With the baseball season now past the quarter mark, a lot has changed since Opening Day. Roles have switched, injuries have cropped up and several top prospects have made their debuts. Stats are also beginning to normalize, allowing fantasy owners to place more emphasis on 2019 performance and determine which
With the baseball season now past the quarter mark, a lot has changed since Opening Day. Roles have switched, injuries have cropped up and several top prospects have made their debuts. Stats are also beginning to normalize, allowing fantasy owners to place more emphasis on 2019 performance and determine which players are for real.
Accordingly, here are 10 under-the-radar names worth targeting in fantasy leagues.
Steve Cishek, RP, Cubs
With Brandon Morrow and Pedro Strop both on the injured list, Cishek has emerged as the Cubs' top closing option. He has converted both of the team's save chances since Strop went down in early May and should continue getting ninth-inning opportunities based on his 2.75 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 9.6 K/9 rate this season. With a lifetime 2.66 ERA and 128 career saves under his belt, Cishek is a proven closer and a must-own fantasy option.
Jonathan Lucroy, C, Angels
One of the best catchers in baseball from 2012-'16, Lucroy saw his fantasy stock take a hit after he batted .253/.319/.348 in '17 and '18 combined. The 32-year-old has bounced back after signing with the Angels in the offseason, however, slashing .269/.331/.454 with six homers and 19 RBIs through 31 games. His career-high 41 percent pull rate has helped rejuvenate his power, while his 10:14 BB/K ratio represents a significant improvement over last year's 29:65 mark. Lucroy's .263 BABIP is also the lowest of his career, leaving room for his batting line to improve if it climbs back to his .303 career figure.
Leury Garcia, OF, White Sox
Despite coming into 2019 with a career .241/.280/.343 batting line, Garcia has been Chicago's regular leadoff hitter since Opening Day. The 28-year-old has made the most of the opportunity by batting .292/.331/.368 with 29 runs scored and six steals in seven attempts. While he's unlikely to hit for much power given his career .098 ISO, Garcia should continue to be a solid source of runs, stolen bases and batting average from the top of the White Sox lineup.
Logan Forsythe, 2B, Rangers
Forsythe fell off many fantasy radars after hitting .228/.332/.309 in 2017 and '18 combined, but coming to a hitter-friendly environment in Texas has helped reignite his bat. The 32-year-old has gotten off to a blistering start with the Rangers, slashing .320/.418/.534 with 15 extra-base hits in 30 games, resembling the productive hitter who posted a .791 OPS for the Rays over '15-16. His .405 BABIP is likely to regress, but he should continue to thrive at the plate if he maintains his 27.3 percent line-drive rate and 13.8 percent walk rate.
Spencer Turnbull, SP, Tigers
Turnbull has quietly emerged as one of the Tigers' top starters since debuting last September, posting a 3.32 ERA with a 3.51 FIP, a 1.26 WHIP and 65 strikeouts in 65 innings. The 26-year-old has also done a good job of keeping the ball in the park with only five home runs allowed during that time. With a plus slider and curveball complementing his strong fastball and sinker, Turnbull boasts an impressive pitch mix that should help him stay effective going forward.
Domingo Santana, OF, Mariners
After breaking out with 30 homers, 15 steals and an .875 OPS for the Brewers in 2017, Santana managed just five homers, one steal and a .740 OPS in 85 games last year. But after the outfielder was traded to the Mariners in the offseason, his performance has approached his '17 levels, as he already has 20 extra-base hits, four steals and an .830 OPS. The 26-year-old has spent much of the season batting in the two-hole as a result, which should help him continue to provide strong fantasy numbers in Seattle's potent lineup.
Matt Strahm, SP, Padres
Primarily a reliever in his first three seasons, Strahm has seamlessly transitioned into being a full-time starter in 2019. The 27-year-old has been terrific over his first eight starts, notching a 3.07 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP with a 4.88 K/BB ratio. The Padres have been careful with the southpaw's workload, as he's yet to throw 100 pitches in an outing and has gone past the sixth inning only twice. But with solid peripherals and a .213 batting average allowed over 162 career innings, Strahm profiles as a strong fantasy option.
Jarrod Dyson, OF, D-backs
Dyson didn't make a great first impression with the D-backs in 2018, recording a career-low .189 average with two homers and 12 RBIs in 67 games. He still stole 16 bases and played well defensively, however, convincing Arizona to give him another shot in '19. The 34-year-old has made the most of it so far, batting .290/.391/.419 with the most steals (11) in the National League while being caught only once. While his .810 OPS may regress towards his career .669 mark, he should continue racking up steals as Arizona's primary leadoff man.
Luke Jackson, RP, Braves
Injuries to Arodys Vizcaino and Darren O'Day along with the struggles of A.J. Minter opened the ninth-inning door for Jackson, who has converted five of the team's last seven save chances. Although he entered 2019 with a career 5.19 ERA, the 27-year-old has quickly established himself as one of the Braves' most reliable bullpen arms with a 2.05 ERA, a 1.09 WHIP and an 11.0 K/9 rate. With his breakout supported by a career-best 3.86 K/BB ratio and a 2.79 FIP, Jackson should continue getting the lion's share of Atlanta's save attempts.
Dwight Smith Jr., OF, Orioles
After batting .293/.365/.467 in 47 games with the Blue Jays in 2017 and '18 combined, Smith has flourished in an everyday role with the Orioles this year. The 26-year-old has built off his early success with Toronto by hitting .275/.320/.481 with eight homers, 26 runs and 27 RBIs through his first 40 games, slotting into the second or third spot in Baltimore's lineup most nights. He has also made an impact on the bases with four steals in four attempts, making him a well-rounded fantasy threat.