Fantasy Baseball 2021: Sleeper Hitters and Pitchers for MLB Week 8

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMay 19, 2021

Fantasy Baseball 2021: Sleeper Hitters and Pitchers for MLB Week 8

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Associated Press

    Most MLB teams have either reached the first-quarter mark of the 2021 campaign or will do so very shortly.

    For fantasy baseball managers, that means sample sizes are probably big enough to start giving real significance to statistics. While it's still relatively early in the grand scheme, this could be the point at which hot starts become legitimate breakouts and early disappointments turn into major busts.

    The more we know about statistical sustainability, the harder it is to find hidden value on the waiver wire. They're still out there, though, if you do the requisite amount of digging.

    Luckily, we broke out the shovels for you and uncovered these three players—available in 40-plus percent of Yahoo leagues, per FantasyPros—who should have your waiver-wire attention for Week 8.

Robbie Grossman, OF, Detroit Tigers

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Just 16 players have at least seven stolen bases this season. Of those 16, only 10 also have at least four home runs and 15 RBI.

    Most are household names (in the fantasy community, at least) and probably went early in your draft. Robbie Grossman is the exception.

    He is only rostered in 52 percent of Yahoo leagues, which means most fantasy managers have not caught up to his hot start. They will soon, though, especially with his Tigers approaching a seven-game slate next week.

    He offers the most value in points and on-base percentage leagues, since he has 29 walks through 40 games, but even in traditional rotisserie leagues he is touching enough categories to be relevant. He's also right in the middle of a torrid stretch, hitting .340 with eight extra-base hits (including two home runs), three stolen bases and 21 combined runs and RBI over his last 12 games.

Rich Hill, SP, Tampa Bay Rays

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    It used to be that any time Rich Hill was healthy, he deserved a spot in your fantasy rotation.

    That's not necessarily the case anymore, as the 41-year-old southpaw has perhaps started to show the effects of the aging process.

    But fantasy managers know how good Hill can be, and he has been that good lately. After wobbling out of the gate with four rocky starts, he's been dealing his last four times out.

    During that stretch—which included an abbreviated three-inning start against the Houston Astros—Hill has surrendered just eight hits and two runs across 21.2 innings. He has 27 strikeouts against eight walks in this stretch.

    He should be in line for two starts next week, too. The matchups aren't great—at the Toronto Blue Jays, then home against the Philadelphia Phillies—but he is throwing well enough that it may not matter.

Yusei Kikuchi, SP, Seattle Mariners

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    Yusei Kikuchi spawned some breakout buzz during spring training but couldn't sustain through consecutive outings with five earned runs allowed.

    But if you were among the managers who bailed on Kikuchi, it's time to get back onboard the hype train.

    On Monday, he delivered his fourth consecutive quality start since those two rocky outings. He has had at least seven strikeouts in all four outings and two or fewer walks in all but one. His ERA in this stretch is a solid 3.08.

    The good times should keep rolling in Week 8. Assuming there are no disruptions to Seattle's rotation, Kikuchi should get two starts, a rarity for anyone in the Mariners' six-man rotation. First up, he'll get the Oakland A's in their cavernous RingCentral Coliseum, then it's back home to face the Texas Rangers.