The peaks and valleys of a Major League Baseball season present a rare opportunity in fantasy circles to catch an underperforming player at the right time and maximize their value to your roster.
At this point of the year, there's a strong indication who your best fantasy players are and those expected stars who have disappointed. Since rosters are always in a state of flux, for a variety of reasons like injuries and the weird randomness of baseball, the waiver wire is an asset to constantly explore.
Looking at the MLB week ahead, here are some key names to keep on your radar as you search for ways to keep your roster going strong.
Jorge Soler, OF, Kansas City Royals
Dating back to his original signing with the Chicago Cubs in 2012, Jorge Soler was always a player loaded with star potential. He was a consensus top-20 prospect in MLB as recently as 2015.
Now seven years into his career, the 27-year-old has often been unable to consistently showcase his ability due to injuries. He has only played more than 100 games in a season once (2015), which may have played a part in Chicago dealing him to the Kansas City Royals in December 2016 for closer Wade Davis.
There have been positive signs from Soler since the start of 2018 as he's gotten acclimated to the Royals. He has a .250/.327/.492 slash line in 140 games over the past two seasons, but his hot start last year was ruined by a foot injury that kept him out for the final 93 games.
This season has seen the Cuban pick up where he left off in 2018. He's tied for fourth in the American League with 21 homers and has a higher slugging percentage (.512) than Rafael Devers, Francisco Lindor and Mookie Betts.
Fantasy owners have been slow to latch on to Soler, for obvious reasons. He's available in 47 percent of Yahoo leagues and 56 percent of ESPN leagues.
There's always the concern that a fluke injury will put Soler on the shelf because of his track record. But the power he provides is rare to find on the waiver wire at this point in the season. He's worth adding as a utilityman as long as he's healthy and in the Royals' starting lineup.
Jason Kipnis, 2B, Cleveland Indians
The prospect of betting on Jason Kipnis at this point in his career seems like a dangerous one. Going by OPS+, he hasn't been a league-average hitter since 2016. His current OPS of .692 would be the second-worst of his career (.640 in 2014).
Just looking at his slash line this season (.248/.305/.387) isn't an encouraging sign that he's figured things out, but the Cleveland Indians second baseman does seem more comfortable in the box than he has in a long time.
Since his OPS dropped to a season-low .438 on May 3, Kipnis has put up a solid .271/.323/.447 slash line in 44 games. Even more promising is four of his six homers came in a nine-game span from June 16-24.
Even if you don't want to bet on the 32-year-old maintaining this pace for the rest of the season—a reasonable assumption, based on his track record—Cleveland's schedule prior to the All-Star break is set up for the offense to be successful.
The Indians' next seven games are against the Royals and Orioles. Those pitching staffs rank in the bottom 10 in MLB in ERA, batting average against and OPS allowed.
If you're looking for a buy-low candidate at second base or the utility spot, Kipnis is only owned in 10 percent of Yahoo leagues and eight percent of ESPN leagues right now.
Liam Hendriks, RP, Oakland Athletics
Much like in MLB, fantasy owners need to keep a close eye on relief pitching due to the extremely volatile nature of the job.
For instance, Oakland Athletics closer Blake Treinen was the second reliever off the board during drafts with an average draft position of 61.8. He didn't provide much return on investment with a 4.08 ERA, 1.53 WHIP and 21 walks in 35.1 innings before being placed on the injured list Sunday with a strained right shoulder.
Fantasy owners scrambling to find a replacement for Treinen don't have to look very far. Liam Hendriks has been slotted in as Oakland's closer for the time being. The right-hander has been terrific in 2019 with a 1.49 ERA, 28 hits allowed and 50 strikeouts in 42.1 innings.
Even though Treinen was struggling with his consistency this season, he still had 18 save opportunities and converted 16 of them.
Hendriks has been just as effective against right-handed hitters (.566 OPS) as he has against lefties (.515 OPS) this season. Manager Bob Melvin has used him for more than three outs 14 times in his 35 appearances.
The market for Hendriks will certainly pick up as more fantasy owners become aware of his new role. For now, though, the 30-year-old is widely available in 61 percent of Yahoo leagues and 86 percent of ESPN leagues.
Fantasy information via FantasyPros.com