could potentially still provide 25+ HR with a positive batting average, some speed, and juicy counting stats.
Lonely ONLY-League Targets: