I can’t remember my last perfect day at work. I’m always making small mistakes — typos, misclicks, the usual for an office job — but I typically get by okay. Well, for Domingo Germán, his last perfect day at work was his last time out, posting a perfect game at Oakland on Wednesday night. German faced the minimum 27 batters with nine strikeouts on just 99 pitches to retire the Athletics and lead the Yankees to an 11-0 victory.
One outstanding outing might not be enough to move the needle on a fringe player like German, but it is a flash of his outstanding potential (and an endorsement of just about any pitcher facing the Oakland lineup moving forward). The goal is typically to try and predict these kinds of ceiling performances before they happen so we can have them work for fantasy managers as opposed to operating reactively and hoping for the performance to be replicated. That’s what we’ll try to do this week.
With the All-Star break fast approaching, fantasy leagues differ in the way they operate the schedule. Some have condensed the three-game weekend after the All-Star break (July 14th-16th) into this coming week while some will combine it with the week after. Keep an eye on how your league schedules out the next couple of weeks around the break and plan accordingly. The Los Angeles Angels and Colorado Rockies each have just five games between July 3rd and July 9th, meaning they have two fewer games during that stretch than the majority of teams as 14 teams have a full week. All 30 teams will play three games the weekend after the All-Star break.
SEVEN GAMES (10 Games): BAL, CHC, CIN, CLE, HOU, KC, MIA, MIL, NYY, PIT, SEA, STL, TEX, WAS
FIVE GAMES (Eight Games): COL, LAA
Investment Rating System
Will Benson ($$$): I believed in Will Benson enough to draft him in multiple places at the beginning of the year. His start to the season made me look foolish, but since his callup in late May he’s been absolutely raking. Benson is batting 25-for-73 (.342) with three home runs and six stolen bases in 28 games since returning to the big leagues and has been a big part of the Reds’ early-summer success. I’m back on board the S.S. Benson. The tools are too good to ignore.
Kerry Carpenter ($$$): The Tigers’ lineup isn’t great. We can all admit that. However, any player batting third in a major league lineup on a consistent basis should likely be rostered in all leagues. Carpenter fits the bill. Managers will need to see more power out of the Detroit outfielder though, as he’s knocked just three home runs so far this season. Maybe the warmer weather will bring better outcomes for Carpenter who boasts a Top 100 Hard Contact rate (29.8%) and a Top 50 Slugging percentage (.489) even with so few home runs.
Alek Thomas ($$): If Corbin Carroll’s injury forces the budding superstar to miss any time, Thomas is the direct beneficiary. Since returning to the majors on June 19th, Thomas is batting a much-improved .275 (11-for-40) with three doubles and a home run. He can flash speed too, but doesn’t run often with just four stolen bases in 50 games played this season.
Will Brennan ($$): Brennan completed a stellar month of June with a .333 batting average, eight doubles, three home runs, 14 RBI and even chipped in two stolen bases. If he can stay on track through the dog days of July and August, he could be a stalwart in the Cleveland outfield and in fantasy lineups.
Bligh Madris ($): There are only two active left-handed bats on the Houston Astros‘ roster. Kyle Tucker and Bligh Madris are the only lefties that the Astros can trot out there, so Madris will likely never start against a lefty but ought to be trotted out there pretty frequently when the Astros take on a righty and would be the most likely pinch-hitter in platoon situations as well. Madris hasn’t done much with his major league opportunities, but he could still get enough opportunity to justify a low-dollar pickup, especially in deep leagues.
Jason Heyward ($): Middle of the Dodgers lineup. Strong side platoon player. Above-average plate skills. Barring injury, I’ll probably run his name in every edition of this column for the rest of the season.
Jordan Westburg ($$): The Orioles called up Westburg to fill in at second base where Adam Frazier has fallen off since the beginning of the year. Westburg has shown outstanding plate discipline and a solid hit tool in his first few games, but with a .455 BABIP could be due for some regression. Still, he is an attractive bat at a shallow position and could be fun to roster in the second half.
Nick Gonzales ($$): A former first round pick, Gonzales was brought up to the big leagues last week and finally showed off some of his potential on Friday as he finished with a triple and a home run. The Pirates don’t have much competition in the middle infield as Tucupita Marcano and Rodolfo Castro don’t pose much of a threat, so Gonzales should see regular playing time now that he’s been called up.
Eduardo Escobar ($$): A change of scenery for Escobar has been an opening for consistent playing time. The Angels have run him out at third base and now at second base with the return of Anthony Rendon. Fantasy managers can roster Escobar as long as he continues to receive every day at-bats in a volatile Angels’ lineup.
Zach Remillard ($): Consistently batting second for the White Sox, Remillard is basically a Nick Madrigal clone. With practically zero power, he hits for high average, is on base almost half the time, and scores runs. He has flashed some speed with two stolen bases, but should not be relied upon to carry a team in the category.
