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More second half breakout candidates

By Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com

There will be happier days ahead for Zack Wheeler. (USATSI)
There will be happier days ahead for Zack Wheeler. (USATSI)

The trade deadline can be a stressful time for Fantasy owners. The All-Star break provides plenty of time for Fantasy owners to analyze their teams, and decide what they need for the stretch run. Most leagues will heat up over the next couple of days. With that in mind, here are few more players to target for the second half.

Zack Wheeler, SP, Mets

Wheeler has seen improvement in both his strikeout and walk rate this season, but hasn't seen his numbers improve. On top of that, he's greatly improved his ground ball rate, going from 43.2 percent to 54.1 percent. Those improvements haven't quite shown up in his numbers yet. He's performed well thus far, but his 3.42 FIP indicates there's more upside in his arm. There's a chance a .318 BABIP is the culprit, though we don't have a large enough sample to say whether that's out of line with Wheeler. His .279 BABIP last season seems a little fluky, so his true talent is likely somewhere in the middle. If that corrects itself over the second half, he could see his ERA fall.

Jean Segura, SS, Brewers

Segura's .257 BABIP seems pretty fluky. And though it's clear he hasn't been as successful this season, his precipitous decline with his BABIP seems a little too extreme. His strikeout and walk rates aren't all that different from last season, and neither is his batted ball data. He's traded some fly balls for grounders, but that should help with his BABIP. Add all of it together, and Segura has either been out of whack all year, or he's been somewhat unlucky. There's a chance he'll perform well down the stretch.

Stephen Strasburg, SP, Nationals

It's tough to even complain about Strasburg's performance thus far, but that's what happens when expectations are sky-high. Everything about Strasburg's game says he should be dominating hitters this season. His strikeout rate is 10.73 per nine and he's not walking anybody. The reason for his struggles is a .347 BABIP, which is over 40 points higher than his career average. He still has ace potential, and can reach it in the second half.

Jed Lowrie, SS, Athletics

There are a couple factors holding Lowrie back this year. His .267 BABIP, and his 2.9 home run rate are pretty low. While Lowrie's not an elite source of power, he's better than this. He's also been hitting more fly balls this season, though they haven't been traveling as far, according to Baseball Heat Maps. That could be the reason for his poor BABIP, but doesn't fully explain his awful power numbers. Something will change moving forward, but it's unclear whether Lowrie will get all the way back.

Justin Masterson, SP, Indians

There are actually plenty of reasons to be concerned about Masterson this year. His walk rate has been awful, which has helped contribute to a 5.51 ERA. While Masterson's 4.09 FIP is more encouraging, he's a player who has consistently posted lower FIPs than ERAs. That's likely due to his poor splits. Because Masterson throws at a weird angle, lefties tee off against him. Righties, however, are fairly useless. Injuries have certainly played a role in his struggles, so a clean bill of health could help him turn things around. He's also shown the ability to perform better in previous seasons, so you have to think there's room for improvement here.

Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Dodgers

A .267 BABIP would seem to be the main reason for his struggles. Even though he's clearly shown decline the past couple seasons, Gonzalez has still posted a BABIP over .300 every season since 2009. There's nothing else about his game that points to a player in massive decline. Yes, there's a chance his age has caught up with him and he suddenly can't hit fastballs, but it seems fairly extreme considering he hit them just fine last season.

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