INF/OF Chris Taylor, Los Angeles Dodgers
Taylor quietly has been getting it done for Fantasy teams. He should be getting more talk considering he's hitting .303 with 33 runs, eight home runs, 28 RBIs, seven stolen bases and a .907 OPS. Taylor is eligible at several positions. Injuries opened up playing time for him and it's possible some owners were hesitant to add him because of it, but he's going to continue to play in the outfield. Adrian Gonzalez will be out for a while and Cody Bellinger will go hold the fort at first base. Taylor is being helped by a .396 BABIP, but he has a 25.9 percent line drive rate.
SP Sean Manaea, Oakland Athletics
Manaea got off to a terrible start to the season, allowing nine earned runs in 11.1 innings in two starts. After allowing three earned runs in two innings on April 26, he landed on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. In his first two starts coming off the DL, he went five innings in each. Since then, Manaea has pitched at least seven innings in three of four starts and has been one of the better pitchers in Major League Baseball. In 27 innings over those four starts, Manaea has allowed 17 hits, five earned runs and displays a 29:7 K:BB ratio. Manaea is 6-3 with a 3.67 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and a 66:24 K:BB ratio on 61.1 innings. He has a 15.1 percent swinging strike rate and a 46.7 percent ground ball percentage. He's been a bit fortunate with a .240 BABIP, but it's not too far off his career average of .270. There's a lot to like about Manaea and since he's not a big name and pitches for the A's, he might be cheaper than you think in a trade.
2B/OF Jose Pirela, San Diego Padres
Pirela is 27 years old and wasn't on the radar before the season after struggling at Triple-A last season. Yet Pirela was sizzling at Triple-A this season batting .331 with 37 runs, 13 home runs, 42 RBIs and eight stolen bases in 181 at-bats with a 1.022 OPS. It came out of nowhere so many will be skeptical. He has continued his torrid hitting since being called up by San Diego. He is batting .441 (15-for-34) with nine runs, two home runs and seven RBIs in nine games. Pirela has played second base and the outfield and will continue to get regular playing time while producing. He's worth adding in deeper formats. We have seen many surprises this season and taking a shot on this kid could work out. Just don't cut someone valuable.
SP Rich Hill, Los Angeles Dodgers
Hill has been terrible. From the injury problems to awful performances on the mound, Hill has dragged down Fantasy squads. He is 3-3 with a 5.14 ERA and 1.57 WHIP. In 35 innings, he has 35 strikeouts, but he has also walked 23 batters. It's preventing him from going deep into games. In eight starts, he hasn't been past the fifth inning once and he has only reached the fifth inning four times in eight starts. Hill is getting less swing and misses with an 8.8 percent swinging strike rate. Kenta Maeda will start on Sunday for the Dodgers since the team has 20 games in 20 days, but if he pitches well, Maeda should stay in the rotation. Hill's health is also risky at age 37. In most formats, he can be dropped.
3B Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles
It has been an awful start for Machado considering he was a Top 10 pick in most drafts. Machado is batting .214 with 27 runs, 12 home runs, 28 RBIs, four stolen bases and a .704 OPS. It's difficult to see what the issue is outside of poor luck. The perennial All-Star has a .228 BABIP, which is below his career mark of .303. He has a 44.8 percent fly ball rate, in line with his 42.7 percent mark last season. The 39.9 percent hard hit rate is a career best and 4.5 percent higher than last season. The line drive rate is low at 13.1 percent. The strikeout rate is up 4.0 percent to 21.2 percent and the walk rate is up 2.2 percent. If Machado is owned by one of the bottom teams that is looking to make a jolt to the roster, make an offer now. He could get hot quickly.
SP Johnny Cueto, San Francisco Giants
Cueto has been one of the most reliable pitchers for Fantasy purposes in recent years. He hasn't been this season. Cueto is 5-6 with a 4.57 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 8.93 K/9 and a 2.66 BB/9. Cueto's biggest problem has been home runs. He is allowing 1.66 HR/9 and his career average is 0.92. He has allowed 16 home runs in 86.2 innings. Last season, he allowed 15 in 219.2 innings. He allowed 21 in 212 innings in 2015. Cueto is also allowing a lot more hard contact at 35.6 percent. It was 27.2 percent last season and 27.4 percent throughout his career. Home runs are up, but Cueto's 18.4 percent HR/FB rate is above his career average of 10.3 percent. The strikeout and walk rates are fine and his 11.9 percent swinging strike rate is a career high. Cueto has allowed four of his 16 home runs at home, yet still has a 4.19 ERA at home. Expect Cueto to get better, but it will be difficult to have confidence in him in home run hitter parks.