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Don’t miss out on Louie Varland’s breakout

The following players are widely available in Yahoo Fantasy Baseball formats and may be worth grabbing, depending on your league’s depth.

With many pitching prospects getting called up early this season, Varland has flown under the radar. Kenta Maeda and Tyler Mahle are both dealing with arm injuries, opening rotation spots for Bailey Ober (who should also be added in fantasy leagues) and Varland, whose 5.91 ERA comes with a 14:3 K:BB ratio over 10.2 innings. One of those two starts came in poor weather, and Varland’s peripherals suggest a big breakout is coming. He was a borderline top-10 Stuff+ guy (including four above-average pitches) in Triple-A, where he absolutely dominated.

Varland has been highly impressive yet remains available in more than 90% of Yahoo leagues because 57.1% of his flyballs have gone for homers; he has a 2.62 xFIP, and his two starts have come on the road in parks (@NYY, @CWS) that have been among the most favorable in boosting homers to open 2023.

It’s obviously a tiny sample, but Varland’s CSW would rank second behind only Spencer Strider among starters this season if he qualifies.

Grichuk remains available in more than 90% of Yahoo leagues despite hitting safely in every game since returning from hernia surgery, including a 1.076 OPS and a 182 wRC+. He’ll likely return to being a below-league-average hitter soon, but Grichuk can still have plenty of fantasy value as a regular who plays half his games in Coors Field. Grichuk hit .307 with 16 homers/steals, 40 runs scored and 50 RBI over 69 games (267 ABs) in Colorado last season. The slugger can even help in batting average if you can selectively start him at home.

Grichuk was moved to the No. 2 spot in the Rockies lineup over the weekend (when he also stole a base) and should be rostered in all non-shallow fantasy leagues.

Christopher Morel, Chicago Cubs (12%)

Morel was recalled Monday after posting a 184 wRC+ with 11 home runs and four steals in Triple-A this season. It’s unclear what his everyday role will be initially with the Cubs, but Morel contributed 26 homers/steals in just 379 ABs as a rookie last season and deserves to be added in fantasy leagues (2B,3B,SS,OF eligible) after his hot start at the plate in 2023.

Bader has been terrific (234 wRC+) since returning from an oblique injury, and he’s barely played at home yet. He’s a clear injury risk but should get all the playing time he can handle given the Yankees’ injuries and his elite defense. THE BAT X projects Bader to post 36 homers/steals in 100 games over the rest of the season, which doesn’t exactly profile as a fantasy player who should still be available in 55% of leagues.

Since making his MLB debut, Miller is likely rostered in your league after two strong starts. But for those in shallow leagues in which he somehow remains available, the rookie has flashed among the highest spin rates on his four-seam fastball. He became the first pitcher in baseball history to record 15 strikeouts and allowed just five baserunners during their first two MLB starts. Miller’s spot in Seattle’s rotation should be locked in with Robbie Ray out for the season.

Garcia was recently recalled after Nicky Lopez went down with appendicitis. He’ll take over third base but is also shortstop eligible in fantasy leagues. Garcia wasn’t tearing it up in Triple-A (83 wRC+) but exhibited solid plate skills (14.3 BB%, 19.6 K%). The rookie also possesses good speed while averaging 37 SBs/600 PAs in the minors and impressive exit velocity. Garcia is an intriguing option for those in deeper fantasy leagues searching for SB help at the MI position.

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