5x5 Finds

Win with Ward

by Ryan Boyer
Updated On: June 21, 2021, 12:18 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. All of the players listed below are widely available in your standard 12-teamer and are capable of providing a boost.


Abraham Toro, 3B, Astros

The Astros are riding high following seven straight wins, including a four-game sweep of the White Sox over the weekend. However, they did lose Alex Bregman to a quad injury last week and it doesn’t sound like he will be coming back anytime soon. Filling in at third base in three of four games since Bregman went down has been Toro, who went 7-for-11 with one home run, five RBI and one stolen base in those three contests. It’s a continuation of what the switch-hitter had been doing at Triple-A Sugar Land, where Toro had posted a 1.078 OPS with a couple homers and a couple steals in 17 games. The 24-year-old didn’t do much the last two years in his limited chances in the majors, but he crushed minor league pitching in 2019, too. You want a piece of the Astros’ lineup right now, and it looks like Toro will be a part of it for a while. He’s rostered in just three percent of Yahoo leagues.


Adam Duvall, OF, Marlins

One of the streakiest hitters in baseball is in the midst of one of his patented home run binges. Duvall posted back-to-back, two-homer games over the weekend at Wrigley Field and has gone deep seven times across his last 10 contests to push his season total to 16. The Marlins’ cleanup hitter has also now driven in a National League-leading 52 runs. Even after the hot streak, Duvall’s batting line on the season sits at an uninspiring .216/.264/.468. We know from experience that he’s capable of losing it as quickly as he found it, so hurry up and jump in while the water is warm. Duvall is still available in 60 percent of Yahoo leagues.


Taylor Ward, OF, Angels

The unfortunate injuries to Mike Trout (calf) and Dexter Fowler (knee) as well as Jared Walsh’s move back to first base have opened up playing time in the Angels’ outfield. Ward has been a major beneficiary, and he’s taken advantage of the opportunity of late, putting up a .290/.389/.516 batting line with three home runs and 13 RBI over 18 games this month. The former first-round pick was moved up to the No. 3 spot in the Angels’ batting order last Thursday and immediately responded with his first career grand slam before following that up with three more RBI the next day. With the red-hot Justin Upton and Shohei Ohtani batting in front of him, Ward should be blessed with plenty of RBI chances. He remains on the waiver wire in more than 90 percent of Yahoo leagues.


Steven Duggar, OF, Giants

Duggar has actually done a little more damage from a power standpoint, hitting a surprising six home runs while driving in 16 runs over 95 plate appearances since May 13 as he has earned a regular spot in the Giants’ outfield. I suspect he’s a better bet from a speed perspective moving forward, though. Duggar has gone 4-for-4 on stolen base attempts this season, and they’ve all come over his last 17 contests. Additionally, Duggar boasts a 28.3 ft/s sprint speed which ranks in the 84th percentile, so we know the speed is there and of late he’s had the technique down. Duggar is currently available in 85 percent of Yahoo leagues.

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Tony Kemp, 2B/OF, Athletics

Plate discipline has always been Kemp’s best asset, and this season he’s one of just five players with at least 150 plate appearances to have more walks (26) than strikeouts (25). In 16 tilts this month, Kemp has posted a blistering .300/.419/.600 batting line with three home runs, 12 RBI and an 8/11 K/BB ratio. Those kind of on-base skills have led to the 29-year-old finding himself in the No. 2 spot in the A’s lineup fairly often of late, and he’s managed to score 15 runs during that span. Kemp is currently being rostered in only five percent of Yahoo leagues.


Jake Odorizzi, SP, Astros

With a 5.68 ERA and a stint on the injured list due to a forearm ailment, Odorizzi’s tenure with the Astros hasn’t exactly worked out to this point how both parties envisioned. That said, the 31-year-old does have a 26/8 K/BB ratio over 25 1/3 innings to go along with a perfectly-solid 1.18 WHIP, so it’s not as if he’s been a disaster. The Astros gave Odorizzi a four-inning relief appearance last week, but he’ll be re-inserted into the rotation this week with starts against the Orioles and Tigers on the docket. Odorizzi hasn’t been pitching very deep into games, but if he can just get through five, the odds of the Astros having the lead against those two clubs are pretty good. The righty is a free agent in nearly 80 percent of Yahoo leagues.


Ross Stripling, SP, Blue Jays

Stripling made headlines for the wrong reason last week when he had a less than desirable reaction to a play not being made in the field behind him (he later apologized). On a more positive note, Stripling has turned his season around over the last few weeks. His ERA was sitting at 7.20 after he was bombed by the Red Sox back on May 19, but since then Stripling has put up a 2.45 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 29/8 K/BB ratio over 29 1/3 innings. He faced the Rays, Astros, Red Sox and Yankees during that stretch, too, so it’s not as if he was just taking advantage of some cupcakes. Speaking of favorable matchups, Stripling is slated to face off against the Marlins and Orioles this week. He’s rostered in just 15 percent of Yahoo leagues.


Chris Flexen, SP, Mariners

Streaming against the Rockies on the road is always a good idea. Doing so in their first game coming off a homestand is an even better plan. If that pitcher you plan to stream is coming off his best start of the season, it’s just a cherry on top. Flexen notched a career-high eight strikeouts across a career-high eight shutout innings last week against the Twins, yielding only four hits and no walks. The righty has pitched very well over his last four starts with a 2.67 ERA, 0.85 WHIP and 20/3 K/BB ratio over 27 frames. I wouldn’t want to count on Flexen for the duration of the season, but he’s a fine play this week and is rostered in just 14 percent of Yahoo leagues.


Mike Minor, SP, Royals

Minor has been awfully good over the last five weeks. Covering his previous eight starts, the veteran left-hander boasts a 3.58 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 55/10 K/BB ratio over 50 1/3 innings. Minor compiled 200 strikeouts in his last full season in 2019, and even though his ERA (5.56) was ugly in 2020, he still fanned 62 batters over 56 2/3 innings of work. Home runs have always been and continue to be an issue for the southpaw, but Minor will provide his fair share of strikeouts. He’s still on the waiver wire in nearly 60 percent of Yahoo leagues.


Greg Holland, RP, Royals

The Royals haven’t had many save chances or wins lately, but the last reliever of theirs to notch a save was Holland, who closed out a 5-3 victory over the Red Sox last Friday. He also finished off Sunday’s game, preserving a four-run win. The Royals’ best reliever, Scott Barlow, pitched ahead of Holland in both of those games. Barlow does have a couple saves this season, but manager Mike Matheny seems to prefer using him in the most high-leverage situations in the game, whenever they might come. Meanwhile, while Josh Staumont functioned as the team’s closer earlier this season, he hasn’t been terribly sharp lately and has experienced velocity issues. Holland is far from a slam dunk, but he pitched well last season and has the experience on his side.