(Players rostered in under 50 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Note: Percentages are from the morning of Thursday, June 16
Kendall Graveman, RP, White Sox (Yahoo: 50 percent rostered)
After saying Liam Hendriks was unavailable for a few days with stiffness in his pitching arm, the White Sox put their closer on the injured list Tuesday with a right forearm strain. It’s an ominous diagnosis, although manager Tony La Russa expressed optimism that Hendriks would be back in about three weeks. That would seem to be a best-case scenario, and it’s an injury which certainly has the potential to wind up being long-term. La Russa didn’t want to outright name a replacement closer in Hendriks’ absence, but it’s almost surely going to be Graveman’s job. After netting a three-year, $24 million pact over the winter, the reliever has posted a 2.51 ERA and 27/10 K/BB ratio over 28 2/3 frames this season. He’s also picked up a couple saves after notching 10 last year.
Oneil Cruz, SS, Pirates (Yahoo: 36 percent rostered)
Is Cruz finally going to be promoted? That’s the word, with the top prospect rumored to be joining the Pirates when they return home this weekend for a series against the Giants. Cruz got off to a slow start this season at Triple-A Indianapolis, but he’s turned in on over the last month, entering play Wednesday with a .309/.400/.617 and seven homers since May 15. The 23-year-old got a brief cup of coffee in the majors in 2021 and put up some elite exit velocity numbers. He’s probably going to strike out a bunch, but Cruz has huge power potential and can also steal some bases.
Adam Duvall, OF, Braves (Yahoo: 39 percent rostered)
If you look up the term “streaky” in the dictionary, you might find a picture of Duvall. He was on an extended cold streak to begin the season, putting up an anemic .191/.258/.268 batting line with only two home runs over 49 games through the end of May. However, since the calendar flipped to June the veteran outfielder has been in the midst of one of his hot streaks, putting up a 1.016 OPS with five home runs over 13 contests. Duvall’s home runs tend to come in bunches, so you want to do your best to get in while he’s on a heater. He popped 38 home runs last season while driving in a National League-leading 113 runs.
Tanner Scott, RP, Marlins (Yahoo: 33 percent rostered)
Scott had an unfortunate outing on Wednesday, serving up a walk-off, three-run home run to Phillies backup catcher Garrett Stubbs. In six June appearances prior to that, however, he allowed just one unearned run on three hits, no walks and 10 strikeouts while going 4-for-4 in save opportunities. Marlins manager Don Mattingly has been wanting to settle on a closer all season and has been zeroing in on Scott of late. The control for the left-hander is certainly a problem, but the hard-thrower is capable of missing enough bats to overcome it.
Jake McGee, RP, Giants (Yahoo: 32 percent rostered)
I’m kind of surprised that McGee’s rostership is still as high as it is, to be honest. The veteran reliever made two trips to the injured list in the first five weeks of the season and was terrible when on the mound with a 9.58 ERA over 11 appearances. However, since returning from the IL at the end of last month, McGee has reeled off seven scoreless innings, allowing only two hits and one walk while fanning four along the way. He also picked up a save on Sunday on a day when Camilo Doval was unavailable. Doval is still the clear favorite for saves in the Giants’ bullpen, but I still don’t totally trust manager Gabe Kapler to settle on one guy and McGee led the club with 31 saves last season.
Jake Burger, 3B, White Sox (Yahoo: 33 percent rostered)
Burger has sat out the last two games for the White Sox after getting hit on the right hand Monday. He was able to take some swings pregame Wednesday, though, and would appear to have a good shot to return to the lineup on Friday in Houston following Thursday’s off day. Burger has been swinging a red-hot bat since being recalled in late May, posting a .312/.373/.689 batting line with six home runs, five doubles and 16 RBI over 17 games. He’s also posted a hard-hit rate in the 82nd percentile and a barrel rate in the 94th percentile this season. Burger’s career had been threatened to be sabotaged by injury, but the former first-round pick has come back strong and has always boasts big power.
(Players rostered in under 10 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Jarren Duran, OF, Red Sox (Yahoo: 10 percent rostered)
Duran has been biding his time for most of this season at Triple-A Worcester, where he’s put up a .305/.379/.531 batting line with six home runs and 11 stolen bases across 43 contests. It was disappointing for Duran to not get the call when Enrique Hernandez (hip) went on the injured list last week, but he was summoned Wednesday when Christian Arroyo (COVID-19) went down. The Red Sox threw him right into center field and the leadoff spot and he drew a walk and scored a run among four plate appearances. Hernandez is hopeful of returning this weekend, so perhaps Duran will be sent back down again. He’s worth rostering in case he sticks around, though.