J.P. Crawford ($): Crawford is an underrated middle infielder who continues to produce results despite not being touted as a fantasy asset. For teams in need of runs, Crawford provides a high OBP in front of productive Mariners’ bats in the middle of the order. His lack of a decent batting average, absent speed, and lackluster power leave a lot to be desired, but at least he’ll start nearly every game.
Jared Young ($): A young first base prospect for the Cubs who has come up and hit really well in his first few games… wait a minute, this was SUPPOSED to be Matt Mervis! In three games in the big leagues, Young has hit two triples and a home run, showing some pop in his left-handed bat. Maybe he sticks at first base for a Cubs team who hasn’t had a consistently good bat at the position since Anthony Rizzo left.
Henry Davis ($$$): Stating the obvious. If Davis is still available in your league, scoop him immediately. Pittsburgh is playing him daily in the outfield to get his coveted bat in the lineup. He could be a second-half difference maker.
Bo Naylor ($$): Taking over as the starting catcher in Cleveland, Naylor is immediately a Top-15 option at the league’s shallowest position.
Yanier Diaz ($$): The Astros are riding the Diaz wave, batting him in the middle of the order in five of their last six contests.
Connor Wong ($): Fantasy managers who are just looking for a healthy second catcher can look to Wong for at-bats. Production? Not so much.
Kenta Maeda ($$$): Maeda is back and seems to finally be completely healthy. Of course, health could be fleeting, especially for a pitcher who has missed nearly all of the last season and a half with injury. In each of his last two starts, Maeda has allowed two runs or fewer over five innings. With a limited pitch count so far, the hope for fantasy managers would be that he continues to build up over the All-Star break and comes back in the second half to pitch well for a division-leading Twins team that will need his services in their rotation if they want to stay atop the AL Central.
Yusei Kikuchi ($$$): It looks like Kikuchi has finally turned the corner, evolving into the pitcher that the Mariners were hoping he would be when he signed there years ago. With six-straight starts of two earned runs or fewer, Kikuchi would be much less widely available had Kikuchi not been stuck with four no-decisions over that stretch. The stuff looks sustainable. I say Yusei should be rostered nearly everywhere.
Michael Soroka ($$$): I will never not recommend Soroka. He’s back in the Braves rotation and could be there to stay if he keeps performing like he did last time out. He earned his first home victory since 2020, notching seven strikeouts and allowing three earned runs on just five hits across six innings. I want all the Soroka.
Domingo Germán ($$): A perfect game is cool and everything. And I was even lucky enough to have him rostered and in my starting lineup in one league for a whopping 75 points (!!!) but are we convinced as a fantasy community that this is somehow sustainable? German does rank among the Top 30 pitchers in both Swinging Strike rate (14.1%) and CSW (30.6%) but is all the way down at 172nd in PLV. The WHIP is nice. The ERA is not. In deep leagues, German makes a great back end rotation starter, but there’s just too many questions surrounding him and his approach for me to buy in completely.
Adam Wainwright ($$): It’s been really difficult to watch the future Hall-of-Famer struggle, but maybe the All-Star break will give him a chance to rest his old bones and get back to form.
Keaton Winn ($): An extreme-groundball pitcher, Winn has modeled the Alex Cobb approach as he pummels hitters with nearly 60% splitters. If he moves into the San Francisco rotation on a full-time basis, Winn could rack up quality starts and even wins, though he’ll be light on strikeouts.
Hunter Harvey ($$): He looks to be the closer in Washington. Even with limited opportunities on a below-average ballclub, Harvey could provide value for save-needy teams.
Griffin Jax ($$): The undisputed setup man in Minnesota, Jax has been outstanding all season long. If anything happens to Jhoan Duran, be it injury or fatigue, Jax should be a lead candidate to step into the ninth-inning role. In the meantime, he can boost ratios and provide some strikeouts for fantasy managers in need of a reliever.
Daniel Hudson ($$): Finally back from the IL, Hudson returns to a Dodgers bullpen where Evan Phillips has taken on the closer role. Many presumed that Hudson would be the closer upon his return, but it may take some time for him to gain ninth-inning duties back from Phillips. Monitor the situation in Los Angeles. Hudson is one of the best speculative adds for saves on the market this week.
Ron Marinaccio ($): Marinaccio has shown enough that he should be in consideration for ninth-inning duties if the Yankees ever decide to pick just one guy from their committee of closers.
Aroldis Chapman ($): Chapman is headed to Arlington where he should slot in to the Rangers’ late-game bullpen. Though Will Smith seems to have a firm grasp on the closer role, we’ve all seen him show volatility before. Smith managers especially should be looking to handcuff Chapman, just in case he overtakes the incumbent for save opportunities in Texas.
Dylan Coleman ($): A purely speculative add, Coleman is one of the candidates — albeit a long shot — for late-inning work in Kansas City with the absence of Chapman. Coleman was on the Royals’ opening day roster but was optioned to Triple-A before the end of April and has not returned to the major leagues since. He has an eye-popping 15.9 K/9 at Triple-A in 19.0 innings pitched, but he’s also posted a walk rate above 10.0 BB/9.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)