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5x5 Finds

Bader Breaking Out

by Ryan Boyer
Updated On: July 26, 2021, 1:51 pm ET

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By this time of the fantasy season, those in 5x5 Roto leagues should have a good idea which categories they’re set in and also the ones where they could use some help. We’re here to lend a hand with the latter.

AVG

Harrison Bader, OF, Cardinals

I could really slot Bader into any of these categories with the way he’s been playing of late. Since returning from the injured list at the beginning of July, the 27-year-old has put up a 1.030 OPS with four home runs, 15 RBI, 10 runs scored and two stolen bases over 19 contests. If you condense it down to his last 12 games, he’s sporting a scorching .463/.532/.707 batting line. It was revealed Sunday that Bader had offseason surgery to remove polyps from both nasal passages, something which has aided his vision and also his sleep. As it turns out, being able to see better can help you make contact with the ball, as Bader has nearly cut his strikeout rate in half this year all the way down to 16.4 percent.

HR

Jorge Soler, OF, Royals

Soler has been a disappointment since his 48-homer breakout in 2019, putting up a sub-.800 OPS in 2020 and cratering for most of 2021. However, we know the 29-year-old is capable of going on power binges and he’s in the midst of one now, having gone deep five times in his last 10 games, which includes a two-homer showing on Sunday. Soler is also hitting the ball as hard as ever, posting a 92.3 mph exit velocity and 51.2 percent hard-hit rate which both rank in the top nine percent of baseball. The slugger is on the waiver wire in well over half of Yahoo leagues.

RBI

Rougned Odor, 2B, Yankees

All is not well in Yankeeland after the Bronx Bombers dropped three of four in Boston, blowing late leads in two of the games. We can’t place any blame on Odor, though. The veteran infielder has been one of the club’s better hitters over the last seven weeks, putting together a .944 OPS with seven long balls and 17 RBI across his last 96 plate appearances. During his current seven-game hitting streak, Odor has a 1.023 OPS with three dingers and nine RBI. He’s been elevated to the 3-4 spot in the Yankees’ lineup of late, which certainly will create RBI opportunities.

SB

Derek Hill, OF, Tigers

The Tigers had been on a roll of late prior to getting swept in Kansas City over the weekend, and during that run they’ve been turning to Hill as their regular center fielder. Hill’s defense is easily his best attribute, but he’s gotten on base at a .419 clip this season and also stolen six bases while being caught just once. He’s also hit this year at Triple-A Toledo with an .865 OPS, four long balls and four steals across 37 tilts. Given his minor league track record, it’s still very much a question as to whether the former first-round pick is ultimately going to hit enough. That said, Hill has the elite speed and stolen base chops, so he figures to swipe his fair share of bags as long as he’s playing regularly.

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R

Daulton Varsho, C/OF, Diamondbacks

Fantasy owners rightfully salivate over the possibility of a catcher-eligible player who has flashed potential 20-20 upside. Varsho is one of those players, but he has mostly looked overmatched during his time in the big leagues. That is, until lately, anyway, as the 25-year-old homered in three straight games last week and is now sporting a 1.333 OPS with four dingers, 10 RBI, eight runs scored and two stolen bases in his previous 34 plate appearances. Varsho’s hot streak combined with Josh Rojas’ (finger) trip to the injured list mean the former being elevated to the leadoff spot for Sunday’s game. He should score some runs from that spot, even if it’s the Diamondbacks’ lowly offense hitting behind him.

W

Tyler Anderson, SP, Pirates

Yes, it still says “Pirates” next to Anderson’s name, but there’s a chance he will be pitching for another team by the time you read this. That’s a good thing. The veteran left-hander has allowed three or fewer earned runs in eight of his last nine starts, holding a 3.98 ERA and 1.17 WHIP during that stretch. Now, that’s been enough to get him only two wins while pitching for Pittsburgh, but with a contender it’s a recipe which should lead to more Ws. Anderson hasn’t pitched since July 20, so he could theoretically make two starts this week (he’s lined up to face Milwaukee on Tuesday for now).

ERA

Brad Keller, SP, Royals

Yes, a guy with a 5.84 ERA over 20 starts this season is being recommended in the ERA section. Bear with me, though. Keller has rediscovered his signature slider of late, and it’s resulted in a 2.61 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 22/8 K/BB ratio over 20 2/3 innings in three starts this month. The showing is a closer representation of a guy who put up a 3.50 ERA from 2018-2020. I won’t pretend there’s not risk here, especially with the White Sox and Blue Jays on tap for this week, but there’s a good chance Keller provides a solid ERA down the stretch.

WHIP

Michael Pineda, SP, Twins

Like Anderson, Pineda figures to be pitching for another team by the end of this week. The big right-hander has been a great bet for WHIP whatever uniform he puts on, though, thanks in large part due to consistently great control. Pineda did miss some time with an elbow injury and struggled mightily in his first start back, but he rebounded with five innings of one-run ball against the White Sox his last time out. The 32-year-old is slated to face the Tigers on Monday in what could be his final showcase for contending teams.

K

Daniel Lynch, SP, Royals

Lynch’s first three major league starts back in May were a big-time struggle. However, the Royals gave him another shot on Sunday and he showed why he’s one of the best pitching prospects in the game, shutting the Tigers out over eight innings while yielding just five hits and no walks to go along with four punchouts. The 24-year-old is lined up to face the Blue Jays buzzsaw next, so perhaps fantasy managers would be wise to bench him this week. Lynch is immensely talented, though, and has fanned 219 batters across 204 2/3 frames during his time in the minors.

SV

Mike Mayers, RP, Angels

The Angels are sitting at an even .500 and in shouting distance of a Wild Card spot, so it’s not a given that they are sellers at the deadline. There does figure to be interest in impending free agent Raisel Iglesias, though, and if he does wind up getting moved, Mayers is lined up to be elevated to the closer role. Mayers experienced a breakthrough with the Halos last season, posting a 2.10 ERA, 0.90 WHIP and 43/9 K/BB ratio over 30 innings. The ERA (4.43) this season isn’t as pretty in 2021, but that was mostly due to a bad stretch in May. Mayers has still fanned 60 batters over 44 2/3 frames and he’s consistently being used in the eighth inning ahead of Iglesias.