Real-life changes could be coming to MLB soon, and your fantasy team might feel the impact.
Clubs have a single shot at this year's trade deadline because the August waiver-trade period has been removed. That means those teams have between now and July 31 to not only decide whether they are buyers or sellers but also to put those designations into practice and pull off transactions.
Trades can significantly change fantasy outlooks, for better or worse. When a player from a bottom-feeder heads to a contender, he might benefit from having better hitters or a more reliable defense around him. At the same time, trades can also turn closers into setup men or heart-of-the-lineup fixtures into part-time players batting out of the seventh or eighth spots.
Adjusting to trades is a reactionary process, but we're here for proactive purposes—namely, to identify potential waiver-wire players to add ahead of Week 17.
Marcus Stroman, SP, Toronto Blue Jays
Marcus Stroman is never going to be a great source of strikeouts. This is sixth season in the big leagues, and he's never averaged eight punch-outs per nine innings. This season's 7.1 almost perfectly align with his career norm of 7.2.
If you need strikeouts, this recommendation isn't for you. If you need anything else, grab Stroman before his price skyrockets.
Despite having a minuscule 3.06 ERA, he's only owned in 66 percent of Yahoo leagues and just 55 percent of them on ESPN. But his stock is climbing along with his interest around the league. Potential trade suitors must have been salivating as he spun seven scoreless innings against the Detroit Tigers on Friday.
The biggest non-strikeout knock on Stroman's resume is a 6-10 record, which reminds you how rough things are going for the Blue Jays. But before July 31, he could have a new club that provides him run support and maybe doesn't play in baseball's best division (perhaps he could even change leagues and duck the DH). This is your last chance to buy low.
Keston Hiura, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers
The Milwaukee Brewers might have finally realized Keston Hiura should be here to stay. The red-hot hitter isn't giving them a choice.
Previously demoted for the non-hitting Travis Shaw, Hiura has owned Milwaukee's keystone since getting the call back to the bigs in late June. Entering Saturday, he owned an incredible .368/.434/.662 slash line with 11 extra-base hits (including four homers) and five stolen bases across his last 18 games with the Brewers.
"I think the guy was just born to hit," teammate Lorenzo Cain told reporters. "He flat-out has a great swing. He just rakes."
Fantasy owners seem to still be holding Hiura's earlier demotion against him. There's no other explanation for his shockingly low ownership percentages: 58 on Yahoo and 32 on ESPN.
That figures to change sooner rather than later. Given what Hiura has done with his bat and his legs, and what he's capable of doing in an offense this explosive, his availability will only shrink as his numbers continue climbing.
Liam Hendriks, RP, Oakland A's
At a certain point, it made sense to slow-play Liam Hendriks, both because of his forgettable track record and the likelihood of Blake Treinen regaining the closer's role after last season's 38-save breakout.
We're a long way past that point.
Treinen doesn't look like the same pitcher, and neither does Hendriks. While the former continues struggling to right the ship, the latter is dealing straight filth.
Among Hendriks' many career-bests are his 1.17 ERA, 0.969 WHIP and 11.4 K/9. Entering Saturday, he had gone 18 consecutive appearances without giving up a run, earned or otherwise, while striking out 33 over 19.2 innings.
His ratios alone could help more fantasy teams than his ownership rates (70 percent on Yahoo, 44 on ESPN) suggest. But the fact that he's clearly the A's closer and shows no signs of giving up the gig means he should be universally owned.