Major League Baseball's final stretch of games before the All-Star break gives teams, players and fantasy owners a reprieve to assess where they are at heading into the season's stretch run.
This has been a big year for offense across the sport, with hitters on pace to shatter the single-season home run record, which was set in 2017 (6,105). The rate at which balls are leaving the park is good news for fantasy owners in need of pop in their lineups, though it also makes it harder to find quality pitching.
With starting pitchers still one of the greatest commodities in fantasy baseball, the waiver wire will be a huge asset as you search for help for the week to come.
Here are the best players available for you to add, either as a stopgap or as a potential long-term solution to flesh out your roster.
Scooter Gennett, 2B, Cincinnati Reds
Admittedly, it's cheating a little bit to recommend Scooter Gennett because he's a known quantity and was an All-Star last year.
Despite being on the fantasy radar coming into the season, owners have started to give up on Gennett. The Cincinnati Reds slugger is available in 38 percent of Yahoo leagues and 53 percent of ESPN leagues.
Some of the hesitation around Gennett stems from the fact that Friday was his first game of the season because of a severe groin strain suffered during spring training.
As a result of missing 78 games, expecting Gennett to immediately return to his .310/.357/.490 slash stats from 2018 would be unfair. He does have a favorable schedule to get off to a hot start, with one more game against the Chicago Cubs before series with the Milwaukee Brewers and Cleveland Indians to end the first half.
The Brewers rank 23rd in MLB in starters ERA (5.06). The Cubs and Indians rank among the top 10 teams in starters ERA, though both clubs lack quality depth in their rotations. Cleveland is playing without Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco, and Mike Clevinger lasted 1.2 innings on Friday against the Baltimore Orioles in his return from the injured list.
Put Gennett on your roster now, even as a stash player, because he is a high-ceiling hitter who can play at an All-Star level when the second half begins.
Carlos Martinez, RP, St. Louis Cardinals
An injury to Jordan Hicks has increased Carlos Martinez's fantasy value exponentially for the remainder of the season.
Hicks' 2019 campaign came to an end Wednesday, when the flamethrower had Tommy John surgery after an MRI revealed a torn UCL in his right elbow. The 22-year-old was having a solid season, with a 3.14 ERA, 31 strikeouts and 14 saves in 29 appearances.
With Hicks out for the rest of this season and, likely, most of 2020, Martinez instantly becomes the most valuable relief pitcher on the Cardinals roster. The 27-year-old has been put back in the closer's role for manager Mike Shildt.
After missing more than a month to start the year with a shoulder strain, Martinez has looked effective pitching out of the bullpen. He has a 3.00 ERA with 14 strikeouts in 15 innings over 13 appearances.
Another encouraging sign for Martinez is four of his five appearances from June 9-21 were more than one inning. His history as a starter gives Shildt the luxury of using him for multi-inning save opportunities.
Given the value of saves, it's a surprise fantasy owners haven't swarmed to Martinez in the days since he was named St. Louis' closer. The right-hander can be found in 40 percent of Yahoo leagues and 60 percent of ESPN leagues for the time being, but expect that to change quickly as more people catch on.
Brendan McKay, SP/1B, Tampa Bay Rays
In the prospect world, Brendan McKay is the latest highly touted rookie to make his MLB debut in 2019. The 23-year-old had an outstanding amateur career, winning the 2017 Golden Spikes Award at Louisville as the nation's best amateur player en route to being the No. 4 overall pick that same year.
McKay is unique because of his ability as a two-way player, similar to Shohei Ohtani. He doesn't appear to be as gifted at hitting as the Los Angeles Angels star is, but his pitching prowess has put him high on prospect lists.
MLB.com ranked McKay as the No. 23 overall prospect prior to his call-up on Saturday, offering this scouting report:
"McKay operates with a 92-95 mph fastball and commands it exceptionally well against hitters on both sides of the plate. Both his curveball and cutter project to be above-average pitches, with the latter currently ahead of the former, and he's developed good feel for a changeup as a pro after using it sparingly in college. Everything he throws plays up because he has plus command and knows how to sequence his pitches. As a hitter, McKay demonstrates a patient, discerning approach, with a knack for getting on base, though his overall impact with the bat has been underwhelming as a pro."
Logic would say the Tampa Bay Rays will use McKay solely on the mound. The southpaw put up a 1.66 ERA with 88 strikeouts and just 38 hits allowed in 66.2 innings over 13 appearances in Triple-A this season.
As a hitter, McKay has a .216/.348/.356 slash line in 444 at-bats in the minors. He's still receiving consistent plate appearances, and Rays manager Kevin Cash believes that will continue following his promotion.
"I did explain to him that it's not going to be the routine that he's been on where he's been DHing three or four times in a row," Cash told reporters Friday. "I'd like to see him have at-bats and certainly don't want to shut him down from hitting over the period he's with us."
Simply because of the value a player can add playing as a hitter and pitcher, McKay will be worth taking a flier on. His future seems to be as a pitcher, and he's got the dominant stuff and command needed to succeed right out of the gate.
McKay is easily available in a vast majority of leagues. Only 5 percent of owners in ESPN leagues have picked him up, slightly higher than the 4 percent he's owned by in Yahoo leagues.
Fantasy information via FantasyPros.com.