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Is Keston Hiura back? That's the obvious question after he homered yet again Monday against the Cubs. After going 2 for 4 with four RBI, one walk, and (amazingly!) no strikeouts, Hiura is now 6 for 17 with three home runs, nine RBI, two walks, and five strikeouts in five games since returning from Triple-A. 

Hiura's season OPS stands at .563, which is a lot more impressive than it sounds once you realize he was hitting .130/.217/.222 (.439) at the time of his most recent demotion. Hiura was one of the biggest disappointments in Fantasy this season, but he is showing signs that he can revive his value.

It's worth noting that, for as bad as he's been at the MLB level this season -- and, really, dating back to the start of 2020 -- Hiura has crushed the ball every time he's been demoted to Triple-A. He hit .403/.506/.722 in 20 games at Nashville, and while we don't get Fantasy points for that, it's a sign that, at the very least, the talent hasn't totally abandoned him. He's been overmatched in the majors, but he hasn't been totally hopeless.

We're talking about just five games since Hiura's latest return to the majors, which is a miniscule sample size, but it's interesting that it has coincided with the crackdown on sticky substances across baseball. Pitchers were using said substances to increase the spin rate on their pitches, most notably their fastballs, which gain additional perceived "rise" from the hitter's perspective when spin rate increases. It's because of something called the "Magnus effect", and the simplest explanation is that it makes baseballs harder to hit because it makes them move more. Or, in the case of four-seam fastballs, it makes them have less drop then they otherwise would. 

  • We talk Keston Hiura, Willy Adames, the Dropometer on Rhys Hoskins and Gleyber Torres and more on the Fantasy Baseball Today in 5 podcast. You can follow us to get the latest episodes on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

Hiura's biggest issue early on this season was the fastball -- especially up in the zone. He had just a .246 wOBA against fastballs in April, and went 0 for 7 with five strikeouts on at-bats that ended in strikeouts in May before his demotion. And … well, look at where Hiura's home runs from Sunday and Monday were thrown:

High fastballs, crushed. Is this proof that Hiura is specifically benefiting from the crackdown? Of course not; correlation does not equal causation. Maybe he just guessed right and ran into a couple. That'll happen, and a good five games doesn't erase what has gone wrong for Hiura the past few seasons.

However, there aren't any players available in more than half of CBS Fantasy leagues who have a .303/.368/.570 season under their belts. Hiura is eligible at first and second base and made his first appearance in the outfield the other day, so he could be looking at triple eligibility soon enough. 

Hiura is still a very risky player, and it's entirely possible he follows this little heater up with a 3-for-31 stretch that sends him right back to Nashville. But if you're looking for a potential difference-making bat, Hiura's the best you're likely to find for some time. 

Possible waiver wire pickups
MIL Milwaukee • #27 • Age: 26
Rest of Season Projections
H2H PTS
165
ROTO RNK
282nd
ROSTERED
43%
Hiura isn't the only Brewers player worth a look. In fact, I may have lied when I said Hiura is the best chance at a difference making bat you're going to find. Because Adames continues to crush the ball since joining the Brewers back in mid-May. Adames went 2 for 5 with three RBI and his 11th homer, and he's now hitting .286 with a 25-homer, 111-RBI, 74-run pace in 35 games with the Brewers. I've written about Adames a ton in this column lately, and it's because his roster rate remains stubbornly low. Can you all fix that, please? Thanks.
CLE Cleveland • #10 • Age: 27
Rest of Season Projections
H2H PTS
167.5
ROTO RNK
209th
ROSTERED
12%
Ramirez was waived by the Marlins last offseason, so he's a pretty unlikely candidate to make a Fantasy impact. And yet, here he is, ranking second among active hitters on Cleveland with an .806 OPS in 46 games after he went 3 for 5 with a run scored and one driven in. Ramirez's counting stats are pretty underwhelming, but he's sporting a .307 expected batting average and .514 expected slugging percentage, suggesting his strong hitting isn't exactly a fluke. If you're looking for a hitter in the outfield who won't hurt you in batting average or be a zero elsewhere, Ramirez is a good target.
STL St. Louis • #68 • Age: 21
Rest of Season Projections
H2H PTS
ROTO RNK
NR
ROSTERED
16%
Not much has gone right for the Cardinals offense this season, as they rank just 11th in the NL in runs scored despite the addition of Nolan Arenado. Arenado has been about as expected and Tyler O'Neill has started to live up to his potential, but pretty much everything else has gone sideways for the Cardinals so far. Gorman has been an organization bright spot, earning a promotion to Triple-A Monday after hitting .288/.354/.508 in 43 games at Double-A. Gorman is blocked at third base, his natural position, but he's played 16 games at second base, and that's the path to the majors if there is one. If he continues to hit well after the promotion, don't be surprised if we see him in the majors very soon. If you're in a deeper league and looking for someone to stash, Gorman is showing he could be a very solid Fantasy option.

To close out the waiver-wire column, here are three potential impact bats who are getting close to returning from injuries:

CLE Cleveland • #32 • Age: 26
Rest of Season Projections
H2H PTS
247.5
ROTO RNK
23rd
Fantasy
ROSTERED
79%
Reyes was hitting very well before his oblique injury, sporting a .257/.316/.576 line with 11 homers in 40 games. He's played four games at Triple-A and should be back with Cleveland this weekend. He's not widely available, but if he happens to be on the wire in your league and you've got a need at DH, Reyes is a must-add.
ARI Arizona • #56 • Age: 34
Rest of Season Projections
H2H PTS
212.5
ROTO RNK
91st
Fantasy
ROSTERED
30%
It's been a rough season for Calhoun, who played in just 13 games between a knee injury in spring training and a hamstring that has kept him out since late April. Calhoun began his minor-league rehab assignment at Triple-A Reno Monday, and he could be back sometime this week. Batting average will always be a problem for Kalhoun, but he can provide home runs and RBI, and is a solid top-50 OF if healthy.
TEX Texas • #55 • Age: 23
Rest of Season Projections
H2H PTS
48
ROTO RNK
736th
Fantasy
ROSTERED
8%
Huff doesn't have the track record of the other two guys here, and he's probably a bit further away from having the chance to make it to the majors from his knee injury. However, Huff did impress in his brief taste of the majors last season, homering three times in 10 games while hitting .355 -- and that was after he hit .278/.335/.509 as a 21-year-old catcher in 2019. He could be a rare power source at the catcher position, and if you've got unlimited IL spots, consider using one on Huff as a second-half breakout candidate.