With the All-Star festivities over and the second half of the season set to begin on Friday it’s time to start thinking about what available players can help your fantasy team make a playoff push and hopefully solidify a championship. Fantasy playoffs are a short seven weeks away in most standard leagues, the slightest edge can help squeeze you into a shot at the title or help build a dynasty. Below are a few second half fantasy sleepers that might be worth a pick up and a couple to keep an eye on.
Jeremy Hefner, SP, New York Mets (Owned in 13% of Yahoo! leagues)
Jeremy Hefner will take his seven days rest to the mound on Friday when the New York Mets open the second half of the season against the Philadelphia Phillies. In his last start before the ASG Hefner posted a no-decision against the Pittsburgh Pirates where he went seven strong innings giving up only two runs on two hits.
Hefner has been lights out over his last eight starts while posting an amazing 1.76 ERA. He only has four wins over his last ten starts, but a lot of that has to do with the lack of run support the Mets have given him, which is why picking up the 27 year old can be a bit of a risk to your fantasy team depending on your league scoring settings.
He may not get you as many wins as you’d like over the second half of the season but in those last ten starts he’s only given up 15 earned runs while posting a 52:10 K:BB. In fact, Hefner hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs since his May 29th start in the Bronx against the Yankees where he gave up only three en route to a 9-4 win. His one loss in the last two in a half months came against the NL Central leading St. Louis Cardinals where he surrendered one earned run in six innings of work.
I keep saying to myself I’ll drop Jeremy Hefner when he has a bad start or two, but I just haven’t seen it yet – his 1.91 ERA, .88 WHIP and 26 strikeouts over his last 33 innings has me hanging on. Want a bigger sample size? He has a 7.57 K/9 and 1.67 BB/9 ratio over his last 44 innings and while he isn’t likely to keep that pace up for the rest of the year he’s only yet made a believer out of 13% percent of Yahoo! owners. Maybe it’s time you give him a chance to make a believer out of you too.
Evan Gattis, C/OF, Atlanta Braves (Owned in 43% of Yahoo! leagues)
The timing really couldn’t be better for the Atlanta Braves and Evan Gattis. The Braves activated Gattis from the disabled list last Sunday in a move that came earlier than expected, but with the team’s entire starting outfield out with injuries Gattis is certainly needed.
The great thing about Gattis is that even though his primary position is at catcher, he can fill the void left in the outfield with Justin Upton and B.J. Upton (who recently hit the DL) and Jason Heyward all hurting. Gattis can also step in and play first base if Freddie Freeman is forced to miss a few games. He’s more likely to play in the outfield and at first rather than behind the plate due to the excellent play of Brian McCann.
Gattis, who has been sidelined for the past month because of a right oblique strain, still leads all rookies with 14 home runs in 54 games this season and currently ranks third on the team in terms of WAR. So not only is he an important piece to the Braves success he could be an important piece to your fantasy team. Gattis has a lot to offer and with Justin Upton and Heyward expected to be back soon he should have the opportunity to put up great fantasy numbers.
Chris Archer, SP, Tampa Bay Rays (Owned in 5% of Yahoo! leagues)
It seems like every year Tampa Bay develops another pitching stud that has no problem putting on a show in the majors. Although I wouldn’t yet call Chris Archer a stud quite yet, it seems he has the potential to be one and should be picked up in all leagues – especially keeper leagues.
Albeit against the free-swinging Astros, the rookie dominated Houston on Sunday pitching a complete game shutout while striking out eight. Further, it was his second straight game without allowing a walk. Through nine starts this year Archer has compiled a 2.96 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP.
Despite having a rocky season debut against the Cleveland Indians where he allowed five runs on seven hits in just four innings of work over his last eight games (where he’s faced Boston twice, Baltimore, and Detroit), he has given up a total of only 12 runs. Archer has amassed a 76:34 K:BB ratio so far in his 81 big league innings, so if you’re looking for strikeout’s there’s that, too.
Archer finished 2-3 in June but Tampa Bay has won his last five starts. The Rays are on one of those hot streaks that we seem to see almost every year from them, winning 14 of their last 16 games on 15 consecutive quality starts from their rotation. Considering the Rays have the 6th ranked offense they should give Archer a good chance to win ball games.
With Alex Cobb inching closer to a return to the Rays rotation it could result in Chris Archer becoming the odd man out, but it’ll be hard for manager Joe Madden to send Archer down if he continues to shoot arrows the way he has. Instead it may mean a break for Roberto Hernandez who picked up his first win in six starts last week but is 5-10 with a 4.90 ERA on the year. Those numbers don’t exactly jump out at you…at least not in a good way. Chris Archer is the ultimate fantasy sleeper.
Players to keep an eye on:
The Philadelphia Phillies at 48-48 on the year still don’t know if they are buyers or sellers at this point but there is plenty of interest in Michael Young. He’ll be a free agent at the end of this season and probably has no part of Philadelphia’s future plans and if he lands with the Red Sox or the Yankees he’ll probably be worth owning. He has a .302 batting average over the past month which is pretty much right on par with his .301 career mark so as long as he keeps that up he’ll provide your fantasy team with runs to go along with RBI chances. I’ll take a guy who can hit .300 and get on base anytime. Young can play at first, second or third which makes him a great fantasy option.
Alex Rodriguez says he expects to be back with New York on Monday when the Yankees play the Texas Rangers. We should know by now that doesn’t mean he’ll be in the Yankee lineup, general manager Brian Cashman will make that call. One thing is for sure, the A-Rod of old is gone and it’s not known yet if he’ll be suspended this year but he’s worth a shot at third if you’re in need – but pick him up at your own risk!
Reports suggest that the Rangers are going to keep Manny Ramirez at Triple A Round Rock and with DH Lance Berkman expected back from the disabled list next week Manny could stay there even longer. He does have three home runs and a .964 OPS in eight minor league games, however, and that makes me wonder if the 41 year old we once called “Mr. RBI” can make it back into the majors somewhere.