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Fantasy411: 5 guys to target on the buy low

MLB.com

There's a little more than half a season left, folks. How'd that happen?

If you're near the top of the standings, there's more than enough time to let others sneak back into the race. And if you're on the other end of things, well, it's now or never to make a push.

There's a little more than half a season left, folks. How'd that happen?

If you're near the top of the standings, there's more than enough time to let others sneak back into the race. And if you're on the other end of things, well, it's now or never to make a push.

Thing is, while we're just about halfway through, there's actually much less time to improve your roster via wheeling and dealing. Most leagues have trade deadlines in early August, which is a lot closer than you think. Act now by targeting one or more of these buy-low candidates … or don't say we didn't warn you.

Video: Fred Zinkie discusses his fantasy tip of the day

Freddie Freeman, 1B, Braves

Out since mid-May with a fractured left wrist from being hit by a pitch, Freeman has more or less been forgotten about while sitting in his owner's DL spot. Go make your play for him -- like, NOW.

Word is the 27-year-old, who hit a ridiculous .341/.461/.748 with 35 runs, 14 homers and 25 RBIs in 37 games, could be back by the All-Star break. Oh, and when he returns, Freeman might be doing so at (ahem) third base as a way to keep red-hot Matt Adams in Atlanta's lineup.

That might sound like a stretch, but just think how much more valuable Freeman will be if he gets enough games to qualify at the hot corner in your format.

Jon Lester, SP, Cubs

Coming off a career year in which he won 19 games with a 2.44 ERA and 1.02 WHIP while finishing second in NL Cy Young voting, Lester has been rather underwhelming so far.

Typically one of the more consistent starters around, the 33-year-old veteran has had a few so-so games and even one clunker (3.1 IP, 7 H, 6 ER at the Dodgers on May 28). Add it all up and Lester's stats look like this: 5 W, 3.83 ERA, 1.25 WHIP. Throw in the narrative that he must miss retired personal catcher-turned-Dancing with the Stars runner-up David Ross, and there's a buy-low opportunity here.

Sure, Lester benefitted from the Cubs' historically great defense a year ago, but he still is whiffing a batter per inning (97 in 96 1/3 frames, to be exact). And if we take out that one rough outing -- it was against the Dodgers, after all -- his ERA and WHIP look much nicer at 3.39 and 1.19, respectively.

In a season filled with disappointing and/or injured starting pitchers, Lester has it in him to finish strong and help your fantasy squad do the same, especially since the NL Central competition isn't nearly as formidable as everyone expected.

Video: Zinkie discusses his top fantasy pitchers to stash

David Price, SP, Red Sox

Going after Price as a buy-low option is risky right now, but it's the sort of move that you'll need to make if you're in the middle of the pack in your league's standings.

So much of the 31-year-old's 2017 has been about off-the-field issues -- his Spring Training elbow injury that delayed his debut until the very end of May or his souring relationship with the Boston media -- that Price's owner almost certainly has grown weary of rostering him. Particularly when Price's on-field performance (4.76 ERA, 1.35 WHIP in six starts) hasn't been worth the headache to date.

The good news is that Price does appear to be healthy (or at least healthy enough), as he's taken the ball every fifth day since returning and his velocity remains in its usual mid-90s range. The problem has been his command -- he's surrendered 15 walks and seven homers in 34 innings -- so if Price can get that back on track, there's upside here.

Don't expect a miracle, but right now the cost of acquisition is so low that taking a gamble on a pitcher who has a history as a fantasy ace could pay off in the end.

Kole Calhoun, OF, Angels

A shaky start to 2017 didn't do Calhoun's owner any favors. The 29-year-old bottomed out with a .205 average, .601 OPS, 21 runs, five homers and 17 RBIs over 52 games through May 30.

Since that point, however, Calhoun quietly has hit .344 with a .960 OPS, 15 runs, five homers and 21 RBIs across 24 contests.

Although he's not the kind of player who is going to win you a fantasy league, Calhoun has proven to be a steady performer since becoming a full-time starter in 2014. He should contribute enough to be a solid OF 4 in most formats, and the pending return of superstar Mike Trout could help boost Calhoun's numbers, too.

Video: Drury, Broxton, Ross are waiver wire candidates

Tommy Kahnle, RP, White Sox

It's no secret the White Sox are in rebuilding mode. That makes closer David Robertson not only an unnecessary luxury, but also one who's likely to be moved at some point in the next month leading up to the July 31 Trade Deadline.

Who might step into ninth-inning duties if and when Robertson departs? That actually does seem to be something of a secret still, considering how unknown the likeliest candidate was coming into this season.

Enter Tommy Kahnle, who has gone from unheard of to unheralded in a matter of three months. Prior to 2017, the 27-year-old sported a career 4.04 ERA, 1.41 WHIP and 5.5 BB/9. Even factoring in that the majority of those numbers came while pitching for the Rockies, that's not particularly promising.

Well, the pitching-savvy White Sox have worked their magic to help develop Kahnle, who has cut his walk rate while boosting his strikeout rate. An incredible 52-to-6 whiff-to-walk ratio over 30.2 frames puts Kahnle and his upper-90s heater in position to earn at least an audition to close out games should Robertson be traded.

Dealing for saves by acquiring a pitcher before he becomes a closer can be one of the more satisfying buy-low plays, and Kahnle looks like as good a candidate as any to be that pitcher this year.

Jason Catania is a fantasy baseball writer for MLB.com.