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How 'bout those New York Mets!? You can read more about my beloved Dominic Smith below but let's show Marcus Stroman some love as well. Stroman marched into Cincinnati and had his best start of the season on Wednesday. He threw eight shutout innings while allowing just one hit, one walk, striking out eight. Stroman has had an awesome bounce-back season with his ERA now down to 2.58.

We haven't talked much about him this year but let's shine some light on Harrison Bader who's quietly doing his thing. He picked up three more hits Wednesday and, in 15 games since returning from the Injured List, Bader is batting just over .350 with two homers and two steals. In addition to solid power and speed, he's lowered his strikeout rate tremendously. Bader is just 15% rostered for those in category leagues with five outfielders.

Of course, as always, you can subscribe to make sure you get the latest episodes of Fantasy Baseball Today right when they drop on Apple and Spotify.

Dom Smith is heating up -- now on fire!

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Mets OF Dom Smith was one of the most unheralded best hitters in baseball in 2020's Covid-shortened season and a popular breakout pick heading into 2021. Injury has slowed down his full-season breakout, but he has caught fire so far in July and this could be a sign of things to come. On Wednesday, he went 2-for-4 with a grand slam to help the Mets take down the Reds. Through July so far, Smith is batting .305 with five homers and a 1.000 OPS. The advanced stats under the hood also back up a potential second-half breakout with 93 mph average exit velocity, a 34% line drive rate, and a 39% fly ball rate. Despite all this, Smith is still just 65% rostered in CBS leagues. That has to change -- now.

I've been high on Smith all season and talking up the potential breakout and I'm convinced it's happening now for real. There's no turning back for Smith. Last night we broke down Joey Votto's breakout and Chris is giving a slight edge to the Reds first baseman. Having said that, Smith's impressive underlying numbers give glimpses of a hot streak rather than Smith finding his 2020 form again -- per Chris. Just remember, the surface level numbers in 2019 were good but the underlying numbers were not. 

I see it as Votto with the slightly higher floor, but Smith with more upside moving forward. Both are available in way too many leagues.

More news and notes

  • Twins OF Alex Kirilloff will finally have surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right wrist, ending his season. His rehab requires eight weeks and he should be fine for the start of next season. I'll be excited to draft him again in 2022. Chris believes he should be a breakout candidate for 2022 and will ultimately be a popular player in that regard.
  • Reds OF Nick Castellanos has a microfracture in his wrist. He said he feels about 50% and needs a few more days to rest. This sounds like it could be very, very bad. Castellanos has been one of the most valuable hitters and would be a massive loss for anyone who drafted him. Chris finds this report odd because usually microfracture is used to refer to a surgery and not a type of injury.
  • Cardinals SP Jack Flaherty will throw one more bullpen session before facing live hitters. 
  • Dodgers OF Mookie Betts missed his fourth straight game with that hip injury.
  • Cleveland 3B Jose Ramirez sat out his second straight with elbow soreness. Terry Francona said Wednesday he'll give J-Ram more days off because of this.  
  • Alex Cora said SP Chris Sale is scheduled to make his third rehab start at Double-A Portland on Sunday.
  • The Mets have not made a decision on whether or not to activate SP Carlos Carrasco this weekend. 
  • Nationals SP Stephen Strasburg tossed a 27-pitch bullpen session Wednesday.
  • Nationals OF Kyle Schwarber was seen jogging in the outfield. He's been on the IL since early July with a severe hamstring strain.
  • Diamondbacks OF Josh Rojas dislocated his left pinkie on a slide. It's currently unknown if he will travel with the team on their upcoming road trip. 
  • Yankees 1B Luke Voit has resumed baseball activities. He went on the IL Friday with a bone bruise in his knee. 
  • Blue Jays SP Alek Manoah is targeting a Monday return. That would line him up for two starts against the Red Sox and Royals
  • The Yerminator, Yermin Mercedes, apparently retired on Instagram, saying something to the effect that it's over. 
  • Tigers SP Michael Fulmer will begin a rehab assignment on Thursday.
  • Reds OF Nick Senzel is expected to play both center field and shortstop when he likely begins a minor-league rehab assignment next week. He's 31% rostered for those in deeper leagues. 
  • Orioles OF Anthony Santander went to the COVID IL.
  • Rays SP J.P. Feyereisen went to the IL with right shoulder discomfort. 

Prospect updates

  • Dodgers SP Josiah Gray will start again Sunday against the Rockies. He's 39% rostered and he's a high-upside bench stash.
  • Rays 2B Vidal Brujan was optioned back to Triple-A. He was 2-for-26 with eight strikeouts to zero walks with the Rays. He's 49% rostered and it's fine to drop him at this point with the exception of in the deepest leagues.

Buy or sell

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The case: Cease is a prime buy-low candidate in the sense that his last 10 starts feature a 5.46 ERA but the underlying numbers look much better than that.

The verdict: Chris is calling this a push and he's lucky we're going to allow one push today. I'm looking to buy. The K/9 and BB/9 rates are strong for him -- as is the swinging strike rate.

The case: Meadows really just had a good May with a .258 batting average, eight homers and a .976 OPS. In his 40 games since: .242 batting average with only four homers to go along with a 52% fly ball rate and a .273 BABIP. Personally, I dropped him to OF28 in points, OF30 in Roto.

The verdict: This is a strong buy for me (that he is NOT a top-25 OF rest of season) and Chris is leaning in that direction as well.

The case: Paddack had a 21% called swinging strike rate (league average is 28%) with 10 hard hit balls in his last start. At the same time, he pitched five shutout innings. This has been the story for Paddack all season when it comes to the hard hit balls and lack of swinging strikes and it hasn't always been accompanied by shutouts.

The verdict: This is a buy -- Chris believes he's even droppable at this point in 12-team leagues.

The case: Torres has homered in three of his last four games.

The verdict: Sell!