Fantasy Baseball 2021: Highlighting Top Sleepers for MLB Week 7

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMay 12, 2021

Fantasy Baseball 2021: Highlighting Top Sleepers for MLB Week 7

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    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    Forward-thinking fantasy baseball managers, enjoy your victory lap.

    Top Seattle Mariners prospect Jarred Kelenic is expected to be big league bound this Thursday, per ESPN's Jeff Passan. If Kelenic hits the ground sprinting—he was 9-for-22 with a pair of home runs over his first five outings at Triple-A this season—he could immediately emerge as one of the better young power-speed sources in all of baseball.

    The only problem is Kelenic's promotion probably won't provide much waiver-wire relief outside of the most shallow leagues. He is already rostered in 67 percent of Yahoo leagues (though only 48 percent on ESPN), per FantasyPros, so managers in line for a Week 7 bump from him likely had him already.

    Fear not, though, as the following three players can all perk up your rosters for next week and are available in 40-plus percent of Yahoo leagues.

Adbert Alzolay, SP, Chicago Cubs

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    Adbert Alzolay has been quietly building up toward a breakout.

    There's a chance it could really start to take shape in a two-start Week 7 featuring matchups against the Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals.

    He jumped on the fantasy radar last year by producing a 2.95 ERA with 12.2 K/9 across 21.1 innings pitched. But his lack of control (5.5 BB/9) threatened to cap his ceiling.

    He has that control now, though, with just seven free passes issued over his first six starts. It hasn't cost him in the strikeout department, either. After punching out seven Los Angeles Dodgers in his previous start, he struck out six in six innings against Cleveland on Tuesday.

    His 4.50 ERA isn't great, but his ratios say it should be soon. He is up to 36 strikeouts through 32 innings and has a minuscule 0.88 WHIP.

Brandon Belt, 1B/LF, San Francisco Giants

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    John Hefti/Associated Press

    Word to the wise before getting rolling on this recommendation. You'll want to check the injury report before submitting any waiver claim, as Brandon Belt exited Tuesday night's game with left side tightness, though San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler characterized the injury as "mild" and the move as precautionary.

    If that's the case and Belt doesn't miss time, the veteran slugger should find his way into your lineup.

    He is best in leagues that use OBP (.358) or award walks (19 in 102 at-bats), but his bat can play in any format right now. He already has eight home runs on the season, and on Tuesday night he knocked in his 22nd RBI.

    Since four of those homers and 10 of the RBI have come since May 4, you could be catching him in the middle of a hot streak. He'll have a chance to extend it during a seven-game Week 7.

Andrew McCutchen, OF, Philadelphia Phillies

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    Derik Hamilton/Associated Press

    There's a strange obsession among the fantasy baseball world with trying to be the first to correctly time a decline. When a player reaches a certain age, many managers will avoid him on the chance he could be a sinking ship—even if there are zero signs of a leak.

    With Andrew McCutchen, a former fantasy fixture, there were at least reasons to worry. In 2019, injuries limited him to 59 games. In 2020, he reached base at a career-worst .324 clip. So, when he sleep-walked into this season (.157 average through his first 15 games), a big chunk of the fantasy community just washed their hands of him.

    Their mistake.

    He's been heating up ever since to the point he's no sizzling. He entered Tuesday night hitting .364 with a .432 on-base percentage, four home runs and 14 combined runs and RBI through his first nine games this month. While he didn't get a hit on Tuesday, he did take a walk, score a run and knock in another.

    Batting atop a Philadelphia Phillies lineup that can score runs in bunches, McCutchen has a chance to do major damage, even in a six-game slate.