By Sam McPherson
As the Major League Baseball season reaches the middle of its third month, it’s a good time for fantasy baseball owners to look at the standings and determine the team strengths and weaknesses. Once this is done, it’s that much easier to look for ways to improve the roster.
No matter what the weakness, you always can make your team better with waiver-wire pickups in June. It’s rare that a league doesn’t have good players available at this point if it’s a standard Rotisserie league or even a head-to-head league. With 10 teams and the full MLB player pool, a diligent fantasy baseball owner can bolster her or his roster easily.
Saves are most often the toughest thing to come by mid-season, and sometimes that statistical category boost requires some kind of trade with another team. However, by paying close attention to daily results, crafty owners can grab the next new closer on the waiver wire before the others in the league have even noticed something is up.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Waiver-wire shopping at every opportunity will bring success to your fantasy baseball season, so don’t neglect your regular roster maintenance as summer vacations approach. Thank goodness for smart phones and fantasy baseball apps!
Players to Get Onto Your Roster Now
1. Jhonny Peralta, SS, St. Louis Cardinals: Just back from injury, Peralta notched five RBI in his first four games this season. The Cards have juggled their lineup to get his bat into the game, so Peralta will have third-base eligibility soon, too. He was an All-Star pick in 2011, 2013 and 2015—you can sneak him onto your roster now before the other owners notice he’s even back.
2. Michael Fulmer, SP, Detroit Tigers: With nine MLB starts this season (7-1, 2.52 ERA) under his belt, Fulmer is proving he belongs. His walk rate is a little higher, but Fulmer doesn’t hurt himself by giving up too many hits or home runs. Plus, he is collecting a lot of strikeouts, too. Watch his arm this summer to see if he gets tired like some rookie starters can, but in the meantime, let him help your roster now.
3. Trayce Thompson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers: With a ton of talent in the outfield, the Dodgers have some luxury, don’t they? Thompson has hit 15 HRs in just 269 career ABs, and he’s playing better than the better-known Joc Pederson and/or Yasiel Puig. At just 25 years old, Thompson has a lot of long-term potential still, but for 2016, he also is producing the way you need a starter to. Grab him.
4. Will Harris, RP, Houston Astros: There’s something Arrieta-like about the sudden statistical improvement that Harris showed from his first few MLB seasons to now, and we can’t argue with the fantasy results. Since the start of 2015, Harris has allowed just 5.3 hits per nine innings while posting a 1.46 ERA over almost 100 innings. He has given up just one earned run in 2016, and the 31-year-old Harris could be the next closer in Houston.
Players to Sit/Drop This Week
1. Edinson Volquez, SP, Kansas City Royals: The defending champs have some rotation problems, and Volquez is one of them. Remember, this is a guy who put up a 4.96 ERA in San Diego and spacious Petco Park. He’s been solid for a few years now with Pittsburgh and now K.C., but he still walks too many batters and gives up too many hits to be consistently effective. At age 32, Volquez could be on the down side of his career already.
2. Kolten Wong, 2B, St. Louis Cardinals: He’s only 25 years old, and Wong will be atop our sleeper-pick list for 2017 fantasy drafts. However, his 2016 season has been a lost cause, and it’s time to banish him from your roster. For whatever reason, Wong regressed big time this year, and with Peralta returning, he’s definitely the odd man out in the St. Louis infield now. Cut bait and find a better option for your middle-infielder slot.
3. Francisco Cervelli, C, Pittsburgh Pirates: We’re hoping he’s not on your roster in the first place, but if he is, cut him now. Cervelli can’t stay healthy, he doesn’t have any power, and there are plenty of better-hitting catchers on the waiver wire. When Cervelli was hitting around .300 with a little power the last two seasons, he may have been worth keeping on your roster, but not anymore. Note: He also went on the DL this weekend with a broken hand.
4. Hunter Pence, OF, San Francisco Giants: He played just 52 games last season due to injury, and now the 33-year-old Pence is on the disabled list again this season after just 50 games. He used to be a reliable player, but age catches up to everyone eventually. His best years were in Philadelphia (2011-12), by far, and Pence always has been a bit overrated while in San Francisco. Proceed with caution if you keep him on your bench, but there are better options out there on waivers—even if Pence comes back 100 percent from a torn hamstring.
Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering baseball, football, basketball, golf and fantasy sports for CBS Local. He also is an Ironman triathlete and certified triathlon coach. Follow him on Twitter @sxmcp, because he’s quite prolific despite also being a college English professor and a certified copy editor.