A.J. Puk, RP, Athletics (Yahoo: 5 percent rostered)
Dany Jiménez picked up the A’s closer job in mid-April and went on a nice run, but he’s hit a wall lately in allowing 11 runs with a 3/6 K/BB ratio over his last 4 2/3 innings, blowing a couple save chances during that span. Puk hasn’t been spotless lately himself, but he tossed 1 1/3 scoreless frames Wednesday and now holds a 1.69 ERA and 24/5 K/BB ratio over 26 2/3 innings this season. The former first-round pick is showing much better control this season and has done a great job of suppressing hard contact. He might be next in line for saves if Oakland wants to make a change.
Luis Gonzalez, OF, Giants (Yahoo: 9 percent rostered)
The Giants scooped Gonzalez up off waivers from the White Sox last August even while knowing he was recovering from shoulder surgery. Their patience is paying off so far, as Gonzalez has posted a .302/.363/.424 batting line with a couple home runs and five stolen bases. The left-handed hitter has been playing every day of late and has even found himself in the leadoff spot each of the last four times the Giants have faced right-handers. Steven Duggar (oblique) and LaMonte Wade Jr. (knee) could be back soon, which would put Gonzalez’s role in question. He’s certainly earned regular at-bats, though.
Jon Gray vs. DET (Yahoo: 33 percent rostered)
Gray’s first season with the Rangers have featured ups and downs and he’s been alternating good and bad starts lately. His good ones this month have been very good, however. On June 1 against the Rays he tossed seven innings of one-run ball while striking out 12, and on June 12 versus the White Sox he gave up one run in six innings while fanning 10. If the pattern holds, Gray’s start this weekend is supposed to be a bad one. It’s the Tigers, though, so he would seem to have a good shot to reverse the trend.
Dane Dunning vs. DET (Yahoo: 14 percent rostered)
If it seems like I’m picking on the Tigers, well, I am. They got shut out again on Wednesday and are averaging just 2.71 runs per game this season, which is by far the lowest mark in the league. Like Gray, Dunning has been rather hit-or-miss this season. He hit in his last outing, though, holding a good Astros lineup scoreless over six innings of work. Dunning has gone at least six innings in four of his last six starts, and if he can do that again this weekend he stands a good chance at picking up a victory.
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Leody Taveras, OF, Rangers (Yahoo: 1 percent rostered)
Frankly, major league pitching has eaten Taveras alive to this point. He’s batted only .185 over his first 329 plate appearances at the big league level while striking out at a 32.8 percent clip. However, even while struggling so much offensively, Taveras has managed to steal 18 bases while being caught just once. It’s his speed where he could help in fantasy leagues, and the 23-year-old has put up a .820 OPS with seven homers this year at Triple-A Round Rock.
Jonah Bride, 1B, Athletics (Yahoo: 1 percent rostered)
Bride is a former 23rd-round pick who has steadily improved offensively while climbing the organizational ladder. He has put together a monster showing at Triple-A Las Vegas in 2022 with a .347/.443/.581 batting line and five home runs. That earned him a promotion to the big club, and he picked up his first two major league hits on Wednesday against the Red Sox. Bride doesn’t run and his power is fairly middling, so the odds he can provide category juice are long. He’s got excellent plate discipline, though, and it looks like he’ll get a shot to play regularly.
Cade Cavalli, SP, Nationals (Yahoo: 4 percent rostered)
The Nationals have cycled through a good number of starters this season and the churn figures to continue with Stephen Strasburg (ribs) lasting just one start before going back on the injured list. Cavalli is the organization’s top pitching prospect and could get his shot with the big club sooner rather than later. The 23-year-old’s numbers at Triple-A Rochester this season haven’t been great overall, but he put together an excellent three-start stretch lately before struggling in his last outing. A former first-round pick, Cavalli’s control can be an issue at times, but he’s struck out 227 over 175 2/3 innings in the minors.
Esteury Ruiz, 2B, Padres (Yahoo: 1 percent rostered)
Ruiz has put together a monster breakout season in the minors, hitting .363/.489/.656 with 13 home runs and 44 stolen bases between Double- and Triple-A. Yes, you read that correctly, he has stolen 44 bases across 57 games. Formerly an infielder, Ruiz has moved to the outfield full-time and nearly all of his starts in 2022 has come in center field. Trent Grisham has been better lately but on the whole has been one of the worst-hitting regulars in baseball. It would be aggressive to promote Ruiz, but he’s worth a stash in deep leagues in the chance that his game-breaking speed is given a shot.