This is a fun time of the season. America’s birthday just passed, and we’ll soon take a small break for the All-Star game in Arlington – seemingly fitting for this time of year. Incredibly, we’re more than halfway done with the fantasy year, as the MLB season is just flying by!

That said, the last week or so has been mostly kind to fantasy managers, as there haven’t been too many crippling injuries to weaken our lineups. As we inch closer to the fantasy playoffs, we’re at a point where every win matters. Any hindrance to our team’s optimal output can be the difference between sneaking into the tournament or missing it by inches.

Regarding bats, the most significant injury involves Minnesota Twins third baseman Royce Lewis. Since his return from the IL in June, Lewis had been on a tear, hitting nine homers with an impressive .972 OPS. Unfortunately, he landed on the 10-day IL this past Wednesday with an abductor strain. Thankfully, the injury isn't expected to be too serious, and he should require just the minimum stay.

On the pitching side though, injuries have been far less forgiving.

Pittsburgh Pirates starter Jared Jones was enjoying a solid MLB debut season but was placed on the 15-day IL on Thursday with a right lat strain. Additionally, Detroit Tigers pitcher Casey Mize was placed on the 15-day IL with a left hamstring strain. Meanwhile, Jack Flaherty, Mize's rotation mate, has avoided the IL so far but missed his scheduled Wednesday start due to ongoing low-back tightness. He's been dealing with this issue for a few weeks, but hopefully, his recent injection will keep him going and help him recover.

As always, we aim to alleviate your fantasy woes by offering some intriguing options to consider while they're hot. For a hitter to qualify for this list, he must be less than or around 50% owned in Yahoo! Leagues. A player will only appear on this list more than once if they continue to perform well. Let's get into it.


Ryan O’Hearn, 1B/OF - Baltimore Orioles (54% Owned)

Orioles 1B/OF Ryan O’Hearn is coming off a hot June and continues to hit very well. Last month, he was 27-for-84 (.321) with three HRs, 16 RBI, and an excellent 8:9 BB:K ratio. The Orioles are still protecting him from batting against southpaws (he has just 19 at-bats against them on the year), but even so is hitting .263 off of them.

O’Hearn has truly excelled against right-handed pitchers and hasn't missed a game since June 26th, suggesting the Orioles are beginning to trust him more against lefties. Before his 0-for-4 performance on July 4th, O’Hearn had a three-game multi-hit streak and already boasts one home run for the month. While being on the strong side of the platoon has been advantageous, his consistent performance might make that distinction irrelevant soon.


Andrew Vaughn, 1B - Chicago White Sox (49% Owned)

White Sox 1B Andrew Vaughn was also quite hot last month – even better than O’Hearn. Vaughn hit .337 with six long balls, 17 runs scored, 20 RBI, and a .932 OPS – by far his most productive month. The recent hot stretch has his average up to .244, and it’s nice to see him finally get going after batting .200,.189, and .208 over the first three months of the year.

It’s too soon to call a breakout just yet, but if Vaughn continues to hit like he did in June, the former No. 3 overall pick of the 2019 draft could finally start paying off for both the Chi Sox and fantasy managers alike.


Gabriel Moreno, C - Arizona Diamondbacks (37% Owned)
Since his return from the IL earlier this week, D-backs C Gabriel Moreno has been white-hot at the dish. Dating back to June 21st (pre-IL), Moreno has multiple hits in three of his last four appearances and two RBI in each of those games. The backstop was 3-for-5 in each of his previous two games, including two doubles, one homer, and his first swipe of the year.

Last year Moreno was one of my favorite sleeper picks, and there’s reason to believe that his .250 average will continue to rise. In the last two seasons, he hit .319 and .284, solid marks. Additionally, his BABIP is way down to .281 this season – 57 points lower than in 2023 and 70 points lower than in 2022. His solid plate discipline is a real asset and can help if you're in need of a catcher for your squad.


Brandon Lowe, 2B - Tampa Bay Rays (24% Owned)
Rays 2B Brandon Lowe might be your guy if you need help in the “power” department. Lowe has three of his eight home runs over his last 16 at-bats as well as five hits (.313). The second baseman isn’t someone we expect to excel in the average area, but his .229 is lower than even what statcast expects – xBA .238.

