Fantasy Baseball Week 8 Preview: Top 10 sleeper hitters feature Max Kepler, Tommy La Stella

Getting a player back from the IL should be a joyous occasion in Fantasy, one accompanied by the immediate payoff of reinserting him into your starting lineup.

More Fantasy Baseball

You may want to delay that payoff for Matt Olson, though.

Olson returned Tuesday from a broken hamate bone, an injury known to stifle a player’s power for weeks after a return to action. The left-handed slugger’s odds become even longer with four left-handed pitchers on the schedule in Week 8 (May 13-19). 

It’s not that he’s condemned to failure this week, but  his circumstances make for an unfortunate way to reintroduce him. He’s obviously must-own and figures to be must-start more often than not, but for this week, you might be better off turning to one of these sleeper hitters, all owned in less than 80 percent of CBS Sports leagues. 

Max Kepler’s power breakthrough has stalled so far in May, but he has the right matchups to get things on track this week, facing some of the weakest links in the Angels and Mariners rotations for seven games.

After playing through injury last year, Cesar Hernandez is back to the form that put him on the map two years ago, profiling as a high-average hitter with good on-base skills. He doesn’t offer much pop, but in a seven-game week against pitchers like Freddy Peralta, Gio Gonzalez, Antonio Senzatela and Kyle Freeland, he’s a good bet to contribute.

Kole Calhoun’s power is certainly playing up to league-wide trends, and his recent hot streak may be just the start of a significant BABIP correction. He could do some damage against the Twins and Royals pitching staffs this week, especially since five of the starters on tap are righties.

If you buy into xwOBA, Franmil Reyes‘ batted-ball profile suggests he should be a top-25 hitter this year, and the Padres are as aware as anybody, sticking with him in right field throughout some of his early-season struggles. He has certainly picked up his production in May, entering play Sunday batting .341 (14 for 41) with two homers and two doubles for the month.

Jonathan Schoop’s poor plate discipline gives him a low margin for error each week, but the way he’s swinging the bat so far in May has him on pace for numbers not too unlike the ones he put up in 2017, when he was regarded as a Fantasy stud. His matchups against pitchers like Tyler Skaggs, Trevor Cahill, Erik Swanson and Felix Hernandez this week should only help.

Having recently returned from an IL stint for a sprained ankle, Clint Frazier should remain a fixture in the Yankees lineup even with the expected return of Aaron Hicks in Week 8, seeing as Mike Tauchman and Cameron Maybin are currently sharing an outfield spot. Frazier was finally beginning to live up to his potential prior to the injury, and a three-game series against the Orioles pitching staff to open Week 8 should reignite that flame.

Alex Verdugo has already made the most of unfavorable matchups in Week 7 (May 6-12), which goes to show just how strong his bat skills are. The Dodgers‘ matchups aren’t so bad in Week 8, but they’re scheduled for just five games. The good news is only one is against a lefty.

Tommy La Stella’s unexpected power surge (he has three multi-homer games already this year) is all the more impressive when you consider he has a strikeout rate that would have led the league last year. His fly-ball rate is up, but not to the point he should have a sub-.200 BABIP. Maybe the whole thing is mirage, but with favorable matchups in a week he’s schedule to face five righties, it doesn’t seem like a crazy play.

Jorge Soler still strikes out way too much for comfort, but the power stroke gives him a chance to make an impact in Fantasy regardless. It helps when he has a week he’s scheduled to face pitchers like Shelby Miller, Lance Lynn, Matt Harvey and Tyler Skaggs. 

Jurickson Profar has had no trouble making contact during this dreadful start to 2019, and though the contact has been pathetically weak for the most part, that’s beginning to change here in May. A switch-hitter, he’s batting .303 with an .828 OPS against lefties so far, and the Athletics have four of those on the schedule this week.

Best hitter matchups for Week 8

1. Indians @CHW2, BAL4
2. Phillies MIL4, COL3
3. Twins LAA3, @SEA4
4. Cardinals @ATL3, @TEX3
5. Angels @MIN3, KC3

Worst hitter matchups for Week 8

1. Red Sox COL2, HOU3
2. Marlins TB2, NYM3
3. Reds CHC3, LAD3
4. Rockies @BOS2, @PHI3
5. Cubs @CIN3, @WAS3

Read this article from its original source at https://www.cbssports.com/fantasy/baseball/news/fantasy-baseball-week-8-preview-top-10-sleeper-hitters-feature-max-kepler-tommy-la-stella/