Lowe’s average might continue to climb even higher over the season’s final few months, as his .259 BABIP is low even by his standards. He’s still striking out over 25% of the time (so points-league players, beware), but as always, walks a good bit too (10.5 BB%).


Sal Frelick, OF - Milwaukee Brewers (15% Owned)

If you’re considering adding Milwaukee OF Sal Frelick, I’d urge you not to look at his Statcast page, as it’s not entirely encouraging. Even though he ranks in the bottom few percentile of many advanced power metrics, he’s somehow still somewhat interesting. Known primarily for his hit tool (70 grade) – his season line doesn't exactly inspire confidence.

Frelick is highlighted here – mostly prospectively – because over the last few weeks his plate discipline has improved dramatically. On the season (through 264 at-bats), he has 28 BBs to 51 Ks. However, over his previous 78 at-bats that ratio stands at 7:8. This is usually a good sign that a player is starting to figure things out and bodes well for his chances moving forward. One other thing to note: this is a player that routinely hit above .300 throughout his minor-league career.


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Deep League Options


Lenyn Sosa, 2B/3B - Chicago White Sox (4% Owned)

White Sox 2B/3B Lenyn Sosa has been scorching hot at the plate in recent days. Through his first 38 games, the youngster had just two total home runs. However, he’s matched that over his last five games, a stretch in which he’s gone 11-for-22 (.500).  Sosa’s .252 season average – although respectable – is relatively low considering Statcast thinks he should be closer to .300 (.293).


Jesus Sanchez, OF - Miami Marlins (3% Owned)

Miami OF Jesus Sanchez is quietly having a breakout year. He has three hits in back-to-back games and finished a single shy of the cycle on July 4th – sparking a Marlins comeback against the Red Sox (a game they would eventually lose). Sanchez has raised both his average exit velocity (+3 MPH) and his hard-hit rate (+5.5%) from 2023. Also, his xBA of .280 and xSLG of .521 are well over what they sit at on the year – .247 and .409. Fantasy players in Keeper formats may want to stash him on their bench in preparation for next season.


Pitching/Streaming Options


Miles Mikolas, St. Louis Cardinals (22/45% Yahoo/CBS)

Except for a rough outing against the Cincinnati Reds, where he allowed nine earned runs on 12 hits through 4.1 innings, Cardinals starter Miles Mikolas has been solid over the last two months. The 35-year-old is walking just 4.3% of batters. While his ERA is currently inflated to 5.18 due to that one bad start, his 4.21 xERA is much more encouraging.

Mikolas will take the mound this week against the Washington Nationals and later face the Cubs at home. These teams are ranked 20th and 19th in runs per game, respectively. Additionally, he had a solid bounce-back start against the Pirates earlier this week. Fire him up with confidence.


Dean Kremer, Baltimore Orioles (27/54% Yahoo/CBS)

After missing over a month with a triceps issue, Dean Kremer returned to the mound, blanking the Mariners over five innings while allowing two hits, two walks, and striking out eight. This marked the third time this year that Kremer had eight or more K's in a game, showing no signs of rust after his time away.

This week, Kremer has one great matchup against the Chicago Cubs and one challenging matchup against the New York Yankees, with both coming at Camden Yards. The Yankees' lineup is dangerous, but if Kremer performs well against the Cubs, I'd feel confident starting him against the Bombers, especially in points leagues.


As we pass the midpoint of the MLB season, every decision becomes crucial for fantasy managers aiming for playoff glory. Despite some significant injuries to key players like Royce Lewis and pitchers Jared Jones and Casey Mize, there are still plenty of opportunities to strengthen your lineup.

Highlighted hitters like Ryan O’Hearn, Andrew Vaughn, Gabriel Moreno, Brandon Lowe, and Sal Frelick offer promising potential to boost your stats, while deeper league options such as Lenyn Sosa and Jesus Sanchez could provide valuable contributions. On the pitching front, Miles Mikolas and Dean Kremer present solid streaming options with favorable matchups.

Stay vigilant and proactive in your roster management to capitalize on these opportunities. With strategic moves and timely pickups, you can set yourself up for success as the fantasy playoffs approach. Good luck, and may your fantasy team thrive in Week 15 and beyond!